The tree of life: righteous creation or holy temptation?


There are a lot of scholars, pastors, and Christians who believe that God created man “to live forever.” That is to say when God created Adam and Eve he intended for them to live for all eternity with Him in the garden. But is this really the truth? Did God originally create mankind to live forever? It would appear that God did not create mankind to live forever, at least no without eating the fruit of the tree of life.

My question in this post is why did God create the tree of life? What was its purpose? If God had created man to live for eternity, then what was the need for the tree of life? What is important to remember is that God did not only create the tree of life, but he also created the tree of knowledge of good and evil. These two trees were placed alongside each other in the center of the garden. Both of these trees were important; they were both in the center of the garden. There placement in the garden demonstrates the central role they were to play in Adam and Eve’s lives.

After God had placed Adam and Eve in the garden, he gave them one restriction. He told them, “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 of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17, NIV). They were allowed to eat from any tree but one. God made it clear that eating from this tree had dire consequences—death. So from the very beginning of creation, there was the possibility of eternal life or death. The choice, however, was up to Adam and Eve. They could choose to be obedient and eat from any tree in the garden or they could choose to be disobedient and eat from the “forbidden” tree and suffer death. What is interesting to note is that God did not command to eat from the tree of life. Perhaps it was expected. Or does this mean my statement that God did not create man to live for eternity was wrong. Did God know they would live forever if they didn’t eat from the tree of life?

I think the tree of life was necessary. This is because of what God spoke in Genesis 3:22—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. God had made it clear that to choose disobedience would result in death. We read this account thousands of years removed and often times just gloss over it without thinking a whole lot about what happened. It would appear that God did not just give the restriction on the tree of knowledge and then Adam and Eve went out, encountered the Serpent, and ate from the tree. However, the Scriptures do not give us any indication as to how long of a time period there is between the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3, where the serpent appears. It also does not tell us if Adam and Eve ever ate from the tree of life. Before the serpent appears, the Scripture seems to indicate that perhaps Adam and Eve had not only been obedient in not eating from the tree of knowledge, but that they had not even touched it (Gen. 3:3). I think Adam and Eve understood that the tree of life was necessary for them to live forever. If they didn’t, then why would God post angels to prevent them from gaining access to its fruit? It only makes sense that they knew what it did and had eaten from it.

Ultimately though, I think that God created the tree of life with the tree of knowledge of good and evil in mind. Placing them both in the center of the garden would force Adam and Eve to daily (or however often they ate from the tree of life) make a choice to choose obedience and life or disobedience and death.
I could probably write an entire book about the tree of life. What about you, why do you think that God created the tree of life?
What'd you think? 


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