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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Three Trees for Arbor Day

Today is Arbor Day. If you associate this day with planting trees, then you’ve pretty much nailed it (not sure if pun-intended, but it works). “Arbor” is Latin for “tree.” I just learned that Arbor Day is observed world-wide--this is not just an American thing. While I’m thinking of it, isn’t it sort of ironic that Hallmark doesn't make this card-worthy day? Perhaps they are just going green . . .

Seriously, this is about the time of year planting of trees is favorable, so millions of trees will be planted. I can’t help but reflect how important trees are to mankind. When God created everything, He intended for man to be nourished by sustenance from the ground. “And out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food.” (Genesis 2:9a). The LORD God clearly tells man, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely.” (Genesis 2:16). The weight of the Hebrew reads more like this: “eat heartily from every tree of the garden.” Now, I’m not smart enough to comment too much on this, but I will say that physically, I feel much better eating greens: eating greens is a special treat!

But wait, there’s more! There is more to the story because God shows there are other kinds of trees in the garden. There is a tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9b). The LORD God makes an interesting statement: every tree is for nourishing man, except for one. Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It provides no nourishment. Additionally, eating from the tree brings death.

So man is to live by eating, and man can die by eating.
If man dies, who will work the soil?

We know what happens at this point, don’t we? Man disobeys and eats. Man’s relationship with God is severed and he reaps the fruit (as it were) of his disobedience by losing eternal life. Certainly we can ask many good questions here, such as:

  • Does man have a choice? 
  • If so, is God required to respect man’s choice? 
  • Can’t God influence choice? 
  • Why does Adam get to choose to eat/not eat and obey/disobey? 
  • Which choice brings blessing and which brings consequence (sin)?
We don’t know exactly what sort of fruit Adam and Eve ate, but I recently learned there is a tree of particular interest called “The Little Apple of Death.” The scientific name is the “Hippomane mancinella” (classified as the 3rd most deadliest plant in the world) and is presently found in Florida and all over South America as well as a few islands. Note: these trees grow in beautiful places often frequented by travelers who go to enjoy their vacations in “Paradise.” Perhaps it is not so strange that 1) God created everything; 2) God created trees and 3) a “death tree” exists in the Garden of Eden. Whatever it was brought devastation to mankind.

There is another tree. Well, it is often called a “tree” in older usages. This “tree” is the cross on which our Savior died. He cancelled the penalty of sin held against us (spiritual death) and delivered us from the power of sin if we repent and enter into new life by faith in our Saviour’s death, burial and resurrection. Those who obey His Will (to repent), will enter into eternal life, restored to mankind by God Himself.

There’s more! We read in the last book of the Bible of yet another tree. This one must be massive because from out of the throne of God flows a river. This river is straddled by a tree that bears twelve kinds of fruit, one every month, for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:1-2). What I like most about this tree is “there shall be no longer any curse” (Revelation 22:3).

Sin is gone, broken relationship restored, and we get to enjoy God forever.

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