The Creator God ensured provisioning of all that the mankind needed to worship and glorify His name while boldly facing the challenges of the forces of darkness encamped on the earth. The two trees – Tree of life and the other of knowledge of good and evil were also created in the Garden of Eden, the dwelling place of the first couple. God being a Spirit, the created beings were to acquire knowledge of God through daily interactions with Him and then use that to dominate and rule over the earth. The one being ruled is needed to follow the commands of the ruler and must learn about him rather than the other way round.
Why did Adam and Eve disobey God – The whole creation process starts with the revelation of God’s glory on the ‘dark and void’ earth to make the earth usable as well as make Satan and the other fallen angels realize their state of nothingness without God. Without God none of the created beings have any glory of their own despite having been created in a glorious state. On the fourth day the sun, moon and the stars were placed in the sky to provide other light on the earth. The first three days are about creating habitations while the next three days are used by God to fill the same by the intended users, to His satisfaction. It is only after making all provisions for mankind that their task is defined by God – “to dominate and rule over the earth” and ‘all plants and herbs’ are given for food to them (Genesis 1:28-29). God visited them every day to train them in executing the task as also to guide them through evaluating their work.
The opposing forces – “The darkness on the face of the deep” was separated from light and God declared the light to be good thus revealing that there is nothing good in the darkness. Identity of the evil that was hidden in the darkness is revealed by God, “you were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.. you were anointed as a guardian cherub, for I had ordained you. You were on the holy mountain of God, you walked among the fiery stones…. You were in Eden, the garden of God” (Ezekiel 28:12-14). The guardian cherub, Satan, was thrown out of heaven with one third of the angels, for his rebellion against God.
Both the Creator or the One who empowers and the created being Satan, the opposing party, are spiritual beings. It is due to this that God emphasized the gaining of spiritual knowledge over that of physical and the visible and this was being imparted by Him personally. God expresses His feelings and desires and wants us also to rejoice in Him in our entire being using the five senses but remain focused on Him in the spirit and not through the senses. The Tree of knowledge of worldly visible things was off limits for man for he is to always “look unto Lord Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) while learning about Him through His displayed glory in creation. This is further confirmed by Apostle Paul, for “Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made” (Romans 1:20).
At the urging of the serpent, Eve saw that the tree was good for food (goodness); it was a delight to the eyes (beautiful) and to be desired to make one wise (truth), a decision arrived at after a visible scrutiny (Genesis 3:6). She plucked its fruit and ate deciding to take the objective view of beauty disregarding the subjective part. As a result of this man was moved out of God’s Divine presence and glory in the Garden and he started searching for a visible god and worship od God also shifted from the invisible to the visible realm.
But since man is created in God’s image and likeness and He has ‘put eternity in man’s heart’ he cannot find satisfaction in earthly pleasures (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It is due to this that three characteristics impact us – firstly, we have a spiritual thirst; secondly, we have eternal value and finally, nothing but the eternal God can satisfy our craving. God has set an inbuilt desire in man to seek a perfect world like the one that existed in Eden. Purpose of our life depends on whom we know and not what we know or how good we are.
It is this urge that led mankind to ‘erect the tower of Babel to reach heavens and make a name for ourselves’ in much the same manner as Satan tried (Genesis 11:5). The desire to be able to see the God being worshipped led to the worship of visible things – sun, moon and the stars and idolatry was the next step for we want to see whom we worship, despite our dissimilarities of being. ‘God spoke to Moses face to face’, yet he prayed, “Lord, show me Your glory” to be blessed by God who allowed “His glory to pass in front of you” (Exodus 33:11& 18-23). God affirmed His sovereignty by informing Moses, “I will show mercy and compassion on whom I will”.
Understanding this weakness of the fallen man, God provided Moses with the design of the Tabernacle – a moving house of God – which was awesome in its beauty. Opulence of Aaron the High Priest’s garments, incense, showbread and singing were all part of satisfying the five senses of man. The grand design and beauty of the Temple, though commanded by God, catered for this inner craving of man that started from the Tree of knowledge and its visible beauty.
Why was the Tree of Life ignored – There is no clear defined time span between the seventh day of creation and eating of the forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve daily met God in the Garden and command about the two trees must have been given by showing these to Adam. In like manner Eve would have also seen both the trees many times in the course of her walk with God. The beauty of the Tree of life lies within and not without, for it points to the Creator and His beauty. The peculiarity of the Tree of life is then revealed in Scripture, “He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of the dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2). The beauty of the Tree of life is in its being for it represents the Son of God, the Immanuel, God who is with us, God who emptied Himself of all of His Divine glory to be with us – the servant King. On completion of His task on the earth He prays to the Father “And now, O Father; glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:2-5).
The beauty of the Tree of life is in His deeds, ‘I do only what My Father tells Me to do’ (John 5:19) thus illustrating His permanent connect with God the Father and absolute obedience. The King of Kings becomes a slave as an expression of His love and care for His subjects – those who do and will believe in Him and like the Tree gives eternal life to those who eat the fruit. His beauty is clearly depicted in creation, redemption on the cross and consummation of that redemption in the ongoing sanctification process in all believers through the Holy Spirit.
