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Two Trees in the Garden of Eden (Bible Study)

Posted Feb 21, 2023 in Bible Studies
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Youtube Presentation on The Two Trees here: https://youtu.be/ufhbcU8h_cY

There were two trees in the Garden of Eden, and today we still have a choice between two trees. We think that only applied to Adam and Eve, but we too have to decide which tree we want to eat from, in a spiritual sense of course.

We have three basic principles of Bible study that we want to follow. We are guided by 1 John 4:8: “He who does not love has not known God; for God is love.” That love is agape, unconditional love, a love that is totally self-controlled and that values others above itself. God does indeed value others above himself. Psalm 18:30 tells us that God's way is perfect and Malachi 3:6 tells us that God does not change. If God is perfect and unchanging, then His love must also be perfect and unchanging. We study the Bible with the intention of finding God's love and how each passage reveals God's love.

  1. God is agape. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB: “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
  2. The life of Jesus reveals the truth about God. John 14:9, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How then can you say: show us the father?”
  3. Biblical principle explains Scripture and Scripture explains Biblical principle. Isaiah 28:10 (KJV translated): “For principle (precept) must follow principle, principle after principle; line upon line, line upon line; a little here, a little there:"

The first principle is that God is agape, and we let that principle guide us in our study. The second principle shows us that the life of Jesus was an accurate revelation of the Father, and the third shows us that Scripture is self-explanatory. With these basic principles and under the guidance of the Spirit of God, we can always find out the truth about God. And today we want to study about the two trees.

In the garden there were two special trees (Genesis 2:9): the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)

We see two trees: one tree represents God and His government and character, and one tree represents Satan and his government and character.

In the great struggle we see a conflict between justice and injustice, a conflict between truth and lies, a conflict between Christ and Satan and what they tell us about the Father.

In the great struggle we also see similar symbols attributed to both sides. These symbols help us understand various aspects of the war that is being fought and the roles played by Christ and Satan in this battle for the truth about God:

  • Two lions - one protects, one devours
  • Two seeds - A good seed, a bad seed
  • Two Sowers - A good sower, a bad sower
  • Two Paths - The narrow path to life, the broad path to perdition
  • Two princes - The prince of peace, the prince of this world
  • Two names/characters written on the forehead - The Father's name, Babylon's name
  • Two Trees - The Tree of Life, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Physical realities explain spiritual truths. God created this world so that different visible realities reveal invisible spiritual truths.

In Romans 1:20 we read, "...for His invisible nature, which is His eternal power and Deity, has been seen in works by reflection since the world was created, so that they have no excuse."

While it may sound funny, we can actually learn something from a tree.

  • Trees have roots that anchor into the earth to keep them stable and upright.
  • Trees produce fruit to disperse seeds to propagate in the soil.
  • Trees are a source of food.
  • Trees affect the quality of the soil.

These physical realities convey spiritual truths to us.

  • ​The tree of life has the principle of life within it.
  • The tree of knowledge has the principle of death within it.

Let's ask some questions:

  • What tree did Adam and Eve eat from?
  • Which tree took root in the earth and became stable and upright?
  • Which tree became a "spiritual" food source for the people?
  • Which tree produces fruit to spread seed in people's lives? Galatians 5:19-21
  • Which tree influences the soil of the hearts of men? Luke 8:11-15

And we know the answers. First Eve and then Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And that tree took root on the earth and became stable and upright. This tree became a spiritual food source for mankind. That is why God says that we should not drink the wine of Babylon, for that is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil spreading its seed on the earth. And these seeds produce fruit in the hearts of men as described in Galatians 5:

But the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness; idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, wrath, selfishness, discord, factions; Envy, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and the like, of which I foretell to you, as I said before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

These are the fruits that show themselves in the lives of people who eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And how does that affect the soil in people's hearts?

