“Out of the ground Adonai, God, caused to grow every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9).
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
The tale of this tree begins when Elohim presented two trees to Adam in the Garden of Eden. He explained the consequence of eating from the Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil: death.
I have a vision of this Tree as having one large split trunk called Knowledge. The part of the trunk splitting to the right is ‘Good’ and the other is ‘Evil.’ From each trunk smaller branches reach out with numerous leaves hanging from the branches. Each leaf defines what is ‘good’ and what is ‘evil.’ Whether a leaf produces ‘good’ or ‘evil’ fruit, it is still the fruit of the same tree, a tree that brings death.
Death has two parts: physical and spiritual. Physical death happens when the mortal body returns to the dust from which it came (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Spiritual death is described as eternal separation from Elohim. Even though a person may have a physical life, if they remain spiritually dead, they will be thrown into the lake of fire burning with sulfur to suffer for all eternity (Revelation 14:10-11, 20:15).
After Adam and Havah (Eve) disobeyed Elohim and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, they were removed from the Garden of Eden. They were sent into the world where they experienced the full knowledge of ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ Havah had children which was ‘good,’ but she watched her son become ‘evil’ and kill his brother. Though there was some ‘good’ with the birth of Seth and when people called on the name of Adonai, ‘evil’ escalated from Nimrod to Noach (Genesis 6:5).
Many years ago my mother-in-law and I discussed death and eternity. She felt she had no need for ‘God’ because she considered herself a ‘good’ person. In fact, she was anti-semitic and wouldn’t have considered a Jewish Savior. I discussed this same subject with a young man who believed only ‘bad’ people went to ‘hell’ and didn’t consider himself ‘bad.’ My question to both: “Who determines the baseline for ‘good’ and ‘evil’? You? Me? Who?
“Because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die” (Genesis 2:17 NASB).
When people die, especially innocent ones, those who grieve create a dishonest theology. For example, a young man driving home from work falls asleep at the wheel of his car, hits a tree, and dies leaving a wife and three small children. At his funeral his loved ones say, “He is watching over us.” Why do they say this? Because they need to believe that ‘good’ people are rewarded with some sort of life after death. It makes them feel ‘good’ to believe ‘someone’ they love or loved them is watching over them; that isn’t ‘evil.’
Or, a young alcoholic woman goes to a bar, gets drunk, drives her car off the road and not only kills herself, but several others walking along the road. Inevitably, at the funeral of the ‘innocents,’ the loved ones will say, “They were such good people and we will see them again” with the idea that because of their tragic death, they will be rewarded life after death. The poor girl who caused the accident may be deemed ‘evil’ by those same people while her family rationalizes their pain by suggesting she is now ‘resting in peace.’
Apart from bringing sin into the world through Adam, the serpent brought forth a great deception when he said to Havah, “It is not true that you will surely die” (Genesis 3:4). This lie is the tap root that established the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the soul of mankind. The lie that there is no eternal death keeps the masses believing that everyone who automatically dies passes into some ‘happy ever after’ realm. After all, how many people would honestly say, “Poor Joe is now lost for all time?”
Adam and Havah lost their spiritual life in the Garden and each of us has been born into that same loss. We chew on the same ‘good’ and ‘evil’ leaves of the Tree. There is no one born into this world who will not surely die –– physically as well a spiritually –– whether they pick leaves from the ‘good’ trunk or ‘evil’ trunk. They are both trunks of the same Tree of Death.
The Tree of Life
“Adonai, God, said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, to prevent his putting out his hand and taking also from the tree of life, eating, and living forever” (Genesis 3:22).
The tale of the second tree also begins in the Garden of Eden. Though Elohim explained the consequence of the one tree, He didn’t explain death. He also did not explain the blessing of eternal life with Him.
Adam and Havah learned quickly that death separated them from their Creator. They were removed from Paradise because Elohim did not want them to eat from the Tree of Life while in a state of spiritual death. He did, however, explain that One from the ‘Seed of woman’ would come and restore Paradise (Genesis 3:15).
Restoration to eternal life with our Creator comes through the ‘Seed of woman’ who defeated the curse of death by rising from the dead. He is the only One who is able to watch over us and see what we we’re doing. He is the One who raised people from the dead because he is the ‘resurrection and the life’ (John 11:25). He is the One who restores eternal life to anyone who puts their faith in him (John 3:35-36). He is the Way that restores spiritual life to all mankind because it is Elohim’s will that each person return to the Garden of Eden. This One’s name is Yeshua and means ‘salvation.’
When Lazarus died, Martha believed in a resurrection of the dead at the Last Day and put her faith in the promises of the prophets. She knew that Yeshua represented the presence of Adonai on earth and proclaimed her faith in Him. She was rewarded with seeing her brother restored to life and tasted a healing leaf from the Tree of Life.
“Yeshua said to her, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
Do you believe what Yeshua asked Martha? Do you believe that Yeshua is the Way to the Tree of Life? Everyone who rejects the Way provided by Elohim does not experience eternal life after physically dying. If family and friends have not accepted the Way provided by Yeshua, then they don’t have any life after death either. Without Yeshua, there is no eternal life; there is no eating the leaves of the Tree of Life.
The Two Choices
When Yeshua hung on the cross, two criminals hung with him. Each of them had the same choice that each of us has up to the moment of death: to trust Yeshua for eternal life or reject him. One criminal mocked Yeshua as many do today; he continued to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The other criminal, even though he knew he was guilty of a crime, acknowledged that Yeshua was the King of a coming Kingdom. Proclaiming his faith in the promise of eternal life even with his last breath brought a promise from Yeshua –– that in the Last Day he would be with him in Paradise eating leaves from the Tree of Life (Luke 23:39-43).
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).
My mother-in-law who was 92 years old passed away several years ago. She went to sleep never to wake up in Paradise. She was definitely a ‘good’ woman and loved by her family, but she did not understand the offer of Yeshua and didn’t choose it. Her eternal destiny is the lake of burning fire and sulfur unless in the last breaths of her life, she admitted her sinful condition and cried out like the criminal on the cross. I won’t know until the the Resurrection, but I cannot say with confidence that I will see her in the ‘land of the living.’
My mother passed away when she was 43 years old. She was a ‘good’ woman, too. Tragically she died young from leukemia. Though the process of her death was very difficult to watch, I knew when she passed that I would see her again at the Resurrection on the Last Day, not because she was young, loved, or suffered for months, but because she had put her faith in Jesus and his promise of eternal life. She lived and died walking out that faith bearing fruit –– the very large church was packed with those who loved her at her funeral. I know that I will see her in the ‘land of the living.’
Today, we still have a choice between eternal life and eternal death. We can choose to continue eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and remain in a spiritually dead condition thinking everyone is ‘good’ and there is no one truly ‘evil’ and worthy of eternal death in the lake of burning fire and sulfur. Or, we can choose eternal life through faith in Yeshua and enter the restored Garden of Eden and eat the healing leaves from the Tree of Life.
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