"This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
"I will plunder and loot
God made a garden paradise in Eden. No doubt there were many beautiful things in this garden, but in our passage, Genesis 2:8-14, it is the trees which are singled out. There are trees which provide beauty. Located at the middle of the garden are particular trees which are mentioned: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
First, we will take a look at the tree of life. Of course, only God can impart life. However, apparently the fruit from this tree would enable that God-given life to continue indefinitely. Why do I say this? Well, later, when Adam and Eve sin by partaking of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis chapter 3), God decides to remove them from the garden, because otherwise, if they also decided to take some of the fruit from the tree of life, they would live forever, while still remaining in their sinful, rebellious state. We can only begin to imagine what kind of ever-increasing sin and wickedness would result.
The fact that this tree of life was even in the garden at all indicates that God intended to allow them to eat of its fruit. He had never forbidden Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of life -- it was only the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which they were to avoid. They were meant to live forever with God. However, by sinning against God, they were now in a state where such everlasting life would only bring increasing sin and misery to them and to the rest of God's creation.
It is not that God was afraid of what they might accomplish with an unlimited lifespan. After all, He is God and could wipe them out at any time if He ever wanted to do so. Perhaps God was limiting mankind's lifespan so that a person might be drawn back to Himself. If mankind had a source of unlimited life, why would they care if God didn't like how they were living? But if they were subject to death eventually, they would be more inclined to be careful about how they were living, and to consider what might be beyond this life...and to seek God, who can give eternal life.
There are more verses about this tree of life in the Bible:
Genesis 2:9 "And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground -- trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." (NIV)
Genesis 3:22-24 "And the LORD God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.' So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from
which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life." (NIV)
Revelation 2:7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God." (NIV)
Revelation 22:14 "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city..." (NIV)
Revelation 2:19 "And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." (NIV)
I don't think we read any more about the other tree -- the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Most of the verses about knowledge in general which I saw in a concordance were indicating that God has perfect knowledge and is the source of our knowledge about Him and about other matters. The Bible says that "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." (Proverbs 1:7 NIV)
II Peter 3:18 (NIV) says: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."
One other thing which I read somewhere regarding these matters was that in choosing to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve were trying to assert their independence from God by taking hold of another source (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) to determine what was good for themselves, instead of relying upon God's continued guidance. Even before they ate from that tree they already knew the difference between good and evil -- at least enough to know that it was good for them to listen to God's command to avoid eating from that tree and bad for them to insist upon doing so. Apparently they wanted the ability to know about such things without reference to God. That is a rather familiar theme, isn't it? At times we all have thought that we know best, instead of listening to our Creator.
Location, Location, Location:
The passage in Genesis 2:8-14 tells us some things about the location of the Garden of Eden:
- It was to the east, in Eden.
- A river which watered the garden flowed from Eden and separated into four headwaters.
- 1) the Pishon, which wound through the entire land of Havilah, where there was gold, aromatic resin and onyx.
- 2) the Gihon, which winds through the entire land of Cush.
- 3) the Tigris, which runs along the east side of Asshur (at one time a capital city of Assyria)
- 4) the Euphrates.
Fortunately we have access to this tree of life through Jesus' death on the cross in our behalf. I will be having much more to say on this matter, but for now this verse sums things up nicely: "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (I Corinthians 5:21 NIV) Jesus, who had no sin, atoned for our sins by his death on the cross.
Jesus' resurrection indicated that God had accepted this sacrifice. When we acknowledge and repent of our sins and accept that Jesus is God and has made this atonement on our behalf, it is as though Jesus' righteousness has been deposited in our account.
Of course we have to accept this gracious gift on an individual basis. When we do, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us and begins His work of sanctification in us. By the Spirit's power we can overcome sin which used to hold us in bondage. This work will not be completely finished until we go to heaven, but out of gratefulness to our Savior we will have a new desire to obey and live for Him. Then one day, as Revelation 22:7 (see above) indicates, we will have the right to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God.