Story 11: Life Outside the Garden

Gen. 3:20-4:26

Adam and Eve expelled from the Garden of Eden - stained glass

The first man and woman brought a terrible curse upon themselves and upon the world.  They would live in bondage to sin and their lives would end in death (see Story 7, Story 8, and Story 9 for the details).  But when we continue to read their story, we see that the first man still had faith.  After the Curse had fallen on humanity, he looked upon his wife and gave her a name: Eve, which means “living.”  In spite of their rebellion, Adam believed that God would still bring life through his wife and their love for each other.  And one day, a descendant of Eve would crush the head of the evil serpent that had brought the horrors of the curse.

In this, we see that God’s goodness was powerfully at work.  When Adam and Eve first chose the knowledge of good and evil over faithfulness to God Himself, the first thing they felt was shame.  When God came to them, they began to blame each other for their choices, spreading the darkness and deception through their fear-filled choices.  But God had limited the power of evil, He did not let the fullness of its toxic power have it’s sway.  Adam still carried a capacity for hope, there was still love and grace for the woman who drew him into temptation and supported his failure.  More importantly, he had faith that in spite of the evil that had befallen them, God was still able to bring life.

In God’s tender care for His disgraced children, He took the leather from the skin of animals and made clothes for Adam and Eve.  Already, a sacrifice had to be made to cover them for their sins. Already, something had to die.

The Garden had become a dangerous place for Adam and Eve.  The Tree of Life was there, and if they ate from it, they would never die.  Before the Curse, this would have been a wonderful blessing.  They would have lived with God in perfect unity forever and ever.  But now they were broken.  Their hearts were distorted and twisted by sin.  Death had become a necessary end in this terrible new era that they had brought into the world.  Without it, they would be cursed forever.

Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden.  They had invited the toxic power of evil into their hearts, and it did not belong in the Garden.  God had to cleanse His holy sanctuary from their contaminating presence.  They were exiled to the outer regions of the world where the Curse was already infecting the land.  The Lord sent His cherubim to guard the eastern entrance to the Garden.

Now, it is very interesting, because we don’t understand exactly what a cherubim is.  They are among God’s heavenly creatures that serve the Lord with absolute, devoted obedience.  They are something like the angels, except for one thing.  Whenever the Bible talks about angels, they are acting as God’s messengers with a very specific mission.  Whenever the Bible talks about cherubim, they are guarding something.  Sometimes they are standing guard in the very throne room of God.  Psalm 99:1 says, “The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.”

Now that the Curse had come into the world, Heaven and the sacred space of the Garden was off limits to the people of earth.  The cherubim stood as guards while a flaming sword flashed back and forth across the entrance of the Garden, ensuring that no human could enter.

Distance from the Garden meant distance from God.  Instead of perfect nearness to God, the nations would tremble because of His wrath against them.  Humans would no longer walk in His presence in the cool of the day.  Adam and Eve had to make a life for themselves outside of the Garden, in the harsh new world where suffering and death had become a constant reality.

In the midst of their hard labor over the years, the Lord gave them a precious gift.  Adam and Eve had a son.  Consider the lavish forgiveness and grace of God.

Eve named her son Cain.  She said, “‘With the help of the Lord, I have brought forth a man.’”  Eve brought the curse, and God allowed the terrible consequences to come.  Yet even as they suffered for their shameful decision, God continued to bless them.  Eve learned to look up in dependent faith on the God that she had once rebelled against.  Would her sons do the same?

God gave Eve a second son.  His name was Abel.  When they grew up and became men, Abel took care of the flocks of animals.  Cain became a farmer.  Both of the men brought some of the fruit of their work as offerings to God. Abel brought the very best of his firstborn animals from his flocks and sacrificed them to the LORD.  His was an offering of deep faith and gratitude to God for all that He had provided.  Cain brought some of the grains and fruit of his farm.  They were not the first fruit or the best fruit and they were not given out of faith.  They were a religious token to get the necessary ritual of offerings to God done and over with.  They were a show.  Cain was far from loving the God who made him.

God was pleased with Abel’s offering, but not with Cain’s.  God would not accept anything less than true and proper worship.  In truth, it is no worship at all.  It is rebellion.  Cain wanted to come to God in his own way, as if the will of the Almighty God did not matter.  He wanted to define right and wrong for God instead of standing in humility and grateful surrender to him.  He was in total and complete rebellion about the most sacred things of life.

God was not pleased.  When Cain realized his cheap, faithless offerings did not work, he did not repent and ask for forgiveness.  Instead, he was livid with anger and jealousy against Abel because his brother had received God’s approval.  His rage was so intense that it showed on his face.  The Lord asked him,


“‘Why are you angry?  Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.’”

Gen. 4:6-7


Wow.  Consider the kindness of God.  He did not scorn Cain for bringing his cheap offering.  He didn’t belittle him or compare him to his brother.  He simply gave him a chance to make it right.

Yet God knew the heart of Eve’s son. Cain’s shabby offering was an outward expression of a deeper problem.  He knew that Cain would rather do something rash and violent than follow the ways of the Lord.  So God warned him. He could either repent, turn around, and bring an offering that he knew would please the heart of God, or he could continue on in his rebellion.  But woe to him if he did.

Cain did not want to master his sin.  We can see by his choices that he wanted to give it his full energy.  The hatred in his heart grew into a terrible storm.  He plotted a way to get Abel back for earning God’s approval.  When the day of his vengeance arrived, he asked his brother to go out with him to a field.  Then Cain attacked Abel, spilling Abel’s blood on the ground as he died.

Once again, rebellion against the goodness of God had led to death.  The firstborn son of Adam and Eve had killed their second-born son…and so they lost them both.  Evil prevailed and the innocent suffered.  The burden of the sin that Adam and Eve had brought into the world had brought it’s devastating power into the heart of their family.  It is the way of Satan, and God hates it with a fierce, holy passion.

God came to Cain again and asked him, “‘Where is your brother?’”

Isn’t that question an interesting choice? God didn’t strike him with lightening.  He didn’t storm down on Cain with accusations and judgment. He approached him with a chance to confess.

Cain’s response was to lie: “‘I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’”

Did Cain think that God was unaware of his violence?  Did he think it was none of God’s business?  Did he believe he had a right to do what he did?  Did he think he could deceive God?

As you ponder the effects of sin in the world, as you grow and learn about the sin in your own heart, remember the jealousy and hatred and lies of Cain.  They are a clear picture of the way rebellious humanity acts against the pure and righteous ways of God.  This story is an archetype of how it works on the broader scale:

We fall into sin

We refuse to repent

We experience consequences

We refuse to repent

We resent those who thrive because they aren’t bearing the burden of the consequences of sin

We refuse to repent or allow the righteous to act as models and mentors

We increasingly blame others for the problems caused by our sin

We increase our sin by taking our anger out on them

We increasingly reject not only God but the people around us


It was not smart for Cain to lie to the God who knows absolutely everything.  It was the same game Adam and Eve tried to play in the Garden.  It was the way of Satan, the serpent.  God asked Cain the same question He had asked his mother at the moment of her great disobedience:


“‘What have you done?'” 