 “Now this is the parable: the seed is the word of God. And those beside the road are the ones who have heard, then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and yet these do not have a firm root; they believe for a while, and in a time of temptation they fall away. And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked by worries, riches, and pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word with a good and virtuous heart, and hold it firmly, and produce fruit with perseverance.. (Luke 8:11-15)

Here we see that by eating from the tree of knowledge, the soil of the heart can become hard as a rock or thorny, unable to receive the Word of God.

The Bible uses the tree as a symbol, and this symbol is very important because in the great struggle; it is this tree that marks when mankind first entered the conflict between God and Satan, the struggle between truth and lie.

The Bible uses "trees" to symbolize people, their influence, and their dominion. Daniel 4 speaks of a dream that Nebuchadnezzar had, and it says in verse 23:

And in that the king [Nebuchadnezzar] saw an angelic watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, “Chop down the tree and destroy it; yet leave the stump [u]with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field, let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the animals of the field until seven periods of time pass over him,” (Daniel 4:23)

Nebuchadnezzar, a king, was symbolized in this tree, and his influence and rulership were contained in the symbolism of the tree. This is important because Jesus calls Himself a tree in Scripture. Jesus is a King, Jesus has influence, Jesus has dominion.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (John 12:24,25)

Jesus is referring to himself here as a seed, a grain of wheat. In Matthew 13, Jesus is the mustard seed that grows into a great tree.

He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a person took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all the other seeds, but when it is fully grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)

Jesus is the One who died and was sown into the field, and when He rose again it is His life and His influence and His dominion that becomes a tree that everything lives off. This death on earth was a manifestation of Christ slain from the foundation of the world because this tree of life was there from the foundation of the world.

So, Nebuchadnezzar, his influence, his dominion was a tree.

Jesus' influence and dominion is also symbolized as a tree.

Satan is also symbolized as a tree.

Let's look at Ezekiel 31:7-11. Note that this passage speaks of Pharaoh, but Pharoah is the representative to a power system. Similar to Ezekiel 28 when God speaks to the king of Tyre, God is actually speaking with the power that was behind the king of Tyre: Satan (“Thou said ‘I am a god’”; “thou hast been in Eden”; “thou art the anointed cherub that covereth”). So when God is talking about Pharaoh here; He actually means Satan. And just as in Ezekiel 28, reference is made to the Garden of Eden:

“Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by great waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him.

Therefore thus saith the Lord God; 'ecause thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height; I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness.” (Ezekiel 31:7-11)

It is clear that here Satan is spoken of as a tree. The tree that exalted itself in Eden was Satan.

The wicked are also referred to as a tree:

I have seen a wicked, violent person
Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. (Psalm 37:35)

So both Jesus and Satan are symbolized as trees because they are both kings with influence and dominion.

  • The tree of life represents Jesus, His principles, influence, rulership and government.
  • The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represents Satan, his principles, influence, dominion and government.

 

The Tree of Life

Let us remember that there is not just the one tree of life. There is also the breath of life, the water of life and the words of life. And they all come from Jesus.

In Him was life, and life was the light of men. (John 1:4) 

I am the way and the truth and the life; nobody comes to the father but through me! (John 14:6)

I am the light of the world. (John 8:12)

So Jesus is life, truth, way and light.

Light is a symbol of something in which there is no darkness and no injustice. This is what the tree of life stands for and symbolizes. The life of Jesus, the truth of Jesus, and the light or purity of the character, methods, principles, and government of Christ.

Anyone who has seen me has seen the father. How can you say: Show us the Father? (John 14:9)

So the Tree of Life is a revelation of God. And God is agape:

He who does not love has not recognized God; for God is love (agape). (1 John 4:8)

Agape =

  • self control
  • Respect others more than yourself
  • No violence, no coercion
  • No manipulation
  • patience
  • friendliness
  • Merciful, gracious
  • forgiving
  • Hope everything

This is what the tree of life represents, the completeness of agape in God and His government. This is what the fruit of the tree of life would have given us.

