Genesis 3:24
Great Texts of the Bible
The Tree of Life

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.—Genesis 3:24.

1. The recent discussions about, and criticisms of, the first chapters of the Book of Genesis have left a certain vague and uncomfortable feeling in the minds of many men. Not a few people, probably, think in a dim sort of way that geology, or something else, has made those chapters of very doubtful worth. The worst part of this feeling is that it robs the early story of our race of the Spiritual power that it possesses. Apart from the question of its historic character, the account of man’s origin which is given in Genesis is profoundly true to man’s spiritual experience, and its imagery is representative of perpetual and universal truth.

2. Let us briefly recall the story. In the garden where God first placed man, the scene of his earliest experiences, it is said that God, his Creator, planted two trees. There are many others, but these two are noticeable and distinct. One of them is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the other is the Tree of Life. There they stand side by side, both beautiful, both tempting. But on one of them—the most tempting—a prohibition is laid. Of the tree of knowledge man must not taste. But man rebels, wilfully, independently, against God’s word, and does eat of this tree. The consequence is that he is not allowed to eat of the other tree. He is driven out of the garden where it Stands, and is forbidden to return; and his return is made impossible by “Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

3. Thus begins the long career of humanity. Man is forced to undertake the work and drudgery of living. The centuries, laden with wars and pains and hopes and fears and disappointments and successes, start on their slow procession. But no more is heard of the tree of life. It is not mentioned again in the course of the Bible. It is left behind the closed gate and the flaming sword, until we are surprised, at the extreme other end of the Bible, the New Testament, to see it suddenly reappear. In the Book of Revelation, where the promises of the world’s final glory are gathered, this promise stands among the brightest: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” The long-lost tree is not lost after all. God has only been keeping it out of sight; and at last He brings man to it, and invites him to eat. “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.” Into this glory the angels of God are to bring His people at the last.

It is interesting, I think, to turn to the New Testament and see how, when Jesus Christ came, the story which He had to tell of man’s condition and prospects was just the same with this old story of the tree of Genesis. Take the parable of the Prodigal Son—how different it is! how quiet and domestic and familiar! how homely in its quaint details! But if you look at it, you will see that the meaning is the same. There, too, there is a first native possibility, the place in the father’s house to which the boy was born. There, too, that possibility ceases to be actual because of the wilfulness of him to whom it was offered. “Give me the portion of goods that falleth to me”; it is exactly Adam and Eve over again. There, too, the possibility is not destroyed, but stands waiting, out of sight of the wanderer, but always expecting his return; the father’s house from which the son goes out, and which stands with its door open when long afterwards he comes struggling back. There, too, the instant that Submission is complete—“I will arise and go to my father”—the lost possibility is found again, for, “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” The story of the tree of life and the story of the prodigal son are the same story. Drawn with such different touch, coloured in such different hues, they set before us still the same picture of the life of Man 1:1 [Note: Phillips Brooks.]

Therefore in sight of man bereft

The happy garden still was left,

The fiery sword that guarded show’d it too,

Turning all ways, the world to teach,

That though as yet beyond our reach,

Still in its place the tree of life and glory grew.1 [Note: John Keble, The Christian Year, Sexagesima Sunday.]

Let us consider—

I.  The Loss of the Tree of Life.

  II.  The Guardians of the Tree of Life.

  III.  The Recovery of the Tree of Life.


The Loss of the Tree of Life

1. The tree of life signifies the fulness of human existence—that complete exercise of every power, that roundness and perfectness of being which was in God’s mind when He made man in His own image. It represents not mere endurance, not merely an existence which is going to last for ever. It represents quality more than quantity, or quantity only as it is the result of quality. To eat of the tree of life is to enter into and occupy the fulness of human existence, to enjoy and exercise a life absolute and perfect, to live in the full completeness of our powers. We can feel how this luxuriousness and fulness are naturally embodied under the figure of a tree. In many myths of many races, the tree has seemed the fittest symbol of the life of man; and the tree perfect in God’s garden is the truest picture of man‘s whole nature complete under His care.

2. Man was banished from the Garden of Eden. The tree of life which was in the midst of the Garden of Eden was the one thing that was now going to be safeguarded by the presence of the Cherubim and by the flaming sword. We must not suppose that there was anything undesirable now in the tree of life as such—that is to say, we must not imagine that there was a change in the character of its value. Sometimes we are inclined to read the story as though it meant that it was no longer desirable that man should take of the tree of life. What the narrative really does mean is that it was no longer desirable that man should take of the tree of life on the old conditions. The old conditions were conditions of ease.