And…just as with Adam and Eve…the sin came with a consequence:


‘”Listen!  Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.  Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.  When you work the ground, it will no longer yield crops to you.  You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.’”

Gen. 4:10-12


Wow.  Because of Cain’s terrible sin, the curse that fell upon all men would be even more intense for him. The ground would not produce fruit for him at all.

Cain was horrified.  He said, “‘My punishment is more than I can bear.  Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’”

But God is merciful and gracious, and abounding in love.  He would not deal with Cain as Cain had dealt with his brother.  God was still willing to protect him.  He told Cain that nobody would be allowed to hurt him.  The Lord put a mark on him so that everyone would know that he was protected by God.  Wow.

One would hope that God’s protective kindness would soften Cain’s heart.  One would think it would cause Cain to repent. It did not.

When Cain left, he went as an unrepentant and sinful man.  He moved away to a place far from the presence of God.  He and his wife lived in a land called Nod, east from Eden.

What a terrible time this must have been for Adam and Eve.  Abel, their righteous son, was dead.  Their firstborn son was a murderer.  Rebellion first brought a separation between humanity and God.  Now it was bringing separation from each other.  Sin was widening its effect and delving humanity into deeper and darker ways.

What would happen to the human race?  Who would stop the evil trajectory of this rebellion?  Who among the sons of Eve was left to stomp on the head of the evil serpent?


Story 10: The Curse

Genesis 3

Digital art of lizard eyes.

God had made the first man and woman in His image, and now that sweet relationship was broken.  The mother and father of the human race had joined the enemy of God in mutinous rebellion in His Garden Temple.  They did the one thing He told them not to do for their own protection.  The perfect rest and bliss of paradise and their capacity for intimacy with God was shattered by their sin.  They invited the knowledge of evil into their souls, surrendering themselves to cravings of depravity and selfishness that they were not created to bear.  They were enslaved.  They could no longer respond to God with their whole self.  They were meant to reflect the beauty of their God, but now that reflection would be distorted and diminished.  Everything had changed, and God’s judgment was on them.

First He turned to the serpent:


“Cursed are you above all livestock,

and all the wild animals!

You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust

all the days of your life.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

he will crush your head,

and you will strike his heel.”


Satan had used the snake to make his appearance to the woman and now it was a cursed creature.  And one day, God would utterly destroy Satan and his toxic power of evil.

Within these words of God as He cursed the snake, there was an amazing act of grace.  When the woman crossed the line into sin and away from God, she made a treacherous alliance with Satan.  The immediate effect was that she was filled with unbearable shame, which is the natural, inevitable cost of separation from God and His goodness.  It is the loss of belonging.

But now, even as He was addressing her betrayal, God claimed her back for Himself. Though she did not deserve it, she was still chosen by God.   She had blindly and foolishly given her affection and loyalty to the snake, but God still moved on her behalf.  He did not let her knowledge of evil utterly overwhelm her and blind her with destructive desires.  He limited the power of the snake to destroy her ability to know good and evil, and He put enmity in her heart against the serpent.  He created a way to transfer her desires and affections back to Himself so that she would be able to love her Lord. She was still broken, but she belonged to God.

The curse of the Fall was still on the human race. The mother and father of all humans had made a decision that could have brought total destruction on all of their children ever born.  But God stepped in and limited the devastation they had caused.  From that day on, all of humanity throughout the ages would have to decide; did they want to be the offspring of Satan and live in defiance against God, or did they want to be the children that God made them to be, depending on Him and living by faith?  Every human from that point on would either belong to the Kingdom of Darkness or the Kingdom of Light.  The two Kingdoms would battle against each other until the end of time.

In a way, Satan had succeeded.  Humanity was under a terrible curse.  There would a constant battle for the hearts of humanity.  Much of the human race would descend into horrific acts of evil, bringing incredible levels of suffering and pain.  But God is brilliantly wise and breathtakingly clever.  He took what Satan meant for evil and turned it into the occasion for the most beautiful act of mercy and grace in history. Right in the middle of God’s curses, at the very onset of humanity’s impending trial, He gave a bright and glorious hope.  It is the hope of the world.  One day, a descendant of the woman would have a Child.  That Child would crush the head of Satan, and the evil serpent would wound His heel.  The great enemy of God would be utterly destroyed by a Man, but the Man would bear everlasting scars for His magnificent victory.  God would use the woman who had brought the Curse on the world to bring the One who would destroy the Curse.

The Lord gave Satan his doom, but since the Serpent had not acted alone, the woman would have consequences, too.


“‘To the woman He said,


‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;

with pain you will give birth to children,

Your desire will be for your husband,

and he will rule over you.’”


When God made the woman in the Garden, He gave her the incredible gift of being the one who would bring new life into the world.  That is probably why Satan went after her in the first place.  Her remarkable body was the place where new humans would be formed, producing tiny creatures who were made in the image of God.  The love she shared with her husband would bring all of this wonder about.  Now that the Curse had come, that tremendous beauty became distorted.  Giving birth to children would be an agony of pain.  The loving partnership she was meant to have with her husband was also changed.  In a distorted version of what was meant for their relationship in the Garden, he would now rule over her.


To the man, God said:

“Cursed is the ground because of you;

through painful toil you shall eat of it

all the days of your life.

It will produce thorns and thistles for you,

and you will eat the plants of the field.

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food

until you return to the ground,

since from it you were taken;

for dust you are, and to dust you will return.”


When God made the first man in His image, He gave him a very special role.  He was to be God’s servant king, presiding over the animals and cultivating the land so that it would produce good things.  Now that the Curse had come, Adam would continue to serve the Lord, but now the Curse would infest the process and turn it into burdensome labor.  What was meant to be a joy and delight would now be difficult and painful.

The very earth would be cursed as well.  It would rebel with thorns and thistles against the first man’s attempts to tame it   And one day, Adam himself would die and return to the ground.

If we look around us, we see that this is still true for humans today, just as Scripture describes.  The terrible Curse did not just fall on Adam and Eve, it fell upon all of their descendants for all time.  It changed the very heart of humanity, so that the image of God is broken in us all.  We were created to inherit the blessings of the Garden, but instead we inherited the effects of the Fall.  The Curse also fell on everything the human race was meant to rule.  The universe became warped and the earth was cursed.   The ground that was meant to provide abundant fruit has grown hard and dry.  Weeds have choked the life from the good plants.   Droughts and famines have come and people have gone without food for months and years.  Humans, animals and plants are all vulnerable to disease and pain and violence.  Death comes to all, and we all return to dust.  It did not have to be that way.

