Mankind’s relationship with God was spoiled by a tree in the early chapters of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. It was the tree of “the knowledge of good and evil.” That speaks to me of the law. It’s the basis of relating to God on what we do. Do good! Don’t do evil, and God will accept you! But God would never accept that as the basis of a relationship with man. If we subscribe to that relationship we will always fail (See Romans 7). Any relationship with God must be based on His provision and His grace. We can wrap all the fig leaves around us from that tree we want, but it won’t take away the truth of our sinful character. God will have to provide the covering for our sin; the lamb! It’s the only acceptable way to relate to God.

Yet we love the fig leaves. Even when we come to faith in Christ and receive God’s Son it is so easy to look around for a list of behaviors that will help us feel good about ourselves instead of increasingly thankful to God. I’m always using “to do” lists in order to have successful days. I feel like I’ve done well when I check things off my list. I agree with Colin Smith who says, “The real joy of a To Do list comes later in the day, when you draw a heavy line through each item and mark it ‘Done.’ There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of knowing that everything you planned to do is complete.” But the truth is, God will not relate to us on the basis of our “to do” lists. That’s good! I have failed very often to accomplish my “to do” lists each day. I keep using them and find them helpful for daily life, but they represent a terrible way to relate to God. We will never be successful enough to win God’s favor by what we don’t do or even by what we do do. This is fig leaf living. We will never be able to cover our failure with good works.

Now, the last book of the Bible, actually, the last chapter of the last book of the bible; Revelation 22, introduces us again to the tree of life. The dove returned with an olive leaf to indicate that God’s wrath and judgment on man’s failure is over. It’s time for God’s grace to enter and to bring peace and healing to the world. This chapter is about the eternal state of mankind at the end of our struggles on earth. Verses 2 and 3 tell us, “…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. No longer will there be anything accursed…” It is the “leaves” of the tree of life that bring healing. The Bible begins with a tree which brought death and a curse to the entire world. This tree is representative of man’s religion. It’s the source and the force behind most wars of man’s history. The Bible finishes with a tree that brings healing for all the nations and eternal life to all mankind.