It was around 6000 years ago that God created the Heavens and the Earth. He also created mankind, as well as a Garden in which man was to live. In the Garden there were many trees; trees of all kinds. And among them all, there were two special ones. One, the Tree of Life; the other, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Adam and Eve were told they could eat of any tree EXCEPT the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately, that’s the tree they chose to eat from.
The tree of life represents God’s way to life. Though His way may appear to be restrictive and slow, it always leads to life.
“Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.” (Psalm 68:20 ESV)
The second one, the forbidden tree, represents man’s attempt to gain all God has and is; without Him. It always leads to death.
“Why wait for God to help me, when I can help myself and get what I need quicker,” seemed to be the mindset of Adam and Eve.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 16:25 ESV)
Later on, some 4000 years ago, there was a pole erected in the wilderness. Upon the pole was the form of a serpent molded out of bronze. The children of Israel had attempted to, once again, find a quick way to God’s promises; without God. God’s ways bothered them. They were restrictive and slow; and the people couldn’t stand His ways, His provision, or His leaders any longer. So they murmured and complained and started planning a return trip to Egypt.
Remember, man’s ways always lead to death.
Their rebellion, for that’s what it was, opened the “door” for the fiery serpents in the land to attack the camp. They began biting the people, and those who were bitten died.
Well, it didn’t take too long for the people to “get religion”, and beg Moses to ask for the Lord’s help. The Lord told Moses to erect a pole with a bronze serpent on it. He then instructed Moses to tell the people to “Look and Live”.
“And Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole, and if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked to the serpent of bronze [attentively, expectantly, with a steady and absorbing gaze], he lived.” (Numbers 21:9 AMP)
The serpent on the pole reflects man’s total disregard for God’s way, AND God’s willingness to heal and restore wayward man. ALL they had to do was “look”.
But notice the wording in Numbers 21:9 (Amplified); attentively, expectantly… How easy would that be with a bunch of poisonous snakes crawling around and up your legs? Keep looking at the pole? Are you kidding?
No, God wasn’t kidding. You see, man got into trouble, originally, by not believing God’s word; instead he believed the serpent. Again, in the wilderness, the children of Israel got into trouble by not believing God. So it would take faith in His word to bring restoration and healing.
Repentance must always include faith; whether with people or with God. If one does not believe someone else was right, while they themselves were wrong, they cannot truly repent. Jesus said, “Repent and believe the gospel.” So the children of Israel had to believe, and follow God’s instructions.
Finally, 2000 years ago there was a cross. Placed on a hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem, there the Son of God, who had never disobeyed His Father, died for the sins of the world. The cross reveals, once again, man’s desire and attempt to live their lives free from God’s influence, demands, and restrictive ways. And it screams to all who’ll listen, mankind’s capacity for evil.
In all three examples, the tree, the pole, and the cross, man cannot get rid of God! Man cannot be so evil that God won’t provide a way to be restored. As long as people have an opportunity to repent and believe, God will always have a remedy, a Way out.
Yes, those three things show man’s desire to be free from God; but they also reveal the heart of God to bring true freedom to all who will believe.
“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert [on a pole], so must [so it is necessary that] the Son of Man be lifted up [on the cross], In order that everyone who believes in Him [who cleaves to Him, trusts Him, and relies on Him] may not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] live forever! For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” (John 3:14-16 AMP)
You and I can’t get rid of God and we can’t live without Him. We can not shut out His love or our need to repent and believe. The tree, the pole, and the cross all speak the same thing; man’s ways will not bring God’s life, but God’s ways will.