The first mention of the tree of life is in Genesis 2:8-10, “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.”  Two trees are particularly spoken of, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  What a garden this must have been and it was created to make man happy.  We see from these verses that it was beautiful, it was fruitful, and it was well-watered.

The two trees mentioned stand in stark contrast to one another.  One spoke of life, the other spoke of death.  Some have asked why the Lord would even place the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden.  Why give man the opportunity to sin?  In reality, the Lord put that tree in the Garden to give man an opportunity to obey!  How could there be obedience if there was no chance for disobedience?  The Lord forbid Adam from eating of it and told him what would happen if he did.  Genesis 2:16-17 says, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

The tree of life was planted in the midst of the Garden, so that it could be easily be seen by Adam, and later by Eve so that it could be a constant reminder that the reward of obedience is immortality.  There was no prohibition against eating the fruit of this tree, but we have no record that Adam or Eve ever did eat of it.  If they remained obedient, Adam and Eve had access to the tree of life.  Soon enough they disobeyed God and were then forbidden to eat of the tree of life.  We read in Genesis 3:22, “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.”  This was a great act of the grace of God.  If the guilty pair had eaten of the tree of life in their sinful state, they would have lived forever in that state.  We should be grateful that the Lord prevented them from eating of it.  So the Lord drove them from the Garden and “placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.)  (Verse 24)

Did this tree of life actually have the power to impart immortality to man?  Let’s look at a few verses that also mention the tree of life.  Speaking of wisdom, we read in Proverbs 3:18, “She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.”  Then in Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life…”  Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”  Proverbs 15:4 tells us, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life…”  In this one book, wisdom, the fruit of the righteous, desire fulfilled, and a soothing tongue are all called a tree of life.  The tree in Proverbs speaks of that which brings joy and healing to the people.

It seems that this is what the real Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden symbolized. It was an actual tree, yet it represented the blessing of eternal life which God would give to Adam and Eve if they remained obedient to the Lord.  As such, we can see how the tree of life is a representation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who offers eternal life to those who are obedient to the Gospel message and put their faith in Him.  2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 says, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  If you haven’t, won’t you now obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and accept Christ as your savior?  (206.6)