“…Partakers of the divine nature.” 2 Peter 1:4.

Discouragement is common to all of us. When we are made aware of our shortcomings, we tend to have moments of self-pity. We start to look upon ourselves. The clearer we see ourselves, the less likable we are, and more self-pitiful we become. Sometimes we may even give in to self-pity and indulge in our misery so it becomes a prolonged condition in our life.

It may sound illogical that we could “indulge” in our self-pity, but it is true, and it speaks of our imperfect nature in flesh, and it also is evidence that when we live in our flesh we become a victim of Satan, the enemy of God.

Self-pity is very often incorrectly thought to be a form of “humility.”  But in truth, self-pity is not in any way close to or similar to genuine humility.  In a sense, they are opposite to each other.

Self-pity is a severe form of self-condemning under the influence of a Satanic spirit when a sinful man faces himself.  In contrast, genuine humility is a truthful projection by the Holy Spirit of a saved man facing God, his Maker.

Self-pity is a picture of fallen Adam , while genuine humility is an image of a regenerated child of God.  Self-pity is soulish, while genuine humility is spiritual. Self-pity pleases Satan, while genuine humility glorifies God.

This is illustrated in the life of Ruth in the Old Testament.

If anyone should be self-pitiful, Ruth would.  A gentile woman widowed at her young age, she had all reasons to feel abandoned and hopeless.  If she had given in to self-pity, she would have become angry, withdrawn to herself, alienated from her mother-in-law and ended up dying in her homeland with misery and without hope.

Ruth did not.  Ruth didn’t just make some efforts to cheer herself up in order to counter her self-pity, which would have been futile or have had no eternal meaning even if she were to be successful temporarily.

But instead, Ruth chose humility with a genuine spiritual obedience and subjected herself to Naomi, her mother-in-law (a type of the Holy Spirit), and followed her into the Promised Land.  The lowly and humble Ruth was exalted because she followed the Holy Spirit.  A “self-pitiful” Ruth would have seen the opposite.  What a vivid illustration of the difference between self-pity and genuine humility.

For a natural man, self-pity may be just an unhealthy attitude or an undesirable psychological condition; but for a child of God, self-pity is sin.

For a child of God, self-pity isn’t just an offense to him or herself, it is more importantly an offense to God, for “…[you are] partakers of the divine nature.” 2 Peter 1:4.

As children of God, when we give in to self-pity, we banish God’s riches from our own lives and hinder others from entering into His provision.  The sin of self-pity is indeed among the worst kind of sin, because it obliterates God and puts self-interest upon the throne.  It opens our mouths to spit out murmurings and makes our lives black holes.  There is nothing lovely, enjoyable or generous about them.

In occasions of self-pity, introspection (continually looking within) only oppresses us deeper into the pit of self-pity.   When we are attacked by a feeling of self-pity, we especially need to look up and reach up to our Lord, rather than looking at ourselves.  It is a call for us to focus on Christ and His great love for us, to remember that we are children of God, and to rely on His promise that our eternal destiny is heaven.

A heavenward reflection changes our gloom to a song and restores once more a walk of sweet fellowship with our Lord.

Jesus says “Come unto Me and I will give you rest.”  Therefore, Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness.  Wherever Christ comes He establishes rest, the rest that delights our spirit and calms our soul.

The Water

Gen. 1:1-2, 6; Job 26:8, 10, Ezekiel 47:1–11; John 3:5, 4:10; Revelation 7:16-18; 21:6; 22:1; 22:17; Eph. 5:26; Heb. 10:22


WATER (Heb. mayim, Gk. hydōr). The word “water” appeared in the Bible over 700 times. But the meaning of water in God’s creation, both the old creation and the new creation, is even far more significant than the number itself may indicate.

(1) Walter is necessary for life, but we are made by God, not somehow evolved from water.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Gen. 1:1-2.

Notice how early the word “water” appeared in God’s Word. It appeared in the second verse of the entire Bible. In fact water is the first substance mentioned in the Bible, before any other substances. Before water, “the heavens and the earth” were mentioned, but these are not a particular substance but in fact a general reference to the entire creation of God.

You may have learned from the school how water is both an absolutely essential element of life and an essential supply of life. This is true, because without water, there would be no life. When scientists wanted to find evidence of life on Mars, the first thing they looked for was any sign of water. That water is absolutely essential to life is an undeniable fact, but often high-minded people want to elevate water to an even higher level by fundamentally proclaim that water is the origin of life. Many of course make such a statement in order to appear “profound” or be poetic, but we may not be carried away by such seemingly poetic and philosophical language. We must go back to what the Word of God tells us.