That which we have is never the tree of life to us. The tree of life is always the thing which we must reach forward to attain; and if our condition of life is that we are satisfied to take these fruits which grow upon the tree of life, what is according to the ordinary conventional acceptation the best thing, the correct thing, the most important thing, let us not be satisfied with that. Let us look over once more where the protecting rampart of fire and of sword stands between us and some more desirable object.1 [Note: W. Boyd Carpenter.]

Old man, old man, God never closed a door

Unless one opened. I am desolate,

For a most sad resolve wakes in my heart;

But always I have faith. Old men and women

Be silent; He does not forsake the world,

But Stands before it modelling in the clay

And moulding there His image. Age by age

The clay wars with His fingers and pleads hard

For its old heavy, dull, and shapeless ease.2 [Note: W. B. Yeats.]

3. “He drove out the man” means that the pleasantness, and ease, and safety, of the Garden were taken from him: that he had forfeited, and was made to feel he had forfeited, the delightful sense of a constant nearness to God, and of unrestrained intercourse with Him; that he had to go out into the comparative desolation of the common unblessed world to fight for his own hand, and to make the best he could of things. Well, of course everybody knows that this was, in a very true sense, the best thing that could have happened to him, since he fell. Mankind has risen slowly to its present state of power and progress just because it had to fight its way up against a multitude of difficulties and obstacles, which gradually called out and educated its powers and faculties of body and of mind. The struggle with wild beasts; the struggle with harsh climates and unkindly soils; the struggle with what seemed the inveterate hostility, or the incurable caprice, of nature: these and such-like things have made man what he is in position and resource. Go the world over, and you will find that exactly those races which might seem to have been most effectually “driven out,” and left furthest off from the earthly paradise, have been the races which have attained the highest civilization.

It is remarkable that in so many great wars it is the defeated who have won. The people who were left worst at the end of the war were generally the people who were left best at the end of the whole business. For instance, the Crusades ended in the defeat of the Christians. But they did not end in the decline of the Christians; they ended in the decline of the Saracens. That huge prophetic wave of Moslem power which had hung in the very heavens above the towns of Christendom: that wave was broken, and never came on again. The Crusades had saved Paris in the act of losing Jerusalem. The same applies to that epic of Republican war in the eighteenth century to which we Liberals owe our political creed. The French Revolution ended in defeat; the kings came back across a carpet of dead at Waterloo. The Revolution had lost its last battle, but it had gained its first object. It had cut a chasm. The world has never been the same since.1 [Note: G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles.]

4. What was the occasion of the expulsion? The blessing of the Divine Presence was conditional upon obedience to the Divine will. Paradise was forfeited by the preference of selfish appetites over the command of God. The expulsion from Paradise was the inevitable consequence of sin; the desire of man for the lower life was granted. He who asserted his own against the Divine will had no place in the Paradise of God.

Take the meanest and most sordid face that passes you, the face most brutalized by vice, most pinched and strained by business;—that man has his tree of life, his own separate possibility of being, luxuriant and vital, fresh, free, original. “How terribly he has missed it,” you say. Indeed he has. A poor, misguided thing he is, as wretched as poor Adam when he had been driven from his tree of life, and stood naked and shivering outside the Garden, with the beasts that used to be his subjects snarling at him, and the ground beginning to mock him with its thorns and thistles. That poor man evidently has been cast out of his garden, and has lost his tree of life. And is it not evident enough how he lost it? Must it not have been that he was wilful? Must it not have been that, at the very beginning, he had no idea but for himself, no notion of living in obedience to God?

What makes the scholar’s life a failure? What makes him sigh when at last the books grow dim before his eyes, and the treacherous memory begins to break and lose the treasures it has held? He has been studying for himself, wilfully, not humbly, taking the fruit from the tree of knowledge. What makes the workman turn into a machine? What makes us feel so often, the more his special skill develops, that he is growing less and not more a man? What shuts the merchant up to his drudgery, making it absolutely ridiculous and blasphemous to say of him, as we watch the way he lives and the things he does from the time he rises till the time he goes to bed,” That is what God made that man for”? What makes every one of us sigh when we think what we might have been? Why is every one of us missing his highest? Why are we all shut out from our trees of life? There is one word, one universal word, that tells the sad story for us all. It is selfishness—selfishness from the beginning. If we had not been selfish, if we had lived for God from the beginning, if we had been consecrated, we know it would have been different; we should have had our Eden inside and not outside; we should have eaten in God’s due time of our tree of life; and have come to what He made us for,—our fullest and our best life.1 [Note: Phillips Brooks.]


