August 7 - 13
Paradise Lost: The Fall's Impact on Creation
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Gen. 3:14-19; Rom. 5:12-14; 6:23; 8:18-20.
MEMORY TEXT: "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:22, 23, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: The fall of Adam and Eve did not simply affect humanity but the entire created order of this planet.
THE FALL OF CREATION: The fossil record refers to the remains of plants and animals in the rocks deep beneath our feet. The conventional explanation by evolutionary scientists is that these fossils represent the evolution of all life forms from simple to complex throughout a period covering hundreds of millions of years. The theory of evolution contradicts the biblical evidence of God's Word for both a recent Creation and a literal six-day Creation.
Some, under the influence of the theory of evolution, have suggested that perhaps death-the consequence of the Fall according to both Genesis 3:19 and Romans 5:12-14only pertained to humans and that plants and animals may have lived and died for millions of years before humans were even created. This week we will take a look at both the biblical and Spirit of Prophecy evidence for the impact the Fall and sin had on the creation.
What was the initial impact of the Fall on nature? Gen. 3:14-19.
The account in Genesis, chapter 3, does not provide much information on the precise nature of the curses that took effect after the Fall. We know that the serpent was cursed, the woman would experience pain in child-bearing, and the ground was cursed and would bring forth thorns and thistles. Of these three curses, the first two are rather specific, pertaining to the serpent and the woman. Let us now look at the implications of the third curse.
What impact did Adam's disobedience have on the earth? What did it mean for the earth to be cursed? Gen. 3:17.
It is not just a coincidence that the name for earth (ground) and the proper name for the first man are essentially the same word in Hebrew ('adamah and 'adam). The word earth plays a special role in the Hebrew account of Creation, and it is hard to overestimate its importance. In that account God used the earth as the source from which He made every aspect of the natural world. For example, the earth brings forth the streams to water its surface, man was made from dust of the earth, every kind of tree that was good for food emerges from the earth, and the beasts of the field are formed from the elements of the earth. In essence, all life and those things essential to the support of life emerge from the earth. The relationship between humans and the earth is, thus, very intimate. The Fall resulted in a disruption of this created order, the intimate relationship between humankind and the earth.
Rather than being mutually supportive, the earth and man are now at odds with each other (Gen. 3:17). The earth no longer willingly yields good trees from which to eat (1:12, 29). Indeed, it now produces thorns and thistles, and man must struggle with it by the sweat of his brow (3:18, 19). In essence, man now became a slave to the earth he was created to dominate (1:28). The animals that the earth provided (1:24) would soon be in rebellion against man's dominion (6:11-13; 9:5, 6). The earth from which God formed man would ultimately receive him in death (3:19). The Fall, then, is a complete reversal of the natural created order.
|As you observe the deterioration of humanity and the environment all around you, what can you do as a Christian to be a faithful witness and a responsible steward?|
What impact did the Fall have on humans? Gen. 2:17; 3:19, 22; 4:8, 23, 24; 6:3, 5, 11, 12.
They "would have the knowledge of evilall the days of their life. From that time the race would be afflicted by Satan's temptations. Instead of the happy labor heretofore appointed them, anxiety and toil were to be their lot. They would be subject to disappointment, grief, and pain, and finally to death."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 59.
"Crime would increase through successive generations, and the curse of sin would rest more and more heavily upon the human race, upon the beasts, and upon the earth. The days of man would be shortened by his own course of sin; he would deteriorate in physical stature and endurance and in moral and intellectual power, until the world would be filled with misery of every type."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 68.
How did humankind begin to deteriorate after the Fall, and what was the cause of this deterioration? Gen. 3:22.
"In order to possess an endless existence, man must continue to partake of the tree of life. Deprived of this, his vitality would ... diminish until life should become extinct."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 60.
How will the nature of human life be restored in the new earth? 1 Cor. 15:50-55.
