Last Words: “Let Him Go Up”

In the period of the judges, Israel asked for a king so that they could be like all the other nations around them. This was a rejection of God, because unlike all the other nations that had a man as their king, Israel had God as their king. When they asked God for a king, God told Israel what having a king would do to them and that it would not go well.

So, it’s interesting to know how the books of the Hebrew Bible are ordered, which is different than the ordering of our Old Testament. The last book of the Hebrew Bible is 2 Chronicles. Listen what it says about the last king and the people of Israel before they were exiled from the land:

“He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God. He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord, the God of Israel. All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem.”

God brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt through miraculous works of his great power. God gave them a land with cities and vineyards, full of milk and honey, that they did not have to build. God even drove out the people that were occupying that land for Israel. But, Israel rejected God as their king. And, the Hebrew order of the Old Testament ends with the last king and the people completely rejecting God and in full rebellion against him. Israel became like the nations around them, full of all the abominations and evil and wickedness that those nations had done.

It wasn’t because God didn’t try to stop it. 2 Chronicles continues, “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy.”

Here we see the longsuffering, the patience, and the kindness of God. He did everything for his people that he could. But, God created us with the capability to reject him. And, if that is chosen, then there is no remedy for that. But…

God is a god of hope. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says that faith, hope and love abide. Elsewhere in the New Testament is says that our hope is in Christ. He lives forever and so does our hope. There is always hope with God.

So, even though Israel had completely rejected God and there appeared to be no remedy, the final words of 2 Chronicles and the Hebrew Bible say, “Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.” These words were spoken by a Gentile king that God was going to use to free his people from exile so that they could begin to rebuild the temple of God. The very last words – “let him go up” – ring out with the hope that there will be a people that meet with God, whose garden and dwelling place were often pictured on a mountain.

The Rechabites: An Example to Israel and to Us

In Jeremiah 35, we are told of the Rechabites. This was a group of people that did not descend from Abraham, but joined the nation of Israel in their wilderness wandering prior to entering the land. Jonadab, the father of this people, had commanded them to drink no wine, build no house, sow no seed, plant or have no vineyard, but dwell in tents all their days. Even though everyone else in Israel did these things, the Rechabites kept the commandments of their father for roughly 300 years.

During the time of Jeremiah, when Israel was under siege from Babylon, the Rechabites were forced into the city of Jerusalem. While there, Jeremiah brought them into the temple and offered them wine to drink. Despite their thirst because of the siege, the Rechabites refused to drink the wine Jeremiah gave them in order to keep the command of their father.

So, God used the example of the Rechabites keeping the command of their father as a rebuke against Israel. The example was not what they were commanded to do but that they kept the command of their father. In Jeremiah 35:13-15, God said, “Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words? declares the Lord. The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me. I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to me.”

So, this group of people who joined Israel was willing to keep the command of their father for hundreds of years even in the midst of great hardship. But, Israel, whose father was God, the creator of heaven and earth, refused to hear the command of God and obey. They refused to listen to him even though he persistently told them how to have life, how to be blessed.

So, what is our problem? God sent us his son to perfectly reveal himself to us. He left us a record of how he has dealt with his people through history. He has written his law on our hearts and given us his Holy Spirit to teach it to us. I’d say he has persistently spoken to us. But, are we willing to listen to Him?

The problem is not with God, but us. Let us our lay down our thoughts, our desires, and our wills so that we can hear and obey God.

What’s Your Problem: Listening or Speaking to God?

Certainly, prayer is very important for the Christian, the follower of Jesus. While the Bible says we should make our requests known to God, I think the more important part of prayer is listening.

John 5:19 says, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.’”

In John 12:49, Jesus says, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak.”

