Between Two Trees
“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.”
God created man with the capacity to decide whether to obey or disobey Him. Though mankind was commanded to only eat of the tree of life, God allowed us to choose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil if we insisted. Adam and Eve could partake of one tree or the other but not both; these fruits were mutually exclusive. The tree of life granted immortality while the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was thought to make one wise. The question still remains to this very day, “which fruit will we choose?”
Though the way to literal Eden has been barred for many years mankind is still caught between these two trees. On one hand we have the gospel of Jesus Christ which promises to restore immortality. On the other hand we have our natural wisdom that we have learned to trust throughout a lifetime of earthly experience. Truly, as the old saying goes, “you are what you eat.”
Over and over in the Bible we are presented with the same choice that we were first given in Eden. As it is written,
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
And also in the book of Kings,
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”
1 Kings 18:21
We see that God’s continues to call upon His people to make a decision. He calls upon all of us to put away what seems right to our natural minds and simply accept what He says and acknowledge Him as Lord.
Essentially what happens to Christians, as they are called to live by faith, is that we are gradually weaned from the tree of death. When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and savior we take our first halting steps away from the forbidden fruit. We literally have to suspend our natural reason in order to step out in faith and believe that Jesus died for us. We must believe, without any physical proof, that through faith in the Son of God we will be saved from damnation.
Ultimately God wants us to complete our journey back to the garden and fully relinquish our dependence upon the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This means that we will no longer go by what seems right in our own eyes, but live exclusively by what seems good to God simply because He says so. This process is illustrated though Peter’s declaration of pure faith,
“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God”
Peter took a gigantic step away from the forbidden tree when he declared, “thou hast the words of eternal life and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the son of the living God.” Peter, through pure faith, made this statement when most everyone else was leaving because their natural minds stumbled at Christ’s words. Even when it seemed to the natural man that Jesus was preaching nonsense Peter still believed that Jesus was the Christ. This is the essence of pure faith, to believe God is who and what He says simply because He says it.
Many Christians today are caught between the two trees. They believe just so far and then they turn back and cling to the familiar. The tree of knowledge seems comfortable, predictable, and safe. Even though this tree is characterized by death it gives us the illusion that we are in control of our lives. We can taste, touch, hear, see and smell the forbidden fruit whereas the spiritual fruit of tree of life seems unfamiliar and unpredictable to our natural minds. The tree of life displaces our security in what we know, and replaces it with trust in the promises of God.
The single biggest issue with God is that we did not believe Him in the first place when he said, “Do not eat.” He warned us through His spoken word and yet mankind partook of the forbidden fruit anyway. This is why God chose the cross as the way to bring mankind back to Him; it forces us to simply take God at His word. In the natural, a man who died 2000 years ago on a cross is the last person you would think could forgive your sins and grant you immortality. Yet it pleased God to do it in this way because anyone who comes to Him must completely reject the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Unbelief banished us from Eden and only through pure faith will we be granted access to the tree of life once again in the New Heavens and New Earth.
We ask God for many things and dedicate ourselves to Him by saying we are willing to do anything He desires. But are we really prepared for God to answer these types of prayers? God sees our hearts and in response tests our commitment by giving us tasks that draw us away from the tree of knowledge. By faith we obey and God blesses us with His Spirit and we feel His approving presence. However, we often realize where we are, look at the circumstances around us, and begin to sink. To Peter’s credit, though, he did not did not turn and run for the boat but cried out to Jesus.
I believe it is far better to step out on the water (even if you end up sinking) than to remain in the boat with those who refuse to believe. If you try and fail Jesus does not desert you. We see that Jesus did not let Peter perish but instead lent him a helping hand. It is important for us to at least try to believe even if we fail so that we can learn from our mistakes and become stronger in God.
We must make a conscious decision to no longer be caught between two trees. Let us, by faith, believe God and put away the tree of death and again fully embrace the tree of life. The familiar may seem safe but that path surely leads to destruction. I believe that when people enter into hell they will look upon the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and partake of its bitter fruit forever. Conversely, those who enter into New Jerusalem will see the tree of life, partake of its fruit, and live forever in paradise.
Lastly, let us come to the realization that in order to serve God we will be called to do that which seems unreasonable, impossible, and unconventional. If we are of this heart and mind then perhaps when Jesus says “come” we will step out in faith and walk on the water too.