The Two Trees

Apostle Islands

Formless and void was the fledgling world—then darkness turned to light.
Holiness spoke, and all things good dutifully came to life.
Then He reached down to touch the earth—the pinnacle of His plan:
A handful of dust and holy breath mingled to form a man.

In the beginning, God created a beautiful-in-every-way world. He set it in motion, promised to sustain it, and brilliantly designed a plan to restore it if it went off the rails.

In the beginning, the man and the woman thrived. Full of life, they tended the garden, and the garden rewarded them with food.

One tree rewarded them unlike any other. It provided—not just sustenance for the day—but life itself. This tree of life grew in the middle of the garden. It stood tall as a symbol of eternal life. As long as the man and the woman ate its fruit, they thrived.

This tree wasn’t the only one in the middle of the garden. Nearby was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It, too, was a symbol. And, it came with a warning. Unlike the fruit from the tree of life, the fruit of this tree brought death. That’s why God told them to steer clear. He loved them deeply, and He wanted them to live.

Symbolism existed in the placement of the trees, too. Both grew in the middle of the garden. They might have been right next to each other. Certainly, what they symbolized existed side by side. The choice they represented echoes through time:

  • “I have set before you life and death” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
  • “The Lord says, ’See, I set before you the way of life and the way of death’” (Jeremiah 21:8).
  • “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
  • “The payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Subthemes

  • The Choice Between Life and Death
  • Free Will

The Tree of Life

God is clear on these three points:

  • The options are life and death.
  • God wants us to choose life.
  • God respects the choice we make.

God is life. In Him we live and move and have our being. Dust was just dust until God breathed life into it. The body returns to dust when God’s spirit leaves it.

The tree of life represents God—always an option presented; never a decision forced.

God alone has immortality. We mortals may put on His immortality when He returns. That’s our choice to make.

“When this corruptible will have put on incorruption, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then the saying that is written shall come to pass: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:54).

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

In the beginning, the man and the woman had a fledgling knowledge of good. They knew nothing of evil. When they ate from the tree of knowledge, their knowledge of evil began. Suffering followed.

In the millennia since, humanity’s knowledge of evil continues to grow. Suffering continues to follow.

Suffering has to stop.

I believe that suffering will end when there is a mature, universal knowledge of good and evil. Only then will we choose only good, because we’ll clearly see how good good is. We’ll never choose evil again, because we’ll clearly see how evil evil is. No more fuel will be poured on the fire of suffering, and it will go out.

How can we get to a mature, universal knowledge of good and evil? By exposing them. By uncovering all of the evidence and holding it up for all to see.

Almost everyone agrees that suffering has to stop (the fact that not everyone agrees is part of the problem). Areas of disagreement include these questions:

  • Which things are good, and which things are evil?
  • Who determines what is good and what is evil?
  • What are the sources of good and evil?

I believe that only God is good; He alone is goodness itself. If we are to have a mature knowledge of good, we must know the truth about God.

Subthemes

  • Evil and Suffering
  • Death and Hell
    • The First Death
    • The Second Death
    • Consciousness