creation and sin: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, Holy Bible

Day 1 (Jan. 1): Creation, Sin, Free Will, Punishment

Happy New Year and welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. Let’s go!

Today’s Reading
— Genesis 1-3
(Before 4000 BC)
Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

We all have heard the story of creation so many times that you would think it would be an easy read with no questions.  But, I find myself pondering the same age-old questions and wanting definite answers or ways of looking at them.

Question.  (1:3): How can there be light on Day 1 without the sun, moon and stars in verse 1:14-19?

Answer. Genesis, and the Creation chronicle in particular were not written as science textbooks, and it is unfair to think of them as such.  I tend to think of this story as an epic poem that conveys to us numerous spiritual truth, while not necessarily giving us the details of “how” God brought all of it about (aka, I personally do not read Genesis 1-3 literally, though there are plenty of people who do and love Jesus).

With those guideposts in place, it is important to understand what the text is saying: that light itself predates the creation of the source of our light: the sun (and to a lesser extent the moon) and other stars.  Genesis was originally written into a world where the sun, moon, and stars (along with countless other entities such as rivers, crops, etc.) were worshipped as gods (we call this polytheism).  What the Jewish authors of this passage (whoever they were) set out to say is that polytheism is wrong: there is only one God who rules over all things, including these objects that you worship like the moon and sun.  We can actually see some holdover here from the original thinking of the writers: the words “sun” and “moon” do not appear in the text (see 1:16), but instead are referred to as the greater and lesser lights.  Why is this?  Because the writer is pointing to the inferiority of these objects to the one true God.  He’s saying: the very light you worship does not come from sun and moon, but from the God who predates them all.

Observation.  (1:11): In Genesis, we already see how tightly God weaves the world.  He made so many likenesses and connections between different things he created.  Two points: 1) Like plants having seeds to make more of their kind, God gave this same ability to humans, making families.  2) All of creation is so interconnected that it helps us to understand other creations and we must respect and rely on them to survive.

O. (1:16): I am amazed that the vast universe and all of it’s huge lights were created to give light to little-bitty Earth.

O. (1:18): Stars are something so vital to a culture such as the ancient Polynesians for navigation, yet they did not know God.

O. (1:20): The eccentricity of some of God’s creations, like fish in the deep sea having their own lantern or birds who do a spectacular mating dance demonstrate God’s boundless creativity.

Q. (1:25): What is the explanation for dinosaurs?  Genesis doesn’t talk about them that I can tell.  Aren’t dinosaurs dated before Adam and Eve?  What is the real time line here?

A. This part of Genesis is, in my mind, undateable, and if we interpret the story in the non-textbook way that I described above, we find it to be a difficult thing to do indeed.  There are no direct references to dinosaurs in the Bible (though there are hints and various ways of interpreting certain passages in the book of Job), but this does not in my mind mean that the Bible is telling us dinosaurs did not exist.  If you desire, you can interpret the creation of land animals (earlier in day 6) as occurring (properly) before the creation of human beings.  Honestly, that’s about as far as I feel the text can get you.  It has bigger “fish to fry” if you will.

O. (1:26):  The verse says, “Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.”  God includes Jesus in this passage.  I didn’t realize until I became an adult Christian that Jesus was with God from the beginning.

Q. (1:27):  If God made us in his image, then why are we full of sin?

A. Actually, I think that Genesis 3 answers that question quite well: because we misused the gifts and blessings that God has given us, including the gift of intellect and free choice.  As a free will person, most of my understanding about God’s love and our sin is that in order for us to truly express love for our Creator, we must have the option of saying no to Him.  Real love always involves a choice.  But given that choice, we have the option to go our own way, which is basically how the Bible defines sin — choosing our own path rather than the path of God.  The New Testament in particular tells us that we are BOTH loved greatly by God, and that we still bear His image (see for example Matthew 22:15-22), but also that we are corrupted by the power of sin.

Q. (2:1): Is the 7th day really Sunday?  Is a creation day 24 hours like today?

A. Jews and Seventh Day Adventists will be happy to tell you that the Sabbath is Saturday, and has been for centuries.  Christians began to treat Sunday as a Sabbath after the resurrection of Jesus, which of course happened on a Sunday (what the Gospels call the “first day of the week”)

Q. (2:9): Why were the two special trees even in the Garden of Eden?

A. According to the narrative, we were permitted to eat from any tree we desired, and to me that includes the tree of life, which represents God’s provision for us.  The tree of knowledge was, in my mind, the test: it was the place where the desire to follow after God or go our own way was presented.  And just as Adam and Eve did, we have all chosen to go our own way.Choose sin quoteChoose sin quote

Q. (2:25): What is the significance of nakedness?

A. If you mean symbolically, I suppose it represents our pre-fall lack of desire to hide ourselves and have any sense of shame.  As I understand it, some young children run around naked with no shame to this day.

Q. (3:1): The serpent was Satan, right?  Then, what was he doing in the garden?

A. Actually, it’s Revelation 12:9 that comes the closest explicitly telling us that the serpent is Satan, but yup, that’s him.  Like the tree itself, in my mind, Satan appears in the garden in order to test the humans, which God permits.