Genesis 1:2 tells us that before life was created, the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Reading this verse makes you feel that in the early time, after the original creation of the heavens and earth but before the creation of the earth and its inhabitants as we see today, something bad had happened and the earth was in trouble. It was probably that there had been an execution of God’s judgment on earth because of a rebellion lead by Lucifer. But regardless, the dire condition of the early earth was evident. The earth was in a completely barren condition. Not because it didn’t have water, but partly because there was too much water unarranged and ungoverned. Waters were a part of the surface of the deep covered by the darkness. How can anyone expect life to come out of that darkness? Had the Lord God not taken any further actions of creation, the darkness and the waters would have remained and there would be no life, and no us.

But God did take action. To make room, or make a home, for life, God first created boundaries of waters. Even today, God sustains these boundaries that are necessary for life to inhabit the earth. “He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight….He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness.” (Job 26:8, 10).

Every time when you think about ocean, think about this fact: there is enough water to cover (flood) the entirely surface to earth by hundreds of feet of depth, yet we are not flooded. What has helped to restrain the waters? Looking at the surface of the earth, one cannot help but being amazed by the fact the Someone had made some huge “bowls” (oceans) of just the right sizes and depths to contain the waters such that there is enough dry lands for us. It does not take a great variation of the depth of the oceans, or amount of water, to make a huge and devastating change on the surface of the earth. The big Tsunamis are but a sight shake of the oceans to indicate what happens when the Lord God allows His hands holding the oceans to become just a tiny bit loose. If you realize this, the next time you watch, walk and enjoy on a beach you will be deeply thankful for the Almighty God who has in His wisdom and mercy made and sustained all this.

It is therefore important for us to remember that we are from the Lord God, a result of His loving creation, not a natural and casual consequence somehow evolved from water, no matter how important water is to life. It is wishful, willful and arrogant of human being to think that if we wait long enough something good will “naturally” come out of a barren and dead condition. It often does, but not by the virtue of the barren and dead condition, but as a result of merciful interception of God. But sinful man would have total faith in “nature” but no faith in God the Creator. It is also a reflection of human sinful nature to always take the very work of God as “evidence” that God did not exist. It is like a starved man who was given a meal by a merciful savior, after being fed, arose to argue that there had never been a savior because he was never hungry.

(2) Water is an important part of God’s first creation – ever since God spoke these words “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water,” (Gen. 1:6), the waters of darkness have come into a beautiful formation under the sky and in the air. The Lord God arranged the waters and governed them so that the water became the basis for life. What a blessing God has given us in this substance.

Let us review some of the basic facts of water. Pure water at a proper temperature is an odorless, tasteless, transparent liquid. It is colorless in small amounts but exhibits a bluish tinge in large quantities. It is the most familiar and abundant liquid on earth. Water covers about 70% of the earth’s surface. It is also present in varying amounts in the atmosphere. Most of the living tissue of a human being is made up of water; it constitutes about 92% of blood plasma, about 80% of muscle tissue, about 60% of red blood cells, and over half of most other tissues. It is also an important component of the tissues of most other living things.

Water has amazing chemical and physical properties. Chemically, water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, having the formula H2O. So God created water by combining oxygen, a gaseous substance that is essential to many forms of life, with hydrogen, the simplest possible element among all substances God has created. What an amazing combination of liveliness and simplicity to produce something that is entirely different and takes a whole new level of meaning to life!

One of the reasons why water is so important to life is that water is a very unique solvent, a kind of substance that dissolves other substances (solutes). Many substances that are essential to life would be useless unless first being dissolved in water. This is because an unresolved substance, although has the potential to serve a certain function, is simply “unavailable” due to its self-containedness. This is analogous to the use of our spiritual gifts, and we will discuss about it later.

How water performs as a solvent is also amazing. It is as if every single water molecule has a pair of small touching “hands” that “cuddle” the solute molecules and make every solute molecule “at ease” and not being “afraid of” leaving the bulk material and not being afraid of losing itself in the solvent. Certainly God has wisdom here.

In addition to being a solvent, water also actively participates in many very important chemical reactions in human bodies (as well as other living organisms). For example, virtually every form of the most important chemical reactions for supplying energy to our body is participated by water molecules and cannot take place without water molecules.