  1. The love of God: “... but hope does not disappoint; for the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)
  2. God's freedom: “But the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
  3. God's Truth: “But when that comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak of himself, but what he hears he will speak, and what is to come he will declare to you.” (John 16:13)
  4. The fruit of the Spirit is agape in its perfection: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22,23)

It is called the fruit of the Spirit because it contains the seed of life that contains all that makes life good.

Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, all agape in its perfection, as we also read in 1 Corinthians 13. It is a pure love that has no evil in it. This is the fruit of the tree of life in its spiritual reality.

There was a physical tree with physical fruit, but man does not live by food alone. Man lives because the Spirit of God is constantly poured out in him. The tree of life was a symbol of Jesus and the truth about God, His character, His methods and His principles. The fruit of the tree was a symbol for the fruit of the spirit that should constantly flow into man. The seed of the fruit of the tree of life was a symbol of the immortal seeds of the words of life propagating within us.

This is the tree that should take root in the earth, that should produce fruit to nourish mankind and keep the quality of the soil of the human heart pure in godliness.

Adam and Eve rejected this.

 

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

This tree represents Satan's system, his principles and his government of iniquity. This is how Satan wants to live, this is how Satan wants us to see God.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents a system of:

  • Appear to be good to those who are good
  • Be evil to those who are evil

It's a reward and punishment system. This system is a counterfeit of God's character, methods and principles. It has manipulation, lies and murder at its core. It is a perversion of God, His government and His dealings with creation. Here lies the source of injustice: a system of reward and punishment.

A system where the smartest, the strongest, and the ablest rise to the top and everyone else is second-class citizens. Satan's reward and punishment system creates competition and produces arrogance, deceit, dishonesty, delusion, envy, greed, hatred, immorality, selfishness, violence, and salvation by works. This is the origin of injustice, and that is why Satan was a liar and a murderer from the beginning. For Satan created a system that has a death principle in it.

Your father is the devil, and what your father desires you want to do! He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. If he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

Satan created a system of good and evil that rewards with earthly riches those he deems good and kills those he deems evil in his kingdom. At its core, Satan's system of injustice is manipulation, lies, and murder. And it's very deceptive because it twists the truth so that you can't see the twist, which changes our view of God and our perception of His character, methods, and principles.

Satan projects this system onto God and tells us that this is the way God runs His government… and the whole world believes it: the entire system, schooling, every type of administration and government, every system in this world is derived from Satan's system. We cannot even imagine a system that is not guided by Satan's principles. This is the system: be good to those who are good, be evil to those who are evil. This system creates all sorts of competition, and once man is in competition with his brothers and sisters, all sorts of things come into his mind that go against and pervert agape.

The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil reveal the truth of what is happening in the great struggle, its roots, its causes; what is taking place on earth in the hearts of people and what we can do to become free of it.

This is what the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represents: a system of reward and punishment.

  • Be good to those who are good
  • Be evil to those who are evil

Satan is smart enough to know that every government needs a law, so he allows the Ten Commandments into his system through a counterfeit. He doesn't want to appear to get rid of the law because he has a throne and he has a government that he claims is upholding the law better than God does.

In Satan's system you can have the Ten Commandments, but they are not obeyed through the motivation of love, but rather a checklist of what you have done and what you have not done. In Satan's system you can have the Ten Commandments, but you cannot have agape. In Satan's system, if you keep the Ten Commandments, you will be rewarded. It will give you pride; it will give you prestige; it will give you confidence that your works will be recognized by God. If you don't follow them, you will be punished.

This sounds kind of like modern Christianity:

  • Be good, fear God, keep His commandments and He will reward you with everlasting life.
  • Be wicked, fear not God, disobey His commandments, and He will punish you with eternal death.

