It’s go-time. God’s creation is in testing mode. But how do two trees impact the human soul’s condition?
[This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.]
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HIGHLY SUGGEST READING FIRST: God’s Story Threads: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 1]
READING TIME: 4 MINUTES.
THE TWO TREES
Two trees in the midst of the garden. Meticulously placed‚ set apart from the others, yet growing among them. Resounding in their stillness, their purpose, both trees are about to take centerstage in humanity’s impending soul battle.
That’s the soul battle of our earthly story back at the beginning with co-protagonists Adam and Eve . . . and the one going on right now. In you. In me. Around us. The connection is undeniable. It’s embedded in the fiber of every decision, every word, every action we make.
It’s either self-desire or God-driven desire. Surrendering at His altar or bowing to the altar of self.
You can feel it, right? The convergence of the two within and around you? The struggle of choice between the holy (God’s thoughts, ways, commands) and the profane/mundane, the world’s mindset.
There are reasons why these two garden trees demand our attention. First, trees apparently mean something to God. He poetically carries the tree-image throughout His storytelling. He uses it in the Garden of Eden (spiritual global impact) but later likens people (Deuteronomy 20:19), Israel, and our soul condition to trees—good and not so good.
QUICK EXAMPLES . . .
1. fig tree, referring to Israel’s spiritual condition (Hosea 9:10 ESV)
3. oak tree of righteousness, strong, enduring, withstanding life’s struggles, and a planting of the Lord for His glory. (Isaiah 61:3 ESV).
4. towering tree, warning Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in a dream about a massive tree (world ruler) who would be cut down, leaves stripped, fruit scattered. Sadly, it was Nebby himself. (Daniel 4 ESV)).
An orthodox Judaic teaching puts it something like this: we’re like trees, rooted in our past/our ancestral history, canopied (like foliage) by our life choices/life story, bearing fruit (children, good works to help others, community) with more seeds going forth to bear new trees.
Nicely put. But there’s another application. Another tree God used. Arguably, the most significant tree . . . one directly linked to God’s two Garden of Eden trees and one that will bring us once again to the garden with the Lord’s promised Millennial Kingdom.
We’ll get to that eternity-shifting tree and how it fits into this Genesis 3 story in the last post of this Trees, Serpent, Lies series.
For now . . .
GARDEN TREES: THE BIGGER PICTURE
Both trees “control the state of the world,” according to Gershom Scholem, who is often regarded as the “most important Jewish historian of the 20th century.” He was a Zionist, a preeminent scholar of Jewish mysticism (i.e., Kabbalism), and a prolific author on Judaic/Israeli political, social, and cultural issues.
Although I’m not a Kabbalist, I have a particular interest in parts of Scholem’s commentary (as noted below with my bold typeface inserted for emphasis)—because they tangentially strike at the core and intent of this post . . . regarding what lies beneath and within the two-trees story and beneath and within our souls.
Scholem made these four observations:
(1) “Standing in the center of Paradise and representing higher order of things, the trees control a great deal more than just existence in the Garden of Eden.”
(2) “The Tree of Life represents the pure, unbroken power of the holy.”
(3) “Since the Fall of Adam, the world is no longer ruled by the Tree of Life as it had been in the beginning, but the Tree of Knowledge.”
(4) “Since the Fall of Adam, since the time when the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was eaten, the world is ruled by the mystery of this second tree in which both good and evil have their place. Hence, under the rule of this Tree, the world contains differentiated spheres: the holy and the profane, the pure and the impure, the permitted and the forbidden, the living and the dead, the divine and the demonic.”
Because whatever generation, whatever scenario, whatever temptation, whatever point on God’s prophetic time clock, it always comes down to the same struggle, wrestling with the repercussions of the Tree of Knowledge debacle, causing us to individually face the question, Which tree are we eating from and what “fruit” are we bearing/spreading?
Now step closer to the Promise (Tree of Life) and God’s Love Test (Tree of Knowledge).
READ THIS NEXT. God’s Story Threads: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 2b].
Targum Onkelos commentary (Genesis 2:9) on Sefaria.org
Gershom Scholem commentary from his book, The Messianic Idea in Judaism: And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality, as listed on Sefaria.org.
Gershom Scholem biography: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Oxford Bibliographies.
Tree as man: Chabad articles
Tree near river by Nitish Kadam on Unsplash.com