What Is the Tree of Life?


Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi described to his family a spiritual dream he had experienced. The central object in this dream was a tree “whose fruit was desirable to make one happy” (1 Nephi 8:10). Throughout the rest of the dream, groups of people were defined by their actions with respect to this tree and its fruit: some people sought it out, others wandered away, and still others made fun of the people who were enjoying the fruit.

Lehi’s son Nephi subsequently prayed to see the things his father saw. In answer to his prayer, he experienced a vision and was taught by an angel. Nephi learned that the tree represents “the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things…and the most joyous to the soul” (1 Nephi 11:22-23).

Shortly after, Nephi’s brothers asked him the meaning of the tree which their father had seen. Nephi answered, “It was a representation of the tree of life” (1 Nephi 15:22).

According to the Bible, the tree of life was in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). After Adam and Eve ate the fruit of another named tree—the tree of knowledge of good and evil—they were cast out of the garden and no longer had access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24). (See also 2 Nephi 2:15, Moses 3:9, Moses 4:28, 31, and Abraham 5:9). Perhaps this represented one of the consequences of the Fall: they were cut off from the presence of God (Alma 42:7). Fortunately for us, the Atonement of Jesus Christ overcame the effects of the Fall, placing the tree of life again within our reach.

The prophet Alma invited the people in the city of Zarahemla to come to the Savior in order to “partake of the fruit of the tree of life” (Alma 5:34, 62). He later promised the poor among the Zoramites that, if they would plant the word of God in their hearts and nourish it with diligence and patience, it would take root and eventually become “a tree springing up unto everlasting life.” He called this “the tree of life,” and told them that its fruit is “sweet above all that is sweet,” “white above all that is white,”  and “pure above all that is pure” (Alma 32:40-42).

In the book of Revelation, the apostle John teaches us that those who “overcome” will be given the privilege “to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). And in the very last chapter of the Bible, John describes the tree of life straddling a pure river in the celestial kingdom of God. “Blessed are they that do his commandments,” he says, “that they may have right to the tree of life” (Revelation 22:2, 14).

Today, I will remember that the love of God will bring us more joy than anything else we might ever experience. I will be grateful that the Savior has overcome the effects of the Fall, enabling us to receive the blessings represented by the fruit of the tree of life, if we have faith, repent of our sins, and follow Him.

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