You might be surprised.
Two special trees in the Garden of Eden are mentioned in Genesis 2-3. This is a very special blog that I hope will get you thinking about which tree is the one you and I are going to on a daily basis. This blog was inspired by some dialogue I’ve had recently by a dear brother in Oregon who is opening my mind to a deeper walk in the spirit than ever before.
Adam could eat of all the trees of the garden except one – the Tree of Knowledge. That tree was a tree that provided both good knowledge and bad knowledge, so it’s more commonly called “the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It wasn’t all bad. It also had some good knowledge. People often miss that. But it was forbidden fruit. And make no mistake about it: it was the tree of knowledge. I must give a whole sermon on this sometime this year! This tree was beautiful to behold (not like so many children’s books depictions of a gnarled up dried up monstrosity). The fruit seemed attractive to Eve but what was most attractive about it was all this “wisdom” you would have after eating of its forbidden fruit (read Genesis 3:6).
There was another tree in the center of the Garden of Delights (what “Eden” means). Man and woman could eat of this tree anytime they wished. It was called the Tree of Life. Yah himself said that if mankind would eat of it, shudder – as sinners – they could live forever (see Genesis 3:22-23 and Gen 2:8-9). So the “Life” part of this tree was about living forever, eternal life. There is the false teaching that we can live forever being tortured by a God who calls himself the God of love. No, we either die because of our sins or we live forever if we take of the Tree of Life.
Which tree would you have eaten of – first? Which one is most fascinating and compelling to you?
But before we get into the exciting two trees, a few points sometimes missed by casual readers of Genesis 1-3:
** Animals and trees were created by God’s command, out of the ground, by His word (Genesis 1:24-25; 2:9). But mankind was hand-created by God personally, from the dust of the ground and mankind was the only creation into which God blew His breath of life and man became a living soul or being (Genesis 2:7).
**Adam was created outside the Garden and then invited into God’s presence. That’s the way it is. Yehovah wants us near to Him and HE brings us to that position. (Genesis 2:15)
**The instructions about the two trees were given originally only to the man Adam. Eve had not been created yet! A lot of people miss this point and may explain why Eve was deceived by the Serpent and Adam was not. Adam was to be the teacher and leader and so he told Eve what God had said. Read Genesis 2 and the timing becomes clear.
“Then Yehovah Elohim (the LORD God) took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And Yehovah Elohim commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
18 And YHVH Elohim said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."
**When the Serpent beguiled Eve, Adam was with her (Genesis 3:6). People think of Adam being elsewhere. Not true. But he said nothing, even though he had been put into the garden to tend and KEEP (guard) it. That’s right, the word “keep” in Genesis 2:15 also means to guard and protect. But when Adam saw and heard Satan questioning his Creator, Adam – who was not deceived – said and did nothing. Then they both ate of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge and came immediately under God’s death penalty. (Genesis 3:6; 1 Timothy 2:13-14).
** This in turn resulted in Adam and Eve being ejected from the Garden – lest they eat of the Tree of Life under sin, and live forever (Genesis 3:22). It had been there all along for the taking, but they hadn’t availed themselves of it. Hmm, do we?
Now back to you and me. What tree fascinates us more: The Tree of Knowledge or the Tree of Life? And how are they different? It’s life and death at stake.
Click on “continue reading” to understand the 2 trees – especially the Tree of Life a bit clearer than ever.
Before I go any further, let me say blogs aren’t meant to be full dissertations on a matter, so I’m just skimming the surface. This is a glimpse of a coming sermon with far more detail. I hope it motivates you to think more about this topic too.
You can know by realizing which tree you’re more excited about. Which tree are we going to more often NOW? Are you preferring spiritual knowledge (what the Greek and Hebrew mean, new insights, prophetic pronouncements, some new piece of info you never knew before, getting your doctrines exactly right and knowing how to defeat any other teaching different than yours like the calendar and new moons, etc.) ---or are you preferring the spirit-led life and living and walking in the spirit of God in our New Creation life?
Do you find yourself more often being excited about knowledge – the new things you’re learning – or is it something else that is drawing you right now? For example, are you more excited about having understanding of who USA and Britain really are, and you can explain the Daniel and Revelation prophecies easily, and that you see things others don’t see? And do you find yourself often thanking God for opening your mind to the knowledge that you have from Him? We should thank God for opening our minds. We can’t understand spiritual things unless he does that first (1 Cor. 2:9-12). But is new knowledge or “new truth” what excites you most? Remember the forbidden tree included GOOD knowledge.