Jesus did what he saw the Father doing and said what he heard the Father saying. I believe this is why he got alone to pray so much – to hear and see clearly. So, when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, Jesus said to hallow the name of the Father and then said “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) God’s kingdom comes by our hearing and seeing what he is doing, through prayer, and then obeying his will on earth and just as it is obeyed in heaven. (Interestingly, it was after listening to God, asking for his kingdom and will to be done, that Jesus said to ask for your needs – probably because your needs would be in the proper perspective then.)

The emphasis on hearing the word of the Lord is throughout scripture. It has been particularly prevalent in reading Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 29:18-20 says, “‘I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the Lord, that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, declares the Lord.’ Hear the word of the Lord…”

Over and over, Jeremiah, and the rest of the Bible, says to hear God, listen to his prophets, hear the word that he is speaking through them. Repeatedly we are told to listen to God. And, as in the verse above, it’s the failure to listen that causes our problems. I can’t recall a time where God says if we don’t speak to him we will have problems and that it’s because we didn’t speak to him and tell him all our problems that he is bringing some sort of chastisement or judgment on us.

So, it seems the emphasis in prayer should be listening. Indeed, when Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, God said, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well please. Listen to Him!”

The Way of Death Was to Stay in Jerusalem?

As I’ve been reading Jeremiah the last few days, it seems so relevant to our time today.

In short, Jerusalem and Judah were in full rebellion against God. The leaders, the shepherds, were not feeding and protecting the people. Instead, they were enriching themselves through injustice and oppression. So, God was going to bring Babylon against them and send them into exile.

They came to Jeremiah, asking him to inquire of the Lord for them. In Jeremiah 21:8-10, Jeremiah says, “And to this people you shall say: Thus says the Lord: Behold, I set you before you the way of life and the way of death. He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war. For I have set my face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the Lord: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.’”

What!?!? The way of death was to stay in Jerusalem? This was the city where God had caused his name to dwell. This was his holy city. Shouldn’t the people fight to stay in God’s city, where he dwelt, where the temple was? Shouldn’t they defend it against the king of Babylon? No, because God had set his face against it. He had seen its wickedness and corruption. God saw the city and that it was full of evil. So, God was going to put an end to that. To stay in the city, to defend the wickedness, the evil, and the oppression would be to go against God. Therefore, to go with God would be to flee the city. To go with God was the way of life.

Our government, political system, and rich leaders are full of corruption, evil, and wickedness. It is a continual oppression to people in this country and around the world. God’s people should not be a part of that. It seems to me in Jeremiah that God isn’t saying that you should stay in it, try and fix it up, and fight for it. Because God’s kingdom will consume every kingdom of man in the end. All the nations are but dust before him.

Instead of staying to defend and fight for the city that had become corrupt, God tells his people what to do in the next chapter. Jeremiah 22:3-5, “Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.” Don’t fight against the king of Babylon who God sent to destroy Jerusalem. Instead do justice, righteousness, and no wrong to those who have been taken advantage of or are helpless.

What’s a possible application for us?

There is no need for American Christians to lend their support to our corrupt government. There is no need to defend it, to fight against God ending its wickedness. Simply come out from it and do justice, righteousness and mercy. God’s kingdom is completely different than the kingdoms of this world. As Christians, we have transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We are strangers and sojourners in the earth. Like Jesus, we are without a home, a place to lay our head. We are ambassadors in a foreign land, representing our Lord whose kingdom is completely different than the one we are currently sent to.

Later in chapter 24, Jeremiah has a vision of very good figs and very bad figs. The very good figs were the ones that went with God, that left the city, that became exiles. The very bad figs were the ones that stayed and tried to defend what Jerusalem had become and what God wanted to destroy.

Jeremiah 24:4-10 says, “Then the word of the Lord came to me: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall by me people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. But thus says the Lord: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat Zedekiah the king of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.”

Let us be the very good figs that go with God.

Jeremiah’s Words Sound Like Jesus

Pride: a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements

In Jeremiah 10-16, this is Israel’s problem. They viewed their successes as a result of their own actions instead of as the hand of God upon them. Because of their pride, they refused to listen to God. And, they made idols – gods that they could control and make to their own liking. God said, “For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, ‘Obey my voice.’ Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart.”

