Have you ever sat back and thoughtfully read through the first few chapters of Genesis? Have you ever really contemplated Creation?
The story begins with, “In the beginning… God”
In eternity past, before Creation, before time as we know it began, there was the Triune God: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
In Colossians, we read,
Col. 1:15 [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.
Jesus was there with the Father before the first word of Creation was spoken. Together, Father, Son and Holy Spirit labored as one to bring all of Creation into being:
Gen. 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Theologians call this, “Creatio ex nihilo”: “Creation out of nothing.” One moment, there was darkness and a formless void. The next, God spoke and there was light.
Modern science tells us that energy cannot be either created or destroyed, only converted from one form to another. Einstein’s famous formula, E=mc2 describes how mass can be converted into energy and vice versa. Cosmological science increasingly supports what is commonly known as the Big Bang Theory – an understanding of the universe that points to a singularity at some point in time past from which the universe explosively expanded.
In other words, one moment there was darkness and a void, the next an explosion of light and energy. Moses described it this way, God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. In that fraction of a moment, all the energy of the universe was spoken into existence in a blinding flash of light.
What an amazing God! From nothing… to everything! By the power of His word.
On the second day of Creation, God spoke, and the heavens were separated from the earth.
On the third day, God spoke and waters were gathered together so that dry land appeared. God commanded the earth to bring forth vegetation, and it was so.
On the fourth day, God made the sun, moon and stars to mark the passing of time–for days and for seasons and for years–and to give light upon the earth.
On the fifth day of creation, God created living creatures to live in the seas and birds to fly in the air, and God blessed them and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply.
On the sixth day, God commanded the earth to bring forth living creatures, all manner of beasts and creeping things. And in all He had made, God saw that it was good.
Gen. 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
God created Adam and his wife, Eve, and placed them in a beautiful garden to live. God blessed them and gave them authority as stewards over the earth and all it contains. Only one thing was forbidden: the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
In the account of Creation, we can glean incredible truths about our glorious God. His wholly limitless power is immediately apparent; His creativity and artistry are clearly seen. His actions are not haphazard, but orderly and purposeful. His goodness and perfection are reflected in His creation, His generosity in the freedom with which He selflessly shares dominion over His creation. We are assured God existed before the beginning began and when He proclaims, “Let Us make man in our image…” we begin to understand that He is One God in Three Persons.
The story of the Fall brings a note of sadness into this glorious account of Creation, but the story is not complete without it. In the story of Adam and Eve’s sin, we begin to see the depth of the love, the compassion, the grace, and the mercy of God.
In Genesis chapter three we read,
Gen. 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
Gen. 3:8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
When Adam and Eve disobey God’s command and ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they immediately begin to experience shame and guilt and fear for the very first time. Can you imagine what life was like before–without the shame and guilt and fear we encounter so often? This was a new sensation for Adam and Eve, but they adjust quickly: they cover up with fig leaves, try to hide themselves from God’s presence, and when that doesn’t work, they invent the Blame Game.
It’s easy to focus in on what Adam and Eve are doing, but what does God do in response to Adam and Eve’s sin? He comes walking in the garden to look for them, but did you notice He doesn’t come right away? We know from Scripture as well as from experience that God is omniscient – He certainly knew immediately that Adam and Eve had sinned, in fact, in His foreknowledge, He certainly knew what was going to happen long before it did.
But the Scripture says that when Adam and Eve sinned, their eyes were opened, they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together. Figuring out how to cover themselves with fig leaves probably took some time. I believe God waited for them to do this because He is both patient and compassionate. God understood that they were experiencing shame and He gave them time to do something that would help them to deal with their immediate situation both practically and emotionally.
Later, when God came walking in the garden, He certainly knew where they were hidden, but He addressed them with gentleness and patience. He called out, “Where are you?” and waited for them to answer and to come to Him. When Adam and Eve engaged in finger pointing and passing blame, God was simply straightforward and explained the consequences of their actions:
- The serpent would be condemned to slither in the dust and to experience enmity with Eve and her offspring. The significance of this enmity may be lost unless we remember that until the time of Noah, there was no enmity or fear between man and the animals. Only the serpent was estranged from mankind in those days.
- Eve is told that her pain in childbirth will be greatly increased, yet she will have a strong desire for her husband and he will rule over her. I believe this may be warning, at least in part, of the abuse of power and control we see all too often in relationships between men and women.
- Finally, Adam is told that the very ground will be cursed because of his sin. He and his offspring will toil and sweat, yet wrest little more than thorns and thistles from the ground.
- And of course, the end of sin is death. “From the ground you were taken, for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Yet even in the pronouncement of the curse, God offers hope. He begins to reveal His promise; His plan for salvation. In His words to the serpent, God says,
Gen. 3:15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.
God is speaking both to the serpent, the creature, and to Satan, who spoke the words of temptation. The One who would bruise his head is Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman. Satan may have thought He was victorious when Jesus hung lifeless on the cross, but it was no more decisive a blow than a bruise on His heel. Jesus crushed Satan’s short-lived victory when He rose from the dead.
But the story of the Fall doesn’t end with the Curse and the Promise. God, in His compassion and loving care, made garments of skin for Adam and Eve. Tradition tells us He slew an innocent lamb to cover them–a foreshadow of Jesus, the Lamb of God, whose blood would be shed for our salvation.
Then, God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden, not out of spite or anger, but out of love. For in the midst of the garden yet stood the Tree of Life. God knew that if Adam and Eve were to eat of its fruit in their sinful state, they would be condemned to live forever in sin. But God had already set in motion His plan for the redemption of mankind. And so, He sent Adam and Eve out of the garden and commanded a cherubim to guard the way to the Tree of Life to prevent mankind from eating its fruit until they were redeemed.
As we enter the Advent season, remember that the story of Christmas is the story of Redemption. It is the story of a Curse and the story of a Promise:
- It is the story of a people suffering the consequences of their foolish disobedience, the story of a people in dire need of a Savior.
- And it is the story of a good, kind, and merciful Creator-God Who was not content leave wayward people to the consequences of their sin, but Who would fulfill His promise to come and save them in the fullness of time.