Many in the world might scoff at this story.  They might say it is only a myth, a story for children, or a lie.  But it is remarkable how accurate this story is in terms of the actual world as we experience it.  No other field of science or psychology has effectively described the human condition as powerfully as this story, and no theory in halls of academia have been so profoundly influential over thousands of years of human history.  But most importantly, this is the story as told by the divinely inspired author of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.  It sets the stage for us to understand why we, as a race, are always longing for something more, and always so profoundly dissatisfied with the world as it is.  Something deep within us understands that we are broken, that this world is broken, and that we were made for something more.  There is a universal yearning for the peace, bliss, and belonging of the Garden.

It is impossible to measure the amount of pain and suffering and loss that has come to us all because of the first rebellion against God.  The Lord is the only source of goodness, light and hope in the universe.  Tearing away from Him meant tearing away from His blessings.  But if the first humans failed so miserably when they lived in a perfect Garden, what hope would they have now that they were living in a cursed and dying world?

But God, the merciful Lord of all, was still determined to bless.  He understood every terrible thing that would happen because of the Curse, and He had an unimaginably beautiful plan.  God would work in history to fix everything.  He would spend thousands of years persevering with the human race to bring it back to the proper and perfect order that He intended.  It is a plan that is still taking place in the world.

The question for every person is whether they will stand on the side of the serpent or if they will stand on the side of God.  Will they live as the offspring of Satan in stubborn rebellion against God?  Or will they live as children of the woman, broken and humbled but chosen by God to live by faith in Him?

Everyone who joins the battle for the Lord in this cursed world will risk suffering.  It is part of overcoming the vicious enemy of God.  The war has been waged for all these thousands of years, but the final victory is certain.  One day, the God who made all things will restore all things to an even greater beauty than the Garden that was lost.


Story 9: The Fall

Genesis 3

Adam and Eve

When God created the first man and woman, they were the high point of all Creation (see Story 7 and Story 8 for the details).  They were made in the image of God and given the high honor of acting as His appointed viceroys over His created order.  He placed them in a special Garden, called Eden, which means “pleasure.”   They were meant to live together in blissful union with each other and perfect responsiveness to the goodness of God.

Imagine life among the gorgeous, sprawling trees and gentle sunlight! What a deep and passionate love they must have shared in their innocence and purity.  There was nothing to come between them. They had nothing to hide or be ashamed of.  Eve would always carry great beauty for Adam.  It would never fade, and his delight in her would never wane or grow distracted.  There was no fear of rejection or loss or shame because they lived in a perfect, sinless world.

Imagine a world where love could be lived fully and freely with no fear.  They didn’t even know what the words hatred or anger or violence meant.  There were no lies, there was no danger from disease or animals or storm or age.  There was no violence or starvation.  In man’s perfect nearness to God, he knew how to love perfectly and lead his wife, and she knew from the Lord exactly how to respond to him in love.  There was a deep harmony between them, and the Lord watched over them with delight.    They walked with the Lord in the cool of the day as one walks with a dear and trusted friend.  What could ever break the rhythm of this perfect goodness?

One of the animals of the Garden was a serpent, the most cunning creature of all the animals.  He is brilliant, but not with the bright brilliance of God’s goodness.  You see, this particular serpent is actually Satan, the great enemy of the Lord.  He is the leader of the fallen angels, and he is twisted with evil and treachery.  He uses his cunning and charm to bring downfall and death and destruction.  He lives with a constant, evil hunger to break all the beauty and goodness that God has created.

Satan did not have the power to destroy God in Heaven.  He didn’t even have the power to defeat the heavenly angels.  So he had to find another way to work his evil.  He would go after something that God deeply loved.  He would find the weak point in God’s plan.  He would go after humanity.

One day, he was slithering through some dark and deceptive plans when he slithered up to the woman.  He knew exactly what thoughts he was going to plant in her mind. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the Garden?’”  he asked.

The woman answered him, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Did you hear what the serpent just said?  He called God a liar!  He accused the perfect, pure, holy Lord of being a cheat…of denying the first man and woman of some good that would bless their lives.  It is hard to imagine what a monstrous evil this was. The serpent knew full well that he was the one who was lying.  And he knew that his reason for lying was to destroy the woman in front of him and bring death and hatred and murder into God’s perfect, peaceful world.  Yet there he was, accusing the very God who made him of being dishonest.

It is important for us to understand how the Evil One operates now that we live in a world where he has so much power.

Satan worked by breaking down the woman’s faith in God.  He was trying to get her to question whether God was truly loving and wise when he told them not to eat of the fruit.  He was trying to break the woman away from her trust…her righteous, whole dependence on her Lord.   He wanted her to cross over the line from grateful devotion to God into self-reliance and independence from Him.

But Satan wasn’t just after the woman.  In the middle of the Lord’s sacred Garden Temple, he was trying to create a mutiny. This man and woman were the crown of God’s creation, and they ruled over all the animals.  God had tied the fate of the world to the fate of these humans.   The Serpent wanted to turn them against God and bring on a war.  The snake went after the woman’s faith as part of his plot to bring a cataclysmic curse on all humanity and the whole created order.  He was completely and utterly evil.

Think about the lies the Serpent told to destroy the woman.  He treated the fruit of one tree as if it was the only blessing in the world, when God had given the woman the whole Garden to enjoy.  Satan made it seem like God’s command was just a suggestion that she could ignore.  He made it seem like God was petty and small, wanting to keep His human creations from having His own brilliance and knowledge.  But Satan knew the truth.  God was protecting them from knowledge that would destroy them and cause unimaginable suffering.

Satan hid the devastating truth about what would happen to the woman and the world if she crossed over into disobedience.  She didn’t know what temptation, sin, suffering or death were.  She did not understand the greatness of the gift God had given her by protecting her from it.  But if she had put her faith in God, none of those things would have mattered.  If she had responded with obedient faith to God’s goodness, it would have been enough.

In the bright beauty of the Garden, with the sunlight filtering through the trees, the woman didn’t recognize the evil plotting of the Serpent.  What happened to her love and loyalty to God?  Where was her innocent trust?  Why would she trade her trust in her mighty, tender Lord for trust in a snake?

We don’t know why she did it.  We don’t know how she could do it.  But she did.  She looked up at the fruit that she had once ignored.  She suddenly realized that it looked good.  She thought about how it would give her wisdom like God, wisdom that He said she should not have, and she wanted it.  She crossed over the line of mercy that God had drawn between humanity and the dangers of that tree. She crossed the line of obedience into sin and grasped the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  And then she took a bite.

But she wasn’t done.  The woman stepped further out into her sin.  She gave the forbidden fruit to her husband.  She was meant to be his helper, walking with him before God, but she became his temptress, drawing him away from his Maker.  He was meant to guide and protect her, but he became her willing stooge.  The man obeyed his wife instead of his exalted Lord.

He could have stopped her.  He could have protected them both…he could have protected the fate of their offspring.  But he didn’t.