But, within Jeremiah’s calling out Israel’s pride, are his words that sound a lot like Jesus.

“Woe is me because of my hurt! My wound is grievous. But I said, ‘Truly this is an affliction, and I must bear it.’ My tent is destroyed, and all my cords are broken; my children have gone from me, and they are not; there is no one to spread my tent again and to set up my curtains.”

“The Lord made it known to me and I knew; then you showed me their deeds. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, ‘Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.’”

“O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance take me not away; know that for your sake I bear reproach. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.”

Praise God that as Jeremiah was speaking truth in the midst of Israel’s pride and apostasy we have Jesus speaking to us.

What Are You Boasting In?

Jeremiah chapters 4-9 are a devastating word against Israel and Judah. Jeremiah repeats the same themes, the same accusations, over and over.

First, Israel and Judah were rebellious. They rejected God’s authority, God’s law, God’s commands, and did what was right in their own eyes.

Second, they refused to repent. Despite God sending prophet after prophet, warning after warning, Israel and Judah continued in their rebellion.

Third, they worshiped idols, false gods, the Baals, and, ultimately, Satan himself. Why do I say they worshiped Satan? Well, he is the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning. Jeremiah’s prophecy from the Lord continually says that Israel and Judah were liars and deceivers. And, they were a people of wickedness, evil, injustice, violence – in other words murder. This is the same accusation that Jesus said of them in John 8.

Fourth, wrath would be poured out on them. But, this wrath would be of their own doing. It was the direct result of their own wicked actions. They were going to reap what they had sown. Yes, God was going to allow it and, in that sense, it was his wrath. But, it seems to me that this is more like God stepping out of the way, no longer striving with man, and allowing man to experience the consequences of what they have done.

Fifth, God says this wrath will not come to a full end. It will not end in complete destruction. God is allowing it to go to whatever point is necessary to bring Israel and Judah to repentance. He will chasten them to whatever length necessary to stop their rebellion.

Near the very end of chapter nine God says, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Israel and Judah, really all men, boast in wisdom, power, and riches. Do we not all seek these things? Is this not what drives the world, governments, corporations, institutions, politics, etc.? Because of their rebellion, these are what Israel and Judah were boasting in. Because of our rebellion, these are things we still boast in today.

But, God says that is not him. The only thing his people boast in is him.

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 10:17

“So that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” – 1 Corinthians 1:31

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to Lord.” – Galatians 6:14

“If I boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 11:30

The natural man boasts in wisdom, power, and riches. But, God says no. The man who has been crucified with Christ sees that God replaces boasting in wisdom with the practice of steadfast love, boasting in power with justice, and boasting in riches with righteousness. Steadfast love, justice, and righteousness – these are the things God delights in.

Seeing Jesus in Jeremiah 1

Reading Jeremiah 1 this morning, I see Jesus front and center. Sure, God is speaking to Jeremiah. But, this is really about Jesus. He’s in all the scriptures according to Luke 24.

The name Jeremiah means something like God founds, raised up or appointed by God, or exaltation of the Lord. Philippians 2:9-10 says, “Therefore God has highly exalted him [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Because of his humility and submission to death on a cross, God exalted Jesus.

In Jeremiah 1:5, God speaks to Jeremiah and says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

John 1:1-2, 14 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God knew Jesus, the Word, before God formed him in the womb, before he became flesh.

In Luke 1:31-33, the angel told Mary, the mother of Jesus, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” When Mary was pregnant she visited her relative, Elizabeth, who also was pregnant with John the Baptist. When Jesus, in the womb of Mary ,entered into the presence of John, in the womb of Elizabeth, John leapt in the womb. And, in Luke 1:42, Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Indeed, Jesus was consecrated, set apart, to be king before he was born and this was recognized by Elizabeth and by John in the womb.