The Guardians of the Tree of Life

Adam and Eve being driven out from the tree of life, who were the guards that stood to hinder their return? Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way.

i. The Cherubim

1. The essential idea of the Cherubim seems to have been that they represented the forces of nature as the servants of God. “The Lord sitteth between the cherubims, be the earth never so unquiet,” says David, and in another psalm, “He rode upon a cherub, and did fly.” These forces of nature, these things of the world about us, these objects and circumstances, made by God to assist in the pleasure and culture of mankind,—these same things are they which, when man is rebellious and selfish, stand between him and his fullest life. Those objects and circumstances which, if a man were docile and humble, and lived his life with and under God, would all be developing and perfecting him, making him stronger, making him happier,—all those things, just as soon as a man cuts himself off from God and insists on getting knowledge and doing work by himself, become his enemies. They hinder him instead of helping him; they are always pulling him down instead of lifting him up; making him a worse and smaller instead of a better and larger man.

2. In the symbolism of Scripture the Cherubim are everywhere the “supporters” of the Divine Majesty. For this reason they are admitted into the Tabernacle and the Temple in the very teeth of the second commandment; two veritable and undeniable “graven images” (of Cherubim) spread their wings over the Mercy Seat on which the Divine Glory was believed to appear. For this reason the Chariot of God in Ezekiel is composed of Cherubim, and in the Apocalypse the same symbolic beings (under the name of “the four living creatures”) are seen “in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne.” They belong in some way to the Presence of God: they mean that He is there, very really and truly. Secondly, they represent also nature in her manifold forms and types. The graven images in Tabernacle and Temple were evidently composite creature-forms, something like those so common in Assyria. They resemble no one type of creature life, but several blended together so as to suggest them all. The Cherubim of Ezekiel’s vision and the living creatures of the Apocalypse are essentially the same. The sin and degradation of the old world was creature-worship; therefore, in the sacred writings, Jewish or Christian, the symbolic representatives of all nature, in all her types and kinds, are made the supporters of His Throne who is eternally above nature, who manifests Himself for ever through nature. There is a tremendous truth in that; the only right place, the only safe place, for the Cherubim—for nature—for natural science—is in immediate connection with, in immediate subordination to, the One living and true God. It is the place of honour; it is the place of safety. Bring the Cherubim out of the Temple and away from God; instantly they become monuments of idolatry, which the servants of the Most High must break and burn. Let them remain His supporters and His Throne; they are glorified and we are safe.

3. The Cherubim at the entrance to forfeited and forbidden Paradise meant that God’s presence was there, that God Himself barred the way: God who fulfils Himself in nature, who rules and reigns in and through the laws of nature. Is there any riddle there? Does it not explain itself? Is it not obviously true that natural law eternally forbids our getting into Paradise, and that we have no power to evade or to defy that law? People may be as lucky or as successful as you like; they may be (as we say) the spoilt children of fortune; they may have every advantage on their side; but they cannot make their way into the garden of delight. No happiness for man which has not its drawbacks, its penalties; at best, its tormenting fear of loss! That is not a pious platitude; it is an inexorable law of nature, with which most of us have made acquaintance to our cost—and those who have not, will. Nature itself bars our way to bliss, the bliss we cannot but desire: and nature stands for God.1 [Note: Rayner Winterbotham.]

If you should meet with one who strays

Beyond the walls of peace,

Who spends the passion of his days

In dreams that never cease,

Oh, tell him that the outcast ways

Find no release.

If you should look into his eyes,

And see the shadow there

Of his dear City’s towers and skies,

Where once his heart lay bare,

Oh, tell him those who are most wise

Their vision spare.

If you should see him turn and wait,

Fast bound by his desire,

Beyond the walls disconsolate,

In dreams that never tire,

Oh, tell him that the City gate

Is barred by fire.

No other torches shall divide

The road for his release,

Oh, tell him they stretch dark and wide,

Long roads that never cease—

If you should meet with one outside

The walls of peace.1 [Note: Dollie Radford.]

ii. The Flaming Sword

There is something else, besides the Cherubim, that bars the way: something more subtle, more inexplicable, more versatile even, and even more formidable. “The flame of a sword which turned every way.” See how the words themselves irresistibly suggest an allegory. Not “a flaming sword”; that was a poor prosaic watering down of the original; but “the flame of a sword.” As though some magic sword “bathed in heaven,” and wielded by some invisible angelic virtue, were leaving its scorch and radiance upon the yielding air as it played hither and thither with the velocity of lightning.