As they swallowed the fruit together, something about them changed.  Their eyes began to see things that they hadn’t seen before, to understand what they had been protected from.  The fruit had done what the Serpent had promised, only he hadn’t told them the whole story.  Now they understood evil.  They could see with the eyes of evil and it was strong and tempting.  A new, domineering power came over them that they had never felt before.  Suddenly, the easy brightness of doing God’s will felt heavy and toilsome as a host of dark things that they would rather do began flashing across their minds.

God did not make human souls to partake in evil.  He made them to partake in the goodness of  He, Himself, but now they were separated from Him, and that separateness brought shame.  His holy covering was lifted.  Suddenly, they knew they were naked and they felt exposed.  Their freedom to walk bare and whole and trusting with each other was gone. The sweet, whole purity that had brought them such intense nearness, trust and love for each other was shattered and broken by their sin, and they no longer felt safe to walk in raw vulnerability and openness.   They scurried to a fig tree and stitched leaves together to cover themselves.

As they huddled in their humiliation and shame, they heard the sound that they must have dreaded most.  God was walking towards them in the Garden.  They ducked and hid from Him, not wanting Him to see what they had done.  They did not want to face His perfect purity now that they felt the force of their disgrace and rebellion.  So much was already falling apart.

But God was coming after them, pursuing His children. He knew what they had done and He loved them still.  He called out, “Where are you?”

The man answered Him, “I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

God asked him, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

Now listen to what the man did.  He did not answer yes, which was the truth.  He put the blame on someone else!  He said, “This woman You put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  How quickly he turned against his beloved wife now that evil was in his heart!

He was willing to blame everyone except himself.  The woman handed him the fruit…and God had handed him the woman.  Everyone else was at fault!

The Lord spoke to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

Once again, the blame was put on someone else.  “The serpent deceived me, and I ate,” she said.

God had given the man and the woman the unspeakably great honor of being made in His image.  They were the most exalted creatures in the universe, but now they were acting like the snake.  They were creeping and slithering through the truth, trying to get away with deceiving the God who knows all things.

The voice of the snake was the voice of the enemy of God, and the man and woman had given their allegiance to him.  They had turned away from the goodness of their Divine King and towards the Author of Lies himself.  Already, sin had begun to blind them.  Already they were becoming corrupt and tarnished, and they knew it.

As horrible as that day must have been for the first man and woman, only God knew the full implications of what they had done.  He understood that they had invited great suffering and evil into His pristine world.  He knew that their offspring, to the tune of billions of souls, would experience many millennia of struggle because of their choice. He knew that it meant that His own Son would have to go to earth and die.   And yet, still, He sought them out in the Garden.  He did not visit the suffering they had brought into the world upon them.  He did not ask them to pay the price for their choice.  He accepted that burden for Himself.

God is perfectly holy and just.  Evil, or the sin that produces it, cannot exist in His presence, and neither can those who carry it in their hearts.  The pollution of sin was now a part of the DNA of humanity, and it created a necessary separation from the holiness of God.  Yet this was an untenable situation, for humanity was created to live in the presence of God.

Even at that horrible moment, that cataclysmic tragedy, God had a plan.  He had already prepared a way to solve the dilemma.  One day, the Son of God Himself would embody the sin of us all.  He would receive all of God’s wrath…the fires of God’s holiness against sin would exhaust themselves on Christ as He hung on a cross.  God’s wrath for the first sin, this eating of the forbidden fruit, was the beginning of God’s storing up of His wrath for that terrible but totally victorious day when Jesus would pay for every sin through His agonizing sacrifice.  God knew all this, yet how calmly and kindly He came to the first humans in the Garden on the day of their great failure.  What an amazing and gracious Lord is He.


Story 8: The Love of Adam

Genesis 2:18-25

Adam and Eve in the eden


According to Scripture, every aspect of our universe came bounding out of the perfect will of God in an outpouring of energy, beauty, and the substantial, concrete things that make up our Reality.  God is so powerful that all He had to do was speak and His will was set in motion.  The natural world is a revealing and breathtaking revelation of the character and brilliance of our Almighty Lord.   The more we learn about the natural order of our world, from the genius of a human cell to the majestic wonder of the cosmos, the more stunning this revelation becomes.  God set this magnificent universe into motion, and He said that it was good.

We know this to be true because it resonates in our souls.  All we have to do is watch the sun setting on a sparkling sea, a falling star gliding across an inky black sky, or a soft rain falling on a field of lush, green grass in spring to know that whatever troubles are raging in this life, the natural world is profoundly right, pure, and good.  These good things are evidence of God’s ongoing grace in spite of the sins that humanity has brought into our world…and they are the promise of a new world to come.

When God had finished speaking the abundance of the world into place, He began to create the beings for which He had created everything else.  They were to be given an unspeakably great honor, the privilege of being made in the very image of God.  This first man and woman were then commanded to be fruitful and fill up the world with their children…the offspring that would bear the same image and the same task of acting as God’s stewards over the earth. And this incredible process, the bringing of children into the world, God blessed, conferring upon it His empowering favor and grace.

The story of how God created the entire universe is told to us in Genesis 1.  In the second chapter of Genesis, the story slows down.  It focuses on the details of the story of how God created the first humans.  For the first part of that story, see Story 7.  God came to earth and formed the first man with His own hands from the dust of the earth.  He put the first man in a vast, beautiful Garden where there was two trees.  The first was the Tree of Life, and the second was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  God told the first man that out of all the other trees in the Garden, he was never to eat from that tree.  He was never meant to be exposed to the wages of evil, or even the knowledge of it.

Then the Lord said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  And God began to bring all the animals that walk on the earth and birds that fill the air to the first man.  God had named the stars and sky and the day and night, and He would rule over them for all time.  Now God gave the man the role of naming all the animals. Man would serve God by ruling over them.  There is power in the giving of a name.

The man named the birds and the livestock and all the creatures that roam in the wild.  Imagine the parade!  What an astonishing wonder as the tiger, the bear and the parrots of the trees came before the first man.  What a regal and delightful position to rule over such fascinating and wonderful creatures!

Yet as delicate or fearsome or fascinating as each new creature was, it was clear that none of them could be a true companion for this man.  None of them were a true match for the one who was made in the image of God.  How lonely the man must have become as each creature came and went.  None of them seemed to fit!  What was this ache…this longing for something more?

The Lord already knew this was going to happen, and He already had a plan.  For you see, God knew that it was important for the man to learn that he was lonely.  It was important for him to understand just how much he needed the gift that God was about to give him.  God was creating a hunger in the man as he waited for the gift so that when he received it, he would overflow with gratefulness and appreciation for her.

The Lord put the first man into to a deep sleep.  Then He did an operation.  He opened up the man’s chest, took out one of his ribs and closed his body up again.  Then God used the rib to form another creature, crafting a wonder of great and powerful beauty.  She was the final creation that God made in all of the universe, the sparkling crown, and her ravishing grace would awaken a special vibrancy of life in the heart of the first man.  The Lord made a woman, a bride, and brought her to the first man.  When the man saw her, his response was immediate.  There was no questioning, no doubting, no fear.  He declared:


“‘This is now bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called ‘woman,’

for she was taken out of man.’”

