Faithlife Sermons

Two Trees

Creation and the Fall  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:23
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Opening Prayer
Genesis 2:8–17 ESV
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 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. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “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.”
Introduction:
Take a moment, close your eyes, imagine the most beautiful garden you’ve ever been in. Perhaps it was on some majestic grounds of an historical estate; or maybe it was a attraction - at a park, or even a theme park; perhaps it was at a retreat center where such gardens are often the place of solace, meditation, and relaxation; or perhaps you have a friend with a green thumb. Whatever the case may be take a moment and imagine yourself in that place. Listen for the sounds you hear, in you minds eye gaze in wonder at the splendid beauty and vivid color. Take a moment and breath in the bountiful fragrances, flowers, burgeoning fruit, and so much more.
Even on our best days our imagination, I don’t believe, can in anyway compare to the splendor of what the first garden would have been like. Our world has been tainted by death and sin, and mired by our feeble attempts to improve on what the Creator has created which most often ends in destruction. A result that began back in that first garden.
In the center of this garden that God placed man into were two trees:
Genesis 2:9 ESV
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.
one the tree of life, and the other the tree of the knowledge of good an evil. The destiny of all mankind is to be decided in relationship to these two trees.
In reading this account of the Creation it is almost like a fantasy land because it’s not like anything anyone of us has experienced. Every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food was growing there. There is no mention of anything that we might consider bad, no mention of fungus, decay, nothing poisonous, no weeds - there is only mention of what is good.
In all of this there was only one command:
Genesis 2:16–17 ESV
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “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.”
That one command brings with it an option that has not been mentioned thus far in all of Scripture. “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.”
Death was not even an option until that moment.
It’s ironic as we look at the two trees that the first one, the tree of life does not really have any special significance until humankind has fallen prey to death by eating of the other tree - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Before that life wasn’t something anyone sought after it just was, it was a given, it was life before God.
That is the reason why the tree of life is mentioned almost in passing. All we know is the tree of life was planted “in the midst of the garden,” or as the NIV translates it, “In the middle of the garden...”
At the center of the garden is life. Life is from God. Bonhoeffer puts it this way:
Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3 The Center of the Earth (Gen. 2:8–17)

The life that comes from God is at the center; that is to say, God, who gives life, is at the center. At the center of the world that has been put at Adam’s disposal and over which Adam has been given dominion is not Adam himself but the tree of divine life.

Contrary to our sinful way of thinking, humankind was never the center of creation. It does not revolve around us, it revolves around life. The tree of life was at the center of Creation. Life comes from the center which is not Adam, but it is God. Adam has this life in relationship to the Creator for it was God who “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”.
“Human beings have life from God and before God.” Bonhoeffer says, “They possess it in their obedience, in their innocence, in their ignorance; that is, they possess it in their freedom.” We talked about this freedom a few weeks ago - we were created in the image of God who in His freedom created everything else and made you and I as humans free - free to choose good, free to choose evil.
The tree of life really only has one thing that may endanger it and that is the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:17 ESV
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.”
It’s interesting to note that as soon as God points out this tree He also delivers His command not to eat of it and gives the threat of death. But what would death mean to one who’d known nothing but life? Furthermore, what would knowledge mean? Good or evil?
What Adam would no doubt have understood was that God was pointing out his limit, his creatureliness. The prohibition against eating the of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was simply God saying, “you are who you are because of me, your Creator; so now be what you are,” (Bonhoeffer).
What we saw in chapter 1 of Genesis was the God centered story of Creation. What we are seeing in chapter 2 is the other side of the coin, it is the human centered story of Creation.
God is the one from whom humanity receives life. God is at the center.
Some have claimed that in placing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil at the center of the garden that God was tempting Adam. Yet at this point, only God the creator knows what the tree of knowledge of good and evil is.
Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3 The Center of the Earth (Gen. 2:8–17)

as one who lives in the unity of the knowledge of God as the center and the boundary of human life Adam cannot conceive of the breaking apart of that knowledge into good and evil.

Adam lives simply out of the life that comes from God and knows neither what good nor evil is.
Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3 The Center of the Earth (Gen. 2:8–17)

Adam lives out of the life that comes from God, before whom a life lived in good, just like a life lived in evil, would mean an unthinkable falling away.

What does this mean? A world with the knowledge of good and evil would mean a world in which there would always be a choice, but one that is not necessarily in relationship with God and instead only juxtaposition of the two options from one another. We judge good by it not being evil and we judge evil by it not being good.
Last week I challenged you with the idea of relationship versus religion. Religion is always about the rules, the commands, the “right” and “wrong” choices. But that’s knowledge of good and evil - that’s not about life. Life does not come out of the right and wrong, the good and evil, and it never has.
Our culture says that we’re in search of truth, but then it says that truth is relative; that’s not truth, that’s being, “right” as compared to “wrong,” that makes it about the rules.
Adam did not understand good, evil, knowledge, or even death. He knew only God and that his life came from God. For Adam, without God there was no life.
We live in a fallen world that seeks to do right without God and only in opposition to what it sees as wrong. We live in a fallen world that says it seeks truth, but then says truth is relative and so only points out the lies.
If you want to know truth, if you want to know life you must go to the source. In the beginning in a beautiful fragrant garden, filled with wonder, beauty, and everything to sustain life - including the life giving God - our earliest ancestors once enjoyed an unfiltered relationship with their Creator.
I praise God for the Word, God’s Word that comes to us in the Bible. As we seek life we need to seek the life giver who breathed life into humankind way back in the beginning.
The world wants to take this book and throw it out, they’ve been trying that for thousands of years. Yet it stands. If you are seeking God you will find God, that’s a promise. God says,
Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
God breathed life into humankind. All Scripture is God breathed...
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
It’s not the about the rules or commands, its about the one to whom the rules point. Jesus tells us:
John 14:6 ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
You can take the Bible and follow all of it’s rules. You can spend your life doing all kinds of good things, but if you don’t have a relationship with God through Christ, it amounts to nothing but knowledge.
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