Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9 (NRSV)
The Tree of Life is a metaphor which appears throughout Scripture. In creation God puts the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden as well as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is interesting that in the narrative of the Fall, God banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden, to where they no longer have access to the presence of either tree as a result of eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
It has been said that pride is the mother of all sins, and in the story of the Fall, we learn that in our wanting to be God, we distance ourselves from Him.
The Tree of Life is a central image not only in the Creation and the Fall, but in the redemption of creation.
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. Isaiah 11:1 (NRSV)
The prophet Isaiah foretold the birth and life of Jesus 700 or so years before He was born here on earth. A descendent of King David (Jesse was King David’s father) would appear- as a new Tree of Life- but not in the way that his contemporaries expected. The new Tree of Life is Jesus, and He came to give Himself to save us. He defeated death by pouring out His life out from the arms of a dead tree that was fashioned to bring about death.
The redemption of creation is, as we are well aware, an ongoing work in progress. We as Jesus followers are invited- and were created to- bring about God’s kingdom here on earth. We get to participate in God’s great work of redemption, restoration and renewal.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, but violence takes lives away. Proverbs 11:30 (NRSV)
(Jesus said): You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. Matthew 7:16-17 (NRSV)
This world and this life is not the end, but a beginning, an introduction for us into Life as God intended for us and created us to live.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:1-5 (NRSV)
Are we getting in on God’s plan for us to be trees of life that bring forth good fruit, and to be light-givers?