Perhaps it is difficult for some to conceive that the current biological order and ecological balance we see in nature today will be any different in the new earth. Since death and decay are part of the current life cycle, it seems easy for them to assume that it will be the same in the future. But the Bible describes a different biological reality for the future: "I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. ... For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality" (1 Cor. 15:50-53, NIV).
|1 Corinthians 15:26 and Revelation 21:4 assure us that death will finally be destroyed. How does it make you feel to know that death will be eradicated forever?|
How did the Fall affect the earth? Gen. 6:11, 12.
The expression earth may include all the things that were derived from it, including the animal kingdom (Gen. 1:24; 2:19). After the Fall the earth began to increase in violence until God felt it was necessary to destroy it (Gen. 6:11, 12). Ellen White describes this process quite vividly: "When God made man, He made him ruler over the earth and all living creatures. So long as Adam remained loyal to Heaven, all nature was in subjection to Him. But when he rebelled against the divine law, the inferior creatures were in rebellion against his rule."Conflict and Courage, p. 18.
It is interesting that the main reason God brought on the Flood is seen in the fact that the earth was corrupt and "full of violence." The Hebrew word for violence (hamas) implies the idea of the shedding of blood. Apparently one component of this violence was the killing done by animals. This had been such a problem that God felt compelled to issue a couple of commands:
First was to put the fear of humans into the animals (Gen. 9:2); and second was to initiate a special law invoking capital punishment for those animals that shed the blood of humans (Gen. 9:5, 6).
How does Paul describe the impact the Fall had on nature? Rom. 8:19-22.
The effects of sin on the world went well beyond the objects that were specifically cursed in Genesis 3. The entire creation was affected by the Fall. As a direct result, our first parents "witnessed in drooping flower and falling leaf the first signs of decay, Adam and his companion mourned more deeply than men now mourn over their dead. The death of the frail, delicate flowers was indeed a cause of sorrow; but when the goodly trees cast off their leaves, the scene brought vividly to mind the stem fact that death is the portion of every living thing."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 62.
How one defines "plant death" might be debated philosophically, but there is no doubt that the Bible teaches that a drastic transformation occurred during the original Fall that affected the earth and all that is derived from it.
|Life in the new earth will again be different from what we see today. Reflect on this: "I saw another field full of all kinds of flowers, and as I plucked them, I cried out, 'They will never fade.' "Early Writings, p. 18.|
What does Genesis 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25 tell us about the plant and animal kingdoms as they emerged from the Creator?
One of the basic tenets of the general theory of evolution is that all life forms on the earth evolved from common ancestors, which lived hundreds of millions of years ago. This long, gradual process can supposedly be traced in the fossil record. The biblical account, on the other hand, argues that all life forms were created by God's spoken word during the six days of the Creation week. Have new kinds of life emerged since the original biblical Creation? A related and intriguing question is Where did animals like the dinosaurs come from? Did the evolve as evolutionists say? Did God make them, or did they come into existence since the original Creation?
What does the expression plants and animals reproducing "after their kinds" really mean? Gen. 1:11, 12, 21-25.
The expression often translated "after their kinds" can be understood to mean that the life forms God created were to reproduce "their various kinds." This expression can suggest the multiplication of variety of their kinds within their order rather than the idea that each parent would produce offspring that looked exactly like them. This suggests that God built into the original creatures the potential for variety. We see this variety in the families of organisms that populate the earth today. God is the author of genetics. Many scientists who are creationists believe that a substantial amount of change has occurred in many animals as a result of the Fall.
But what about the dinosaurs? Where did they come from? The Bible is silent on that (although some have thought, incorrectly, that the leviathan or behemoth might refer to dinosaurs, Job 41:1, 15). Ellen White was certainly aware of them, however, and made a few comments about them such as "I was shown that very large, powerful animals existed before the flood which do not now exist." She does not say much more about them except to add that "the time of their existence, and how long a period these things have been in the earth are only to be understood by Bible history."Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 92, 93. Scientists who believe in a recent Creation have tended to suggest that God may have made some original dinosaur types, but, along with the rest of the animal kingdom, many of them became violent and were consequently destroyed in the Flood. That is why we find their fossils in the earth.
How will nature be transformed in the new earth? Isa. 11; 65:17.
