In the Midst

Genesis 2:9

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

What does it mean to be “in the midst” of something?

Dictionary.com defines “in the midst” as the position of anything surrounded by other things or parts or occurring in the middle of a period of time.

Have you ever wondered why the tree of life is highlighted as being in the midst of the garden God created? What is the significance of this detail that is shared with us?

A synonym for “midst” is “middle”. Being in the middle of something means the object or person is equally distant from everything else within a specified area. In Genesis 2:9 this could mean the tree of life was at the very center of the garden God created. Or it could mean the tree of life was simply among the other trees of the garden.

Regardless of its precise physical placement within the garden design, scripture is making a point to highlight the tree of life as being present and available to mankind at the start of God’s design. However, God restricted our access to the tree of life as the consequence for disobedience to his first command after Eve and Adam ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (See Genesis 3:22-23)

Right now, we are “in the midst” of His plan of restoration for mankind. But guess what? We will one day have access to the tree of life again!

Revelation 22:1-2

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:14

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

What does it mean to “wash their robes”?

Revelation 7:14

I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Restoration is God’s plan for those who acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. All who “wash their robes” in accepting Christ’s sacrifice (on a tree by the way) as the penalty for their sins will be granted access to the tree of life and its twelve fruits that yield a harvest every month!

In the meantime, we’ve been promised that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, is with us to teach and comfort us while we await the final restoration. (See John 14:26)

May you be encouraged knowing the Holy Spirit is “in the midst” of your daily experience until the time of the final restoration.

Blessings, Barbara Lynn

Pleasure

Genesis 2:9

I’m blessed to have a balcony at my home that is protected by tall evergreens and deciduous trees on the easement between our development and the adjacent high school parking lot. This area is a great place to spend time “defragging” my mind when the weather is conducive. And it affords me a cozy, private feel.

At times, when I think there are no breezes around I’ll still see a leaf or branch shimmy to a breeze that is too high up for me to personally feel. I believe my love of trees stems from my childhood home. My parents still reside where I grew up so every time I get the opportunity to visit there I’m reminded of all the beautiful trees on their property and surrounding neighborhood that I would spend time gazing at or climbing in as a child.

So, what’s the point of this study today? My previous post focused on the provision of trees that yield food for our sustenance. Did you notice in the quote from Reference.com that less than 1% of plants are food bearing? What is the purpose of the other more than 99%? Let’s read Genesis 2:9 again:

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Gen 2:9 ESV)

Did you see it?  “Pleasant to the sight” is part of God’s purpose for trees. We’ll look at other purposes for trees as we continue to travel together but right now simply focus on the fact that God appreciates and desires beauty. He purposely decorated the earth with all kinds of vegetation for our enjoyment and His.

As I write this post it just happens to be the fall season when the leaves are turning from their summer shades of glorious greens to a cornucopia of bronze, gold, and earthy reds. Other seasons provide interesting textures and colorful flowers from new growth, or nothing but the barky structure that stands firm year-round.

A little over a year after moving to South Carolina our dog, Bear, passed away after many ups and downs. I was grieving the loss of this precious pet as I drove the same route to work I’d been traveling for months. As I stopped for a red light my eyes glanced to the left to see a tree I’d seen many times before. At that moment though something about that tree wowed me more deeply than before. It shook me from my grief into a moment of praising God for His amazing creation.

Have you ever experienced a moment when a part of God’s creation moved you to praise and adoration of your creator? Or are you too busy grumbling that you need to clean leaves out of your home’s rain gutters or some other task that involves assisting the plants around you? Yes, nature can create work for us. (See Genesis 2:5, 15). But God also intended for the trees and other vegetation to generate pleasure and sustenance for us.

I’d love to hear your stories of how God’s landscaping efforts have impacted you towards awe and wonder. May you experience the pleasure of God’s creation today!

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

Feeling Fruity!