Gen. 2:23

The man named her “woman.”  Her name came from his name.  He gave her his own name, showing the deep and permanent connection between himself and his wife.  It was an unbreakable gift. They were named for their bond of love and commitment to each other.

Through the blessings of marriage, this man and woman became one soul, and their love and devotion to each other was a basic part of their ability to bless the world.

Then the Bible said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”  Now, why would God say that?  The first humans didn’t have a mom or dad.  They were the first mom and dad of every human to come.  But God was preparing for their relationship to be His example of the primary, central relationship in human life.

The love between a mother or father and their child is terribly important, but the relationship of marriage has a special position in God’s ordained plan for the human race.

Just as God creates each new person, when a man and a woman marry, God transforms each of them to become a new creation together.  They are one.  They are one flesh.  Their love for each other is designed to especially reflect the image of God in ways no other relationship can.  Through their love for one another, God would create new lives, new souls bearing the image of God.  As parents, it was their role to raise children in the strength of the Lord so they would grow and become wonderful companions to the person God made for them.  The bonds of marriage and the sacred importance of the love between a man and his wife are embedded in the structure of the universe.

This amazing gift, this exalted, sacred miracle and treasure was meant not only for the first man and the first woman.  This gift of creation would work in their descendants as the Lord brought each bride to her husband.  The vibrancy of the love we so often see between a groom and his bride are delights that call us back to the Garden of Eden, reminding us of the perfect wonder and pleasure that God offered to humanity at the dawn of creation.  The first husband and the first bride joined together in perfect unity; there was no shame or embarrassment between them.  They were completely pure in the delight of their nakedness as they gave their love to one another before God in their Garden Temple.

Story 7: Genesis 2: On the Making of the Image of God

Genesis 2

red apples on a tree


In the first chapter of the Bible, we are given the description of how God created the entire universe.  There were bright, breathtaking outpourings of light and power.  The range of what He made is stunning, from the sheer atomic might of the stars to the microscopic cells within a blade of grass.  In the first chapter, we learn how God spoke everything that exists into place.

In the second chapter of Genesis, the story slows down.  The divinely inspired author takes a whole chapter to explain a whole new set of details about how God created the human race.  We are not given details about how He made the sun or the trees.  We aren’t given information about how He formed the dinosaurs or what happened to them.  The Bible isn’t about their story.  God wanted to give more details about the making of humanity…the ones who were made in His image, the pinnacle of His creation.  The relationship of God with humanity is the central story of the Bible.  One of the ways the author helped make that clear was by giving us the details about how we were made.

When God created the first man, He took dust from the ground and molded it like clay.  He carefully formed the first person with His own hands.  Almost everything else in the universe was made because God spoke them into existence.  The land animals were raised up from the ground.  But for the first man, God came to earth Himself and crafted him.  Then the Lord breathed the breath of life into his form and filled this new kind of being, this father of humanity, and made him come alive.  Wow.  Try to picture that moment in your head.

And because we are all descendants of that first man, we have inherited his qualities.  When we breathe, we breathe the very life of God.  It is a holy and exalted reality.  Yet the first man was also made of dust.  He was a humble being, connected to the earth that he would rule and reign over. And so are we.  Humans were made as immortal creatures who are meant to live in deep, dependent relationship with the Divine Lord, but we are also made of earthly flesh.

Like the first human, all humans have a physical body like the animals, but we have been given many of the capacities of God.   We are not all-knowing or all-powerful, but we are creative.  As a race, we love to make things, we recognize and crave beauty, and we have an inherent understanding of right and wrong.  The smallest child has a sense of when something isn’t fair.

We don’t expect a animals to have a moral compass, but we are highly offended when a man or woman doesn’t.  As regal and as magnificent as a lion might be, we don’t expect lions to judge between right and wrong.  We don’t throw a lion into jail for his choices, even if the choice is to kill.  Yet across the globe and across the ages, humanity has expected the fellow members of their race to know the difference between right and wrong and to do what is right.   We may have differed on the specifics about what is right or wrong or the emphasis on what kinds of right or wrong matter the most, but there is literally no civilization on record where the idea of right and wrong wasn’t profoundly grounded within the culture. The desire for what is right, the human drive for justice, is just one of the universal human traits that comes from being made in the image of God.

God’s gifts to the first human were lavish.  Out of all the glorious beauty of earth, God chose a special place to prepare a Garden.  It was rather like a park, but not like the small grassy spots where we put swings for children.  This was more like a vast national park, though far more beautiful and perfect than any of the parks we have now.  This Garden was to be God’s Temple, the special, most holy dwelling place of God on earth.

This first man would be His priest, and he would dwell in the Garden with God.  He was meant to the guardian of God’s grand, living palace.  His job was to prune and protect it and drive out anything that was evil or impure. This sacred space, this Garden of the Lord, was set apart in a place called Eden.

Imagine how it must have been…lavishly lush and abundant, glorious vistas at every turn, filled with animals, flowers, trees.  Imagine how drippingly delicious the fruit must have been in this perfect world.  A great and mighty river flowed through the Garden and broke into four more rivers.  They flowed out of the Garden and watered the regions of earth all around it, making them lush and green.  We still know where two of those rivers are today.  One is the Tigris and the other is the Euphrates.   They both flow through the modern day nation of Iraq.

In the middle of the Garden of Eden, God planted two special trees.  One was called the Tree of Life.  The other tree was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

When the Lord put the first man into this amazing Garden, He told him, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17).

That is a pretty serious message.  Apparently, it was an extremely dangerous tree, and God wanted the human race to stay away from it.  It was as if God drew a circle around the tree and said, “Do not cross that line.  This tree is not for you.”  Somehow, it was toxic, and God wanted to protect humanity from it’s poison.  We have a pretty good idea about why.  Once someone ate from the tree, they would understand evil.  The power of evil is aggressive and cruel.  It robs those it taints of their freedom to do right…it suffocates their ability to understand what is good.  It puts them in bondage.

It is easy in our time to get confused about good and evil.  Almost all of the examples we see around us have good and evil mixed together.  We find that even those we admire, when we know the whole story, are still broken and imperfect.  The great heroes of our history books are riddled with weakness and failure.  The confusion and pervasiveness of sin simply shows the brokenness of our world now that we are outside the Garden.  When the world was new, the distinction between good and evil was clear, and the human race had the freedom to choose only what was good…they could choose not to know what evil was at all.

Imagine that for a moment…to not even know the meaning of words like death, war, sadness, or suffering.  Imagine not being able to imagine doing those things that are so destructive to our lives…no temptation towards bad habits, no feelings of insecurity, no concept of cruelty or loss.

