This post was written by my very good friend Hector Nieblas Grijalva. Hector is a tall Mexican with a young family of two very active children and a very short wife who is the love of his life. Hector is also an up-and-coming theologian. I thank God for his thoughts and friendship.
I Hector, would like to tell you some of what we have learned about the Scriptures recently. It all started about 11 years ago, when I met our good friends Jack and Lucy. They come from Canada, mainly to teach the Holy Scriptures in the winter time in my country of Mexico. This has been of great benefit to us. They made the decision to teach what they have learned in their cold country and take it to the city of the sun (Hermosillo).
Hermosillo is the capital of the state of Sonora, and it is one of the hottest cities in Mexico. In the summer temperatures can reach 45 ° C, but Sonora is also one of the states that has a great variety in its ecosystems; here we find mountains, sea and desert.
In our city there is very little water and consequently little vegetation, but even so in this desert area it has been possible to plant and have fruit trees. On one occasion an agronomist told me something very interesting, he said the fruits and seeds produced by trees in desert areas are of the best quality, because they are designed to live in adverse and unfavorable conditions.
Trees in Eden
In teaching times with my friend Jack, the questions have been increasing about the Bible (thanks for your time friend). One of the themes which influences my life in an ongoing way, is the teaching of the Torah; which was taught in my local church Arbol de Vida. Let me start at the beginning.
Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. 9 The LORD God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground– trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.Gen. 2:8-9 NLT
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and the LORD planted a garden in Eden. In this garden man lived constantly with God, and in the central part of this garden is the Tree of Life; but the Tree of Good and Evil is also in there.
The way the author tells the story of creation, one of his purposes is for the garden to be seen as a Temple and with the garden being placed at the top of a mountain (from which all the rivers run). Here we can appreciate the presence of the LORD with much intensity, just like in the most holy place in the Temple; however in the center of the garden, the trees of life and the knowledge of good and evil are also found according to Genesis chapter 2.
But what about these trees? What does the narrator want us to know about them? Before when I read the creation story I always ignored the Tree of Life, I never thought it was relevant to me; in fact, Genesis is often said to be very boring until after chapter twelve.
What I always learned was that the central point was the Tree of Good and Evil or Knowledge, best known as the tree forbidden by God because it would lead to death. But I think what the author wants us to understand, is that both trees are important.
They are found in the central part of this garden where the presence of God is palpable. I think the main goal of the author is to represent the LORD by means of these two trees.
On the one hand, the Tree of Life represents the power of the LORD to create and give life and is within everyone’s reach, remember the context of the story (The LORD creating and giving life); in fact, the Lord’s command to the man is that they can eat from any tree in the garden including the Tree of Life, in short the LORD gave them authority to ingest the life that comes from himself.
But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden– 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”Gen. 2:16-17 NLT
A few verses later we can see an important statement according to the story you will be what you eat. The fruits of these trees can transform lives of people giving eternal life. According to Genesis 3:22, if they would have eaten from the tree of life, what would have happened? They would have lived forever!
On the other hand, we have the Tree of good and evil or of knowledge, this famously being known as the one that produces the forbidden fruit. I always saw this tree as the villain of the story, but I think in a sense it also represents the LORD, since He knows everything, and it reminds us how dependent we should be on Him, since our mind is finite and we don’t know everything. In this way, by not eating the fruit, humans should totally depend on the knowledge of the LORD, turning to the LORD for guidance in any situation as a son goes to his father for advice.
In the story, depending on the fruit they eat, it transforms their lives, eating the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil is a direct statement against the LORD, in his own temple; Exclaiming that it is not necessary at all for us since we “know” how to make decisions for our own benefits and this is one of the reasons why this tree brings death. At the same time the LORD exclaims that they cannot now eat of the Tree of Life. In short, believing we will have control of life, as the LORD does, can even be interpreted that the humans believed they would become gods
After the betrayal that occurred in the garden; the humans were thrown out of it, separated from the Tree of Life and their access to it is prohibited by divine fire.
Will we see the Tree of Life again?
