The Tree of Life FFOZ
The Way of the Tree of Life
The LORD exiled Adam and Eve from the garden. It was an act of mercy. Had they remained in the garden, they might have eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Life. God did not create them immortal, yet He left immortality hanging within their grasp. They only needed to reach out and eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life, and that fruit was never forbidden them. Should they do so in their fallen state, they would have been consigned to an immortal existence in rebellion against God, not unlike the Devil, unredeemed and unredeemable for all of eternity: an eternal life of endless death. In His abundant mercy, God exiled them from paradise and banned them from immortality:
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. (Genesis 3:22-23)
God created our souls and our bodies for the Garden of Delight. In some spiritual memory, every human being can still recall the taste of the fruit of the garden. Human beings have a longing wired into their hearts for the place of God, a desire we cannot quite articulate. We thirst for water we have never tasted. We long for fruit we have never eaten. We hunger and thirst for the presence of God. That’s why you are reading these words. That’s why we are always seeking to fill the empty places of our lives, and it is why we are prone to addictions, sensuality, and self-destructive behaviors. We are longing for Eden. The exile from the garden corresponds to Israel’s exile from the land and this current exile we endure. When the kingdom comes, Israel will return to the land, and the exile will be over. The gates of Eden will open, and we will return to the presence of God. Then all humanity will know the LORD.
So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:24)
There is a way back to Eden, past the flaming sword and between the cherubim. The Torah calls this the “derech etz haChayim” the “way of the tree of life.” The word “way (derech, דרך)” appears first in Genesis 3:24. The cherubim embroidered in the Temple curtains allude to the way of the tree of life. They stand sentry before the holy of holies and the presence of God, just as the cherubim in Genesis guard the wa