Within the boundaries of the garden of Eden, God caused every type of tree that was on the face of the earth to grow. We don’t know how big the garden of Eden was, but it seems like it was quite massive. I don’t believe it was like a little backyard garden. This was a garden most likely the size of a large city, or maybe a small state. How about if we say it was about 50 square miles just to give us an idea of where Adam and Eve were walking around. Along with every type of tree that we already/still know about, there were two special trees growing in the midst of the garden.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil is the one that we know the most about. It is this tree that the fall is centered around. According to the Genesis account, this tree was unlike the other trees that God had created. There was only one tree like this tree. The other trees were growing outside the garden of Eden across the whole planet. But the tree of knowledge of good and evil only had one of its kind and it was located in the midst of the garden of Eden.
The tree of life also was one of a kind. There were no other trees like this one growing across the planet. The only tree of life was growing in the midst of the garden of Eden. It seems that the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil were growing within close proximity to each other. They are mentioned as growing the midst of the garden in the same verse, Genesis 2:9. The fact that both of these trees are named shows that they were known to Adam as to what they were.
Let’s get this straight before we move on. These two trees are physical trees with roots, leaves, and fruit just like all the other fruit trees in the garden of Eden. But these two trees are set apart from the rest of the garden being located in the midst, probably the exact center of the garden. The other trees may have been growing in groves with more than one of each type: apple, pear, orange, etc.
The LORD God, the God who walked and talked with Adam in the garden, points out the location of these two trees in the midst of the garden. The LORD God is showing Adam around His new home and vocation. The LORD God gives Adam specific instructions. You may freely eat of every tree in this entire garden (including the tree of life: hint, hint). But there is one tree that you may not eat from or you will suffer the consequences. That tree is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of that tree you will die that same day. Here, the LORD God is lovingly providing guidance for the man by protecting Him from harm. So here is Adam with two trees in front of him. One is the tree of life, and the other brings certain death.
We know that after the creation of woman, both man and woman walked in the garden together. When tempted by the serpent, the woman ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil with her husband right there. By allowing his wife to make this mistake, he failed to provide the guidance for her to save her from sin. He also ate immediately after she did to show he was in compliance with giving in to the temptation. The results were gaining the knowledge of good and evil by experience, something that God did not want for His prized creation. Their eyes were opened immediately showing that they had indeed gained the knowledge which the fruit provided. They hid from God to show that they had indeed died.
We often think of death as being physical death. Many think that the death which God promised Adam was delayed and did not come for many years until he died physically. We must remember that death was undefined until it entered the world and we must let the first death experience define death. Adam didn’t know what death was. When God said if he ate from the tree that he would die, Adam wasn’t thinking that his body would cease to function. There was no definition of death before Adam died that day. God defines death. Death, as demonstrated in Genesis 3, is the curse of being expelled from the presence of God. When God called for Adam and his wife to stand before Him, He was calling for two dead people. When He rebuked them, He was rebuking two dead people since they had already died. When He told Adam that their bodies would eventually return to the dust resulting in a physical death, He was talking to two already dead people since they had eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The tree of life continued to exist in the garden after Adam and Eve were expelled. Since Adam and Eve had partaken of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they had to depart from the garden. The only reason cited by God for Adam and Eve leaving the garden is because they were now forbidden to eat from the tree of life which would allow them to live forever. They could not eat of its fruit and gain eternal life. The tree of life had been there with man and woman having full permission to eat of its fruit and gain eternal life, yet they had not eaten from it. Instead they chose to eat from the one tree they were commanded NOT to eat from. After the fall, man’s sin disqualifies him from eating from the tree of life.
This brings up an important point. Adam and Eve did not possess eternal life. Although they did not know what would happen if they ate from the tree of life, eternal life was there for the taking but they did not partake of the fruit. God’s goal seems to have been that Adam and Eve would enter into an eternal relationship with Him, but they did not. Instead they succumbed to temptation. God had set before Adam and Eve the way of life and the way of death. God had given them the opportunity to experience Him for eternity and the opportunity for knowledge of good and evil at the expense of death (as defined by God); and they both chose the way of death.
Yet God’s declaration in the Seed-Promise gave hope that God was not done with man. God had a plan for mankind to gain back all that was forfeited in the fall. This would include access to the tree of life. After being evicted from paradise, Adam and Eve had the promise that one day they might return and be allowed to partake of the tree of life, thereby entering in to that eternal fellowship with the LORD God whom they offended. Even though the entrance into the garden remained guarded by cherubim, God had promised of one who would be born to bruise the head of the one who tempted them. For Adam and Eve, this was a promise which would allow them to gain victory over the one they had just lost to. This victory would win back their innocence, their fellowship with God, and access to the tree of life once again. But for now, they must depart from the garden and allow God to bring to pass the fulfillment of the Seed-Promise.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman
The Garden of Paradise, Hans Christian Anderson
The Magician’s Nephew, C. S. Lewis