Q. (3:7):  So they learned from eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that nakedness is a sin?  Why is it shameful?

A. Hum, I think that’s the wrong way to interpret the passage.  The nakedness wasn’t the sin: the sin was the disobedience of God’s command.  But in committing the sin, and becoming aware of themselves, they discover that they are naked and hide in fear of God.  They are ashamed of themselves, again symbolized by the hiding and fear described in the passage.  In their innocence, they were naked in front of God and each other for who knows how long and were never ashamed, much like the little kid I talked about earlier.  Shame and fear are learned, and taught if you will.  To this day, they are not our natural instinct: before we “know better,” we can be naked and unashamed.

Q. (3:14): Was this a curse to Satan or snakes?  How does this apply to snakes today?

A. Honestly I have no idea.  Sorry!  Can’t win ’em all

Q. (3:16): Why does Eve’s sin carry down to all women?

A. Not just all women, but all people (except one).  That was the price paid in the fall, according to the narrative.  The danger of sin is not just in the moment, but how the sins of fathers and mothers to this day affect the next generation.  If you want a real clear example of it, look up statistics on fetal alcohol syndrome or drug addiction: we can clearly see how the actions of the mom directly effect the next generation.  This happens outside the womb as well.  Children who are abused are more likely to abuse the next generation.  Sin has consequences, and sometimes those consequences are frequently “taken out” on the innocent.  Unfortunately, that’s the messy life we live in, and the Bible does not shy away from that.

Just as a partial aside, part of what the first 11 chapters of Genesis do is trace the “fall” of humanity over many generations, culminating in the Tower of Babel story, which shows humanity as its worst (for reasons we’ll get into in a few days I guess).  So even in these first few chapters of the story, we see the Bible point to the theme of multi generational thinking.  So that is definitely something to watch for in future readings, and I will try to point it out as we go along.

Q.  (3:19): Some people work, some don’t, like folks who take advantage of government welfare.  So, how does this verse apply to those who don’t work but still get food?

A. Once again, we must understand the context of the verse: there were no welfare programs in the ancient world — if you didn’t work, you starved.  I would be very hesitant to apply this verse to modern circumstance.

For more insight: https://www.compellingtruth.org/consequences-sin.html
Scripture about sin: https://www.openbible.info/topics/the_consequences_of_sin

Next up: Genesis 4:1-26; Genesis 5:1-32; 1 Chronicles 1:1-4; Genesis 6:1-22

Greatest Love of All!

Admittedly, I have read the Bible frivolously. I have breezed through verses, taken It for granted, and to my great loss, not realized the depth of God’s message. I have skimmed Scripture where he describes the enormity of His love for humanity. I always knew He loved deeply, but I have not let the words come alive, digesting and absorbing them into my soul and really letting myself feel the vastness of His love. With the help of the Holy Spirit and some ladies at a Bible study, I have slowed down my reading to where individual words pop off the page making each one more powerful. Now I can better grasp the depth of His love and never cease being amazed at His care for us!  

A Passage that has hit me most recently is Ephesians 3:18-19 (NLT): And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Read that again, but slower. Take in every word.  

Absolute love

I know that God loves me, but honestly, sometimes I think or say “yada yada yada” because I have heard those verses over and over, much like John 3:16. But now, I read that His love is so amazingly wide, deep and high that we can never fully grasp its size. However, by trying to realize the magnitude of His love, we are gratified and delighted. I think of a universe-size love — totally immeasurable! Try to imagine it and recognize just how much you are fulfilled. It’s a refreshing, peaceful feeling beyond description!

In Romans 8:38 (ESV), God details more specific, absolute parameters of His love, even death. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. NOTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION.  Try to grasp that!

Symbol of love

God’s symbol of how much He loves us is in His only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was persecuted, severely beaten, hung on the cross, mocked and died as payment for our wrongdoings. He took our punishment so we could be considered holy, clean from sin and worthy of God’s love. That’s how much God and Jesus love us … so much that they made the ultimate sacrifice to give us a way to go to heaven. Romans 5:8 (NLT): But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Because Jesus arose from the dead after three days, we know that even death cannot get in the way of God’s abilities and love. He has the power to bring us back to life, like He did with Jesus. He gives us life! A life rich in love, understanding and amazement. He tells us in Scripture that He understands our struggle with sin and knows we cannot be perfect. He is merciful! Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Jesus came to show us love. And, John 3:17 NIV: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Why does God love us? He is the creator of everything, including love. 1 John 4:19 (NET): We love because he loved us first. Moreover, He IS love. That’s one to think about. 1 John 4:16b (NLT): God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 

Love like Jesus

Jesus is our role model and we should reciprocate His love for us by loving others. John 13:34 (NLT): So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. And just how much should we love others? Matthew 22:39b (NLT): ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

By loving others, we put aside our selfishness and make others a priority. In a recent Bible class, my pastor summed up loving others like this: If you don’t tell others about being saved, you must not like them very much because their afterlife may not be desirable, to say the least. That is something I need to work on! 1 Corinthians 10:33b NLT: I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.

