Sadness, misery, suffering and death
With the abundant evidence of so much good about us, it seems contradictory to see suffering, sadness, misery, hatred, wars, deaths, etc. Yet hurt and hate is the norm rather than the exception. Some people reason that these things must naturally exist. Others blame God for the presence of evil on earth, arguing that “If God is love, if He is just, why does He allow all these things?” Sadly this reasoning breeds skeptics and atheists, who speak against the Almighty Creator.
Evidence given in lesson three indicates that God created the world and everything in it. But did He create the world as it is now? Was it His plan that man should suffer? Is it His purpose that all these things should exist? When and how did they originate? We will discuss some of their history in this lesson.
The Condition Of Man In Eden
In their happy home in paradise, the holy pair found themselves in sacred and joyful surroundings. They could enjoy the presence of the Creator and talk with Him face to face. The home of Adam and Eve was adorned with the most beautiful flowers of diverse colors, planted by God Himself. The cloudless sky was their roof. The foliage of every kind of tree, all green herbs and vegetation contributed to the happiness of the first people on earth. Four crystal rivers were flowing across the garden. The varied fruit trees beautified paradise, bearing their abundant, succulent fruits. Two special trees grew in the midst of the garden; one being the “tree of life”, which perpetuated life; the other, the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”.
Naturally God planned Adam and Eve’s diet. It was “very good’ and consisted of nature’s bountiful produce..
“And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:” Genesis 2:15,16.
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed: to you it shall be for meat.” Genesis 1:29.
Adam received from God dominion over all the earth, – vegetable, mineral and all living creatures. After the creation he gave names to all the animals.
“And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field …” Genesis 2:19,20.
There was no danger or fear of wild animals. The lion peacefully walked together with the lamb or lay down at the feet of man. The birds came to rest on their shoulders without any fear, and whistled and caroled their marvelous melodies. No shadow of unhappiness existed in paradise. Angels of heaven came down to visit Adam and Eve and told them about God’s love and goodness. In every leaf, every flower and every stone, the eternal care of God in behalf of His creatures, could be seen.
God’s Command – Faithfulness
When the angels of heaven visited the inhabitants of the garden of Eden, they explained to them about the origin of sin, and how one angel of heaven had rebelled against God and against His law. They warned them not to listen to the tempter and admonished Adam and Eve to obey God’s command without questioning. They had abundant evidence of God’s love and concern for them, but God desired to test them by placing one restriction upon them: “But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:17.
This “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” was not be touched. It was not the will of God that man should know evil. He had provided them with all that was good, but in love, withheld from them all knowledge of evil. Adam and Eve were placed upon probation. The tree of knowledge was withheld as a simple test of their obedience and love to their Creator. They could maintain immortality only on condition of their loyalty to God. They were counseled to repel the tempter and his suggestions, then they would be secure and free from danger. Satan had access to tempt them only through the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If they disobeyed the divine command, they would forsake their allegiance to God, become subject to Satan and lose their paradise home.
Sold Under Sin
While Eve was busily engaged in the garden, she unconsciously wandered away from her husband. She realized that she was alone but was unaware of any danger.
As she came near “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” Eve looked at the attractive fruit hanging on the branches, and forgot the warning of the angel. She asked herself: “Why did God forbid us to eat of the fruit of this tree?” As she lingered near the forbidden tree, the tempter, through the medium of a serpent, had his opportunity.
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made, and he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” Genesis 3:1-4.
What an amazing thing: a serpent speaking! From where did it obtain the gift of speech? Instead of running away from the tree, she, in curiosity, was drawn into conversation with him. The serpent flattered her: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5.
These words suggested that God’s command was merely to frighten them, but that He did not mean what He said. Furthermore, the serpent declared that as a result of eating the fruit, he had obtained knowledge as well as the gift of speech.
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” Genesis 3:6.
At first Eve did not realize what she had done. Upon taking and eating the fruit, she felt uplifted. She took of the fruit and gave to Adam. When her husband saw what she had done, he was dismayed, and told her that she must die. He undrestood that it was the work of the tempter, the rebel against whom they had been warned. Then Adam, feeling that he could not endure to be separated from his wife, decided to share her lot. He took the fruit and quickly ate it. Satan’s subtle deception was a success. The holy pair yielded to his temptation, and they fell into sin.
After eating the forbidden fruit, the pair became aware of their nakedness.
“And the eyes of them both were opened and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Genesis 3:7.
Now they began to realize the result of their disobedience. Recognizing that they had lost their innocence, they hid themselves among the trees in embarrassment. They were afraid to meet God. Guilt had produced its effect..
“And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked: and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:9,10.
After assessing their miserable state, God asked who had told them that they were naked. Could it be that they had eaten of the forbidden tree? Adam answered, by blaming the woman. When God turned to the woman, she accused the serpent which had been created by God, thus attempting to dodge her guilt by indirectly blaming God Himself.
Sorrow filled heaven at the news of man’s transgression.
With their disobedience, sin entered the world, and as a result of sin, death would follow: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all man, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5:12.
“Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Genesis 3:23,24.
The Earth Cursed
In order to curb the consequences of sin, the Lord in mercy placed a curse upon the earth. God pronounced this sentence: “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Genesis 3:17-19.
In sadness and discouragement Adam and Eve had to leave their beautiful home. They went out from the garden to inhabit a land which was now cursed. Their remorse was bitter, but it was too late. Now they had to work hard to till the earth in order to obtain their food. They noticed the flowers wither, and the leaves fade and fall to the earth. What a sad spectacle! The earth, previously beautiful and pleasant, was now bringing forth thistles, thorns and poisonous plants. They realized that their sin of disobedience to God’s command, had caused all this. The hardest thing of all was when, with his own hand, Adam had to shed the blood of an innocent lamb. This was in recognition of the assurance God had given them that He had a plan by which humanity could be restored to Him. Blood had to be shed as evidence of their faith that God would fulfill His promise. This sacrifice symbolized the only condition of their reinstatement.
Since that time, misery, suffering and death have been a part of man’s experience – all because he disregarded God’s Word. Yet even today the blight of sin may be lessened if we take heed to God’s counsels.
The Promise Of Redemption
Although God is loving and merciful, He is also just and righteous. He forgives man and makes provision for his restoration, but man must reap what he has sown. The guilty pair were banished from Eden and became subject to death. Had Adam not accepted God’s provision for the remission of sin, which is the shedding of blood, his doom would have been certain. But he accepted the substituted victim and an innocent lamb was killed. Blood was shed and God made garments from the skins to clothe Adam and Eve. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21.
The lamb that died at Adam’s hand and the skin garments provided for man, represent the sacrifice of Christ in behalf of the repentant sinner. The promise of a coming Savior was given to Adam and Eve: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15.
Thus, God did not leave the first couple without hope. The plan of redemption was offered to them. The same plan of redemption is still offered to everyone who accepts the provision God has given to reclaim us from sin – Jesus Christ, the Savior of every repentant sinner. The Bible is God’s text book revealing this science of sciences – the Plan of Salvation.