I like trees—just don’t ask me to take care of one or even identify it.
When I was a Boy Scout, part of earning my second class rank was being able to identify a variety of trees. My patrol leader finally passed me by letting me identify live trees from dead trees.
I love trees, though, and I am concerned that we are cutting down this renewable resource faster than it can renew itself. But I am not a tree-hugger; after all, I am a woodworker and I need a regular supply of lumber to feed my addiction.
Since this Friday is Arbor Day—the day we are encouraged to plant trees—let me mention some trees that are important in your life.
1. The tree of life. This tree in the garden of Eden symbolized eternal life. Adam and Eve had access to all the trees in the garden, including this one, meaning they had eternal life.
“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” (Gen. 2:9).
2. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was the one tree Adam and Eve could not eat from. I believe there was nothing unique about this tree—except that God designated it as the tree not to eat from. He could’ve chosen any tree for this purpose. What made this the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was simply the fact that God said it was off limits. Eating from this tree would be direct disobedience to God—sin—and a loss of their innocence. By their disobedience, Adam and Eve now knew the difference between good and evil.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (vv. 16-17).
And this meant we no longer had access to the tree of life—and eternal life.
“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” (Gen. 3:24).
3. The cross of Christ. The wooden cross Jesus died on was a tree of death for Him—but it was a tree that brought life to us.
“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).
Jesus’ death on the cross—and subsequent resurrection—means a new life for us, an eternal life, which brings us right back to …
4. The tree of life. Christ will bring His children into a heavenly home—the new heaven and the new earth—and we will have access to the tree of life. The tree of life represents eternal life, and we will be with Christ forever.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse” (Rev. 22:1-3).
God brings us right back to where He wanted us to be in the first place. So embrace the cross—and you’ll find yourself embracing the tree of life.