JESUS AND ISRAEL: PART 3
The mystery of Jesus the Creator dying for His creation
Jesus Christ brings us a mind-boggling concept that defies all logic. It can actually be traced back to the story of two trees.
It all started with Two Trees
In the Garden of Eden (Genesis chapter 2) God planted many beautiful trees to provide food for man. In the middle of the garden were two special trees. One was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The other was the tree of life.
We will see later that eating from the tree of life gave eternal life. That is, living in the presence of the Creator forever! As for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God said “if you eat the fruit of that tree, you shall surely die.”
What actually dies? And what does death mean anyway? The introduction of physical death is strongly suggested in Gen 3.19 – ‘to dust you shall return’. Serious study of the Bible reveals that the “soul” and “spirit” of man leave the physical body at physical death. In contrast to some atheistic beliefs, a person is not annihilated, but may suffer eternal separation from the love of the Creator God, link. So one tree was the tree of eternal death – condemnation to exist outside the presence of a loving Creator God. The other was the tree of eternal life – living in the presence of the Creator forever!
As the story goes, the serpent tempted Eve to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, and she in turn told Adam to eat it (both could have been actual people, link). So both ate forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve did not die immediately after eating the fruit of that forbidden tree. But they did die eventually of old age. Humans die. That is the consequence of that sin by Adam and Eve. In fact, this sinful act propagated throughout all generations;
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3.23)
This may seem hard and unjust on later generations, but can any one of us claim to be sinless? The Hebrew Bible repetitively presents the concept that sin (acts contrary to standards of godly behaviour) is punishable by death. In Ezekiel 38.4 we read:
The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die
That’s not a joke. Humans don’t have inherent eternal life. The Hebrew Bible teaches that eternal existence is God’s prerogative to give or not to give.
The ‘Tree of Life’ today – Christ!
Suppose Adam and Eve had chosen not to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree? Would God have rewarded their obedience by giving them the right to eat from the tree of eternal life and let them live forever? We simply don’t know. They disobeyed God’s instruction and didn’t get to that possibility. But this concept is very real today! Each one of us can indeed symbolically eat from the tree of life if we make one simple but essential step! Jesus said:
Whoever believes in Me will not perish but have everlasting life … I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly
By this He meant eternal life – eternal existence with the loving Creator God. The Bible teaches that, today, when a believer in Christ dies, their soul and spirit go to be with Christ in Paradise, link. This is not ‘soul sleep’; rather they maintain consciousness. But unbelievers, those who deliberately reject the reconciling work of Christ on the cross, effectively choose to eat from the tree of good and evil. So when they physically die they go to Hades and await the Great White Throne Judgement (Rev 20.11-15). Likewise, they do not lose consciousness.
Jewish Belief: Both ‘trees’ are open to everyone, including Jews. Some Jews hold similar beliefs to the Christian when it comes to death. For instance, they hold that after death the soul returns to its divine Source, and that the soul of a parent continues to watch over the lives of his or her children and grandchildren, link.
Dare you believe the concept behind the Two Trees?
The concept of the Two Trees leads to great philosophical and spiritual depth. It states that Jesus the Creator offers mankind a choice between good and evil, between one tree and another. This is possible by the unique and supreme act of God becoming man in Christ Jesus, and dying in man’s place on the cross. This act defies human logic. It is logical and possible to die for a righteous man. But to die for “sinners” is contrary to human logic and will.
So the concept of God becoming man and becoming the sacrifice to atone for sinful mankind demonstrates God’s ultimate love for man. He died to “buy” man back and give him the right to become an immortal being. This Hebraic-Christian philosophy is an astounding concept and is unique amongst the philosophies of life. So again, would you dare to believe it? Time will prove its veracity. In the meantime, watch the signs. They are leading to amazing promises to those who dare to believe.