There were two trees in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9):
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the other was the Tree of Life.
What was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?
Well, it could have been an apple tree, but it probably wasn't. The apple idea stems back to a Latin pun, where the Latin word malum means both evil and apple. (The actual phrase for good and evil is boni et mali.) It's a pun that is lost in other languages, and as Genesis was written in Hebrew we should not place any reliability on a Latin pun.
Some believe it was a fig tree, but the tree is not identified.
The Hebrew word here translated tree is the same word used for ordinary trees in all 25 uses in the book of Genesis. There is no exception. So the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was clearly an actual type of tree.
Similarly, the Hebrew word for knowledge is the ordinary word for knowledge or awareness. There is not the slightest indication that we should look for another meaning for knowledge.
What about the words for good and evil? Well, the word for good is the same one used throughout Genesis chapter 1 when God pronounced His creation “good” and “very good.” The meaning may at times be extended to mean beautiful, joyful, bountiful, or pleasurable. Again, there is nothing to indicate we should look for an unusual meaning of good.
The Hebrew word for evil that is used in the tree's description — ra‘ — has the sense of misery, woe, grief, or harm. The word means evil, and perhaps more. It points to something extremely sorrowful — so we can rightly understand that eating the fruit of this tree would reveal knowledge of good and misery.
So was giving knowledge of good and evil a bad thing? One might naturally assume that a source of knowledge would be a good thing so was the tree actually bad or was God somehow trying to suppress knowledge from us? This couldn’t be further from the truth.
John 8:32 says you will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. God is the source of knowledge of all truth and gives us truth so He is not suppressing truth – though He does choose when to reveal the mysteries to us. Many of us are not mature enough in the faith to handle the deep truths of the universe.
Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Heb. 5:14
Let me ask you, what source gives us the definition of both good and evil? The Torah was the defining source and most cultures have a written code based from its writings and this is summed up in two words: THE LAW. The list of promises and punishments. The law lists the good, the evil and the punishments accordingly.
Thus the tree could be called the TREE OF THE LAW. Therefore when Adam and Eve ate of the tree, they were signing a covenant to be under The Law and thus everything changed. The Law is binding and with it came sin and death (Romans 7:7-11). The Tree didn’t cause them to sin – sin had already entered into the hearts of Adam and Eve to defy God. But once under the law, they were then aware of their condemnation for the sin they had given in to:
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” Romans 7:7-12
"Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out." Deuteronomy 27:26
Once they consumed of the fruit of the tree, the law went into full effect. Although the Torah wasn’t written until 1440 BC, the Talmud describes the first 2500 years as being the oral covenant of God – one that Cain and Abel knew very well (Hebrews 11:4). After Noah, it was called the Noahide 7. These were implemented before the 613 Levitical Laws were given to Moses. This is why Abraham was honoring God with sacrifice and obedience because he understood the ways of God and it was credited to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3, 22) and this was 430 years before the Levitical Laws were written (Galatians 3:17).
Hosea 6:7 says that Adam broke the first covenant because until they ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they ate freely of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life could also be called the First Fruits Covenant.
The law was perfect (John 1:1, Psalm 19:7-10, Romans 7). But the law could not make anything perfect nor save us (Romans 8). Only God could make perfection and Adam and Eve entered into covenant with the Tree of The Law in a state of sin. They were in rebellion at the time they signed the dotted line by eating of its fruit. They had already sinned (sin of the heart – Psalm 14, 53, Proverbs 23 including 42 other Scriptures about the sin condition in the heart of man) when they took hold of the fruit, saw that it was desirable and disobeyed when they consumed. So, at that moment, they were flawed – without perfection at the moment they entered into covenant under The Law.
Perfection is the standard to dwell with God (Matthew 5:48, Philippians 3:12) and once all of life was grafted into the Tree of The Law, that meant that anything less that perfect was flawed and the only way to be perfect is in Christ Jesus – to be grafted in to the Tree of Life. The whole world was separated from The Tree of Life and was thus grafted into the Tree of The Law – why? Because dominion of the earth was given to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26-28), so when they signed the covenant with the Tree of The Law, all of the earth was entered into that covenant as well.
If they had eaten of the fruit of Tree of The Law while still in a perfect state, then they would have been Christ-like – still perfect at the signing of the contract. But that was impossible to do because they were instructed to NOT EAT OF IT (Genesis 2:17) so any consumption of it would be in defiance and thus in a sinful state. Therefore man could never enter into contract with The Law in a perfect state. They did not know of death until they entered into covenant with The Law. This is why God said they would surely die (Genesis 2:17).