Water also has interesting thermal properties. When heated from 0°C, its melting point, to 4°C, it contracts and becomes denser; most other substances expand and become less dense when heated. Conversely, when water is cooled in this temperature range, it expands. It expands greatly as it freezes; as a consequence, ice is less dense than water and floats on it. Biologists all agree that without this unique property of water, life in water would not be able to survive the seasonal changes. Also, because of hydrogen bonding between water molecules, the latent heats of fusion and of evaporation and the heat capacity of water are all unusually high. For these reasons, water serves both as a heat-transfer medium (e.g., ice for cooling and steam for heating) and as a temperature regulator (the water in lakes and oceans helps regulate the climate).

It is evident that these amazing properties of water are specifically designed for facilitating and preserving both life in water and life on dry lands. Believing that all this has happened by chance is not only a very rude attitude toward the Owner of the world who has designed and made this world, but also requires a very devoted heart worshiping “the nature”, which is a mere a creation, as a god without giving glory to the One to whom the glory really belongs to.


(3) Water played an important role in the lives of God’s people’s in Old Testament times. Because of its both biological and environmental importance, water plays an important role in societies. Water resources and supplies in particular are always an important feature in people’s lives, particularly in a part of the world where water is in short supply. It must have been God’s design that His people lived in a land that generally did not entirely lack water, but the water did not come easily and freely either. For Israelites, water had to be taken with a significant effort. As a result, water featured significantly in their lives. From Abraham, Isaac to Jesus’ time, Israelites relied on digging wells for water. On the one hand, the land had water so that digging was not in vain. On the other hand, Israelites did not have the luxury of flowing rivers of water. For Israelites, few things are more serious to them than absence of water (1 Ki. 17:1; Je. 14:3; Joel 1:20 ; Hg. 1:11 ), and conversely rainfall is a sign of God’s favor and goodness.

An equally serious menace to life is water that has been polluted or rendered undrinkable. This was one of the plagues of Egypt (Ex. 7:17). The Israelites found the water at Marah bitter (Ex. 15:23), and the well at Jericho was unpleasant in Elisha’s day (2 Ki. 2:19–22).

It was common practice in time of warfare for an invading army to cut the water-supply of beleaguered cities, as did Jehoshaphat with the wells of Moab (2 Ki. 3:19, 25). Hezekiah averted this danger by the construction of the tunnel which exists to this day in Jerusalem, running from the Virgin’s fountain (Gihon), outside the city walls of his day, to the Pool of Siloam (2 Ch. 32:30 ). Under conditions when water had to be rationed (La. 5:4; Ezk. 4:11, 16), the phrase ‘water of affliction’ could fittingly be used (Is. 30:20). But with God’s dealings with His people, a lack of water was also a form of punishment or discipline (1 Ki. 22:27; 2 Ch. 18:26).

Spiritual meanings and applications:

In addition to biological, environmental and social importance of water, water in the Bible has rich and profound spiritual meaning. The spiritual meaning of water often draws in parallel from the use and the meaning of the physical water. This is no surprise and is indeed a general principle of how God speaks. God has two creations, the old creation and the new creation. The old creation includes the physical world we see now. But the old shall pass and God is introducing a new creation to replace the old. The old creation in many ways serves as an illustration of the new to come. In other words, the old creation is like a “parable” of the new creation that is to come. “He shall speak in parables,” and God indeed spoke in parables.

(1) Jesus is the source of living water – just as Jesus proclaimed that He is the true vine, he also proclaimed that He is the source of the true water. All things in the old creation are but a shadow of the true reality that is to come. Many people study God’s words as if the physical world (the old creation) is the only reality, while the spiritual world is but a beautiful imagination. These souls have not heard the Word of God. The water to our physical life (the old creation) is but an illustration of what the Son of God is to our born-again life (the new creation). While the former is all reality, the latter is the true reality.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10.

(2) The river of living water – No longer must God’s children dig wells to draw water as the Israelites did in Old Testament time. “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38. What Jesus promised is the true blessing of God for His new creation. This promise was made repetitively in Old Testament (for example, Ps. 23:2; Is. 32:2; 35:6–7; 41:18, Pss. 42:1 ; 63:1 ; Am. 8:11 ). etc.) and made explicit by the words of the Son of God Himself in the New Testament (John 4:9-11 and John 7:38).

Ezekiel saw a vision of The Temple – God’s house (47:1–11). In his vision, the waters poured out as a river from under the altar. The river in Ezekiel’s vision represents the unrestricted flow of Yahweh’s blessings upon His people. Jeremiah also describes Yahweh as ‘the fountain of living waters’ (2:13; 17:13). However, it is in Revelation that Ezekiel’s vision became a reality:

“Never again will they hunger;

never again will they thirst.