God knew that no human could bear the pressure of understanding evil without being utterly warped by its darkness. Only God is so strong and completely holy that evil cannot touch Him.  Only God can fully understand the depths of evil and still remain perfectly righteous and pure.  God knew that the fruit of this tree would give the first humans knowledge that their souls would not be strong enough to handle, for they were not created to bear the burden of evil.  They were created to reflect the glory of God and live in nearness to His perfect goodness.  He knew that if they were exposed to the power of evil, they would become slaves to it, and this slavery would entangle them with sin and death.

Yet He still planted that tree in the Garden.  He would not force them to choose Him…to choose the only Source of good in the universe…by keeping their choice hidden.  The option was there, but they had the freedom to ignore it.  As they continued to choose God over evil, they would give Him great glory through their trust.  They could have born children who never felt suffering or pain, who never aged or died.  We could have been free forever.



Story 6: Genesis 2:2-3: An Invitation Into Rest

Genesis 2

Chair on Dock at Alice Lake in Late Afternoon

The first pages of the biblical text give us God’s account of how He created the universe. We learn that from the immensity of His greatness and power, He simply spoke it all into existence out of nothing. There are many things we learn about the reality of our world from this:

The God that created everything is a Being of incomprehensible power.

He stands apart from our universe as totally “other,” yet He acts within our world. In fact, because He made everything, all of it belongs to Him, and He has every right to do exactly as He pleases.

God’s right to do what He wishes in our world is not only because He made it, but because He is good. He is the ultimate moral authority in the universe, and so He is the most qualified to rule over it. We will see this in many ways as we study scripture, but we can see it in creation because everything He made was profoundly good…beautifully ordered…rightly and well made. By His wisdom, God laid the foundations of the world (Proverbs 3:19-20).

There is no way to underestimate the importance of this. If the Being that created everything was evil, or toggling back and forth between right and wrong like some kind of force…if God Himself wasn’t pure and holy and right, it would mean chaos for everything. But God is perfectly good, and who He is establishes the basis of all reality.

There is a profound internal transformation that takes place in those who embrace this explanation of reality as their own. Knowing that the God of the universe is not only powerful but dependable…stable…unshakably good…lays a foundation for our souls by which we find our own stability, comfort, and peace. Whatever chaos or craziness we see in the world or find in ourselves, we can know that the One who rules in power…the One who made us and determines how all stories will end…is unchangingly stable and secure.

On the sixth day of Creation, the Lord made humanity. The human race is the pinnacle of Lord’s work: the special, set-apart beings that were made in His image. Their sacred role, the very thing they were made for…that we were made for…was to act as a reflection of God as they served Him as His stewards in the Garden. Once humanity was brought into the world, the cosmos was complete.

At this point in the story, things take a shift…a surprising turn. Day after day we have seen God depicted as powerful and profoundly able as He spoke everything from the might of His will. Now that everything was ready, one might expect to see Him move into action. What was He going to do with it all? Instead, the Lord, the all-powerful God, the mighty King, did a remarkable thing. He rested. This is what the Bible says:

“By the seventh day, God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.’”

Genesis 2:2-3

After six days of abundant outpouring, His work went quiet. The entire universe was set in place. The massive stars throbbed in the heavens, the planets whizzed along their ordained paths around the sun, the animals gamboled about in perfect safety on the earth. God made everything with exacting excellence. Even the darkness was molded by God to accomplish His perfect will. There was no more chaos. Everything was appointed to its rightful place in the sweeping harmony of God’s pristine world. His creation of time brought order to the development of its wild beauty.

At the end of all His creation work, the Lord took some of this time, and set it apart to rest. It was not as though God was tired or weary. He never grows weary. His work was simply done. It was totally complete and good, operating in perfect balance. Rest was a form of celebration…a space of time by which to behold, enjoy, and commune.

God blessed this day of rest, somehow filling it up with His vibrant power and creative might. Then He set this day into the laws of the universe, into the very fabric of how all things are made. He created time to have within it a day that was meant to be set apart. It was a sacred space of hours for reflection and worship of the One who created it all. His people would draw near to their God by spending a special, empowered time with Him every week, the seventh day. The people made in His image would rest, too, just like their Lord.

The people of God would write songs and poems to celebrate God’s work and His sacred rest.   Here is a psalm written for the Sabbath by a servant of God some three thousand years ago:

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day:

It is good to praise the LORD

and make music to your name, O Most High,

to proclaim your love in the morning,

and your faithfulness at night,

to the music of the ten-stringed lyre,

and the melody of the harp.

For You make me glad by your deeds, O LORD;

I sing for joy at the works of your hands.

How great are your works, O LORD,

how profound your thoughts!

Psalm 92:1-5

We can still sing these songs today. And if our hearts are not full of praise, we can be sure that it means we need a Sabbath rest all the more. Our souls were created to need sacred time for celebration and rest with our Creator for one-seventh of our days.


Story 5: Genesis 1:27-2:3: Eden…the way it was meant to be

Genesis 1:27-2:3

The Forest of Heaven

Let’s think for a minute about what God did when He created the first humans. There are very few things that truly deserve to be called marvelous, but this is one of them. It is worth going over and repeating in our minds. It takes time and thought for it all to sink in because things are so very different now. We must meditate on the wonder of what God made in the beginning so that we can understand who we truly are…and so we can understand the devastation of what was lost. We must mourn over the tragedy of that which was lost so that we can then long with great hope for the time when God will restore all things.

The Lord, the Divine King over all creation, crafted our vast cosmos in order to give it as a magnificent gift and home to the crown of His creation…the human race. Humans were made in the very image of God, with a high and tremendous worth, distinct and different from anything else in all creation. In the beginning, they were able to respond rightly to their worthy God with exuberant adoration. They were given keen minds that could think great thoughts with God and understand His holiness, creativity, and purposeful plans. The Lord would reflect His magnificent qualities through humanity as they enacted His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

God created His people to live in perpetual nearness to Him; they would constantly absorb His abundant love and express it back to Him through their worship and total dependence. Like the sun’s outpouring of light and warmth, God’s wisdom, righteousness, and love would pour out on them, and they would reflect His light to the world.   The human race would act as God’s royal servants, working together with Him in perfect unity. It would be a perfect world.

In this land where God was the only King and His servants walked with Him in perfect unity, there was no pain or tears. There was  no temptation to sin or tp make a choice apart from the goodness of God. There was the potential that death would never happen. The first humans had glorious bodies of robust, stunning beauty that would never fade or age. God created them so they would only hunger after what was good and pure and right.

Think about that! They had a chance at never-ending security and peace. If they obeyed God’s merciful and righteous directions, humanity wouldn’t even know the meaning of the words “evil” or “sin” or “pain.” They wouldn’t even be able to imagine those terrors. Their hearts would be able to live totally free from ever doing anything wrong. And no one would be tempted to treat anyone else with anything other than pure love. They would live in the solid, yet light, bright happiness of constant praise and worship of His holy name. This is what the Bible says:

“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.”

