I was taught from my youth that the Sabbath was given to us by God so that we may remember that He is the Creator of the heavens and earth. But we need to see the real spiritual significance of the Sabbath. The Sabbath divides God’s creation into two sections. The first section was without the life of God. The life of God is not mentioned in Genesis 1. We see man only with the image and likeness of God but not with the life of God.
The second section of the account of God’s creation in Genesis 2 is centered on the life of God. The most striking item in Genesis 2 is the tree of life. A number of years ago, there was a famous teacher of the Bible who said that the tree of life is over today. But the tree of life is not over, because it is mentioned in Revelation as a reward to the overcomers (2:7) and as the eternal life supply for God’s redeemed in the New Jerusalem (22:2). The Sabbath divides the first section of God’s creation without the life of God from the second section with the life of God. This is the spiritual significance of the Sabbath.
After God’s creating work of six days, He had a repose on the seventh day, the Sabbath. Then on the eighth day everything is centered on the life of God, because God put the man whom He had created before the tree of life. The eighth day is the day of the Lord’s resurrection. Our eighth day in the New Testament is from the day of the Lord’s resurrection until the New Jerusalem. We all need a repose, a Sabbath, like Paul had on the road to Damascus when the Lord stopped him and brought him into the eighth day of Christ’s resurrection.
God particularly made a spirit for man that man may receive Him as life and everything. Genesis 1 tells us that God created many things, but He did not give the details of His creation. But in chapter two He gave us a clear record with details. God created the body for man with the dust, and God breathed into him the breath of life. The Hebrew word for breath in Genesis 2:7 is the same word for spirit in Proverbs 20:27, which says that man’s spirit is the lamp of Jehovah. The soul is the issue of the spirit meeting with the body. God created man with a spirit so that man could receive Him as life and as everything.
The tree of life signifies God as life to man so that man could be completely like God in His appearance, life, and nature but not in His Godhead. The tree of life is a figure signifying God as life. In the Gospel of John the Lord said, “I am…the life” (14:6a), and He also said that He is the vine tree (15:1). He is the life and He is the tree, so He is the tree of life. Revelation 2:7 says, “To him who overcomes, to him I will give to eat of the tree of life.” Then at the end of the Bible, the tree of life grows in the flow out of God’s throne to supply the entire New Jerusalem. This is the clear revelation.
After God created man with a spirit, God put this man into the garden in front of the tree of life. This picture indicates that God wanted man to receive the tree of life.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil signifies Satan as God’s enemy in God’s creation, implying that Satan is composed of knowledge and evil as well as good. This indicates that there is an opposer to God in the universe. God is to be life to man but Satan is to be knowledge, evil, and good to man which leads to death. God prohibited Adam from partaking of the tree of knowledge. If Adam had partaken of the tree of life, he would have received life, but instead he partook of the other tree and received death.
Satan tempted Eve with knowledge, causing her to doubt God’s word by asking, “Has God said…?” (Gen. 3:1). Eve was hooked because she answered him and was brought into the realm of the tree of knowledge. Such knowledge is a terrible thing. Many times the most learned ones are the hardest ones to convince about Christ. It is easier for a simple, uneducated person to get saved.
When the young people hear this word, they may wonder whether or not they should go to college. In 1977 I gave messages on the Life-study of Genesis in which I encouraged the young people to get the highest education. Many young people were helped by those messages which were concerning Hiram, the skillful builder of the pillars in God’s temple. In those messages however, I pointed out that after we gain our education it must be buried so that it can be useful in resurrection for God’s building (see Messages Eighty-five and Eighty-six of Life-study of Genesis, pp. 1093-1120). The apostle Paul received the highest education, being brought up at the feet of a learned rabbi named Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). After he was saved by the Lord, Paul’s education and capacity came up in resurrection to be used by the Lord for the building up of His Body.
(The Triune God's Revelation and His Move, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)