The word "covenant, " infrequently heard in conversation, is quite commonly used in legal, social (marriage), and religious and theological contexts.
The term "covenant" is of Latin origin (con venire), meaning a coming together. It presupposes two or more parties who come together to make a contract, agreeing on promises, stipulations, privileges, and responsibilities. It is a contract or agreement between two parties. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word berith is always thus translated. Berith is derived from a root which means "to cut," and hence a covenant is a "cutting," with reference to the cutting or dividing of animals into two parts, and the contracting parties passing between them, in making a covenant ( Genesis 15; Jeremiah 34:18; Jeremiah 34:19).
The corresponding word in the New Testament Greek is diatheke , which is, however, rendered "testament" generally in the Authorized Version. It ought to be rendered, just as the word berith of the Old Testament, "covenant."
Adam and Eve were the acting agents on behalf of this world. In a modern context, how are we subject to the laws of the United States? Whether you are a visitor or a citizen, you are subject to this nation’s laws. How – through paperwork (an agreement) that either you sign, a power of attorney or a guardian. This comes in the form of entry documents or a birth certificate with SS#. These documents subject you to the governing authorities. So, when God gave dominion of the earth to Adam and Eve, they were the acting agents on behalf of evening on the earth and to come. That means rocks, air, animal and man. All of it. Adam and Eve had the power of authority from God Himself.
Here is a real mind-bender: Did Satan ever eat of the fruit? Have you ever noticed that God seems to use Satan’s rage for His own purposes? Satan wanted to destroy Jesus, which only fulfilled 46 prophecies and ended up saving man. God used Satan to fulfill His purpose of redeeming His people. But, if Satan never ate of the fruit, then he was not in covenant, under contract, under the Law. That means that Satan could not be punished to the condemnation of the law if he was not in covenant with it. So, here is the mind-bender. God could have sent Satan to any planet in the galaxy as his punishment, but he was cast to the earth. Then God put the covenant of The Law and the covenant of Life in the garden. Then he gave all authority on earth to man – already knowing that man would fall and take of the covenant of The Law. That means that everything on the earth would be under man and thus subject to The Law. Thus, by eating of the fruit and bringing all of the earth under the covenant of The Law, man brought a curse on everything on the earth that would bring judgment, i.e. eternal death, to all including Satan and his followers (demons and all). This is why God chose to redeem man (Romans 11:32, Hebrews 2:14-17) and not Satan because it was necessary to bring all the spiritual realm and physical realm under the authority of the law in order to destroy everything that was not grafted in to Jesus Christ – the Tree of Life. So, now, all spirits and souls are under the law except for those grafted into the Tree of Life – the covenant of eternal life – Jesus Christ our Lord (Hebrews 7-10).
You see – we could not save ourselves under The Law because we are imperfect, so this is why God sent Jesus to the earth, to enter into covenant under The Law as a perfect vessel because He was the only one who could fulfill the mandates of the Law (all 613 ordinances) and thus could defeat its curse (Hebrews 2). So, Christ became lower than the angels when he became under The Law in order to be elevated once again by prevailing over it. In fact, we will also be over the angels once we graduate from this body to our new bodies (1 Cor. 6:3, I Cor. 15).
In summary then, that means that Satan, trying to destroy man, actually brought himself and the world under the condemnation of The Law. Then Satan, trying to destroy God by killing Jesus, brought salvation to man. Now, that picture in the “Passion of the Christ” movie comes to mind where Satan looks up screaming at God. Indeed, the revelation of being outsmarted again must consume him greatly.
Covenants in the spiritual world (both with life and death) often involve consuming or taking things into your body. We see this even when the priests would make atonement for the people. They would eat of the sacrifice offered:
“The priest who offers it shall eat it; it is to be eaten in the sanctuary area, in the courtyard of the tent of meeting.” Leviticus 6:26
In fact, in Leviticus 7, you will see that the Sin Offering, the Guilt Offering and the Fellowship Offering all involved consumption.
In Ezekiel 3:2-4 and Revelation 10:9-11 – both times we see Prophecy being given and told to be eaten by the prophet that it would transform the man from the inside out:
“So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, "Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you." Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. Then He said to me, "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.” Ezekiel 3:2-4
“So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, "Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey." I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. And they said to me, "You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings." Revelation 10:9-11
This is why God cares about how we treat our bodies (His temple, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Sex, drugs, alcohol, food, are all taking in things into our body that represent our walk in the world. We will eat differently because of our relationship with God. Sex is different based on our relationship with God. All of the things we take into our bodies will change based on how deep our relationship with God is.
