I’ve recently gained a greater appreciation for reading the books of the Bible in context – understanding what the author of each book intended to convey with their intricately crafted literary works and not simply grabbing phrases and fitting them into the preformed (and bad) theologies with which I approach them.
It all began when I listened to a great series on the tree of life, bringing a much-needed, more profound and fresh perspective on a topic I’ve written about before (praise God!). I share a few notes below🙂
The tree of life symbolises the picture of the ideal – being in a state of relational proximity with God in which you’re transformed through God’s life inside of you. It represents a gift that God wants to give humanity, a life that is beyond the original life that God breathed into humans. The first human, by nature, is susceptible to death. Nevertheless, continued eating from the tree could renew life and prevent death.
The tree of knowing good and bad symbolises a test – will I approach opportunities with my knowledge of good and bad (blind to my screwed-up motives and limited understanding beneath it) of which the fruit is pleasing to the eye and looks good to eat (especially if the situation/test is intense), or will I refuse to live by it and instead approach them with God’s wisdom? It encapsulates the fundamental human condition described by the bible so well!
Practically, first and foremost, wisdom and life are about listening to God’s voice. Tightly intertwined in the relational aspect (through the Holy Spirit) is to be transformed by His written word (the proven canon of scripture by the early church). We make this second connection through the images of Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly in Proverbs that can be connected to the tree of life and the tree of knowing good and bad.
A fresh perspective on the Lord’s Prayer:
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us [who has offended or wronged us].
And lead us not into temptation [but rescue us from evil].’ ”Luke 11:2-4 AMP
The two trees give me insight into how we should do things – here is the what (our targets):
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:29-31 ESV
Ultimately, I’ve found a renewed joy in my broadened understanding of eating from the tree of life:
- The relational aspect – requires caution as one can easily eat from the tree of good and bad in it (the perception of His words/promptings can be tainted by the clutter in one’s soul and one’s limited wisdom), and
- The wisdom aspect – not only maturing in godly character and condition of one’s heart but also growing in His wisdom, which requires laying down one’s limited knowledge of good and bad in life’s various opportunities and when approaching the scriptures.