The sun will not beat upon them,

nor any scorching heat.

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;

He will lead them to springs of living water.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

(Revelation 7:16-18)

“He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life…” Revelation 21:6

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17.

Clearly, living water is the highest, purest and supreme summation of God’s blessing to His children. The river of living water, the true water in the new creation, is to be a prominent feature in the eternal life of God people just as how the physical water has featured in our physical life.

Due to the scarcity of water resources and hard well-digging experiences, Jews truly understood the meaning of “River of living water” when Jesus spoke those words. The problem with us who live in modern times is that although we know we cannot live without water, we don’t consciously think about the importance of water in our lives. It is something that we come to realize its importance only when we suddenly rush out of it. But our spiritual experiences and understanding should nevertheless be clear.

(3) From altar to throne, the complete the story of the river. But we also see that from Ezekiel’s vision in the Old Testament to John’s vision of the heavenly reality there is a distance between the Altar and the Throne, and a transformation between the Altar and the Throne. This is the distance between the heaven and the earth, an infinite chasm caused by the fall of man. This is the distance walked by Jesus Christ as the son of man, covering the road to the Cross. As we are inspired and encouraged by the promise of God for the river of living water, we shall never forget it is the Lord Himself who paid the price for this supreme gift.


(4) Water also represents cleansing and separation. Although water predominantly represents God’s blessing to life, it also represents baptismal cleansing for forgiveness of sins. In the ceremonial system washing was a prominent feature. Priests were washed at their consecration (Ex. 29:4); Levites too were sprinkled with water (Nu. 8:7). Special ablutions were demanded of the chief priest on the Day of Atonement (Lv. 16:4, 24 in, 26), of the priest in the ‘water of separation’ ritual (Nu. 19:1–10), and of all men for the removal of ceremonial defilement (Lv. 11:40 ; 15:5; 17:15; 22:6; Dt. 23:11 ). The laver before the tabernacle was a constant reminder of the need for cleansing in the approach to God (Ex. 30:18–21). A developed form of this ritual ablution was practiced by the Qumran sect and by a variety of Jewish baptist sects which flourished before and after the turn of the Testament time. These provide the background to John’s baptism of repentance and to the Christian baptism of cleansing, initiation and incorporation into Christ.

Water baptismal is now a familiar concept to Christians:

“…to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,…” Christ speaks of His Church in Eph. 5:26;

“…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water…” Heb. 10:22.

Although Bible often uses one thing to represents, in different contexts, different (and even unrelated) subjects, here the representations of both the new life and cleansing from the world’s contamination may not be two entirely different subjects. The word of God teaches us that forgiveness of our sins and our salvation to receive eternal life are inseparable. Many people think that God has salvation in store for people regardless of what people’s condition are. They only nominally accept the notion of “forgiveness of sin” as if it were some type of extra comfort God confers upon His people. This is entirely wrong. One cannot receive salvation of eternal life until his sins are forgiven. Sin and eternal life are completely exclusive of each other and by no means can coexist. One who is quick to claim his right to a new life but never remembers the fact that he is a “sinner saved by grace” does not understand the salvation and perhaps only lives in his religious dreams.

“Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of WATER and the Spirit…” John 3:5.

Here, water represents cleansing and separation from sin. It represents the price our Lord has paid for the forgiveness of our sins, while the Spirit is the resurrection power of our Lord Jesus. We need both for our salvation. One whose sins are forgiven still needs the resurrection life to attain salvation, but one whose sins are not forgiven cannot even receive the resurrection life, because the Holy Spirit, like a dove, will not rest on a sinful man that is full of death.

(5) The presence of the Lord to our Christian life and our gathering is like water to our body. This is a practical observation. Remember we have previously learned about various kinds of food, what they do to our body and why our body needs them. We learned that there are three types of needs all body has: the first is taking in structural materials for growing and sustaining our body as a structure; the second is taking in energy to drive and sustaining our body as a living organism; the third is taking in nutrition so that our body works more efficiently as a system. All these needs are concrete and identifiable. But where do you put water among them? The water does not supply any structural material; the water does not provide energy; and the water is not in itself nutritious. Yet we know that our body cannot live without water.

