Faith News

A message from St George parish church


Trees: an extended study of the significance of trees in the Bible (1)

Introduction.

When God creates all things good for human beings, a specific tree is mentioned: the Tree of Life (Gen 2. 9). It is put in the middle of the Garden of Eden: this garden planted by God (Gen 2. 8).

At the pivot point in the history of humanity is the Tree of the Cross, the life-giving tree.

History comes to an end as the Tree of Life is again mentioned. At the very end of time, it flourishes, perhaps as a group of trees, on both sides of the River of the Water of Life which flows from the Throne of God (Rev 22. 1 – 3). This is in the Holy City of the New Creation.

All through the Bible there is mention of trees and they are often used in familiar stories and events, in poetry and prophesy. They play a part in the story of redemption. In this set of reflections various aspects of trees (some admittedly fairly tenuous) will be examined. Hopefully this will lead to further thought or investigation on the part of the reader.

In general a chronological or historical approach will be used but some freedom and flexibility may also be applied if deemed appropriate or expedient.

This theme has been chosen to take us through the Trinity season because the liturgical colour for this season is green, evoking thoughts of new life, flourishing and hope.

The Tree of Life

‘The Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant’ [Gen 2. 9]

Since the first two humans disobeyed God and ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 3. 6), they were sent out of the Garden of Eden because if they had disobeyed God in this respect it seemed likely that they might also eat fruit from the Tree of Life and thus ‘live for ever’ (Gen 3. 22). They had knowledge but no sense of obedience.  This could be followed by immortality obtained by disobedience. This is the path to disaster so, for their own good and their salvation, the humans are banished from the Garden. The garden is guarded by cherubim.

The book of Proverbs [3. 1 – 4] reminds people to keep the commandments and this corresponds to the finding of Wisdom which itself is then described as ‘a tree of life’ [Prov 3. 18]. In speaking of wise behaviour, ‘a gentle tongue is (said to be) a tree of life’ [Prov 15. 4].

While the hope of Eden is lost it will be regained later in the story.

 

Father God you give us love,

you renew our courage and our strength for each new day.

Comfort us as we shed our tears and heal our wounds.

Give us the light of your wisdom and help us to recognise your truth.

Show us the way to regain our true nature

and bring us to eternal life

through Jesus Christ, the true life. Amen.