Prior to his death, Jesus was transfigured so that Peter, James, and John could get a glimpse of what Jesus would be after his resurrection, in his exaltation (remember what Jeremiah means). In Matthew 17:5, God says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Indeed, Jesus was a prophet to the nations. He eclipses all other prophets (Moses and Elijah disappeared in his transfiguration) and is THE prophet that we, all nations not just Israel, should listen to.

In Jeremiah 1:7-8, God says to Jeremiah, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”

In Luke 2:41-52, we read about Jesus as a boy of 12 teaching in the temple. The Bible also says that he was tempted in every way that we are. So, do you think he might have talked to God saying, “How can I teach the priests and scribes in the temple when I’m just a boy?” Wouldn’t we have said that? Moses did as an 80 year old man when he was told to go to Pharaoh. And, he was afraid to speak to Pharaoh. The difference is Jesus didn’t succumb to the temptation to not speak, to disobey. Indeed, just as it says in Jeremiah, Jesus was given a command by the Father and he spoke it. John 12:49 says, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak.”

Jeremiah 1:9-10 says, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

We already saw above in Philippians 2 that God has given Jesus a name above every other name and to Jesus every knee will bow because he is Lord. But, in Matthew 28:18-19, Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Further, Revelation 15:4 says, “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Indeed, Jesus is over all nations and all kingdoms as he has all authority in heaven and on earth.

What an amazing witness to Jesus are these words of Jeremiah that he received nearly 500 years before Jesus was born.

Josiah Foreshadows Jesus

In 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34 we read about Josiah. As I read about him, I noticed a number of similarities between Josiah and Jesus.

Josiah means Jehovah has healed. I could quote many scriptures, but Matthew 9:35 says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.”

Josiah’s reign began he was eight years old. Also, Josiah began to seek God in the eighth year of his reign. Eight is the number of new beginnings or new creation. Speaking of Jesus, Revelation 21:5 says, “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.” Also, the gospel of John starts like Genesis, indicating that Jesus was the start of a new creation.

It was in the 12th year of Josiah’s reign that he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of its idols and false worship. Luke 2:41-52 tells us that when Jesus was 12 years old he went to Jerusalem with his parents for a feast. But, when they left, he stayed behind in the temple among the teachers. The passage says, “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers…And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’” This was the start of Jesus teaching the wisdom of God and destroying the idols, places of worship, and strongholds in our minds.

Josiah did not just destroy the idols and false worship in Jerusalem, but he went throughout Jerusalem, Judah, and Israel. But, he never went outside Israel. Jesus went through all Jerusalem, Judah, and Israel as the gospels show. But, like Josiah, he did not go outside of Israel.

Josiah restored the Law that was found buried in the temple. In Matthew 5-7, Jesus gives us his law and says all that love him will obey his commandments.

After finding the law, Josiah made a covenant with the Lord and all the people joined in the covenant. In Luke 22:20, at the last supper, Jesus says, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

After making a new covenant, Josiah held a Passover. There had been no Passover like the one held by Josiah since the time of the judges. Jesus was crucified as the lamb of God on the Passover, keeping a Passover like the world had never seen before.

I am sure there are many more similarities and all could be explained in more depth, but this is what stood to me this morning.

Three Kings and Their Names

In 2 Kings 21, there are three kings of Judah mentioned – Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah.

Hezekiah had removed the false worship from Judah. He was a godly king. But, Manasseh, his son, was the exact opposite. He was perhaps the most wicked of the kings of Judah in that he reintroduced all of the false worship his father had removed. Manasseh began to reign at 12 years old, right about the age a child becomes an adult. So, Manasseh’s entire adult life was given to false worship. And, he reigned for 55 years, which was the longest reign of any king of Judah. Manasseh means causing to forget. Indeed, in every way for his entire adult life for a longer period of time than any other king, Manasseh caused Judah to forget God.