Genesis 1:28-2:3

Wow. God’s powerful work of creation-the plants and animals, the fish and birds and fruit-were all lavish gifts from the Lord to humanity. They would be fed the finest fresh fruit, created to perfectly fit the needs of their perfect bodies. They were told to have many children, and all of their children would be perfectly healthy as well. There would be no colds or flu. Their children would grow up in a perfect world and would have their own flawless children. Pretty soon, there would be many hundreds and then thousands of people on the earth enjoying God’s lavish blessings.

Thousands of years after God made the universe, another man, a descendent of Adam and a great king, would write a beautiful song about the time of God’s Creation. It can teach our hearts to praise God for the world He planned for us in the beginning;

“O LORD, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

 When I consider your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which You have set in place,

what is man that You are mindful of him,

the son of man that You care for him?

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

and crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler over the works of your hands;

and put everything under his feet;

all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field,

the birds of the air,

and the fish of the sea,

all that swim the paths of the seas.

“O LORD, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!’”

Psalm 8:1, 3-9


Story 4: Genesis 1:24-31: The Image of God in Humanity

Genesis 1:24-31

After Michelangelo - Adam and God

When God spoke most of the universe into place, it took five days (See here and here for more details). It was an abundance of creation: light and darkness, the sun, moon, and stars, the boundaries of land and ocean, the flourishing of plant life, the birds winged in flight, the flashing of the fish in the sea…all of these remarkable,  breathtaking beauties, bounded out of God’s spoken word from nothing…nothing but His perfect will. On the sixth day, He continued His creative work:

“And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds; livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

The air and the seas were already filled with life. Now the Lord was making creatures for the land. Ponder in wonder at the incredible, diverse creativity of His designs. Did the angels watch the polar bear come to life? Did they see the first elephant swing it’s trunk? Did they notice the monkeys in the trees? Did the lion roar when it was made? How the angels must have enjoyed their first look at the giraffe and hippo and camel (See Job 38-39).

It is interesting that right from the beginning, God not only made different kinds of animals, but He gave them different jobs. Some animals were meant to be wild. Others were made to be domesticated, like cattle, fit for humans to own and raise. They were an important part of God’s plan to provide for the people He was about to create, just as the plants were a part of how God provided for the animals.

The Lord was not finished with His creation when He was done with the animals. In fact, He was building up to something.  God was about to present the very crown…the highest point…the great delight of what His creation was for.  The universe was a magnificent Temple that displayed the brilliance of the King of Creation, and it was time to create its greatest treasure.

Here is what Scripture says: 

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.

So God created man in His own image,

in the image of God He created him;

male and female He created them.”

Genesis 1:26-27

Wow. God was going to make us. When God began to make humans, everything changed. For almost everything else, the Lord said, “Let there be…” and whatever it was came bounding from His powerful Word. But now, the Bible tells about a mysterious conversation of God, discussing His plans ahead of time. For everything else God made, we learn about it in quick,bright glimpses. But when the Bible tells how God made humanity, the story slows down. It pauses. It shows how careful and deliberate the Lord was about creating this one, final creature. It stops to show that this was a serious, solemn moment, even for God.

There was something very special and unique about humanity that sets every one of us apart from the rest of creation. In fact, the whole point of the rest of God’s other creation work was to prepare a home for us where we could live in a special relationship with Him.

The reason humanity is so special is that God fashioned us in His own image. Humans were made to be a reflection of the Divine. Think about what happens when you look in the mirror. What you see is an image of yourself. You see what you look like. Yet the image of you in the mirror is not you. You are still standing outside the mirror looking at it. Anyone who looks at your reflection will learn a lot of things about you. They will see the color of your eyes and hair and how long or short your nose is. If they watch carefully, they will learn many things about your personality as well. They might see kindness or anger or pain. A reflection in a mirror can tell us many things about who we are.

Humans were made to act as a reflection of God. We have the capacity to love, to use our imaginations and create in response to God. We have minds that are rational, we can speak, write, and sing. We have souls. We can delight in the preciousness of a puppy, but unlike a puppy, we can stand in awe of the beauty of a sunset. We have abilities that set us apart from all of the other creatures God made, and we were given a very special relationship to them.

On the very first day of the creation of the race, humanity was given the authority to display to the universe what God is like through our faithful care over creation. It is humanity’s rightful job to take care of God’s world. We are meant to rule the earth for Him. It is the highest position and greatest honor. At the time of our making in the Garden, we had the ability to do exactly what God wanted us to do.  We had the capacity to rule and reign in perfect obedience to God as His royal stewards. Every good and wonderful thing we did was meant reflect God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. We had total freedom to be perfectly good.

Imagine how nice that would be.  Imagine never having to struggle against your weaknesses, sins, or addictions…imagine never having to know what it means to struggle.  That is the way it was for us in the Garden.

When you look in the mirror, what happens when you walk away? Does your image stay there? Of course not.   It disappears. In order for your reflection to stay in a mirror, you have to keep yourself in front of it. The same thing is true for humans to reflect the glory of God. We were made in God’s image, but we were built in a way that requires the nearness of God in order to reflect Him.

When the world was new, this wasn’t a problem. When the Lord made the first man and woman they were constantly and perfectly near to His amazing love. They had perfect freedom to walk in the tremendous goodness of God. There was no struggle against sin, no slavery to evil, no weakness to stop them from being perfect images of His radiant life. The holy Creator was near to shine His beautiful image through His empowered servants.

What a glorious world that must have been.

Yet we know this is not the way of the world now.

What happened?

How was it all lost?


Seeing Jesus:  Think about this-the same hands that crafted the first man from the dust would one day have permanent, eternal scars because He died for this man’s sin. God knows all things, past, present, and future. He made us knowing he would die for us. God the Father made us knowing all about the surpassing, aching beauty of the sacrifice of His own Son. God the Son made us knowing the magnificent victory of the resurrection and the splendor of His ascension as He rose to take His seat at the right hand of His Father. God would turn even the rebellion of man against Him into a work of beauty through the power of His mercy and grace. In all things, Christ would be exalted and glorified.

Story 3: Genesis 1:14-23: The Fourth and Fifth Days of Creation

Genesis 1:14-23

day and night composite image of large meadow with mountain herbs and a conifer forest in front of mountainous massif away in the background

There are many explanations for the beginning of the world. Scientists tell us that it all started with a Big Bang. They use their measurements to see that the universe continues to expand outward from a central, cosmic level explosion that brought everything as we know into existence. They can explain the epic, breathtaking reality of the immensity of the universe, the billions of galaxies with their billions of stars…there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on the planet earth. (See here and here if you want to ponder the universe with a sense of awe). Yet they admit that we can have no idea what came before the Big Bang because every scientific law or theory that we go by now was brought into being by the Big Bang itself. They also can’t tell us what caused it in the first place. There are many amazing things that we have learned from studying the natural laws of the universe, but there are limits to what they can teach us. As Sir Isaac Newton declared, “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who sets the planets in motion.” He also said, “This most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”

The Bible provides the story of how the universe came into being from God’s perspective, showing us His relationship to the natural world and all that it in it. The breathtaking, incomprehensibly splendid reality of the universe is a herald of the greatness of God (See Psalm 8 and Psalm 19). The magnitude of His omnipotent strength is such that He was able to bring it all into existence with a word. Out of nothing, He created everything by merely declaring His will.

