Origins #2: The Fall
By Chris Jordan
If God is good, and He created everything, and the original creation was very good, then why is there death and suffering in the world?
THE DAY OF REST:
“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Genesis 2:1-3).
Did you ever wonder why we have a seven day week, and not a five day week or a ten day week? We find the answer to that question by going back to the beginning – back to the origin of the universe as recorded in the Book of Genesis. The God of the Bible is omnipotent; a fancy word that means He is all-powerful. Therefore, He could have created everything that exists in a single moment of time with the snap of His fingers or the blink of an eye.
The prophet Isaiah said: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” (Isaiah 40:28-29).
If God is all-powerful, and He never gets tired, then why did He rest on the seventh day? The reason He did that was to give us a pattern to follow. We are to work during the week, but take a day of rest once a week to be refreshed and renewed. This Sabbath day of rest is not for God – it’s for us. Jesus Himself said, “The Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27, nlt).
Not only was the Sabbath designed to be a day of rest, but it was also designed as a memorial for creation week. We see this in the words that God Himself inscribed on tablets of stone in the Ten Commandments: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:11). Therefore, every time you look at your calendar or day-planner, let it be a continual reminder to you of God’s creation!
GOD CREATES PEOPLE:
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden eastward inEden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:7-9).
One of the things we learned in the first session was that God created people in His image. The theory of evolution erroneously teaches that human beings have evolved from a simple life-form, and we are merely complex animals. The Bible account of creation teaches us that we have been formed and fashioned in the very image of God. We are not simply cosmic accidents, the result of chance – we are God’s greatest masterpiece!
It’s interesting to note in this passage of Scripture that when God originally created mankind, human beings were vegetarian. Not only were people originally vegetarian, so were all of the animals. “And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.” (Genesis 1:29-30).
Now some people would jump to the conclusion and say, “I knew it: God wants me to be a vegetarian, so I should stop eating meat. God doesn’t want me to kill the cows.” Now even though man was originally vegetarian, we know that after the flood, God made a concession and allowed man to begin killing animals for food. God said, “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that moves on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.” (Genesis 9:2-3). I’m so thankful that the Lord made that change so I can enjoy a big juicy barbecued steak.
In the original creation, all animals were herbivores – that is, they ate grass, herbs, plants or other vegetation. They didn’t eat other animals. This is how the lions and tigers and bears were able to live in peace and harmony alongside of all of the other animals.
See how the prophet Isaiah describes what life will be like in the new heavens and the new earth: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9). Once again, mankind and all animals will live together in peace and harmony.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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 2:16-17).
When God originally created mankind, He gave them only one commandment: Don’t eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Too often people focus on all of the ‘thou shalt not’s’ of the Bible – all of the things that God tells us we can’t do. Instead, we should focus on all of the good things that He tells us we can do. Notice that God first of all said, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat…” In other words, God created everything that exists in this world for us to enjoy! Jesus came to give us abundant life. If God gives us a rule, or tells us not to do something, it’s only because He knows that it will either hurt us or someone else. Deuteronomy 10:13 says, “to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good.” As a wise and loving parent, God gives us rules and boundaries for our protection. God wants us to enjoy life, but the consequences for our sin and rebellion is death.
Why did God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden? “For true fellowship with God (having been created in His image), man must be free to reject that fellowship. The restriction imposed here by God is the simplest, most straightforward test that could be devised for determining man’s volitional response to God’s love. There was only one minor restraint placed on Adam’s freedom and, with an abundance of delicious fruit of all types available, there was no justification for his desiring the one forbidden fruit. Nevertheless, he did have a choice, and so was a free moral agent, capable of accepting or rejecting God’s will.”1
In essence, God was saying, “I want to be your God. I want to be the one to help you enjoy this amazing, wonderful and incredible creation that I’ve given to you.” Man had a knowledge of good already – all of creation was good, indeed, very good. However, man didn’t need to have a knowledge of evil.
“And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18).
One of the first things that God created was relationships. Even though the world was very good, He never intended us to go through life alone. God always planned for us to have loving, healthy relationships with other people. This is one of the reasons why when Jesus came into the world, He started the church. Church is not just a building that we go to on Sunday mornings. Church is family. Church is relationships. Church is the people of God coming together and loving one another, caring for one another, bearing each others burdens, praying for one another, encouraging one another, and helping each other when we go through difficult times. That’s the church! Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the solitary (lonely) in families.” We need relationships. We need each other.
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out ofMan.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:21-25).
The Book of Genesis is aptly called the Book of Beginnings, because it reveals the foundations to many of the institutions that we have in the world today, including especially marriage. Notice God’s original perfect plan was one man and one woman coming together and staying married for life. “Although men and women through the ages have corrupted this divine institution in many ways (adultery, divorce, polygamy, homosexuality, etc.), “from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:8). The institution of the home is the first and most basic human institution and was intended to be monogamous and permanent until death.”2
There was a time in the life of Jesus when the Pharisees came to Him and tested Him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6).
At the end of creation week, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). He had created the first human being – Adam – and placed him inEden, a garden paradise, where he lived alongside of all created animals in perfect harmony and peace. Here, there was no sin, death, suffering, pain or sickness. But then… something happened. What was it that changed everything? This brings us to:
THE BIG QUESTION:
“If God is good, and He created everything, and the original creation was very good, then why is there death and suffering in the world?”
As Christians, this question is very important to us to consider if we are going to share our faith with friends and family members. This is one of the most common arguments that people come up with against Christianity. Maybe you have wrestled with this question yourself. Perhaps you were praying for a loved one who was sick, and you hoped that God would spare their life, and yet they still died. Maybe you look at the world news and see all of the terrorism and wars and famines and earthquakes and tsunamis and you say, “Where is God? This doesn’t look very good! How can God be good with all of the pain and suffering in the world?” And yet, we are not the first people to wrestle with this question.
One of the greatest Christian apologists of all time, C.S. Lewis, dealt with this question himself. He wrote a book called The Problem of Pain, and considered the premise: “If God were good, he would wish to make his creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty he would be able to do what he wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either the goodness, or power, or both.”3
Charles Darwin himself, who originated the concepts of natural selection and evolution, had the same struggles. As a young boy, he had attended church with his mother, and even attended Cambridgeto study for the ministry – he was going to be a preacher. “The issue of suffering was one that Darwinfaced personally, with the death of his beloved ten-year-old daughter, Annie, in 1851. This tragedy would deal a crushing blow to his religious beliefs, as Darwindeliberated about the Christian meaning of mortality and lost all faith in a benevolent God.”4 Charles Darwin attended church and was going to go into the ministry, but after tragedy struck in his life, he gave up his belief in a good God.
- Henry Morris, The Defender’s Study Bible.
- Henry Morris, ibid.
- C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain.
- Ray Comfort, in the introduction to the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species.
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