And there’s nothing wrong with godly knowledge, so don’t get me wrong. If you study 1 Cor. 2:9-12, we see that true spiritual knowledge comes from the Holy Spirit in us, interfacing with our Spirit in man that everyone has. THAT knowledge actually comes from the Tree of Life, which represents the Holy Spirit and the mind of God and everything that God is.
We are supposed to grow in the grace and KNOWLEDGE, but it’s a specific knowledge – “OF our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Too often that last phrase is left out! Otherwise we are often warned that “knowledge puffs up” (1 Cor. 8:1). If you do a concordance search on the word “knowledge”, it’s striking how often the knowledge we are supposed to be seeking is knowledge concerning our Messiah! God can put wisdom and knowledge into us - as He did for Solomon, Joseph and so many others. Otherwise, without the tree of Life people are ever learning (knowledge) but never come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). Yehovah does want us to have knowledge – but especially knowledge of him, his truth and his Way – and knowledge and wisdom HE imparts. Sometime read all these verses for starters and see how we’re encouraged to grow in knowledge of GOD (2 Peter 1:2-3, 8; 2:20; Phil 3:8; Col 1:9-10; Col 3:10; Eph 1:17; 4:13 and more!).
In fact our people are destroyed from lack of knowledge – but in context of the whole Bible – it must be referring to true and right knowledge of God, a knowledge they chose to reject (Hosea 4:6).
Now let’s zero in on the differences between the two trees even more. At least as much as time and space allows for now. In a future sermon, much more will be said.
The Tree of Knowledge is about data, facts, information.
** You can learn ABOUT things, about God, about Yeshua – and yet never really KNOW God. Remember Job? He said he had heard of God but at some point he finally “got it”, finally could come to know him more. So seek to know HIM more than knowing about him.
**Now here’s the jolt of reality: over-seeking knowledge can actually dull your hearing from hearing Yeshua’s voice! Yeshua said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow ME” (John 10:27). Tree of Life: we hear HIM. We follow HIS will for us. Knowledge seeking ends up being focused on yourself rather than on revelation from God’s spirit to you. So many of us focus so much on learning and teaching (including me) that we fail to stop and ask the Teacher to speak to us as we just listen. Yeshua promises he will bring to our mind what we should speak – if we would just in faith believe and step out in that faith. Read Luke 12:11-12. The Tree of Life requires faith. The Tree of Knowledge requires hard work on your part to prepare. I’ll clarify this much more in a future sermon.
**The Tree of Knowledge: knowledge gives us a dangerous false sense of power. We like knowing what’s going to happen next in our lives, or what we are going to say next or do next. It’s the “if it’s to be, it’s up to me” worldly philosophy. We prefer not having to wait and see what God tells us to do – because we have become dull of hearing and don’t hear his voice. That’s what GOD says (Hebrews 5:11). That’s not me saying that. We like DIY (Do-it-Yourself) strategies, rather than relying on God or having to exercise faith. So we work out our own salvation by works (Phil 2:12) as we forget verse 13 -- that salvation and even God’s righteousness are by grace through faith, as God’s gifts to us. Knowledge-based believers don’t like grace and faith. They like being able to see the next step. God makes us walk on water and trust HIM that 5 loaves and 2 fish are enough for a crowd of thousands.
The Tree of Life, on the other hand, is about a lot of truly exciting things.
** It’s about eternal life. Eternal life and true salvation are God’s GIFTS (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9). A gift is not something you can earn – or it becomes wages. Yeshua (Jesus) came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10) He’s all about life, especially eternal life. We do earn rewards in the Kingdom by what we do, but never mix rewards with eternal life and salvation. Remember all the verses about being rewarded (not saved) according to our works. But salvation and true life are gifts we cannot earn. We earn rewards, but we graciously receive redemption and eternal life. Don’t mix the two.
** The Tree of Life requires - paradoxically—that we die to the self first. Paul told the Colossians ‘For YOU died..” and talked about “Christ who is our life” (Colossians 3:3-4). Also Galatians 2:20. We die to the self and let Christ live in us. That takes enormous faith to do consistently.
** The Tree of Life symbolized the Holy Spirit and being led by the Spirit. We read that all the time – that God’s children are those who are led by the spirit (Romans 8:14). But what does that mean to most of us? ARE we really being led by the SPIRIT? Are you? Do you know how that works? What it means? We’ll talk about that in the sermon later this year. Do you ever hear the Spirit’s voice – which is really Christ in you, for “the Lord is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17). Ponder that one.
