What Does The Tree Of Life Represent In The Bible?
If you have heard the term ‘the tree of life’, you know that it is mentioned in the Bible. It appears in the first and last chapters of the Bible (Genesis 2-3 and Revelation 22). There are two trees that exist. The tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life, both in the middle of the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil as that would ensure their mortality. “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). The element of sin brought upon the mortality, as Adam and Eve did not obey the commands of God.
What is the tree of life?
The tree of life would not cause death, old age and sickness. It promised immortality. This symbolised the obedience to God, as only He has the power to impart eternal life. However, Adam sinned and did the one thing God commanded him not to. God knew that once man sinned, he could not bear immortality as it would lead to a condition of complete lostness.
Adam was then cast out from the Garden of Eden and the tree of life was well out of his reach now. This caused death to become a part of the human race and eternal life became out of our reach. “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” (Genesis 3:22).
After this, God kept a sword-wielding cherub at the entrance of the garden “to guard the way to the tree of life” (verse 24). This made access to the tree of life now impossible and doomed humanity to a life of sin and death.
Why were these two trees together in the Garden of Eden?
This was a test. To check, if Adam and Eve would disobey Him or obey. They had the liberty to do anything they liked, except this one thing i.e. eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are truly free once you have options to choose from and so for Adam and Eve to be truly free they had a choice to make.
They were placed in the same Garden, to represent the choice that was to be made. One tree was spiritually nutritious, and the other one was not. The tree of knowledge of good and evil opened eyes to a world of sin and evil and breaking the rules brought corruption and sin in their world.
Why was physical immortality taken away?
God knew that sin would not be beneficial for human kind and once we led a life of sin, it would not be good for us to live forever. With sin, comes turmoil, suffering and evil. Had we been given physical immortality, we would become completely lost and spiritually depleted. No one can have the best of both worlds, and so when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they made their choice to live in a sinful world and give up physical eternity. The result of it was that sickness, sin, evil, suffering and death have since then been a part of our world.
What does the tree of life represent?
The tree of life is a reminder that the only way we can have a blessed eternal life is through obeying God. It is a reminder of the repercussions sinful behaviour can have on the human kind. It represents that evil was not in the tree or the fruit, but in the choice to eat it against Gods command. God wanted His creation to remain faithful to Him and as a result of that, he would give us beings eternal life. By eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the choice was made and we chose the disobedient way.
The tree of life represents everything we could have achieved had we obeyed Gods command, but humans are complex beings and the more something is restricted to us the more we want to have a taste of it even if it results in our doom. God wanted Adam to choose life over death and by forbidding eating from the tree, He showed Adam the obvious choice.
The banishment from the Garden was then made for the benefit of Adam and Eve. They disobeyed, sinned and God did not want them to live forever in this sinful state.
Does the tree of life appear anywhere else?
The tree of life appears in the Old Testament in the wisdom literature of the book of proverbs, apart from appearing in Genesis. In the Old Testament, the tree of life symbolises various ways of the enrichment of life:
- In gentle speech – Proverbs 15:4
- In knowledge – Proverbs 3:18
- In fulfilled desires – Proverbs 13:12
- In righteous fruit – Proverbs 11:30
The meaning of the tree of life is quite simple. Adam was banned to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not the tree of life. However, Satan’s tactics led him astray and ended up eating the forbidden fruit. Instead of focusing on the things that are offered to us, we focus on things that are not and end up causing trouble for ourselves. Eating the forbidden fruit caused spiritual death and separation from God.
The tree of life represents that if we focus on God and obey his commands we can live abundantly, and we will have the ability to tap into the unlimited source of life. We should not give into our temptations and have a strong willpower to do right by ourselves and God.