The Tree of Life represented JESUS CHRIST. How do we know this, because He says so: John 14:6…”I am The Life” and Proverbs 3 (The Tree of Life). See also John 15:5-8. This is why they could no longer eat of the tree of life and were thus evicted from the garden until they could take of the tree of life once again, which is why Jesus wanted us to eat of his body and drink of his blood as we observe during communion. By ingesting Him, we have nullified the covenant of The Law and take on the Covenant of Life:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Christ is called the First Fruits in 1 Corinthians 15:20. It is interesting that the Feast of First Fruits during Passover was designed to celebrate the blessings of God (i.e. manna in the desert, blessings of harvest, children, etc.) – His First Fruits for us. In response, we would bring Him our First Fruits, the best of our harvest, the first of our money, etc. because it all symbolized Jesus Christ - that we would give of our best just as God gave us His best – His son Jesus. Now, why would Jesus be called the First Fruits, because the Tree of Life was giving the First Fruit that was of the First Covenant with man.
Thus we are now grafted in to the Tree of Life as heirs to promises given to Abraham: Galatians 3:29, Galatians 4 and Romans 8.
If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
According to what we just read this morning here in Romans 11, since God established the plan of redemption through the tribes of Israel, He will not forsake the tribes of Israel. This comes back to the blood covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis 15 and we are now grafted in to that very promise, through Jesus Christ (Galatians 3-4). During this promise with God, it was God who was taking it upon Himself to fulfill the promises that He would preserve His people, despite themselves. They walked in a figure 8 when a covenant was made because it is the eternity symbol. Even if we fail, God does not.
But, there wasn’t just 12 tribes of Israelites on the earth – no there were 3 tribes of people groups on the earth. After God destroyed all the inhabitants of the earth at the flood, He started over with Noah and his three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth (Genesis 6:10; 10:1-32) - Shem being the middle child whom God used to bring into the world the tribes of Israel. Interesting that God used the 2nd born – like Isaac and Jacob. However, there were still two other people groups that needed to be restored and have the hope of Shem’s line – groups who would be called the Gentiles. I find it interesting then that out of the garden flowed three rivers and when Jesus rebuilds the temple during His reign on the earth, there will be only one river and He says everyone who settles there will be considered as native-born Israelites and allotted an inheritance (Ezekiel 47:21-23). He was also in the tomb for three days – one day for each people group on the earth.
So, if we were to draw the Tree of Life – it would have roots into the Word of God with Christ as its Trunk and then 3 Branches representing the 3 people groups on the earth followed by the 12 branches from Shem representing Israel and then grafted on branches that would represent you and me and all who would accept of Jesus Christ as our Lord and King. This image would then represent a tree that looks a lot like the cross of Christ with a crown on the top. Very powerful!
The Garden thus represented the sanctuary of God, representative of what He will rebuild in Revelation 22 where there will only be one tree next to the waters of life – the Tree of Life – no longer next to the Tree of The Law, because all its inhabitants would no longer be under the law of sin and death. That means there will no longer be the tempter nor the temptation - for sin will be conquered once and for all. You only need a law if there are actions that go against the holiness of God. The law set the standard and anything less was punished accordingly. In a perfect state, there will be nothing to contrast the holiness of God – even in His people.
So, if we are grafted into the Tree of Life, i.e. Jesus Christ, then what is the expectation? To produce much fruit – fruit of the Tree of Life.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery,[c] fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders,[d] drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
"A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "So then, you will know them by their fruits.…
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls is wise.”
I believe these words we have just read are also summarized by Christ’s encounter with a fruitless fig tree:
The Fig Tree Withered
18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.
The Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree
20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”
21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
So, what do we do with all of this information? We realize that Christ has expectations for us in 2016 to be fruit bearers. To bear fruit as grafted in branches, heirs who are expected to be life-giving branches.
There is no room for selfish branches on this tree. We must bear fruit that He wants to taste – don’t be the fig tree that looked the part and produced no fruit. That means, as you write your resolutions for the year, make your service the list that leads the list. How can I serve God more in everything I do? How can I praise God more? How can I improve my prayer walk with God? How can I take up my cross today and follow Christ?