Eat the Tree of Life

The first reading from Jeremiah 17:5-10 is one of those perfect readings that harmonizes so well with my theory. I will quote it here in full:

“Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit. More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.”

The first line of this passage is exactly, according to my theory, what the man and the woman did in the garden. They trusted in themselves and the strength of their flesh as their heart turned away from God and trusted in the serpent. My theory, which I have mentioned multiple times on this site, is that God made man to be His spouse. He created the first man and woman and gave them a test of faith.

He told them to be fruitful and multiply and then told them to remain virgins, to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This doesn’t seem to make sense. God told them to forgo the highest of the natural goods to obtain the highest of the supernatural goods; He wanted them to give up (sexual) marriage to a human being to obtain marriage to Himself; He asked them to give up the good and holy image of union with God (marital intimacy) to obtain the very thing itself: complete union with God forever in heaven in never ending bliss. Desiring to fulfill God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, they took matters into their own hands, trusted in themselves and their reproductive powers, distrusted God’s singular prohibition, and had marital relations.

They immediately realize they are naked and hide from God; their punishments revolve around bearing children and planting bad seed; the very first thing the man does after the punishments is re-name his wife. Now that she has conceived from the very first sin, she is no longer just woman, she is a mother. She has become a new reality, and so the man names her Eve, mother of all the living. The child she wanted and now conceived is Cain; when he is born, she names him “gotten,” i.e. Cain.

Back to Jeremiah, those who trust in man receive barrenness and death, and that is what the man and woman received: Cain the murderer. On the other hand, he who trusts and hopes in the Lord is fully alive. He is a tree planted next to the stream whose leaves stay alive in any condition and still bears fruit. It doesn’t matter how little rain falls, the tree is close to the stream, and so it receives all the water it needs. The tree flourishes and bears fruit because it trusts in God.

The tree of life is the heart that loves, trusts and obeys God. The heart that trusts God has its roots deeply inside God, the source of all life. The trusting, obedient heart is the conduit for receiving God’s life, for being in communion with Him; therefore, since it is the means by which we stay connected to God, the heart is the tree of life: a heart united to God is united to Life.

The passage continues: “More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?” The heart is the location of the battle which determines where we will spend eternity. When a heart doesn’t trust, nothing, other than a miracle of God’s grace, can help it trust. All our actions, all our deeds, flow from the abundance within our hearts. If our heart is full of disobedience and suspicion toward God, we will do all sorts of evil deeds; if our heart trusts Him and longs to please Him in all we do, then of course we will most always do what is good. The passage concludes: “I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.” Our deeds matter and decide our eternity because they reveal what is in our heart. In the end, all that matters is that we love, trust and obey God—that we eat of the tree of life.

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Copyright 2007

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