Creation is an illustration of the magnificence of God’s supreme, inexhaustible power. It is evidence of His authoritative right to everything that it exists. As we learn more about the elegant order and beauty of the universe, we are receiving testimony of His incredible genius and wisdom as the Creator. He is not a part of the universe. God stands apart from it, independent of it but actively engaging it, energizing and keeping it going, and involving Himself in the lives of the human race that He created it for (See Job 38Isaiah 40:21-31 and Col. 1:15-20).

For the first three days of God’s majestic outpouring of beauty, He made light and time and sky and sea. He made land and all the grasses and trees that soften the earth and make it lovely. As we read the story of Creation, it is stunning how effortless all of this was for Him. He did not toil or sweat or strain as He made the vast universe. He sat composed and at rest in the might of His absolute power. He is the sovereign ruler and reigning King, and He wants His beloved humans to know that their Lord created a world for them that is good.

The Master Architect made the outer frame of His grand temple during the first three days of creation. Now it was ready to be filled with the bright energy of life that would thrive there. Imagine the awe of the angels as they watched the Master Artist at work:

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth. And it was so. God made the two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the fourth day.”

 On the fourth day, God took the magnificent light that burst from His Word on the first day and formed it to serve very important purposes. They become the glory of light we see in the sky. We call them the sun and stars. The light from the sun reflects on the moon to give it light. The Lord made these mighty, majestic spheres and set them in motion in the spaces of the universe.

But why didn’t the Lord say their names?

He named the sky, why not the sun or the moon or the stars?

We think that it is because there would come a time when whole nations of people would try to worship the sun and stars as if they were gods. For thousands of years, many people would look to these lights in the sky as if they could tell the future. They would look to them for help and seek their power. Whole nations and religious systems would worship these created things instead of worshipping God Himself.

From the very beginning, God was teaching that these things are magnificent gifts and they are good, but they are not gods. God alone knows the future, and God alone is our help. When we ponder the bright singing beauty of the stars in the deep darkness of the night sky it should call us into worship of Him.

What an amazing God to make such glorious things. The warmth and light of the sun should make our hearts throb with gratitude, but it should never be worshipped. The glowing radiance of the moon should fill us with the wonder and peace of God, but the moon can never act to bring peace. That is the work of the Lord. God did not give them names because He wanted to show that they were not living things with power or control in our world. They are simply His gifts of light.

On the first day of Creation, light and darkness brought a separation of time- day and night. Now on the fourth day, these glorious lights would mark out the great time periods of life on earth. The months are marked by the changing face of the moon. The seasons are marked as the stars in the sky change from summer to fall to winter to spring. The years are made separate from each other by the movement of the earth around the sun. The cycles of life are timed by the new birth of animals in spring, the planting and raising of crops, the abundance of harvest, and the cold days of winter. All these were determined by God’s ingenious design. He brought light and darkness together with time to bring order and structure to all of life on earth.

“And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky. So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning- the fifth day.”

 Now the vaulted skies of God were full of birds winged in flight. The great seas were populated with an abundance off flashing fish, singing whales, crawling octopi, lobsters, and sea snails. In His creative power, He made the birds to breathe through air and the fish to breathe through water, yet all of life had breath! The Lord had already filled the land with trees to make a home for the birds, and forests of kelp flourished in the oceans so the fish could eat and play.

Then God blessed these creatures with the power and potency to create new, vibrant, abundant life through eggs that would become babies that would look just like them.  Just as the seed of a tree grows into the same kind of tree, the eggs of fish make the same kind of fish. Each was specially crafted by the mind of the LORD. From nothing, He spoke His remarkable world into existence. All of these poured out from His perfect will, and so they were a profoundly perfect good.


Story 2: Genesis 1:1-13: Bounding Light: The First Three Days

Genesis 1:1-13

Abstract sunset and sea surface

Let’s read the first chapter of the Bible together. It is one of the most beautiful things ever written in any language, and the best part is that it is true.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Try to picture this in your mind. Everything is darkness and chaos and confusion, an abyss of nothingness. But the Spirit of the Living God began to move, hovering and gliding over the mass of chaos like the flow of wind. He moved quietly through the spaces, bringing order, forming the structure of the earth and preparing the way. He was utterly in control, crafting God’s vision of a vast creation with the skill of a master artist. He was creating the Lord’s great cosmic temple.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day’ and the darkness He called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day.”

 Close your eyes and picture that in your head. The first day of creation came with a bounding of light! God is so magnificently all-powerful that all He had to do was speak His will and light came bursting out! That must have been the best fireworks display in history! The darkness and chaos were powerless when the Words of God were uttered. The Bible says the angels watched and shouted for joy (see Job 38:1-7).

The light was not a part of God, it was something separate that He created, yet it came from the perfect will of God, so it was good. The light was made to serve the Lord. With mere words, God separated the light from the dark, and then He used light and darkness to make separations of time. Light brought day, and darkness brought the night. God had created time. The Sovereign Lord’s great work of art was perfect and orderly in every way.

“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.’ So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse ‘sky.’ And there was evening, and there was morning-the second day.

The LORD was creating a great, vast hall for His creatures to live in by separating the swirling waters. As He spoke, the waters shifted and turned immediately to do His perfect will. The waters below made the rolling seas, and the waters above were like a great canopy or tent that overarched the world. God was crafting the atmosphere! It was the powerful climate system that governs the weather on earth! God was the Maker and Master of it all, and so it was His right to name His craftsmanship. The LORD named the vaulted expanse the sky.

“And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let the dry ground appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good.

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation; seed bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the third day.

Imagine standing by and watching this with the angels. That is what the LORD is inviting us to do with these verses. We can see His mighty work in our minds as He described it through His divinely inspired author. Picture the tremendous waters that covered over the whole earth. Now imagine them pulling back in huge waves as the islands and the vast continents appeared.

Wow…the land and the seas were formed. God is so majestically powerful, that all He had to do was speak and the boundaries between them were set. Then He named them because they are His, He is their Master. In fact, He still provides the energy that keeps the seas rolling. Everything in heaven and on earth belongs to Him, and He reigns over it all in perfect, holy power.

God spoke His amazing will again, and trees and plants and flowers and vines began to spring up all over the earth. Each kind of plant had its own special shape. The tall, straight pine tree with its rough bark! The wide mango tree with its broad leaves, purple tulips with their gentle petals and the yellow brilliance of the sunflower. Each plant was wonderfully unique, and all of them bounded out of the creative mind of God. Each would make seeds that would bring new plants into the world just like them, in a never-ending cycle of growth to replenish the ground. It was pure, practical genius…in fact, it was not only practical, it was lovely. Each thing He made was meant to be a blessing of beauty and grace to the creatures of the earth.

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