The Tree of Life

Jerusalem of Gold

The Tree of Life

This teaching was recorded at 'Bethel Gathering' - a UK Messianic Church - on 15.06.19.  To listen to the Teaching Audio click here.


Written notes to the audio teaching are also available below:



"I pray, as always that the Holy Spirit helps each and all of us hear how to apply this wonderfully encouraging teaching from the LORD, the God of Israel, the LORD Yeshua, through understanding more of the Hebrew together.


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This teaching is called something in English with which we are all familiar - The Tree of Life:


When I say that the first thing that comes to our minds is probably the Garden of Eden in Genesis.  It is true that this is the first place that this phrase “the tree of life” occurs in the Holy Scriptures.  It actually also only appears in two other books of the Bible – Revelation and Proverbs.

 

We’re going to read those together now:


Genesis 2: 8- 9 “The LORD God planted a garden towards the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing 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.” 


Points to note:


  • There are TWO trees. The tree of good and evil is the most notorious but the tree of life is mentioned first.
  • The Word of God says that “The LORD “caused to grow” this tree”. What does that mean in the original language? The word for “caused to grow” is “tzmach” (צָמַח) meaning to grow or to sprout. It is the same Hebrew word root as given to Messiah “The Branch” or “sprout” in Isaiah 4:2, and Jeremiah 23:5-6, Zechariah 3:8, 6:12-13.
  • The word for east in Hebrew (קֶדֶם ) said qedem means: ancient, aforetime, from the front or front, as well as east
  • The tree of life is in the midst of the garden – in Hebrew this word midst is be’toch (בְּת֣וֹךְ) meaning: inward part, or innards, internally or centre. Interestingly, this is a good description of where the apple – representing our sinful choices where we assume we are better than God - was about to be digested in the innards or belly of the man and woman.

 

 So, this verse in Genesis, where this mystery Tree of Life is first introduced to us as such, is a Tree that is listed FIRST, is described as a BRANCH by God, is placed in the MIDST of the garden, to somehow compensate for the sin the humans are about to consume from the other opposing tree.


I would suggest that even in this ONE line we can see through the Hebrew that Yeshua waiting in perfect placement, intricately woven into the historical account BEFORE the pride of sin was even taken. We took sin into our inmost parts from the tree of good and evil. So, the tree of life as an antidote to our sin, was planted in the midst of the garden to show a redemptive mirroring, and that tree was the Branch, the Sprouting up of Messiah.

 

Who knew studying Hebrew could secure us so much deeper wisdom and understanding?

 

The 2nd place the Tree of Life is mentioned is shortly afterwards in Genesis 3:22: “And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

 

  • What makes man live forever? Eating from the Tree of Life
  • When can this not happen? When man also KNOWS good and evil. Because mankind - unlike God - is not perfect. But doesn’t that sound like a good thing? Don’t we understand this verse in English to somehow mean to discern between good and evil? That is not the Hebrew meaning to this word.
  • The word for know here is “yada” ( יָדַע ). It means to have intimate knowledge of, all the way from one end of the spectrum of intellectual to actually making love with someone. It is the word used to describe a man knowing his wife. So, this isn’t the same as saying “I discern the difference between good and evil”. No, this is humans now being in an intimate relationship to evil, to partake in evil, body, soul, mind and spirit. Someone, anyone, with this twin capacity of having a relationship with both good and evil cannot therefore - by God’s definition in this verse about the Tree of Life - live forever.
  • So, what do we say to the fact that the devil and his demons will be thrown in hell for eternity? That simply means they will die for eternity, not live for eternity. And so will all people who choose to follow evil in this life. They will go through the process of death and for eternity, while those who put their trust in Yeshua will be going through the process of life for eternity. This needs to be known in our prayers for the lost. If they think their lives are disintegrating, and full of destruction and hatred now, do they understand what an eternity of dying will feel like?
  • Note, therefore that there is something about the Tree of Life which is eternal. It is therefore “the Tree of Eternal Life”. And to follow the logical train of thought from the previous point, that an order to be in eternal life, one must be without an intimate relationship with evil or sin. That is why the LORD expelled humans from that position in the garden, because it is now impossible to be both living in eternity AND to ‘know’, to be in relationship with, both good and evil.

 

So, our question becomes, can you see, not What is the Tree of Life but Who is the Tree of Life? This Sprout, this Branch in the midst, in the innards of the garden, in the midst of the problem of sin, before sin even entered the bodies, minds, souls and spirits of man?


