12th July 2020
Topic:THE SACRAMENTAL TREES.
Text: Gen. 2:8-17.
Today I am speaking on the topic, “THE SACRAMENTAL TREES.” When God created man, the Bible says God placed Adam in the garden called Eden. In the garden of Eden, provision was made for the happiness of man.
According to the Bible, the garden was well watered, fruitful and beautiful. In the garden as well, provision was made for the daily occupation of man.(Gen. 2:15) In God’s plan, work to man must be practical, healthful and helpful. In this garden, God also made provision for the spiritual obedience of man. God gave man a command to obey and attached a penalty in the case of disobedience. The Bible says, God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.(9) The beautiful trees and the noble stream together must have made an exquisite scene in the garden.
But there were two trees that stood in the midst of the garden that excelled all the rest.(Gen 2:9; Gen 3:3)They were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These were sacramental trees, as their names denote. The word sacrament actually means a thing of mysterious and sacred significance such as a religious symbol. It is a symbol or sign of spiritual reality. Let us briefly consider these two trees and their significance.
THE TWO TREES.
The two trees in the middle of the garden were no ordinary trees. They were sacramental and significant.
1. THE TREE OF LIFE. This was a real tree, as real as any of the rest and evidently placed there for like purposes with the rest. The only difference was, that it had peculiar virtues which the others had not. It was a life-giving or life-sustaining tree. It was a tree of which, so long as man should continue to eat, he should never die. Not that one eating of it could confer immortality; but the continuous use of it was intended for this. The link between soul and body was to be maintained by this tree. So long as man partook of this, that tie would not be broken. Under the gospel, Jesus Christ is the tree of life. A continuous connection to Jesus guarantees life eternal. Are you connected to Jesus?
2. THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL. This is the second tree God placed in the middle of the garden. The fruit of this tree in addition to bodily nourishment was also fitted to nourish man’s intellectual and sharpen the edge of his intellect and conscience. This tree was not ugly, not sour, not poisonous, but it was a poison. The tree of knowledge was designed to be the test of Adam’s obedience and the subject matter of his trial. The world with its desirable objects is the test of our obedience, the subject matter of our trial, whether we will make it our chief good or prefer to trust and obey God. The apparent qualities of the forbidden tree are represented to have been these. It seemed “good for food, and fair to the sight, and a tree to be desired to make one wise.” (Gen. 3:6) Three things must be noted here.
1. Man is to contemplate and desire the chief good, but not to endeavor after it except in the manner and way prescribed by God.
2. Man’s happiness is not to be placed in things pleasing to the senses of the body.
3. God is the most absolute Lord of man, whose sole will, expressed by His law, should be the supreme rule and direction of all the appetites of the soul and all the motions of the body. The trial of Adam, like that of every other man, was between total faith in God as to look for happiness in obedience to the Divine command; or seeking that happiness elsewhere and apply for it to some forbidden objects of which this tree was an emblematic representation. Unfortunately, Adam failed the test and that led to his ruin.
Both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge were situated in the midst of the garden. They stood close to each other, but they stood in opposition. The penalty was clearly made known. (Gen. 2:17) The penalty of not eating one regularly is death while the penalty of eating the other once is death. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a sign and seal of the condition of God’s covenant, and the tree of life was a sign and seal of its reward. We hear no more of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Bible. It served its purpose in the garden. But we hear of the tree of life even in the new paradise. (Rev. 2:7) According to Revelation 22:1-2, the tree of life in the new Paradise bears twelve manner of fruits, and yields her fruit every month and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
With the river of the water of life and tree of life, the paradise on which the Church’s hope is fixed, is indeed a paradise of life. We need not say that the tree of life is Christ. He is the goodly tree in the midst of the garden. His Word, His gospel, His ordinances are the means the Holy Spirit employs on earth for quickening, regenerating, and sanctifying the people; and the enjoyment of Him is the chief ingredient and the very essence of the heavenly felicity.
Unfortunately, men today are still running after the tree of knowledge and neglecting the tree of life. This is the major cause of the woes we are experiencing in our world.
It is noteworthy that St. John, had warned us “not to love the world.”(1 John 2:15-16) The opposition between this tree and the other is strongly marked. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” We are informed that one leads to death while the other leads to life. Which of these two sacramental trees are you eating from? The world passeth away, and the desire thereof; but he that does the will of God abides forever.” May we receive the grace to spend more time at the tree of life (Fellowship with God) and stand away the tree of knowledge of good (the tree of death.) Amen