Imagine it. Adam and Eve lived in a glorious Garden. They had lives of perfect rest and happiness. God, the Mighty Lord over everything that is, was always near them. He would talk with them and walk with them in the Garden in the cool of the day. They tended to the Garden in God’s perfect will, and there was no sorrow or pain.
If only the first humans had continued to live in that perfect dependence on Him. If only they had kept their allegiance to the King of Creation. But they didn’t. And there was a reason for it. There was another creature in the Garden. He was a being so full of evil that he hated God Himself. He had once been a brilliant angel, beautiful to behold, but he rebelled against the Lord. How could any creature turn away from such a high and holy God? Why fight against a Kingdom of wondrous Joy and Light? This is something we don’t understand, but it is still true.
The angel of rebellion was named Lucifer, and he convinced a third of the angels in Heaven to fight against the Lord with him. There was a terrible war in Heaven. The rest of the angels remained loyal to the Lord and fought against Lucifer’s evil army. God’s holy angels won the great battle, and Lucifer and all of his minions were cast out of Heaven. But their rebellion did not end. Lucifer, also called Satan, was searching for a way to stage another attack. And what better way than by invading the kingdom of God’s glorious new creation?
The only problem for Satan was that God is so massively and immensely powerful that there was no way he could beat Him by force. He would have to move in secret, finding weak points in the Kingdom. Satan knew that God created the humans to be special. It was their high honor to watch over the beautiful earth God had made. If Satan could destroy these humans, he knew he would strike at the very heart of God. He could bring a curse on the entire created order! So he plotted and schemed against the man and woman.
When Satan came to destroy Adam and Eve, he didn’t show up looking like a demonic, fallen angel. He came in disguise. He came to Eve as a snake and convinced her to do the one thing that God had told them not to do. God had protected them with wisdom, and Satan told them that the wisdom and command of God was wrong. He told them that they could safely eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil after God told them not to. Eve believed Satan instead of her Lord. She took the fruit from the tree and ate it, and then she handed it to her husband. The mutiny had begun.
It is hard to know when the first sin really happened. Was it when Eve kept listening to the snake even after it said that God was lying? Was it when she gazed on the fruit that God had forbidden? Was it only after she decided to eat the fruit and raised her hand to take it? When did she cross the line from loyalty to her perfect Lord into sin and rebellion against Him?
It is hard for us to understand how great this sin was. God was a perfect King, a high and holy Master who abundantly blessed His creation and poured out His lavish love on them. He had even bestowed on this man and woman the unimaginable dignity of being a part of His creative work. This is the God who sits on His brilliant, gleaming white throne in Heaven, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of angels who worship Him in absolute obedience and constant praise. These humans had been given a breathtaking honor! How could she do it? And how could Adam join her? How could they let anything separate them from the Glorious One who loved them so?
But they did. And in doing so, they brought upon themselves a terrible curse. They were created to live in constant nearness to their Maker, and now they had parted ways. God is the only source of good in the universe. The only thing left is sin and death. When God gave Adam and Eve authority over the earth, He meant it. When Adam and Eve brought sin and death into the world, it wasn’t just for themselves and their children. They brought it into the heart of God’s Kingdom. He had put them in charge to rule and reign, and their sin brought contamination on all that He had made. From that day forward, every living thing goes through suffering, and all of God’s creatures die. It was a catastrophe of cataclysmic size. It is impossible for us to imagine the intensity and greatness of evil that was set in motion on that day. Every war, every famine, every brutal murder and every deadly disease can be traced back to that awful moment when humanity chose to follow the enemy of God.
Satan had won a stunning victory. When the first humans gave their loyalty to him, they gave him great power over them. He would be able to wage war against them and destroy the beloved of God for as long as the curse remained.
But God had a plan. He understood that all of this would happen long before He created the world, and He already had a rescue plan. He knew how He was going to save His people from the kingdom of Satan’s great darkness and bring them into the Kingdom of His glorious light. Even as God pronounced the curse on Adam and Eve and the serpent, He made a promise about His plans to bless. Even though Eve had rebelled against Him, He chose to take her back for Himself and put hostility between her and the Serpent. Then He promised that one day, a son of Eve would come and He would crush the Serpent’s head. He would defeat the powers of the Kingdom of Darkness and the curse!
The rest of the story of the Bible is the story of God’s epic rescue plan. It tell us how He began this salvation work in the past, how He is doing it now, and how He is going to finish the work in the future! For He promises that one day, through a son of Adam and Eve, He will bring a new, everlasting Heaven and Earth that is totally free from the curse.
The unimaginably great and wildly unbelievable goodness in this plan is that this Son of Adam was going to be God Himself. Nobody else had the power to do it, so He had to come as the Hero of His own story and save the humans that had mutinied against Him. And so the story begins, where the Prince of Heaven, the most beloved Son of God, would give up His own life to pay the price for the sinners of earth. Every person that puts their faith in Him will find themselves saved. They will live forever in a perfect Kingdom where they will be free to live in perfect dependence on God! They will have the unspeakably great dignity of being called His own adopted child, and there will be no more evil, sadness, pain, or death.
The story we are about to begin is very exciting because it is the story of when God came to earth on His great rescue mission. But there are many things that the Lord did in human history before He sent his Son. If we understand those details, we will understand a lot more about the things Jesus said and did when He came. For the next few stories, we are going to learn more about those details.