1. The “flame of a sword”; something “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword”; something “everywhere perceived, but nowhere dwelt upon,” subtle, inscrutable, inexplicable, but meeting one at every turn, and hopelessly barring approach from any side—not by any solid obstacle, but by the sense of dread; dread of the unknown and awful. What does that flame of a sword turning every way stand for? Is it not the sense of guilt? the conscience of sin? which is so subtle and fleeting and intangible, and yet keeps a man out of the Paradise of peace and happiness as effectually as though he were shut up within prison bars.

Try to get into Paradise! try to be perfectly calm, and happy, and at rest! try to return to the Garden where, in the cool of the day, you may hear the voice of God the Father speaking to you! to that primal state of which your heart whispers to you, when you were in His sight naked and yet unashamed. Forget for a moment the unsurmountable difficulties which nature has placed in your way—its bereavements, its limitations, its illusions—and you will be instantly aware of this subtler and more formidable foe, the lambent flame which plays around you and through you, more quick and incessant than the lightning, piercing at once and scorching, a force which you cannot seize or grapple with, a force against which the intellect and the will are alike helpless, the subtle irresistible sense of sin whereby you know and feel that you are a sinner, that you are out of harmony with God, that you can be at peace neither with Him nor without Him, that you must either dwell in an eternal unrest or become very different from what you are.

2. Are there people who have no sense of sin? Very likely. The flame of a sword played and turned at the gate of Paradise, at the east of the garden of Eden. Whilst you are ranging about the wilderness, whilst you are pressing west and north and south, it is only the far-off glare and glitter of the sword that you will see at times, like the reflected brilliance from the electric lighthouse which leaps upon the clouds from below the horizon. It; is only when you set your face eastwards and homewards, towards the home of light and the birthplace of the dawn; only when with weary heart and tired thoughts you seek for peace and satisfaction where alone it can be found; only then that you really encounter the sternness of the brandished flame.

There is not anything more subtle and unsubstantial than the sense of sinfulness. If you try to set it down in black and white, if you try to fix it in the language of theology, it is bound to evade you: you have got your definition, your terminology, your religious phraseology, but your sense of sin has vanished. You prove to a man that we are all by nature children of wrath, that the Scripture hath concluded us all under sin, that all have sinned and fallen short, that there is none righteous, no, not one, that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. What is the use? The man you address assents, or dissents; but in either case he feels nothing: the flame of the sword is playing in some other direction at that moment. You cannot fix it; you cannot say, “lo, here,” or “lo, there”; for even as you speak it is gone. Nothing is more clumsy, more ineffective, more useless, than arguments and statements about the sense of sin. And yet nothing is more real, more inexorable, more impossible to overpass.1 [Note: Rayner Winterbotham.]

Strange powers unused like poison burn in me:

Cruel quicksilver thro’ my veins they creep.

What hour will bring mine infelicity

Some drowsy cup from the mild founts of sleep?

Tired sieges of high castles never taken,

Desires like great king-falcons never cast,

Beautiful quests all wearily forsaken,

Figure the fiery arras of the Past.

The pale Dreams walk on the horizons grey:

Like stars they tread the dawn with flaming feet:

Their eyes for evermore are turned away.

I heard their silver trumpets once entreat:—

Low sighed the caitiff Voice: “They sound in vain.

Let them go by. It is not worth the Pain.”1 [Note: Rachel Annand Taylor.]


The Recovery of the Tree of Life

Although, by reason of his transgression, man was driven out of Paradise, and debarred from access to the tree of life, he was not to be for ever excluded from the one or the other. Both are reserved in safe keeping until the time of the end, and in the restored Paradise the faithful shall “eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7), and “the leaves of the tree shall be for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2).

1. Man is driven out of the garden where it stands, but immediately the education begins which, if he will submit to it, is to bring him back at last to the Paradise of God where the tree of life will be restored to him. And all the training that comes in between is of one sort. Everything from Genesis to Revelation has one purpose,—to teach man the hopelessness, the folly, the unsatisfactoriness, of a merely wilful and selfish life; to bring men by every discipline of sorrow or joy to see the nobleness and fruitfulness of obedience and consecration. When that is learned, then the lost tree reappears. Hidden through all the lingering centuries, there it is, when man is ready for it, blooming in the Paradise of God.

