Every day, you make life-and-death choices. You may not recognize it, but some things you do lead to life, and others to death.
The biblical account of the Garden of Eden reveals this truth in a profound way.
Many people regard the Bible as a fable with little relevance to their lives. This is terribly false. There is no better example than what you read in the first few chapters of the Bible’s first book.
The two trees of Genesis 3 are at the heart and core of the entire Bible. Yet the real meaning of these trees remains a huge mystery to most of mankind.
This foundational doctrine is as deep as the oceans and as broad as the universe. But at the same time, it gives your life simplicity and clarity.
Instruction in Righteousness
God made Adam physically perfect, but Adam’s mind was a blank slate. “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). God gave man the opportunity to cultivate the most beautiful garden ever seen. Adam and Eve and all their children had a brilliant future ahead of them—if they would only obey Him.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (verses 16-17).
The first instruction God gave to the first man was about the two trees: the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God considered this critical understanding the most important of all.
God revealed that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the tree of death. He wanted Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of life.
God was preparing Adam to make the most crucial choice of any man ever. Adam’s choice between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would set the course of human civilization for 6,000 years.
As God instructed Adam about the two trees, He was revealing the truth of the way of give—the way that brings peace instead of violence and destruction. In essence, He was teaching the gospel, the good news of the coming Kingdom of God, the Family of God that will rule the world and the universe!
God finished supplying Adam with the necessary instruction for resisting Satan the devil. Then He allowed Satan to approach Adam and advertise his way.
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5).
Satan lied about the tree of death. It does cause physical death—and if we don’t stop eating from it, it causes eternal death! But Satan caused Eve to doubt what God had revealed and to rebel against God (verse 6).
Adam and Eve rejected God and believed Satan. They chose to design their own society, their own laws, their own religions, their own science. The civilization that came about as a result has been built on rejecting God’s definition of good and evil and deciding for ourselves what is good and evil.
Parts of this world seem pleasant and desirable, just as that fruit appeared. But look at the problems we are experiencing! Fighting among men is intensifying. Human survival is in question! It is becoming more and more obvious that our entire world is eating from the tree of death!
The Spirit of Power
What would have happened if Adam had eaten from the tree of life instead?
“Had Adam taken of the proffered tree of life the whole course of civilization would have been entirely different,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages. “Peace, happiness, joy, health and abundance would have spread over the Earth.”
God wants to give all human beings the tree of abundant, joyful life! He wants us to receive His Holy Spirit, which is what that tree symbolizes. If we will just obey Him, we will build His love within our lives, and we will get along with Him and with fellow man.
The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit of power. If we eat from the tree of life, God will help us win overwhelming victories in our individual struggles, and our lives will change dramatically! But He lets us choose which tree to eat from.
Cut Off From God
When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, “[H]e drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). Think about what this means: Humankind as a whole—the world that developed from Adam and Eve—is cut off from God.
John 6:44 tells us that nobody can simply choose to come to God. The only way someone can come is if God first draws him. Today, God is calling a select few for His purposes on Earth. They have access to the tree of life, while most people at this time do not. This is the terrible result of Adam’s wrong choice.
Satan deceived Adam and Eve as they made their life-and-death choice. They made a mighty decision for the worse, causing this world to suffer in darkness. Since then, Satan has deceived the whole world! (2 Corinthians 4:4). Though most human beings are cut off from God, we are not cut off from Satan! Look at our suffering world: We are cursed! (Genesis 3:17).
The two trees are a mystery to this world. Solve this mystery, and you can change the course of your life from one of depression, discouragement, disappointment, anger and frustration to one of love, joy, peace and hope. Though few actually do it, God tells us to choose life.
“You have to go back to the origin and see how it all started,” Mr. Armstrong said in 1983. “You have to get the premise right or else our conclusions based on that premise are going to be false!” This world is built on the wrong premise: a mix of good and evil knowledge. If we don’t allow God to replace our very foundation, we will continue to suffer, and ultimately we will die!
This world needs the foundation upon which the World Tomorrow will be built: the tree of life.
The Bible doesn’t stop talking about the two trees in Genesis. In the very last book of the Bible, God says, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). Eat of the tree of life, and you will be living in a godly paradise!
In Revelation 22:2, God prophesies the future of Jerusalem: “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” In the World Tomorrow, the tree of life will heal the nations! They need healing after eating from the tree of death and choosing to go their own way apart from God. Soon, the tree of life will bring abundant blessings to all mankind. There is tremendous, life-changing hope in this message!
Genesis records this world’s foundation—Revelation prophesies its future. For 6,000 years, our world has eaten from the tree of death. We are now suffering the advanced stages of that terminal illness. But God sent a second Adam, Jesus Christ, whom Revelation reveals will return soon to rule all nations and to feed us from the tree of life!
Today, however, right now, you are facing this same choice: the tree of death, or the tree of life? Will you decide for yourself what is right and wrong? Will you choose a mixture of good and evil? Or, will you choose to obey God? Will you choose life? To make the choice that will bring abundant, life-changing blessings to your life, you desperately need to understand the mystery of the two trees.