Water works in a “behind the scenes” manner that is not often visible but absolutely essential. This is very much like the presence of the Lord in our Christian life, both individually and as a corporate. Yes we need all kinds of spiritual food, from milk to solid food. Some Christians and gatherings are not eating the right type of food. Sometimes it’s an out-of-balance diet, sometimes it lacks structure, energy, or nutrition, and sometimes even worse, it is full of junk food. But even in some gatherings that appear to have everything right in its “spiritual diet”, there would still be a lack life. Why? Often, when you look deeper, you see a lack of presence of the Lord. It is as if a body takes in right kind of food but never drinks water. The result is death.

There is another function of water that may also have a spiritual analogy. Remember we talked about water functioning as a unique solvent. Many substances that are essential to life would be useless unless first being dissolved in water. This is because an unresolved substance, although has the potential to serve a certain function, is simply “unavailable” to its function due to its self-containedness. This is not only true in our digesting system, but to the cell level of our body as a living organism. This phenomenon is analogous to the use of our spiritual gifts. Sometimes one may have spiritual gifts, but without the guidance of the Holy Spirit these gifts are like dry “solutes” that although have a potential to serve a function, but really are useless before they are gently guided by the Holy Spirit and dissolved into God’s presence.

How water performs as a solvent is also illustrative. As mentioned previously, it is as if every single water molecule has a pair of small touching hands that “cuddle” the solute molecules and make every solute molecule “at ease” and not being “afraid of” leaving the bulk material and not being afraid of losing itself in the solvent. What wisdom God has demonstrated! Some Christians go to a gathering and immediately complain about “incompatibility”. It is true that sometimes we may be in the wrong place, but the question is exactly with what we see ourselves to be incompatible. Are we as an individual feeling incompatible with other individualities? Or is it simply that our self-life is incompatible with the Holy Spirit? The truth is that as individuals we are seldom compatible with each other, and even if we do feel compatible with each other, the compatibility does not really lead to much meaning. We need to learn how to yield to the Holy Spirit and the presence of the Lord, and be dissolved in His presence. Once we find that we are compatible with the “solvent” (the presence of the Lord through Holy Spirit), suddenly we find ourselves compatible with other “solutes.”

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1

The Tree of Life

Bible verses: Gen. 2:9-10; Gen. 3:22-24; Proverbs 3:18; 11:30; 13:12; Rev. 2:1, 7; Rev. 22:1-2; Rev. 22:14.


1. The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden – eternal life, God supreme gift to mankind

“And Jehovah Elohim planted a garden in Eden eastward, and there put Man whom he had formed. And out of the ground Jehovah Elohim made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; and the tree of life, in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Gen. 2:9-10

Man’s life started in a garden which the Lord God prepared for him. The garden is literally called the garden of pleasure and that is what we usually first think of the Garden of Eden. But there is another thing that made the Garden of Eden altogether different from any other garden on earth: it had two extraordinary trees peculiar to itself, and on earth there were not their like. There was chiefly the tree of life in the midst of the garden.

The tree of life in the Garden of Eden tells us the following:

(a) The tree of life in the Garden of Eden wasn’t given to Adam as a natural means to preserve or prolong his life, nor was it a mere reminder to Adam (the first man) of the fountain and author of his life. It was chiefly intended to be the highest calling of Adam by God. With the Garden, God gave a sign and seal to Adam, assuring him of the continuance of life and happiness, even to immortality and everlasting blessing, through the grace and favor of his Maker. But all this is based upon condition of his perseverance in this state of innocence and obedience, and most of all, an intimate fellowship with God. Of the tree of life Adam might eat and live and to attain the eternal purpose of God. We will learn that Christ is now to us the tree of life (Rev. 2:7; Rev. 22:2), and the bread of life (John 6:48, John 6:53).

(b) God desires to give us the supreme gift – the eternal life. Adam was made by God and had a perfect life, both in a sense that he had a sinless life and that he had an ideal environment to live in. But that wasn’t God’s ultimate purpose. Adam did not have all the life God wanted him to have. If he already had it all, the tree of life in the garden would have been a mere decoration. But we see from the Word of God that the tree of life is not a mere decoration. It is not even just a wonderful additional bonus. It was the ultimate goal that God wants Adam to have.

Many Christians, even some non-Christians, dream of returning to the Garden of Eden. Some want it merely out of a desire for the enjoyment of the abundant life-supplies at their fingertips without toiling the soil; some want a bit more, a sinless and innocent life that Adam had; some see a more complete picture and desire the presence of God for a reliable security. All these are good characteristics of the Garden of Eden and no doubt a part of the blessing the Lord God wants to give us. But the supreme gift God has prepared for us is the tree of life. We will see in God’s revelation that the tree of life symbolizes the life of our Savior Jesus Christ.

