“Life’s just tough” someone says. “It’s the way things are.”, or here’s my favorite one “It’s always been this way. So I find what looks like a roach in the cupboard one evening, but when I reach for it, “ouch!” It was a bee. I couldn’t believe it (partly because it February 1st at the time of this writing), and second, why in the cupboard?! So as I study theology, I get this returning nag of a feeling that something isn’t right here… Did God create this creatures to cause pain? To devour their prey, to lay eggs inside of the still-living corpses of caterpillars?1 What about sin, death, agony? I have left out a lot (not necessarily on purpose, but it is still a good show of proportional contrast). There is a lot of ugly things in our universe, and it was not always so (Gen. 1:31a, Rom. 5:12, 6:23). What did it look like before, and what changed? In chapter 3 of Genesis, there is a conversation that takes place – and it isn’t between God and man, or man and women. It is between the women and a serpent:
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’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 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.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 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.” 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. 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.
Genesis 3:1-7 (NASB)
Was the sin in the grasping of fruit? Was the sin in biting into an apple? What about the fact that Eve was talking to a serpent?! Now the Earth was still a new place, but I have a hunch that this would’ve still seemed a bit out of place for her. As a result, God put a curse (as a result of sin I suspect – their fault for God issuing said curse) on, in sequential order, the serpent, Eve, and then Adam. Notice though, the curse given to Adam:
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”
(Genesis 3:17c-19 NASB)
Several points can be drawn from this. 1) The ground has now been cursed, 2) Though he was made from dust, it is only now dust is now the place he will return – this curse of “dust to dust” is in direct response to his particular involvement of the sin done here (and further thought, what if the other curses were given, but not the last?) Now what may have been missed is the first curse though. The curse given to the serpent, who represented the animal kingdom here, yes? (Gen. 3:1):
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field…”
Did you catch it? The animal kingdom (and the other kingdoms under man I presume) took the hit. So now they are following the Gen. 9:6 rule, or “self-preservation”. When trust is compromised, God allowed all creation to enter into a self-preservation mode. They could no longer trust mankind to take care of them without reservation. The Dominion mandate could still be carried out (Gen. 1:28; 2:19-20).
Creation groans (Rom. 8:22). But consider further what must have needed to take place, since Genesis records that Adam lived to be 930 years (Gen. 5:5)! So something changed after this point, even though death now limited our time on earth. It was the flood God sent (as a result of a nearly *perfect evil in all but one man (Gen 6:8). God would now restrict normal human life to 120 years (Gen. 6:3) Notice also, the present of angels (Gen. 6:2), just as in the garden. It is important to consider that the influence of sin was already present in the garden. The very first sin in creation is recorded in Ezekiel 28:12b-19, but in particular:
“You were the anointed cherub who covers,
And I placed you there.
You were on the Holy mountain of God…
By the abundance of your trade, your were internally filled with violence,
And you sinned; therefore I cast you as profane from the mountain of God.”
(Ezekiel 28:14, 16a NASB)
Lucifer, once a beautiful cherub on God’s holy mountain,
Committed the treacherous first sin of pride – in the very presence of God.
Sin has been with us for *almost* the dawn of creation. It was there in the garden, when Eve took the bite from the apple right? Well, technically, it was the intention in her mind to forego the loving instructions of the Father God. Sin is, as some would define it, an intention of the heart. And sin produces death, but this was not in the heart of God, and continues to be His mission to remove sin from existence (Rev. 21:4). So, while sin and death are presently an inevitable reality, don’t presuppose it defines reality. Your worldview hangs in the balance. It wasn’t something God planned in order to save us from it with more death in some brutal way, meticulously orchestrating it into His own justice system so we can escape with a cool memory of “life from scars”. This is a deception mentality that reaches as far back as the garden, and the words of the serpent:
…you will be like God, knowing both good and evil…”
God meant us to grow upwards in intimacy, not downwards in order to double back upwards. He has been calling us to remember that life ever since that day….