Aloha Friday Message – February 25, 2011 – Trees

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Happy Aloha Friday, Beloved. Here is the verse I chose for today. I copied two versions into this document – one for the New International Version and one from the King James Version. You can find both of them – and several others here

Revelation 22:14 (NIV) Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the Tree of Life and may go through the gates into the city. 22:14 (KJV) Blessed [are] they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

When I chose this verse, I was thinking about the phrase “who wash their robes.” That brings to mind the phrases “Washed in the blood of the Lamb,” (Rev 7:14) and “though their sins be as scarlet, they shall become white as snow.” (Isa 1:18) My train of thought was headed toward the need for repentance, and the salvific power of the blood of Christ, the only “cleaning agent” created for cleaning the human soul. And then somehow someone threw a switch in the track that train was using and I ended up focusing instead on the phrase “that they may have the right to the tree of life.” Beloved, that led to a trip quite different from what I expected! I remembered the fact that this tree is mentioned in Genesis and Revelation. You probably remember the spot in Genesis:

Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the Tree of Life also in the midst of the garden, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

In my musings, I have spent many long hours thinking about and researching the question, “What is the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?” There are thousands of books, articles, treatises, and dissertations about that question. I’d love to explore that with you someday, but for right now, I ask you to just take 30 seconds and answer that question based on your experiences and knowledge. [[pause]] OK, so there’s a lot to think about there, right? I never really gave much thought to “The Tree of Life.” I knew it was in the middle of the garden, it was a good tree (God did not create junk trees), it was life-sustaining, and I probably thought it would confer immortality on Adam and Eve just as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (or the Tree of All Knowledge) made them aware of a “dualism.” There is good and there is evil; once they realized there was a difference, they had to make another – a second – choice. Their first choice was to disobey. Their second choice was deciding what to do about their first choice. You know the rest of the story; they hid, they tried to blame each other, and then they blamed the serpent. Adam, Eve, and the serpent each received a curse for the choices they made, but only Adam and Eve also received a covenant blessing.

So then, why did God kick them out of the garden so they could not eat of the fruit of Tree of Life? Some say it was so that they would not have to live eternally in a state of sin; God did not wish for them to become eternally condemned to separation from him. He wanted them to use their new understanding of dualism – good and evil – to find ways to choose consistently to obey rather than disobey. As part of that first covenant, he laid out the option of saving-grace, the seed of a woman turning the tables and restoring the one-to-one relationship with God enjoyed by Adam and Eve before they doubted the perfection of Creation. The “seed of a woman” (you should Google that phrase!) God had in mind was Jesus, the Christ of God, Jesus who died on a tree of death to give us life through victory over death and the abolition of evil.

In an earlier verse in this chapter of Revelation, The Tree of Life is described like this:

On each side of the river [of life] stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. (Rev 22: 2b-3a)

On each side of the river?” Is there more than one tree, then? Are there two trees of life? Is “Tree of Life” just a type of tree? YEOW! The cascading questions could keep be happily buried in research for decades! But here’s the thing: I ended up with the sense that the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem of Heaven are alike in the same way as Jesus was a human before the Resurrection but afterwards he returned in a glorified body. Perhaps the tree in the Garden was a tree like this one (I know it doesn’t look like an apple tree, but there are a lot of reasons to think those two trees in Eden might have been date palms). The Tree of Life in Heaven is mystically as glorified as Jesus is (and as we shall be) in Heaven. The Tree of All Knowledge will simply be the Tree of the Knowledge of Good. And perhaps as the trees are both All Good and All Life, they are identical because in Heaven All Life Is Good and All Good is Life.

This is such a formidable set of mysteries that it quite naturally gives us earthlings something to explore mystically. One of the most fascinating mystical explorations of The Tree of Life is in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic qalbalistic literature. This gets off in quite another direction by assigning mystical, even magical, powers to certain aspects of the order of Creation. One representation of it looks like this:

In the end, despite the remarkable territory I explored because of that switch in the brain-train track, I ended up realizing that the only way to see The Tree of Life is to be washed in the blood of the Lamb, because that is the only way I will be allowed to “go through the gates into the city.” I can witness and enjoy the Real Tree of Real Life only through repentance, only with the salvific power of the blood of Christ shed for me on the Tree of Death. I pray than that not only my robes, but also my head, and feet, and hands, and mind, and heart, and soul will become white as snow, bright as Light, and Good as Life. And I want to do that with you, Beloved. I want us to do all of this together. Beloved, let us love one another as he has commanded so that through this he will be known to all and All will be known to us.

Please, come over and pray with us here and there.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!!

chick

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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