Genesis 1

I’ve planted two fruit trees in my life time. The first was a cherry tree that had two varieties of cherries grafted together so that they could help pollinate each other. Sadly, I moved away from that home before I could appreciate more than a handful of cherries from the tree. My next fruit tree endeavor was a miniature peach tree in a large pot on my patio when living in Oklahoma. The harvest from this tree was also small but incredibly delicious before the tree died due to an attack of fungus. If my current dwelling had more sun and space I’d probably be planning some new adventure with a fruit tree.

Have you ever wondered why God created trees? The first mention of trees in Genesis specifically highlights fruit trees.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that is was good. Genesis 1:11-12 ESV

Then after mankind is created God says, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” Genesis 1:29 ESV

It is clear from these verses that God intended fruit trees and other seed-bearing plants to be a means of sustaining us physically. The phrase “each according to its kind” in the verses means God created variety in our food supply. I’m very thankful for this as I get bored easily if I’m having to eat the same thing day after day. Just ask my husband!

I was curious to learn how many kinds of fruit or edible plants exist. Reference.com had this answer: The total number of plant species in the world is estimated at 390,900 by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Approximately 1,000 to 2,000 species of plants are edible by humans. About 100 to 200 species of plants play an important role in world commerce, and about 15 species provide the majority of food crops. These include soybeans, peanuts, rice, wheat and bananas.

Do you think about this abundant provision when you eat a piece of fruit or other seeded plant today? I have grown very fond of a prayer of thanks and blessing for the food we eat that I learned from my husband. Most of the time when he offers a prayer before a meal he will include something along the lines of asking a blessing on all the hands who have prepared the food that is before us. This simple prayer of thanks and blessing makes me think of the farmers who planted the seeds all the way to the workers in the grocery or market where we purchased our food before we served it to ourselves.

Today before you eat your vegetables, grains, and fruits, pause and give thanks to the Lord for the amazing variety, color, and textures He created for our sustenance. Ask Him to bless all those who had a hand in bringing you this food you are about to enjoy. These seed-bearing plants and fruits are the foods God provided for our continued physical nourishment from the very beginning.

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

In the Beginning

Genesis 1-3

What do you think is around the bend on the forest path depicted in the header of my site? Do you find yourself wanting to quicken your pace so you can see what’s next? Or would you rather linger on the path and take in all the details of the forest before moving forward? Perhaps you’re afraid to see what’s around the bend?

Today, as I write my first ever blog post, I relate to all these questions!   I chose that picture intentionally. Not simply because I love taking strolls in nature but because the first book of both the Hebrew and the Christian Bible, Genesis, describes the creation of our natural world.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that is was good. Genesis 1:11-12 ESV

Then after mankind is created God says, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” Genesis 1:29 ESV

Chapter 1 of Genesis is a broad strokes description of the creation of the earth and everything in it. Turning to chapter 2, we receive a more detailed view.

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2: 8-9 ESV

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”. Genesis 2:15-17 ESV

Did you notice in God’s command that there is no restriction from eating from the tree of life at this point in the text? The only forbidden fruit is from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It isn’t until after Adam and Eve disobey God’s command that we learn they had not yet eaten fruit from the tree of life.

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever–” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22-24 ESV

Part of God’s response to their disobedience is to place a restriction on access to the tree of life. This restriction fulfills God’s word of warning in his command that they would die if they ate the forbidden fruit. But in God’s grace they don’t die immediately. Instead it appears that the first substitutionary atonement for sin is enacted by God to properly clothe the man and woman.

And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Genesis 3:21 ESV

Previously everything God made was simply spoken into being. Here we are told God made the clothing out of skins.  I believe we are being told here that an animal was slaughtered to provide the skins. This then is a foreshadowing of the animal sacrifices the people of Israel are later instructed to practice for their sins and ultimately God’s sacrifice of Jesus for all mankind.

Can you see even in these few verses taken from the opening chapters of Genesis that God delights in his creation and is already beginning His plan of restoration at a time that He is heartbroken over their sin?

I’m convinced if you read the chapters in full you will find even more evidence to support that God is in the business of restoration. I’d love to hear what you find as you spend time reading and meditating on these three chapters.

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn