There were two trees of significance growing in the Garden of Eden: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There were many trees and plants growing on the earth at the beginning (Genesis 1:11–13) but only these two were mentioned by name. "And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:9).
The tree of life signified immortality. When Adam and Eve sinned and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, as God had explicitly warned them not to do, they lost access to the tree of life. God told Adam, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:16–17). The serpent came along and told Eve, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:4–5). When they listened to the serpent's lie and ate the fruit, Adam and Eve became sinful. But it was God who took away their access to the tree of life. "Then the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—' therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life" (Genesis 3:22–24).
God did not want man to live eternally in a state of sin, subject to the pain and suffering of a fallen body, a fallen society, and a fallen natural world. Providing Adam and Eve access to the tree of life after their sin would have resulted in an endless, hopeless life. Mercifully, God limited the number of years man lives, and gave us each the opportunity to, during our lifetime, choose eternal life through Jesus Christ. One man's sin plunged all of humanity into a fallen, diseased state of being. But God provided a shortened lifespan, and the perfect Man, Jesus Christ, to give all humanity the hope of eternal life with God, in a perfect state, where no serpent can deceive, and no sin can enter (Romans 5:17).
This is beautifully described in the Book of Revelation: "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever" (Revelation 22:1–5).
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