Yeshua. The Messiah is planted in the midst of the garden of Eden, already on the stage of History, hidden in Plain Sight in the Hebrew, before the human actors even enter the scene. Yeshua IS THE TREE OF LIFE.

Let’s go further and explore the references to the Tree of Life in Proverbs quickly, before fast forwarding to Revelation. Proverbs is known as a Wisdom Book. Proverbs itself describes what – or again, rather Who – is Wisdom (Proverbs 8)


With this in mind, let’s read the references to the Tree of Life in Proverbs now and see if this growing understanding that Yeshua is the Tree of Life is beginning to makes sense to us?


Proverbs 3: 13 – 18 “How blessed is the man who finds Wisdom. And the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels. And nothing you desire compares with her. Long life (read eternal life) is in her right hand, in her left hand are riches and honour. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace (shalom) She is a Tree of Life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.”


  • What happened to everyone who took hold of Yeshua when He walked the earth?
  • What happens to us now when we take hold of Him in this life?
  • What happens to us and in us when we hold fast to His Word? We become more like Him, like we are getting ready for eternal life, we're practising for eternally living with Him in His Kingdom.
  • He is more precious than gold, silver or jewels. And yet, by following Him we are going to be welcomed through His sacrifice into a kingdom of gold, silver and jewels. But seek Him not His gifts or benefits. “Seek first the kingdom of God etc…”
  • And all her paths are shalom - where was Yeshua sacrificed? Jerusalem, which means in Hebrew “Foundation of Shalom.” All of Yeshua’s paths are shalom for us – peace, well being, wholeness etc
  • Can you see that each reference to Tree of Life is directly and secretly setting up the account, and purpose of the Coming Messiah?



It gets even more obvious when you look with His eyes of understanding.


The next reference really makes it obvious to those that have ears to hear and eyes to see:


Proverbs 11:30 “The fruit of the righteous is a Tree of Life, and he who is wise (Who is Wisdom) wins souls.”


Now interplay the Name Yeshua with The Tree of Life: Re-write that as “The fruit of the righteous is Yeshua living in them and Yeshua who is wise wins souls.”

 

The next one describes how I feel about Yeshua and getting into His Kingdom. Honestly, some days I’m aching for it, for this evil hum of this world to end in my ears and mind, heart, soul and spirit. He is my only Hope for this.


Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Re-write that with Yeshua in place of the words Tree of Life.


If our desires are worldly or earth bound or temporal, this verse won’t make any sense to us. But if our desire is Yeshua and to see Him being honoured as the LORD of the heavens and earth, to see Him being honoured as the Messianic King reigning from Jerusalem, then this verse makes complete sense. Hope deferred gets us down but our desire to see Him in His rightful place with all evil done for under His feet is wonderful and gives us hope!

 

The last reference to this mystery Tree of Life, or so we might think from the English, is in Revelation 22:1-2: “Then he showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding it’s fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”


  • How many trees were there here?
  • So, which tree isn’t in heaven out of the two that were in Eden?
  • But here’s the thing. Where is the tree of life here?
  • BOTH sides of the river. So, how can that be if it’s now only ONE TREE?
  • It’s a tree that’s been opened, or split, with the river of life now flowing through it.
  • The river was there in the garden of Eden, but now it’s flowing through ONE Tree of Life.
  • Yeshua describes Himself as Living Water. So, He’s obviously the River of Life flowing through the tree. He often describes Himself as Life, True Life, Everlasting Life, Eternal Life. And this mystery Tree of Life is what gives this Eternal Life. It’s like He opens Himself up and let’s His Living Life Giving Water Flow out from Him.

 

 














That could be where I end this study. But as a Messianic Jew I have been given the beauty of being in between two places, inherently by who God has made me. I am on the bridge – a narrow bridge – between two worlds and two communities of understanding; one Christian, one Jewish, one modern church, one ancient faith and between two languages, one modern, one classical Semitic and as ancient as the first words of the Torah.


So, in keeping with that calling I want to take you all by the hand and lead you into the beautiful depths of understanding Yeshua from His ancient Jewishness, as our stunning Eternal Rabbi.


I want to show you something wonderful:













 


This is a picture of a Torah Scroll.  Full of the original language of God’s scriptures – Biblical Hebrew. Can you see the two wooden poles? You have to open them up to open up the Words of Scripture. You have to split them to open up the Living Words and Life Giving Wisdom of God.