Manasseh’s son was Amon. Amon did just like his father. The Bible says “he abandoned the Lord.” Amon means builder, faithful, true, and the name comes from a root word meaning to support or confirm. So, Amon’s reign was the confirmation of Manasseh’s. However, Amon’s reign lasted just two years, which was almost a blip on the radar compared with his father’s reign.

Interestingly, the names Manasseh and Amon are perhaps the only two names of the kings of Judah that do not have a shortened form of Yahweh or Jehovah (the name of the Lord) in them. Clearly, these two kings had nothing to do with the Lord.

But, Amon had a son, Josiah. What does Josiah mean? Jehovah has healed. Out of the utter ruin and destruction brought about by forgetting God (Manasseh) and remaining faithful to a false way and the abandonment of the Lord, God was going to bring healing.

It really is amazing how every single detail in the Bible is important to the story it is telling.

What Does the Tree of Life Look Like?

This morning’s reading was Isaiah 50-59. It was full of well-known scriptures that Christians quote repeatedly. Perhaps none more so than Isaiah 53, which is a wonderful prophecy of Jesus.

In particular, I focused on Isaiah 53:2-3, which says, “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Recently, I’ve been meditating on the trees in the garden of Eden, particularly the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (there’s actually four types of trees in the garden).

I believe the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents Satan and his way, rebellion, and independence from God. We know that he deceived Eve to eat from it in an act of rebellion, causing her death. In Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, we see a picture of Satan in the garden. His beauty is described at length, and we are told it was great. In these chapters, Satan speaks of doing his will and going up, taking the place of God. And, in Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream of a great tree that reaches to the heavens and can be seen from the whole earth. The tree was his kingdom and he was proud of it.

As I’ve thought about these scriptures and others, it makes me think that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a grand tree, a beautiful tree, a magnificent looking tree, a large tree, a towering tree, likely rising above any other tree in the garden. It was a tree that would attract your attention, your gaze, and probably cause you to behold it in wonder. This is why Eve looked at it and saw that it was good for food and pleasant to the sight and would make her wise like God. Of course, this large, beautiful, magnificent tree that represents independence from God and living by our own knowledge of good and evil is a tree of death. It cannot sustain us. There’s no life in it at all.

But, I believe right next to this magnificent looking tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden was the tree of life. We know from scripture that Jesus was the tree of life. But, look at what it says in Isaiah 53 above about Jesus, this tree of life. The tree of life is described as young plant – it was small. It’s described as a root out of dry ground. Can a plant grow well in dry ground? How high would such a plant grow? This gives me the picture that the tree of life was a small, scrawny, scraggly looking tree.

In John 15, Jesus said he was the true vine. Where does a vine grow? On the ground. Indeed, Isaiah 53 says that Jesus, the tree of life, had no form or majesty that we would look at him. Jesus, the tree of life, had no beauty that we would desire him. Jesus, the tree of life, was despised and rejected. Then,

consider Philippians 2, which says that Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Instead, he made himself of no reputation and became a slave. The tree of life speaks of the lack of self will, going down, full submission to God.

This tree of life, that was completely free for Adam and Eve to eat free, that would sustain them with the very life of God, was right next to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden. Think of the stark contrast between these trees that is pictured in the paragraphs above. The great, huge tree of the knowledge of good and evil towering over the small, scrawny tree of life lying close to the ground.

Now, translate that to our lives today. There are two ways we can go, two options before us, two choices we can make in every moment of every day. One looks great. It seems grand. It looks like everything we could ever want. Look at the fulfillment it could provide. Life will be perfect if I can just have this. Certainly, everyone would make this choice, go this way. The other looks like nothing. It seems insignificant. It can’t possibly bring me anything good. No way could it ever fulfill me. Life will be terrible if I’m stuck with this, if I’m forced to choose this. Why would anyone take this way?

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

In a sense, the entire Bible is about choosing between these two trees. It’s not easy choosing the one that looks like nothing and is despised by everyone else around you. But, that’s where life is.