2. If man is to take of the tree of life he can take of it only by facing the flaming sword which guards its place. If man is to eat of the produce of the ground he is no longer to eat it as it springs forth of itself, but thorns and thistles are springing out of the ground at the same time, and in the sweat of his brow he is to take the fair and necessary fruits of the earth. The fruits of the earth are no less desirable and necessary than before, but now they are to be taken under a new condition. The same is true of the tree of life; it is still as desirable as ever. Man may still dream of the joy and the glory of partaking of that tree of life; indeed he does so. If you turn to the other books of the Bible you will find that more than once the dream of that tree of life rises as a fair vision before the eyes of man. When the wise man would speak of the highest benefit which can be conferred upon man, even the participation of the quality and the power of wisdom, he says, “She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her.” The tree of life is as desirable for men as ever it was, but it can no longer be taken under the old conditions of ease. Now man must face danger in order to win it. Now it must be purchased at the risk of life. If man is to take the tree of life he must front the sword which turns every way to safeguard it from those who would approach.

It is interesting and stimulating to observe how the Bible begins and ends with this figure of the tree of life. It has a prominent place in the first book, and it has a prominent place in the last book. And the whole of the intervening story, although the tree is not named, is one long commentary upon the text, one long dramatic exposition of the principle.

(1) You see the children of Israel led by the visible presence of Moses, and guided by the invisible hand of God, marching our of Egypt, and following a devious, perplexed, and harassed way through the wilderness towards Canaan. What are they doing? They are marching up the path against the flaming sword and the cherubim that they may eat of the fruit of the tree of life.

(2) You see the minority in Israel who are faithful to Jehovah, sensitive to His dignity, loyal to His control; a minority whose attitude, alike towards the sin of the people and towards the great national ideals and hopes, is expressed over and over again in the words of the prophets; you see them there, denouncing wickedness, protesting might and main against idolatry, suffering persecution; in the time when enemies are threatening the nation with destruction, calling the people to repentance, summoning up their courage, leading them against the foe, steadying them on God, and amid disaster and catastrophe keeping the torch of hope aflame; enduring all the pain and the shame of exile, and amid the allurements of foreign faiths and worship keeping firm their belief in Jehovah, and their hearts pure before Him, in order that still, even at the last hour, Israel may be preserved, and restored to its own; and what are these doing? They are pressing up against the sword and the cherubim that keep the way to the tree of life, that the nation may eat thereof and live.

(3) You see Jesus; you follow His footsteps, and watch His way; you see Him tempted in the Wilderness; you see Him harassed and opposed by Scribes and Pharisees; you see the Herodians intriguing against Him; you see Him unrecognized and unsupported by His own people; you see Him laying upon His heart the sorrows and the burdens of the multitude; you see Him patient under persecution, faithful to the truth against opposition, obedient to the Higher Will even unto death; you see Him moving solitary and alone because of the misconceptions and the misunderstandings of His followers; you see Him pass within the deep shadow of Gethsemane, and then, utterly forsaken, ascending the way of sorrow, bearing His cross to the place of death; and what is He doing? He is moving upwards against the flaming sword and the Cherubim that He may win to the tree of life; and this not for Himself alone, but for us; that we might know how to come off conquerors, that we might know that there is a way to rise and to arrive, that we might have life in Him:

And in the garden secretly,

And on the cross on high,

Might teach His brethren, and inspire

To suffer and to die.

(4) And then you watch the early beginnings of the Christian Church; you see Peter boldly standing up in Jerusalem to preach the new faith, and to declare the glad tidings; you see Paul, himself a persecutor, suffering persecution for the Cross of Christ; you see him at the risk of offending his fellow-apostles, crossing the boundaries of Judaism, and carrying the gospel to the Gentiles throughout Asia Minor and into Europe; and always against resistance, always in the teeth of opposition; always amid great difficulties, and with infinite labour; and you see the Churches, set as a light in the midst of the people, treasuring the sacred deposit of the faith against the threatenings of heathen idolatry, and heathen philosophy, and their own weakness, mistakes, and infidelity; and always trying amid bafflements, and always fighting amid seeming failure, and always aspiring; and these, what are they doing? They too are on the pathway that leads to the tree of life, and they are measuring themselves, to the top of their power, against the sword and against the guardian Cherubim.1 [Note: E. W. Lewis.]