The invisible was further affirmed by God by giving the ‘Shema prayer’ to the Jews, which is recited by them every day, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). The three things in loving God are all invisible, for thoughts, desires, prayers and strength produce tangible results while being intangible. God gave mankind free will to choose and thus setting them apart from all other living beings and that is why the two trees. We are created in His Divine image and God saw the goodness in all of His creation while we get attracted to the physical appearances as seen by the eye and make wrong choices.
Why did God not correct man after their sin? – The first question in the Scripture is “Adam, where are you?” when God reached the already appointed place at the set time for their daily meeting. God was well aware of their sin and their location yet He did not withdraw from fellowship meeting and the question should actually be, “Adam, why are you not where you are supposed to be?” as per some scholars this is the cry of anguish of a loving partner on not finding the other at the place of meeting. And then the question to Eve, “What is this you have done?” has Hebrew word ‘mah or meh’ translated as what whereas it means ‘what, how or how often’. Thus Eve is also asked by God, “How could you have done such a thing?” (Genesis 3:9 & 13). The same Hebrew word is used by the sailors who sought an explanation from Jonah after learning about his effort to run away from God (Jonah 1:10).
God warned Cain also before he murdered his brother Abel, “sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). Noah is chosen by God for being righteous by God (Genesis 6:8) while Abraham was chosen to move out from his family who ‘worshipped other gods’ (Joshua 24:2). God desired close relationship with man and Moses was told by God, “They shall make a sanctuary for Me and I shall dwell amongst them” (Exodus 25:8). The Hebrew word ‘ betokham’ translated as amongst also means with, inside, in the centre, thereby implying that the Omnipresent God desires to live within and with mankind to fulfill both the physical narrative in a visible symbol while being invisible. After destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the Israelites being led into captivity, they felt lost for being without God. The Psalmist described this state – by the rivers of Babylon we wept when we remembered Zion – remembering the magnificence of the Temple.
Word of the LORD then confirmed His presence with them, ‘though I have sent them to other countries, yet I have become a sanctuary for them’ (Ezekiel 11:16). The concept of Synagogue was then born and the Jews would meet in specific identified places to learn Torah and worship God escaping the idolatry that was followed all around them by seeking a visible form of God. In the Synagogue there was nothing else but the Scripture scrolls that were used by the speakers. God confirms His relationship with man, “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands, your walls are ever before Me” (Isaiah 49:16). Not only was God keeping an eye on His loved ones but also ensuring their security by strengthening their walls while helping them demolish the walls that caused division among them. Immanuel, God with us, is the fullest example of God’s love and care for man in the sacrificial presence of His Son with men.
Necessity of going to the Church – It is understood by many that the indwelling God, the Holy Spirit, has established His Temple in us thus releasing us from the weekly church meeting. The task assigned to mankind is still the same as it was for Adam and Eve – dominate and rule over the earth and we achieve this by reaching out to make disciples. Each soul saved is one less under the evil control of the devil and this fight will continue till our Lord’s second coming. The question actually becomes – do we want to fight alone or with the army of the Lamb, the Son of God. The two trees were not planted by God in isolation but right in the midst of the Garden of Eden and man was required to enjoy all other fruits, tend to them and thus enjoy the fruit of the Tree of life or of knowledge.
We go to the church to be the Church – the body of Christ and His bride. Apostle John was shown the large multitude “ten thousand times ten thousand worshipping God” in heaven along with the angels. We shall also likely join the same group after our sojourn on earth is over. What is necessary in heaven for eternity, how could it not be so on the earth? “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:14-15). Lord Jesus blessed the disciples by authorizing them to forgive the sins of people and the same will be forgiven in heaven by Him (John 20:23).
The fruit of the tree can only be enjoyed by going and reaching out to the tree and not from far away and fellowship with others to worship and reach out to God is the way. In New Jerusalem the river from under the throne of God and His Son will have the Tree of life on its banks giving healing to all those who partake of its fruit or leaves. Then there will be no curse and all residents will be serving and seeing God in person. The depth of the river changes every one thousand cubits starting with depth up to the ankle, the knee, then up to the waist and then deep enough to swim in the same. The river is available to all believers today as the Holy Spirit – we have to decide how much we desire to immerse ourselves in His bountiful gifts (Ezekiel 47:1-12 & Revelation 22:1-5).
This is the state of our relationship with God to go in and rejoice while getting promoted to the next level till we are in the deep understanding the revealed mysteries. Otherwise we can keep sitting outside enjoying the fruit without really knowing Him. Between the visible and the invisible we have to make a choice today for choosing the invisible God today will take us into His visible presence till eternity. The Holy Spirit is operating in the universe to help us make the right choice but He never forces anyone to do or stop doing something. What do we choose – the Living God or some visible symbol made of earthly things!!