Choosing the Tree of Life

Choosing the Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is one of my favorite images in the entire Bible.  It bookends the story of God.  In Genesis, the Tree of Life is planted in the idyllic Garden of Eden.  And in Revelation, it is found in the center of the River of Life within the New Jerusalem. So, it must be an important image for understanding God’s story.

tree of life crossThere are trees throughout scripture which remind us of the Tree of Life at the beginning and end of our sacred story.  Just a few examples include, the tree by the river in Psalm 1, the branch that will shoot forth from the stump of Jesse in Isaiah, the broom tree that Elijah sits under when his life is threatened, the sycamore tree that Zacchaeus climbs as he sought to listen to the one who brought life. And, for those of us who follow Christ, it is most significant that Jesus was crucified on a tree made into a cross.  Because of his resurrection from that tree, we often call the cross a symbolic tree of life.  All of these tree images in our scripture remind us of the Tree of Life.

Now what is so interesting to me is that in Genesis, God forbids humans to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  And most folks assume that this applies to the Tree of Life as well.  However, Genesis never records God commanding the humans not to eat from the Tree of Life. (I think folks assume this because God exiles the humans from the Garden of Eden after they eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because He is afraid they will now eat from the Tree of Life.  But that is quite different from commanding them not to eat from the Tree of Life.)

A few books later, in Deuteronomy is a fascinating passage where God practically begs the Israelites to choose life. And I think that when we read this passage we must be reminded of the Tree of Life.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live… (Deuteronomy 30:19)

If we allow this passage to remind us of the Tree of Life, then we realize that God’s exhortation to “choose life” is like an exhortation to eat from the Tree of Life.  Think about this:

  • God placed humanity in a garden teeming with life
  • God set before humanity two particular trees worthy of mention and told us not to eat from one of them
  • Then humanity goes and eats from the very tree God told them not to eat from
  • And in the process, the humans ignore the other tree which God never mentioned
  • And then hundreds (probably thousands) of years later, God says, “Look, I set before you life and death. Choose Life!”

That, my friends, is just not coincidental!

God is begging us today, just as in the garden and just as in Deuteronomy, to choose life.  What that means for you and me each day we live is the question before us.  What if, we began to look at the large and small decisions within our daily lives as an opportunity to choose life?  I wonder how that might change the way we think.  I wonder how it might change the way we live.

Got a conundrum with a client? Choose life! Having a disagreement with a spouse? Choose life!  Worried about the decisions of your son or daughter? Choose life!  Unsure about a particular medical treatment? Choose life! Trying to decide what to say to an irritable co-worker? Choose life!

Genesis and Revelation are not simply stories about the past or future.  They are messages for each and every day. No matter what you are facing along the journey of life, you need sustenance every day. So, will you eat from the tree that Adam and Eve chose?  Or will you choose the Tree of Life?


Valentine Events at Hood

Don’t forget to bring a potluck dish with you on Sunday and join us after worship service for a lovely lunch together!

Also, on February 18, we are having another children and family event at The Cellar featuring food, crafts, games, songs, hot cocoa and, of course, Valentines!  Be sure to invite family and friends and consider how you can help.  Contact us for more info.

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