The "Tree of Life" was a choice given to Adam and Eve back in the Garden of Eden. Of course we know that our forebears chose wrongly. Eve was deceived by the serpent, she convinced Adam and then they both ate of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil". Their innocence was stolen from them by Satan through deceit and mankind has since known right from wrong. What's more everybody since chooses to do wrong!
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 knowledge of good and evil."
Genesis 2:16 "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Sin happened! As you can see from reading below, God humbles Adam and Eve for their insolence, then tells how foolish they've been. Before disobedience, in their innocence, Adam and Eve were immortal. They could freely eat of the "Tree of Life". It was theirs by grace. God provided whatever that healthy fruit was for longevity. Now God taunts them, in effect saying "Eternal life was yours and now it's gone. It's too late to eat the fruit thereof!"
Genesis 3:22 "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:"
The "Tree of Life' remained in the garden. It too was forbidden mankind. It was not yet time for God to "forget" the trespass and to make sure, the tree was guarded by angelic creatures:
Genesis 3:24 "So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
Notice that the "tree of life" is referred to as "the way". This brings to mind Jesus who said:
John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Incidentally, the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" is not "the way" nor even "a way"!
"The way" was predetermined. God in his foreknowledge knew "the way" all along and made provision for a path to be followed. Of course we know from scripture that the path is narrow and few shall take it. What am I implying? The "Tree of Life" is Jesus who was with God from the beginning:
John:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2The same was in the beginning with God.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
(We don't know if the "tree" was a metaphor for Jesus or was some mysterious tree which represented Jesus and his truth.)
Let's examine these verses more closely.
The Word was with God in the beginning (at the creation). He was God. Jesus is God's presence on earth. Hence, we have here Jesus among us from day one! "In him was life". Jesus was "Life". Likewise, Jesus was the "light of men". He was to provide the way for mankind. We can see from verse 14 that Jesus is "grace and truth". (In contrast to the other tree in the garden which provided knowledge).
In the beginning the light of Jesus shined in darkness. It was "grace and truth" which provided hope for Adam and Eve. They "comprehended him not." Adam and Eve, as they made the wrong choice" had little idea that Jesus was right there! Jesus is or is represented by the "Tree of Life"!
The tree not only represents life and vitality, but it also points toward eternal life! The tree of life in the garden was a "picture" of how mankind was to regain immortality; eternal life!
Jesus is God as revealed to man. God took on human form many times: 1) He wrestled with Jacob, 2) he protected Shadrack, Meshack and Ebdenego in the fiery furnace and he appeared to Abraham as Mechizedek. Jesus was with Adama nd Eve in the Garden. He was there!
Genesis 3:8 "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day..."
Let's look at a representation of that tree:
Acts 5:30 "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree."
The tree upon which Jesus was crucified (hanged) was the cross. We know that death on the cross was unknown to Jews and came with domination by the Romans. God, in his wisdom, planned that Jesus was to die upon a tree long before the Roman civilization was ever born! That was "the way of the tree of life in Genesis" and "The Way" from John 14:6.
Jeremiah the prophet was another "picture" of Jesus. As he was warning the Jews about their destruction this comes to light:
Jeremiah 11:19 "But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered." (Jeremiah as a picture of Christ).
Jeremiah, as Jesus, was "like a lamb". Jesus was the "lamb of God"! Jeremiah was the lamb to be brought to slaughter, just as Jesus was the lamb brought for slaughter on the tree. Jeremiah was referred to as a "tree" in the phrase "Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof". Jeremiah, foreshadowing Jesus, was called the "tree" and the "fruit thereof" to be destroyed was the "way of the tree" just as Genesis referred to the "way of the tree of life". It was an attempt by our forebears to stamp out Christianity before it was even introduced into the world! It was an attempt that the lone "Tree of Life" in the garden "may no more be remembered".
Jeremiah warned the people. They failed to listen. Sound familiar. It was the same with Adam and Eve and the same with the Jews at the time of Christ's coming.
Is the "tree of life" still with us?
Revelation 2:7 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; 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 "tree of life" yet stands! That tree is still "grace and truth" and if we accept that grace and truth we shall be among those who overcome and "eat of the tree of life"; Jesus! Where's that tree? In paradise; aka heaven! Where's Jesus? He's at the right hand of God in heaven!
Revelation 22:2 "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."
The street with a river is the "New Jerusalem" which is not only a reconstruction of the Garden of Eden which was a paradise, but paradise, heaven itself! As the "tree of life" was in the first paradise it also will be in the healed world and in heaven itself. Jesus will return to rule the world for 1000 years and the "tree of life" will stand again in the capital city, New Jerusalem. Likewise, Jesus, the tree of life, will as he now does, reign in the paradise called heaven!
Revelation 22:19 (NIV) " And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll."
If any person denies God's word, that person will lose his share in the tree of life. By denying God's Word, they are denying "the way", the "tree of life". They are denying "The Way", Jesus.
I've never before heard this preached, but afterward learned that the Eastern Orthodox Church teaches this same doctrine as can be seen here:
Wikapedia "The tree of life (Heb. עץ החיים Etz haChayim) in the Book of Genesis is a tree planted by the Abrahamic God in midst of the Garden of Eden (Paradise), whose fruit gives everlasting life, i.e. immortality."
The tree of life in Genesis as a prefiguration of the Cross, which humanity could not partake of until after the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus.
The cross of Christ is also referred to as the tree of life."
Jesus was represented by that "tree of life' standing in the midst of the Garden of Eden. God's plan in his foreknowledge was to provide "the way" to mankind whom he knew would fail. That plan was a plan of "grace and truth" . Jesus was the plan all along and our patriarchs chose "knowledge. Now Jesus can fulfill that plan of grace and truth because he reigns today alive and well in paradise! Remember, Jesus is the "tree of life" and through him death is defeated.
Who do you chose this moment? Is it "knowledge" from the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" or is it salvation offered in the form of truth and grace offered by "THE TREE OF LIFE"? Do you accept God's word as Revelation 22:19 says we must or do you buy into what's called false knowledge as taught in universities in the disguise of science?
The "tree of life" yet lives! Although that tree died for all on a "tree" he was resurrected. The tree of life defeated death! That "tree of life" stands tall by sitting at the right hand of God in Heaven!