(c) God himself is life, and outside of him there can be no life. But God chose to express life and give out life in a “tree”. The tree of course must be in itself alive, but what’s also significant of the tree of life is that it is not merely a living tree having and showing a life of itself, but a fruit-bearing tree such that its life can be shared and taken by anyone who is granted the right to eat the fruits of the tree of life. This is our Lord Jesus Christ. Without Christ, God himself is life but that life cannot be partaken by us; God himself is light, but that light cannot be partaken by us; God himself is love, but that love cannot be partaken by us. So God put all the riches in his Son Jesus Christ, who offers himself as the tree of life bearing fruits that can be eaten by us. In this sense, the Father God gave his only begotten Son to us so that we may share Christ’s divine life, and this he did even before Adam had sinned. We therefore see the love and grace of God and humbleness of our Lord Jesus Christ manifested even before Adam has sinned. Clearly, God’s love is not limited to his forgiveness of our sins. Many Christians only know that God loves us as he forgives our sins, but don’t know the eternal love of God having in Christ beyond merely forgiving our sins.

2. The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden – separation from the fallen man

But we all know what happened to Adam before he ever tasted the tree of life.

There was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Between the tree of life and the tree of knowledge, Adam and Eve chose the latter. As to this unfortunate choice, we often focus, quite rightly, on the mistake Adam and Eve made in eating the fruits of the tree of knowledge, but we must also realize that when selecting the tree of knowledge, Adam and Eve also made a decision to reject the tree of life.

The knowledge of good and evil isn’t in itself inherently evil, for God himself possesses such knowledge. We can be certain that wisdom would come with eating the fruits of the tree of life, for wisdom is an inherent virtue of life. But the tree of the knowledge of good and evil offered a different type of opportunity. Adam’s disobedient act immediately made him a victim of the knowledge from the tree of knowledge. With the tree of knowledge, God made an express positive revelation of his will concerning this tree, and as a result by Adam’s action regarding this tree Adam would not only know evil, but also experience evil, and in fact become evil (or good had he obeyed).

What is good for Adam? It is good not to eat of this tree. What is evil for Adam? It is evil to eat of this tree. And consequence follows when Adam chose poorly.

“And Jehovah Elohim said, Behold, Man is become as one of us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever…! Therefore Jehovah Elohim sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. And he drove out Man; and he set the Cherubim, and the flame of the flashing sword, toward the east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Gen. 3:22-24.

Suddenly, the supreme blessing became the highest danger to Adam such that God had to safeguard the tree of life from Adam to prevent him from living his sinful life forever. The tree of life is not just a blessing in itself, it is a divine relationship. It brings eternal life to one who is without sin, but brings eternal judgment to one who is sinful. The sinful man must be separated from the tree of life, not just because he no longer deserves it, but more importantly that his life is no longer compatible with the fruit of the tree of life, and consequently eating the fruit would not bring about the intended result but just the opposite.

Having to be separated from the tree of life is exactly what the Lord God warned Adam and Eve of their disobedience: “you shall surely die.” The penalty threatened is death: you shall die, that is, “you shall be barred from the tree of life, and all the good that is signified by it, all the happiness you have, either in possession or prospect; and you shall become liable to death, and all the miseries that preface it and attend it.” This was threatened as the immediate consequence of sin: In the day you eat, you shall die, that is, you shall become mortal and be subject to death; the grant of immortality shall be recalled, and that divine defense shall depart from you. The death shall immediately seize you, and your life shall be a dying life.

Out of his sinful distrust in God, his evil doubt of God’s goodness, and the resultant disobedience, Adam chose death when he intended to improve his own life. For Adam, this surely has become a settled rule: the soul that sins, it shall die. The wages of sin is death.

We must carefully note how complete the separation between Adam and the tree of life was. There is absolutely no promise to Adam himself that he would someday by his own effort redeem himself and be allowed to return to the tree of life. The only promise is giving to Eve concerning her Seed, which we all know refers to Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. The tree of life in heaven – the eternal promise in Christ for the new mankind

Adam and Eve never heard about the tree of life again, nor did his offspring. The lost Garden of Eden is but a shadow of the heavenly things to come. God has no intention to merely recover the Garden of Eden on earth. The tree of life is never mentioned again in the Word of God until it appeared in heaven in Revelation, the last book of the Bible. The Book of Proverbs alluded to “a tree of life” referring to God’s wisdom and an eternal hope God has given to his people, but it is as if the Word of God intentionally held the vision of “the tree of life” until the end when resurrected Christ is revealed in heaven.

“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write … “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”  Rev. 2:1, 7.

God again promised the tree of life to His people! Sometimes we miss the significance of God’s promise when we read the Bible, feeling that God has made so many promises, so what is so special about one more promise. But the promise of the tree of life stands in contrast to the spell of the curse on Adam who represents the whole mankind, who was permanently separated from the tree of life and was never promised to regain access to the tree of life. If God did not promise Adam to regain access to the tree of life, how can He then promise in Revelation the tree of life to the saints? God of course did not change his mind on a whim. The promise to regain access to tree of life is not based on the merits of the Adamic race, but is given to a new race which is the spiritual offspring the resurrected Seed promised in Genesis.

4. The tree of life in heaven – the eternal blessing in Christ

“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Rev. 22:1-2.

“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Rev. 22:14.

The Garden is replaced by a City. Much can be said on that subject, but let us focus on the tree of life here.

The tree of life in heaven far excels the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. First, the tree of life in heaven is in an altogether different environment. It is fed by the pure waters of the river that comes from the throne of God. The presence and perfections of God furnish out all the glory and blessedness of heaven.

Second, the fruitfulness of this tree is nothing like that of a tree on earth. Even the leaves of the tree of life heal, what shall happen to those who actually taste the fruit of the tree of life! It brings forth many sorts of fruit – twelve sorts (representing completeness), suited to the refined taste of all the saints. It brings forth fruit at all times – yields its fruit every month. This tree is never empty, never barren; there is always fruit upon it. In heaven there is not only a variety of pure and satisfying goodness, but a continuance of them, and always fresh.

And third, the fruit is not only lively, but wholesome. There is no presence of the other tree, namely the tree of knowledge, and there is no temptation. The children of God are found complete and whole with the tree of life. The life is all there is, and all that the children of God would ever need. There is no need of the knowledge of good and evil, for the saints have already learned good and avoided evil, not through tasting the fruit of the tree of knowledge, but through walking with the Lamb of God.

Through John’s vision, the Holy Spirit showed us the eternal blessing in Christ the Lord God has prepared for his children in heaven. For Adam and his offspring (the entire human race), all their problems on the earth and in their lives come from, and can be summarized in, the separation from the tree of life. And there was absolutely no hope. The Lord God did not promise to break the curse as far as Adam and his offspring are concerned. Many Christians have a vague and often wrong understanding of salvation, thinking that all God did in his son Jesus Christ is to come to announce the expiration of the curse on Adamic race, so that we, Adam’s offspring, may again have a hope in our lives on earth. This is inaccurate, or even incorrect. God never recalled the curse on Adam. The execution of the death penalty of the sinful man has been carried out and there is no retraction. God’s solution is not to bring Adam back to the Garden of Eden, but to bring forth a new mankind, a new creation that is the offspring of the Seed promised in Genesis.

To do that, it took much more than merely making an announcement by God. It cost the very life of his only begotten son Jesus Christ on the Cross. As born-again children of God, we ought to always remember that (1) our salvation is at an immeasurable cost paid by Christ on Cross; (2) we are here to celebrate the new life rather than boast in a “luck” our old life somehow had; and (3) our ultimate hope is in the City in heaven where the eternal tree of life is, rather than a re-gained paradise on earth.

We have said that there was a curse of death penalty on Adam and his offspring. In one sense, the execution of the death penalty was carried out immediately after Adam sinned. But that execution was merely a consequence fell upon Adam and his offspring. If sin is to be punished, where was the wrath of God? Where was the crushing of sin? None of such was manifested on the dealing of the Lord God with Adam. Adam merely lost the blessings that he did not deserve. He didn’t really pay the price of sin, which is to be paid by Another later. Adam couldn’t pay that price, because he wouldn’t be able to and wasn’t worth that much. It was like, if you would allow an imperfect analogy, a child who damaged the most valuable treasure of his father. The child may be admonished or even punished for what he has done, but that doesn’t mean he has paid a price of the treasure.

In the ultimate sense, the true execution of the curse was carried out on Mount Calvary when the Son of God was hung on a tree. On a tree! It was the accursed death. There were many ways by which men might die, but there was only one death which God pronounced to be accursed. He did not say, “Cursed is he that dies by stoning, or by the sword, or by a millstone being fastened about his neck, or by being eaten of worms,” but it was written, “Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree.”