Does this remind you of the picture above of the Tree of Life in Revelation? Something happens to the Tree of Life in between Genesis and Revelation where the Tree is split or opened up and living water flows out…


Guess what the two wooden poles are called in the Jewish faith in Hebrew?  Etz Chaim. Which in Hebrew means… The Tree of Life!!


Not the trees of life, plural. But the TREE of life, singular. And yet you split open the tree of life to let God’s living water flow out.


Can you imagine what level of evangelists the Jewish people will be when they all start to become Messianic?! 


But there is one more gem that the LORD Himself showed me recently that blew my mind even more. And once again, it’s only discoverable from studying the Hebrew. I was sitting in an online Bible study led by a Christian teacher (and non-Jewish) on the binding of Isaac. But I had the Hebrew open on my desk as he spoke to the online conference call. And suddenly all I could see in the Spirit of God was the following parallels:


It proves to me without any doubt that the Tree of Life really is a symbolism for Yeshua the Messiah and His substitutional sacrifice for us. Let’s read: Genesis 22 verses 1 – 14 Abraham ‘sacrificing’ Isaac.

 

“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied. 

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” 

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”  Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” 

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.  

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

 

  • How is Isaac described? Only son, whom he loves. Just as God calls Jesus “This is My Beloved Son Whom I love” (Matthew 3:17)
  • Where does this event take place? Mount Moriah. Where is Yeshua sacrificed? Mount Moriah is actually Mount Zion, their terms are interchangeable.
  • What animal was involved? A donkey. How did Yeshua get to His place of sacrifice for us? On a donkey (Zechariah 9:9, John 12:14)
  • What does Abraham say to his servants that he is going to do with Isaac? Worship, not sacrifice.
  • In Hebrew this word for worship (שָׁחָה )actually means to bow down or lay down or prostate oneself. What does Yeshua say He will do for His sheep? “I will lay down My life for My sheep” as He prostrates Himself on the tree for us (John 10:15)
  • How many servants were there with them? Two. Why not one?
  • Deuteronomy says there must be two or more witnesses to convict someone of a crime or offence. But what offence had Isaac done? None. Who else was innocent at his sacrificial death?
  • Hmmm, two witnesses to a substitutional sacrifice of an innocent beloved son, who are at present silent, but will no doubt go on to speak about this. Which two witnesses do you think these two servants represent? (Revelation 11)
  • Did they actually witness the death of Isaac? What do they witness instead? The substitutional ram.
  • On what day? The third. On what day does Yeshua come back from the dead, just as Isaac did from his acting out or foretelling of the sacrifice?
  • What does Abraham say they will do after they’ve ‘worshipped’ or bowed down? They will come back. Who was known for saying He too will ‘come back’ after His sacrifice?
  • What does the word for burnt offering mean in Hebrew? (עֹלָֽה ) It means to go up, to ascend. Who ascended after His resurrection?
  • What does God say to Abraham in verse 12? Now I KNOW that you fear God… Which tree had this in it’s title? The tree of knowing good and evil. So, God is saying I know you now have a relationship of trusting Me for your atonement, of recognising your sin and fearing my Holiness, which symbolically is the only knowing that can overcome humankind’s intimate relationship of knowing evil.
  • God will provide the Lamb. What is a lamb in it’s prime? A ram.
  • Of which part of itself was the Ram caught? It’s horns.
  • What do horns represent in the Old Testament? The horns of the alter represent Salvation, atonement (Exodus 29) and this is where the Priests spread the blood. Also see King David’s description of horns throughout the Psalms, for example: “Horn of my salvation” Psalm 18)
  • What does the LORD call this place because of the substitutional sacrifice of the Ram?
  • “The LORD will provide” in Hebrew is actually the verb רָאָה and means “to see, become visible, to become clear, to understand, perceive, to have vision to see.” So, Abraham is saying this event is the LORD giving us perception or vision to see something!
  • What does Yeshua say over and over again in His earthly minister and in Revelation:  “He who has eyes to see…”

 

BUT WHERE IS THE TREE OF LIFE IN ALL THIS? WHERE IS THE TREE? All I see in this story in English is wood. Here is that sentence in English again:  “When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering…

Are you ready for what it actually says in the Biblical Hebrew?


“And he split the tree, for the ascending sacrificial offering, and rose…”

וַיְבַקַּע֙ עֲצֵ֣י עֹלָ֔ה וַיָּ֣קָם

 

 

 

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