The benefactors of men have always been compelled to confront that sword. In the smallest thing it is true. The man who makes a new discovery, the man who has invented something which will be a benefit to his fellow-men—how truly has he to encounter the sword and the flame of criticism. The sword and the flame distress all his fellows. Why does Roger Bacon fly for his life except that an ignorant public cannot understand the benefits that he is prepared to confer upon them? Why should men like Galileo be put to shame, but that the world stands with its sword and says, “We refuse to let you confer these blessings unless you pass the sword which we hold in the way of all”? There is the one profound illustration of all. When eager, ambitious souls that saw things only after a worldly fashion were ready to come and take Him by force and make Him a king, He stood amongst His disciples and said, “The crown, that is, the power of conferring benefit upon men—the crown, that is, the capacity of helping My brother man, can be won only through the Cross.”2 [Note: W. Boyd Carpenter.]

3. So true is the beginning of the Bible to our continual life. So in our own experience we find the everlasting warrant of that much-disputed tale of Genesis. But, thank God, the end of the Bible is just as true. As true as this universal fact of all men’s failure is the other fact, that no man’s failure is final or necessarily fatal; that every man’s lost tree of life is kept by God, and that he may find it again in God’s Paradise if he comes there in humble consecration.

Let us put figures and allegories aside for a moment. The truth of Christianity is this: that however a man has failed by his selfishness of the fulness of life for which God made him, the moment that, led by the love of Christ, he casts his selfishness aside and consecrates himself to God, that lost possibility reappears; he begins to realize and attempt again in hope the highest idea of his life: the faded colours brighten; the crowding walls open and disappear. This is the deepest, noblest Christian consciousness. Very far off, very dimly seen as yet, hoped-for not by any struggle of its own but by the gift of the Mercy and Power to which it is now given, the soul that is in God believes in its own perfectibility, and dares to set itself perfection as the mark of life, short of which it cannot rest satisfied.

And when this change has come, when a soul has dared again to realize and desire the life for which God made it, then also comes the other change. The hindrances change back again to their true purpose and are once more the helpers. That, too, is a most noble part of the Christian’s experience, and one which every Christian recognizes. You prayed to God when you became His servant that He would take your enemies away, that He would free you from those circumstances which had hindered you from living a good life. But He did something better than what you prayed for. As you looked at your old enemies they did not disappear, but their old faces altered. You saw them still, but you saw them now changed into His servants. The business that had made you worldly stretched out new hands, all heavy with the gifts of charity. The nature which had stood like a wall between you and the truth of a Personal Creator opened now a hundred voices all declaring Him. The men who had tempted you to pride and passion, all came with their opportunities of humility and patience. Everything was altered when you were altered. The Cherubim had left their hostile guard above the gate, and now stood inviting you to let them lead you to the tree of life. This is the Fall supplanted by the Redemption. This completes the whole Bible of a human life.1 [Note: Phillips Brooks.]

The Tree of Life in Eden stood

With mystic Fruits of Heavenly Food,

Which endless life afford,—

That Life, by man’s transgression lost:—

Cast out is man by Angel-host:

Until by Man restored.

In vain the lambs poured forth their blood;

In vain the smoking altars stood;

All unatoned was sin:

Must greater be the sacrifice

Before the gate of Paradise

Can let the fallen in?

The Lord of Life His Life must give

That man an endless Life may live,

And death’s dark doom reverse.

The Cross is made the mystic Tree,

The Blood that flowed on Calvary

Hath washed away the curse.

Now Eden’s gate is ope’d once more;

The guardian Angel’s watch is o’er,

And sheathed the flaming sword:

The Tree of Life now blooms afresh,

Its precious Fruit the very Flesh

Of the Incarnate Word.1 [Note: Edwin L. Blenkinsopp]


Brooks (P.), Seeking Life, 161.

Brown (J. B.), The Divine Life in Man 1:1.

Lewis (E. W.), The Unescapeable Christ, 214.

Matheson (G.), Leaves for Quiet Hours, 165.

Vaughan (C. J.), The Two Great Temptations, 44.

Vaughan (J.), Sermons (Brighton Pulpit), ii. No. 325; ix. No. 759.

Winterbotham (R.), Sermons in Holy Trinity Church, 76.

Christian World Pulpit, lii. 101 (Boyd Carpenter); lvii. 109 (Maver); lxiii. 259 (Ralph).

The Great Texts of the Bible - James Hastings

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Genesis 3:15
Top of Page
Top of Page