There is the tree, on Mount Calvary, combining both trees in the Garden of Eden, the tree which the man had perpetrated and the tree which the man had lost because of his offense. On that tree, the Son of God paid the ultimate price of the penalty of sin. He took sin, bore it away, and allowed the Father God to crush it, with ultimate wrath, along with himself. If anyone is still holding a hope on the “tree” of the mankind and of this world and think somehow something good will eventually be ripe on that tree, let him look at the tree on Mount Calvary, where God pronounced his final conclusion of sin and the world which has fallen under it. If one sees a dead tree only, that would be his conclusion of himself and also God’s conclusion of him. But you, the blessed child of God, see two trees: one on which your savior is hung for the atonement of your sin, and one which has ascended to heaven to become the tree of life.

In Revelation, we see that in the center of the new City in heaven, from which the saints shall never be driven, seeing it is to be our perpetual heritage and dwelling place, there is the tree of life. We know the tree of life is no other than the divine life of our Lord Jesus Christ.

5. Righteous life of a child of God – a tree of life

If the tree of life is the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, the life of a child of God should be a tree of life as a testimony. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.” Proverbs 11:30. Remember that the tree of life is not noted for its appearance but for its fruits. Even its leaves heal. Our lives, each a tree of life (or more accurately, a branch of the tree of life), ought to resemble the tree of life. The fruit which comes from a Christian is fruit worthy of his character. Each tree bears its own fruit, and is known by it. The fig tree will not bring forth thorns, neither shall we gather grapes from thistles. The fruit of the righteous is righteousness. The righteous man bears righteous fruit. Let us not be at all deceived, or fall into any error about this, “he who does righteousness is righteous,” and “whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10.

Saving faith appropriates the finished work of the Lord Jesus, by which alone can we be saved, for we are justified by faith not by works. But the faith which is without works is a fake faith and cannot bring salvation to any man. If as a student one is lazy, cheating and drifting, or as a child he is disobedient, disrespectful and dishonest, his fruit shows an old life that is a tree of Satan’s own orchard, and bear bad fruits which will only suit an evil taste. May he be saved from that.

Let us also remember that although the fruit of the righteous comes from the righteous naturally (for his newborn nature yields the sweet fruit of obedience), yet it is always the result of grace, and the gift of God. We can bring forth no fruit, except as we abide in Christ. The righteous shall flourish as a branch, and only as a branch. How does a branch flourish? By its connection with the stem, and the consequent inflowing of the sap. Therefore although the righteous actions are our own, yet they are always produced by the grace which is imparted to us, and we never dare to take any credit for us.

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.” A fruit becomes a tree, a tree of life! Wonderful result this is. The outburst of life from the Christian, a consequence of life within him, becomes a blessing to others. The Christian’s godly life becomes a tree of life, a living tree, a tree designed to give life and sustain it in others. Christ in the Christian produces a character which becomes a tree of life. The outward character is the fruit of the inner life, and this outer life itself grows into a tree, and as a tree it bears fruit in others. Like a tree, it yields shade and sustenance to all around. It is a tree of life, an expression and illustration in which a world of meaning is packed. From the child of God there falls the fruit of holy living; this holy living becomes influential and produces the best results in others.

It is written, “In the midst of the street thereof, and on every side of the river was there the tree of life.” The tree of life is a heavenly plant, and so the fruit of the Christian is a thing of heaven; though temporarily demonstrated on earth, it is getting fit for its final destination because the completeness and development of the holy life will be seen above. As Charles Spurgeon said, “What an important thing it is for us to be indeed righteous before God, for then the outcome of that righteousness shall be fruit which will be a tree of life to others, and a tree of life in heaven above, world without end.”

How much the Lord desires us to live very near to him, and to grow into a tree of life, such that the very shadow of our life is comforting, cooling, and refreshing to many weary souls, such that we can tell others of the faithfulness of the Lord, and show others the way of life and wisdom.

In the past, God has raised up many saints whose holy lives are trees of life. Not only did they give comfort to others, but they also yield spiritual nourishment, sweet to the taste of the godly and nutritious to the growth of the members of Christ’s body. The influence they have left behind continues to be a tree of life to us. Their noble examples are presented to the Lord as holy offerings by the church, to enable and enrich the children of God as we conduct our walk of faith and labor of love. Let us pray that we may be like them.

She [God’s wisdom] is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.” Proverbs 3:18.

Her [God’s wisdom] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.” Proverbs 3:17-18.