Later in the story the author mentions Moses, and how he meets the LORD on top of a mountain, manifesting himself in a desert tree with divine fire which did not consume the tree, the tree could not die. Does this remind us of something previously narrated? I think so, the trees in the desert are very dry and easily consumed by fire, but I think the author wants us to again think about the Tree in the Garden, the Tree of Life. The LORD tells Moses to remove his shoes because he is in a holy place just like in the temple.
When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied. 5 “Do not come any closer,” the LORD warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.(Exod. 3:4-5 NLT
Then the LORD asks Moses to guide his people to this mountain to make a covenant with them, he asks them to make a very important decision that would transform their lives leaving their old life, in other words will they follow the LORD of Life or they will follow their customs and continue living for the gods which they created? Unfortunately, the people of Israel repeated the story of the garden as it is found in the Genesis account, acting according to their own reasoning, which they believed was better for them but it led to their death (Exodus 32: 14-28).
This did not end here, as my friend Jack Vogt mentioned in a blog post, Story, Counter Story and Back Story; This was repeated generation after generation, following idols created by human reasoning placing them at the high places of their cities, minds and mountains trying to overturn the place that belongs to the LORD and it led directly to their death.
The problem was never the trees, they represent God and the narrators of the Bible knew this. I am not trying to teach a new idea but rather we can learn together what God has spoken and be able to apply it to our lives.
By wanting to be equal to the LORD, we believe that we can make good decisions for our lives, but the history of creation shows us that this is a total lie that has been taught by human beings, but there is only one Tree of Good and of Evil and one Tree of Life and it is the LORD. King Solomon knew that we are not capable of knowing everything and that knowledge comes from the Lord (Proverbs 1: 7 and 3:15).
Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. 16 She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left. 17 She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. 18 Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.Prov. 3:15 NLT
I think it is no coincidence when Solomon mentions in a passage reflecting on the creation story. The LORD has been continually presenting himself as those beautiful trees of Eden which reflect God to us.
The Master of Life
Jesus, like some authors of the Bible, made reference to trees and their fruits which have a connection with the story of Genesis, and announcing that he came from God and was the one that Moses and the prophets had spoken of (John 1:47):
But Jesus, the Great Teacher of Life always announced that the LORD continues to present himself as the Tree of Life for all human beings who want to follow Him.. These great trees of Genesis are represented in the Gospel of John by statements like:
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener”Jn. 15:1 NLT
The Master presented himself as Eternal Life in John 17: 3, and invited everyone to follow him, and to be transformed through this fruit; and all those who eat the fruit were able to transform their lives through the knowledge and life of the Great Teacher. But just like in the creation story, he was betrayed by a man in a garden, who believed he was doing what was best for himself.
After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. 2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples.Jn. 18:1-2 NLT
Jesus, being killed on a cross, was sacrificed under thoughts far from the wisdom of God. But most amazing of all, they thought they were “done” with this fruit, but remember when seeds of the trees are put in the ground they bring forth life. The man thought that he had finished with the Tree of Life once and for all and forever, but it was not like that, this was seed resurrected on the third day; as he had said.
Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels– a plentiful harvest of new lives. 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. 26 Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.Jn. 12:23-26 NLT
This demonstrates again that the LORD continues to be close to us, that death has never been able to stop the Tree of Life, since the story of creation. He was with Moses and the bush, and now he is with Jesus. He gives us the opportunity, as in Genesis, to be part of a new creation; transforming the lives of the people who eat this fruit.
The book of Revelation ends the same way the Bible begins in Genesis, with a new garden. The author describes it again as a temple, and the Trees of Life are there; beside the river providing running through the center of the main street of the city, bringing life and healing. On each side of the river are the trees of life, which produces twelve crops a year, one a month; and the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22: 2.
Dear reader, I hope we will turn our faces to see and eat of the Tree of Life. By doing this our lives can be transformed and we can take refuge under its shade. My advice is; choose life.
I want to thank my great friend Jack Vogt, for all the time that he has been teaching us from the Word; and Lucy, his dear wife, for those delicious cinnamon rolls, the LORD bless you always.
Thank you Hector/Muchas gracias amigo.