"There the heavenly Shepherd leads His flock to fountains of living waters. The tree of life yields its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the service of the nations. There are ever-flowing streams, clear as crystal, and beside them waving trees cast their shadows upon the paths prepared for the ransomed of the Lord. There the wide-spreading plains swell into hills of beauty, and the mountains of God rear their lofty summits. On those peaceful plains, beside those living streams, God's people, so long pilgrims and wanderers, shall find a home."The Great Controversy, p. 675.
How will nature be restored to humanity? Ps. 37:29; Rev. 21:1-3.
"The earth originally given to man as his kingdom, betrayed by him into the hands of Satan, and so long held by the mighty foe, has been brought back by the great plan of redemption. All that was lost by sin has been restored. ... God's original purpose in the creation of the earth is fulfilled as it is made the eternal abode of the redeemed. 'The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.' Ps. 37:29."The Great Controversy, p. 674.
What effect will the restoration have on us according to Philippians 3:20, 21?
"In the beginning, man was created in the likeness of God, not only in character, but in form and feature. Sin defaced and almost obliterated the divine image; but Christ came to restore that which had been lost.... The mortal, corruptible form, devoid of comeliness, once polluted with sin, becomes perfect, beautiful, and immortal. All blemishes and deformities are left in the grave. Restored to the tree of life in the long-lost Eden, the redeemed will 'grow up' (Malachi 4:2) to the full stature of the race in its primeval glory.... Christ's faithful ones will appear in 'the beauty of the Lord our God,' in mind and soul and body reflecting the perfect image of their Lord."The Great Controversy, pp. 644, 645.
|How would you use promises such as Philippians 3:21 and Revelation 21:4 to encourage a terminally-ill friend?|
FURTHER STUDY: Read chapter 42 in The Great Controversy, pp. 674-678, for a description of the new earth. Note Ellen White's statement on pages 674, 675: "A fear of making the future inheritance seem too material has led many to spiritualize away the very truths which lead us to look upon it as our home." How seriously should we take the Bible's description of our new home?
SUMMARY: The Fall created alienation, not just between humanity and God but between humanity and the rest of the creation. The earth and all the life forms that were derived from it are in rebellion and have been affected by sin. Only through Jesus Christ will both humanity and the rest of creation be restored to its Edenic state.
I grew up in an active Christian home. Both of my parents are teachers; my father teaches music, my mother teaches reading. Music was a part of our family, but I didn't start singing publicly until I was a senior in high school. Music became more and more of a joy to me, and I eventually decided to study opera.
While singing at a music festival, I met Julie Karpenko, a member of the chorus. As we talked, I noticed she was deeply spiritual. We spent many hours sharing our mutual interest of music and becoming friends. I learned that she was a Seventh-day Adventist. I had heard of Adventists, but did not know much of what they believe.
I was convinced that I was following God's truths, but how could we both be right and believe so differently? As I studied my Bible and listened to some super sermons, I kept hearing some things that did not square with my beliefs. I searched my Bible to verify my beliefs and was shocked to discover that the Bible upheld Adventist teachings, especially regarding the Sabbath and prophecy.
Then Julie told me about satellite evangelistic meetings in my area. I found a church that was presenting the programs and attended nearly every meeting. I found answers to several big questions. I saw that there is no reasonable explanation for Sunday worship, but the Bible contains ample support for the Sabbath. I realized that the Adventist church has a more truthful understanding of the Bible as a whole. And as a Christian, I felt it was my privilege and duty to join the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Since then Julie Karpenko and I have been married. WE have completed our studies and enjoy singing together for God's glory. We look forward to seeing what God has in store for us in the field of music, for which we have trained.
Two years ago I had never heard of Seventh-day Adventists. I've seen how God has led in my life, how He has opened doors that I dared not dream of. He has set me in new places at every turn, and these places have always been better than I could have imagined. Therefore, I have stopped trying to plan for myself or even guess where God will take me. All I know is that the talents He has given to me I gladly give back to Him, to be used for His honor where ever He sees fit.
Charles and Julie Reid live in Princeton, New Jersey. They continue to sing together for God's glory.
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