Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Tree of Life

I like trees.

They're majestic. They're interesting. They're helpful to the environment. They provide a home for birds. They provide scenes for artists. They enhance the view.

The Bible mentions many trees. Acacia, myrtle, juniper, cedar, cypress, chestnut, olive, almond, fig... The list goes on.

There are references to trees as a metaphor for strength and for prominent men (Psalm 1:3) or as a symbol of evil (Psalm 37:35).

Of all the trees mentioned in the Bible there is one pre-eminent tree. The Tree of Life.
Tree of Life
The meaning of “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” in the Eden narrative is not as clear as the meaning of the “tree of life.” Direct allusions to the tree of life are found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Significantly, in the book of Proverbs the tree of life is like a symbol: 
  •      of knowledge (Prov 3:18);
  •      of righteous fruit (Prov 11:30);
  •      of accomplished desires (Prov 13:12);
  •      of a wholesome tongue (Prov 15:4; Marcus, “The Tree of Life,” 117–20). 
Baez, E. (2016). Tree of Knowledge. Lexham Press.
The New Testament contains four references to the tree of life, all of which appear in Rev 2 and Rev 22. In this eschatological context, the tree of life functions as a future source of healing and immortality for the faithful. 
In Revelation 2:7 and 11, the saints who emerge victorious in Christ through testing are promised the tree of life (Rev 2:7) and deliverance from the second death (Rev 2:11). Osborne argues that in this context, the tree of life symbolizes the cross, which makes access to God and eternal life possible (Osborne, Revelation, 124, 563). Similar imagery is attested elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g., Gal 3:13). Tree of life imagery also serves as a polemic against the Greek Artemis fertility cult of Ephesus, where her temple was a “tree shrine” in which she symbolized life (Osborne, Revelation, 124). 
The final chapter of Revelation ties the tree of life back to the garden of Eden as “a picture of forgiveness and consequent experience of God’s intimate presence.” This chapter uses language and imagery of early Jewish literature (Beale, The Book of Revelation, 234–35). 
Faro, I. (2016). Tree of Life. Lexham Press.
The tree of life used to be in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 2:9). Where is it now? In the paradise of God- AKA heaven. (Revelation 2:7b, 19)

It is an actual tree. Will the tree of life be a palm tree? A new kind of tree humans have never seen before (except Adam and Eve)? I am very much looking forward to seeing this tree.

Spiritually, our precious Savior is a Tree of Life (John 14:6). In only Him is life. Praise God for sending His Son. He is the tree of life, in whom we are rooted, in whom we grow, and in whom we shelter.



Further Reading:

Answers in Genesis: The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life stood in the centre of the Garden of Eden which elsewhere is called ‘The Garden of the LORD’.1 It was a real tree, to be sure, but let me suggest that it was also symbolic of the fact that God was, and is, the source of eternal life and blessing. Adam and Eve were to have their life centred in Him, even as the Tree was in the centre of His Garden.






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