I heard someone years ago say that we live our lives between two trees. The Tree of Life bookends the Bible. When I first heard this, the first thing to come to my mind was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis 2 and then the Tree of Life in Revelation 22. But that’s not the two trees. We live between a tension though. A tension of the two trees. And we live each day needing to remember the first tree and looking forward to the second tree.
Back in Genesis 2 when God made humanity and created the Garden east of Eden, he placed in the middle two trees–The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. One brought life, the other death. Why were these two put there, I have no idea, God only knows (literally). The Garden literally was paradise. The word “paradise” comes from the Greek word which pretty much sounds the same which in turn comes from an old Persian word meaning a garden. But it isn’t just any garden, it is a garden set aside for the gods, a garden special and different and set a part. Paradise. God’s Garden. Eden. Perfect paradise. And there was what we were made to live in.
And in the middle was the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now, you could say those are the two trees we live between. But they aren’t. The second tree is not available to us, or at least, we weren’t to have it be available to us.
God said to Adam
“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.” Genesis 2:16-17
Simple enough. I mean, who really wants to die? Of course, who really wants to live forever? The thing is, we were made to live forever, we weren’t made to die.
And then when Adam and Eve, conned into eating of the fruit by the rascally and deceitflled serpent, they did die–their eyes were opened and they saw like God did and knew evil and good. And they were ashamed. Instead of letting that shame drive them to God, they hid from him instead. And from their they were kicked out of the Paradise of the Garden and entered into the barren painful world. The reason: Just in case they ate of the Tree of Life and lived forever. If they did eat of that fruit too, then people would be so messed up and twisted for, well, forever. And that isn’t good. That would make it impossible for God to bring His people back to Himself and know the Tree of Life once again. And so God provided and took care of Adam and Eve and gave them the promise of the second Tree of Life.
Jesus came to fulfill this promise of the second tree. He came to us that first Christmas morning to begin the promise of the Tree of Life by the river of crystal to bring healing to the nations and always bearing fruit. Perfect paradise once again. And when Jesus comes in glory and majesty that second Tree of Life which we look forward to will be once again the middle of it all. This time not in the Garden but in the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, God’s dwelling place forever with us as it was originally supposed to be.
And so we live between these two trees. We live between the two Trees of Life, with a small detour due to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We know right and wrong yet we for some reasons can’t tell our right hand from our left. We know that we’re supposed to do for God, yet we struggle and do what is evil. It is a constant tension we live in. We fall short of God’s glory yet the redemption, the Tree of Life, is available for us all who call on Jesus.
And so I live today in that tension, the tension between the two trees, the tension between the two paradises. And this tension drives me to live in the hope and knowledge that I will one day be in the presence of Jesus by the Tree of Life planted by the river of life, the river of crystal.
Not just that, but I live today having this promise of the second tree being real now. I live now in the promise of the future. I might as well because I know it’s true. I live today in the fulfillment of the promise.
How are you living between the two trees? Are you living the promise today and now in the reality of the second tree? Live in the tension between the two trees of the two paradises.