Man and the Two Treesby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
God's eternal plan, His economy, is revealed to us throughout the sixty-six books of the Scriptures. At the very beginning of the Scriptures, God is seen creating man as the center of the whole creation for the purpose of expressing Himself. In His economy God intended that man should express Himself as the center of His whole universe.
At the beginning of the Word of God, we are shown two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2). In order to understand God's plan in Scripture, we must be thoroughly clear about these two trees and what they represent. After God created man, He placed him before these two trees, and man's whole life and walk was pictured as a matter of feasting upon one tree or the other. God instructed man to be very careful about partaking of these two trees. If man dealt with them in a proper way, he would have life; otherwise, he would have death. It was a matter of life or death. How man would live and walk after his creation depended entirely upon how he dealt with these two trees. God instructed man clearly: if he partook of the second tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would have death; but if he partook of the first tree, the tree of life, he would have life.
What do these two trees signify? According to the revelation of the whole Scripture, the tree of life signifies God Himself in Christ as our life. The tree of life stands as a symbol of the life of God in Christ. The Old and New Testament present the Lord Jesus many times as either a "tree" or a "branch" of a tree. The Lord has the special title of "Branch" in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah. Many trees are also in Scripture to signify that Christ is our portion and our enjoyment. For instance, the Lord Jesus, in the second chapter of the Song of Solomon, is likened to an apple tree: "As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under His shadow [the apple tree] with great delight." We can sit under Him as the shade—under His covering and shadow—and enjoy all His riches, the fruit of the tree. Another example of Christ as a tree is the vine-tree in John 15: "I am the vine, you are the branches..."
What is the significance of the second tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? This tree represents nothing else than Satan, the source of death. The second tree brings death, because it is the very source of death. The first tree is the source of life, and the second tree is the source of death. In the whole universe only God Himself is the source of life, and only Satan is the source of death. A verse showing that God Himself is the very source of life is Psalm 36:9: "For with thee is the fountain of life"; and a verse showing that Satan is the source of death is Hebrews 2:14: "him who has the might of death." The power of death is in the hand of Satan. Thus, from the very beginning of time, these two trees represent two sources—one, the source of life, and the other, the source of death.
In the beginning, there were three parties—God, man, and Satan. Man in innocence, created by God, was neutral to life and death. Since it was possible for man to have either life or death, he was standing on neutral ground. But God was standing on the ground of life, and Satan on the ground of death. Man was created neutral to God and Satan. It was God's intention for this neutral, innocent man to take God into himself, that God and man, man and God, would be mingled together as one. Man would then contain God as his life and express God as everything. Created man, as the center of the universe, would then fulfill the purpose of fully expressing God. Another possibility, however, was that man would be induced to take the second tree, the source of death. As a consequence, man would then be mingled with the second tree. Oh, that our eyes might be opened to see that in the whole universe it is not a matter of ethics and of doing good, but a matter of either receiving God as life or Satan as death. We must be delivered from the ethical and moral understanding. It is not a matter of doing good or evil, but of receiving God as life or Satan as death. It is important that we clearly see these three parties! God, standing on one side, is the source of life, as represented by the tree of life; Satan, standing on the other side, is the source of death, as represented by the tree of knowledge; and Adam, standing in the middle, is neutral with two receiving hands. He can either take God at his right hand or Satan at his left.
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