In the Garden of Eden, woman sinned, being deceived, and the man followed her, knowingly sinning. It tells us in Genesis that after the sin, God considered the Tree of Life and removed it from access. History is full of stories of men rediscovering the Fountain of Youth, and of course, all of them are untrue. When God removes something, he really removes it and there is no chance of men ever ferreting out something that God has taken away. Psalm two talks about the kings of the earth plotting against God, and the Psalm says God shall have them all in derision—in other words God laughs at the feeble plans of mankind.
The writer of Genesis (generally thought to be Moses) brings us this information on the Tree of Life, and it is not much talked about afterwards—until we get to the last book of the Bible (written by John about 1500 years later), and then the subject comes up once more. In fact, it does not come up until the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, and there John tells us, “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:2). It is one of the most understated connections of the Bible, pointing to a common theme in the Bible that goes from book to book and from generation to generation. A theme begun under the hand of Moses is mostly left until the very end of the last book written by John over 1,500 years later! What majestic truth is pointed to in the harmony of the Scriptures.
My wife and I are avid fruit lovers, and I tell her that I think one of the twelve fruits of this tree must certainly be cherries, and perhaps cherries as big as apples. But there is no reason for believing that except for the reason that my opinion is that the taste of cherries is somewhat heavenly. But back to the question: why did God remove the tree of life? Genesis is very clear as to the reason, God saying that man would become like one of us.
And that is the crux of the question. What does it mean? Obviously, had man been allowed to partake of the tree of life, he would have taken on the eternal nature of God. Man was not ready to do that. Consider if you will, a sort of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, living his very wrong life out forever. To be forever condemned to being wrong, living wrong, thinking wrong. That was the dilemma that God correctly saw. Instead, he provided another way, with a promise of the Redeemer coming one day to bruise Satan’s head.
I can think of nothing more awful for this universe than to have man as he is, live eternally. Think what heights he might reach! Without a doubt we would come to the place where we would see the nuclear bomb as the proverbial outdated and scorned musket, so great and terrible would our invented weapons of destruction be. If you remember the Death Star from Star Wars, you are getting close to the awfulness of what man would become.
I think of C.S. Lewis’ very awe-full work, The Screwtape Letters, where all the thinking is perverted, where good is redefined as bad, where evil is the foundation of all society. I read that work once, and have no desire to return to it; indeed, Lewis himself confessed it was a very difficult book to write because it caused his thinking to become so convoluted. Our universe would be doomed to become an extension of our planet. Men would live forever with their wrongs which would never be righted, piling up around them in ever growing heaps, and the universe would only grow darker and more abhorrent.
Instead, God in his mercy, removed the tree of life, and in due time, sent his Son to make a way of peace possible between himself and man. Not forgetting that tree, he waited until the last author of the Bible and told us that one day it will be renewed.
We cannot be as we are now forever. Instead we must be changed, and that which is perverted in our nature must be straightened. This God accomplished in the cross, nailing our sins forever to the cross, and Jesus, being raised from the dead, sent us a Helper, just like him, to live and dwell in us, promising us in this lifetime of the things to come. The tree of life will bear its fruit once more, and the living water will be made available to all. May the Lord come soon!
We have already seen where Revelation proclaims that the tree of life will come back bearing fruit, but the Bible tells us of that time when the living water shall return, way back in the Old Testament, in Zechariah, “And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.” So, again, we see the harmony of the Bible—complete in a sense of no other book, written by many authors, and yet the themes begun in Genesis are completed throughout, making it obvious that there is but one author.