** If we’re being truly led by the spirit, I promise you – greater miracles than you’ve ever seen will begin to happen – and by everyone being led, not just ordained ministers. Ordinary brethren and 4 virgin daughters of Philip were given the ability to foretell and prophesy, for example, all BY THE SPIRIT ((Acts 11:28; 21:8-11). Individuals are being told to go here or there – like Ananias in Acts 9, like Mary and Joseph, like Zechariah and Elizabeth. That should all still be going on and did continue long after the resurrection of our Messiah.
By the spirit, Yeshua said we would do greater miracles than even HE did! Peter’s shadow healed people by the spirit. People prayed in the spirit, spoke in the spirit, and lived by the Spirit’s leading. I’ve got to speak at length on this soon. We were promised that the working of the Spirit would be evident in our lives. For example, that we would lay hands on the sick and they would be made well. The early believers’ church services were full of the presence of the anointing of God’s spirit, and the presence of God. The sick were healed. Sometimes even the dead were raised back to life. Simeon was directed by the Spirit to go to the temple so he could see the baby Messiah (Luke 2:27). WHY aren’t we seeing much, much more of this today? We WILL. I promise you, we will. Some will respond and the working of the spirit will become very evident. Believe it. Seek it. This is eating of the Tree of Life.
**The Tree of Life is all about being directed by God and not by what we try to figure out. It’s about living by faith and waiting on God to do what He’s promised. It might take years – like Abraham and Sarah found out regarding the promised son. At some point, they tried their own works and all that just brought about some problems. Only when they waited on Yehovah and could NOT work anything out themselves, did they see the promised Son, a type of the one true Promised Son. The Tree of Life is about living by faith and waiting upon Yehovah. Yes, I know, this is not easy and I’m still just beginning to learn it myself.
** Therefore the Tree of Life is about listening for and then hearing our Master’s voice. We’re listening for Yeshua to reveal to us HIS will for us. “My sheep hear my voice…” (John 10:27). Do YOU hear God’s voice? If we ARE his sheep, we’re supposed to be able to hear his voice. But perhaps we’re too stressed out, too worried – trying to ponder everything ourselves – that we miss his voice. We have to be quiet more often and ask God to speak to us. Then wait. He will speak to you. He does. I absolutely know that.
WHY is our Master standing and knocking OUTSIDE his own door, outside his own house, knocking on the door and telling his people “If anyone HEARS MY VOICE, and opens the door [why do we have shut outside in the first place??], I will come to him and dine with him and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). In verse 22 we are warned to HEAR what the SPIRIT says to the churches. This is the Tree of Life – living by the life of Christ in us and seeking HIS will and his desires. The Laodiceans obviously aren’t hearing his voice very well. Let’s repent of that and start to obey him. Oh yes, we have to walk in obedience to him – which proves we love him – and we will hear voice more and more as we seek him (John 14:15-21). Please read all the way to verse 21. See to whom Yeshua promises to manifest himself!!
Over and over, Yehovah told Israel to “HEAR O Israel… HEAR”. Turn the noise off that you surround yourself with. Turn off the TV. Turn off Facebook. And have more QUIET time – as you quietly tell Yehovah that you are waiting to hear from him. Then listen.
Over and over and over, in the Old AND New testaments, we read of so many hearing God! “And the LORD (YHVH) spoke to…” Yehovah has not gone mute. He has not lost his voice. It is more likely that we have become dull of hearing. Hebrews is full of warnings and admonitions to hear him (Hebrews 3:7, 15; 4:7; 12:25).
So I’ll end it here. There is so much more to say about living by the spirit and in the spirit which comes from eating of the Tree of Life. I just wanted to open the door to this subject for all of us -- to ask us all to ponder – are we seeking the Tree of Knowledge more than we’re seeking the Tree of Life? If we eat of the Tree of Life, the Holy Spirit will be so activated in the ekklesia that we will be filled with awe and wonders. And yes, we will live forever. We’ll see real change coming to even the worst of sinners as we become lovely and holy New Creations of God by the Spirit. The Tree of Life is all about eternity with our Maker and living and working and being – as ONE, with him and in him.
There’s so much more to come. I hope this will make you stop and ponder what we’ve presented here. It can open incredible new walks with our Maker and witnessing real power from above being released to the Ekklesia.