Loving others is so freeing, especially when they reciprocate. As Christians, we know that with deep love, comes understanding and forgiveness. So, when I apologize after I say something hurtful to a fellow Christian, he or she knows I am sincerely sorry and they forgive me just as Jesus did. There is peace. Ephesians 4:32 (ESV): Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV): Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

What does love look like?

Love conquers all! Listen to this next passage where God describes what love looks like. Feel your mind and body relax in its assurance. Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV): Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

God is with us, always

God’s love goes beyond giving us a way to Him through Jesus Christ. He gives us Himself, the Holy Spirit, who is a gift for all of those who believe that Jesus is God’s Son. Because it’s nearly impossible to memorize the whole Bible, God gifts us the Holy Spirit to guide us. John 14:26 NASB: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you. Ezekiel 36:26 NLT: And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

The Holy Spirit, God Himself, directs us to righteousness. His voice is distinctive. It’s the one that tells you to do the right thing. Romans 8:6 (NLT): So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. And, luckily, God tells us that He is greater than anything, so with Him, we are fortified, protected, well. 1 John (4:4) NIV: You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Creation is All Around Us

On a recent flight, my mind began to wonder, as it has so many times before riding the skies, just how in the world is this mega steel boat get its huge body off the ground, not by a few feet, but thousands of feet?  And, how amazingly intelligent are all of those experts from the Wright Brothers to today’s flight engineers?  All of that shared information has gotten millions of people around the world millions of times.  My mind went to how many rivets are required for the metal plates so they don’t fly off going 500 mph.  And, how the plane goes up and down and stops.  Look at a diagram of airplane parts to see how many it takes to control the beast.

How far the world has come in the 20th century!  To think that the Wright brothers flew their plane in 1903 and planes were used in war as early as 1911.  Today, we have spacecraft going to who knows how many parts of the universe.  And, satellites relaying so much information.  I wonder what is next!  I think, in my lifetime, that car manufacturing may be nearly obsolete and the Jetson’s scenario of hovercraft will be the norm.  Hopefully, I am not around for teleporting.  

Had to be a mastermind

So there has been some pretty impressive thought processes and trials and errors to figure out air travel.  Now, let’s take a look at things we did not create.  Our planet is so intrinsically made.  Consider gravity, wind direction and speed, air currents.  Aircraft engineers have to address all of these factors.  I took a class where we talked about the design of the earth and how it just didn’t magically happen.  Something intelligent had to be there to start it all.  One cell can’t just decide to tell itself that it will be lung tissue in a mammal or a component of dirt or air, or pollen.  For any kind of order to happen, many scientists are now saying that the universe had to be made by a master creator. 

Think how the air we breathe is a perfect combination of gases.  Air, combined with food and water give us what we need to survive.  Animals are perfectly paired with their surroundings, giving them shelter, drink and food.  I am not a scientist whatsoever, but I do know that there is so much harmony between life that there is no way that all of it could have come into being without the most incredible genius at the helm.  

And, the Bible says that humans are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).  So, if humanity’s scruples are a fragment of God’s creative power, just imagine His intelligence!  Not only did God engineer the world, but also our galaxy and universe and who knows what else.  Nehemiah 9:6b: You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host …

Evidence of God’s existence is all around

He also put knowledge of himself in every person.  The tough part is just recognizing Him, especially if we have not grown up in Christianity or were even discouraged from it.   Romans 1:20 (NLT) says: “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”  And, not only can we see a marvelous creation, but God managed to have people across thousands of years and thousands of miles relate stories to us that tell of Him and His plan for redemption.

We spent our Thanksgiving week away from home, staying at a rental property while we visited family.  There was a fish tank in the rental with three large fish in it.  We were to feed them every day.  I named them Goldie, Blue and Horace.  Goldie was the prettiest, Blue, had the most personality and Horace was the least social.  Several days later I noticed Horace had a “lucky” fin, meaning it had been chewed off to about a quarter of the other one.  So, he had a reason for staying out of the way!  These fish have probably been named a hundred times from all of the visitors.  I just thought it amusing that I like to name things and I think many of us do, which is a task that God gave humankind in the Garden of Eden.

His signature is on so many things.  There is evidence all around, but we can go to creation in Genesis 3 to see concrete examples.  In verse 16, women get their curse from the Fall (NIV): 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.”  How many times do we want to tell our husbands what to do?  And, how many centuries have men largely ruled over women?  

In verse 17-19, he addresses men: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will 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.”  Now, most of us reading this article are not farmers or hunter-gatherers, but still, we struggle to make a living to put food on the table.

And, before this when God confronted Adam and Eve for their sin, they were trying to hide from God in verse 10.  Where did we get that innate action when we are caught wronging someone, where we curl up and try to slink away from the person we disappointed?  This is the arrival of shame and guilt into our world.  

That all sounds a little daunting.  But, in His loving kindness, he cared for each one of us by giving us His Word, that if we follow it, we will be fulfilled.  When you contemplate the world and just how incredibly awesome it is, you see the evidence and realize just how much He loves us to create a world for us that is marvelous!  I am smiling as I write this : )