That's manipulation, that's coercion, that's using threats to force people to do good. But that's not how agape love works.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment; whoever fears now has not become perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

In love there is no manipulation, no coercion and no fear. Fear acts only out of fear of punishment. Scripture says that there is no punishment [torment] with God, but that He pours out His blessings on the wicked and on the good. (the only punishment is our refusal of those blessings, which causes us to be disconnected from God and then suffer. See this study and this)

But I say to you: Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who abuse you and persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:44-45)

Satan says:

  • Be good to those who are good
  • Be evil to those who are evil

This is the knowledge of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This is the system rooted in the earth. This is the system that causes people to compete with each other and behave in ways that God calls injustice. With this, Satan deceived the whole world.

And so was thrown down the great dragon, the serpent of old, called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:9)

Satan deceives the whole world into believing that God and His government are based on this:

  • Be good to those who are good
  • Be evil to those who are evil

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:16-20)

The bad tree points directly to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and can only produce bad, corrupt fruit because it creates competition, encourages self-justification, sets us against one another… and when the carnal mind comes out under the right circumstances, brother will kill brother, as happened with Cain and Abel. It has the terrible power to destroy even the closest familial bonds of love.

  • A good tree produces good fruit, that is the fruit of the spirit.
  • A corrupt, bad tree produces corrupt and bad fruit.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and whoever loves it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)

The tree you love will determine the fruit you eat, or put another way, the system you participate in will determine the works you produce.

The tree of life is the system of God. It is agape love through Christ Jesus, the true King. When you are in God's agape system, you will do the works of agape, and these are its fruits:

  • self control
  • Respecting others more than yourself
  • It creates freedom and free will
  • You feel secure under headship and empowers you to love others and grow
  • treats all people equally, blesses all people equally, whether they are good or evil
  • hope and joy in knowing that you are a channel for God’s love

In Satan's system, things are not secure:

  • Do you have to earn love?
  • Do you have to earn blessings?
  • Do you have to earn yourself being treated well?
  • Do you have to be afraid when you make a mistake?
  • Will your freedom be taken away?
  • Are others trying to handicap and limit your growth?
  • There is always competition
  • Underlying potential of violence, manipulation, lies and murder
  • Envy, jealousy, hatred and injustice arise

And the worst thing about Satan's system of reward and punishment is that God is blamed for all of it.

So now there is no more condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

You can also read verse 2 like this:

For the fruit of the tree of life set me free from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

In Satan's system, only one person can be at the top. And that person is Satan.

And yet you had resolved in your heart: 'I will ascend to heaven, and exalt my throne above the stars of God, and settle on the mountain of assembly in the far north; … (Isaiah 14:13)

In God's system, everyone is treated equally.

Whoever overcomes I will give to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21)

When we overcome Satan's system of good and evil, reward and punishment, we will sit with Jesus on God's throne.

Deuteronomy 30:19 speaks to us of two systems:

Today I take heaven and earth as witnesses against you: I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; so choose life, that you may live, you and your seed (Deuteronomy 30:19)

  1. A system of life; Agape - the tree of life
  2. A system of death and injustice - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil

The system of God has blessed us with everything that makes life possible.

Satan's system curses us with everything and that makes life impossible.

When we eat from the tree of life we are participating in God's system of agape and everything that makes life good will flow into us and we share it with others. And when our life produces the fruit of the Spirit and we give it on to others, this imperishable seed is then taken up by others and of itself produces fruit after its kind.

If we continue to choose Satan's system, we will continue to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and iniquity will be found within us. Destruction is within us and we enter into a system of competition with our fellow human beings and in the end we will kill them. That is exactly what the Bible tells us (“you are of your father the devil”…and we killed Jesus, the person who loved us most).

So the Word of God tells us: Choose the system you want to follow and what fruit you want to eat and what tree you want to love.

God does not manipulate us into making a choice or kill us if we make wrong choices. He tells us to choose the system we want to be in and He tells us to choose the tree of life. He weeps over us. Choose the tree of life! We have to make a decision; we have to choose. Will we eat of the fruit of the tree of life or will we eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

Today I take heaven and earth as witnesses against you: I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; so choose life, that you may live, you and your seed... (Deuteronomy 30:19)

- Bradley Mock