There are many who over the years have accused God of being both a despot, tyrant and child killer, and that he loves to see people suffer. They base their view on many of the incomprehensible stories in the Bible, mixing it with the fallen church’s view of an eternally burning hell. The question is whether such people at all try to look behind the stories and whether they bother to try to find out what words and expressions really mean. I have a background as an atheist, but after my conversion I have learned to see the love of God in all parts of the Bible, even in those places where it initially seems as if the claims of a God who is loving are anything but correct.
Let me state right away that God loves all people equally. In his Gospel, John writes the following: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3,16. God loves people so much that even though it could go wrong – that we made the wrong choice – He gave us free will. We can choose to follow God, and we can choose not to follow God. God loves us just as much no matter what choice we make. I made my choice when I was in my teens, and I have done a lot of stupid things over the years when I did not want to know anything about God. I lived a life that could have ended there and then without knowing God, but as John says in 1 John 4,10: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.. I understood this when I began to study the Bible, and this was a revelation of God’s love. I had never loved God, but he had preserved me through the wild and crazy life I lived from my early teens until I was 50 years old. For more than 35 years, I actually lived on the edge of the cliff in a figurative sense, and many times I was close to falling off the edge. But God was there and made sure that nothing happened to me. Thanks to this verse, 1 John 4,10, it was clear to me that God had loved me all my life even though I denied Him.
Another point that is important to keep in mind is that God has chosen a special people, Israel in Old Testament times, and the Christians in New Testament times. These are the ones who keep all the ten commandments of God and the faith of Jesus and have the testimony of Jesus. And even though God loves all people equally, this special people is to God the apple of His eye. God has made a covenant with this people, and He will do anything to defend them. He we protect his people from false teachers and prophets and from pagan teachings and traditions. When we humans challenge God by choosing idols or atheism instead of God, God will always do what He has to do to protect His special people.
Due to misunderstandings and distortions, many say they do not like the God of the Old Testament, and that God in the Old Testament appears as a God of vengeance, who rather will punish people with the fire of hell and torment them forever instead of to do something good for them. But is it true that God is different in the Old and New Testaments? One of the stories that really puts God in the right light is the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, something we will look at later. Some verses that tells us about God’s love for his people we find in Hosea 11,1-4, a passage that is entitled But God still loves Israel. When Israel [was] a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. [As] they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Balaam and burned incense to graven images. I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.
We will now make a journey through the Bible to see how God is in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. But before we move on, I would like to include the following quote from Ellen G. White. She says that: all communication between heaven and earth has taken place through Jesus since the fall.
God’s love is expressed in many ways, and we see God’s love throughout the Bible and throughout history. We see God’s love in His care for the nations and the actions He takes for humanity in general and His people in particular. We have a God who is willing to meet us sinners, lift us up from the abyss we are in, lead us out of death and into life. Paul tells us that we are all sinners (Romans 3,23), and that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6,23). In this sense, we are all doomed, we have judged ourselves because we have all chosen to sin against God. But it is now that the love of God truly becomes visible. God himself was crucified and died instead of us. He paid the price we were to pay, which would cost us our lives, so that we can live forever with our Creator and God in all eternity. This tells me that there is not anything God will not do for us as long as we let him into our life.
My request to you who read this is that you use your Bible and read the verses I quote in its proper context to see the fullness of the Bible, and how God’s love beautifully flows through the whole Bible and in all things God does for the humanity.
What is God really like?
Deuteronomy 31,6 and Hebrews 13,5 says that He will not fail thee.
James 1,5 and 1 Corinthians 1,30 says that God, shall give us wisdom.
1 Peter 5,7 says that He careth for you.
Isaiah 41,10 says that God will strengthen us.
Philippians 4,19 says God will supply all our needs.
1 John 1,9 and Romans 8,1 says that God will forgive us our sins.
Psalm 38,16 says that God will give us hope.
Philippians 4,13 says that in God can we do everything.
Proverbs 3,5-6 says that God will direct us.
Isaiah 40,29 and 2 Corinthians 12,9 says that the power of God will rest upon us.
John 3,16 and 13,34 says that God love us.
Matthew 11,28-30 says that God will give us rest.
Mark 10,27 says that with God all things is possible.
Exodus 22,27 says that God is gracious.
This is just a small excerpt of all the verses in the Bible that tell something about God, and these verses tell us what God is like. God is the God of grace God is the God of love and God is the God of forgiveness. All this shines upon us from the cross at Calvary where the Son of God voluntarily died for mine and your sins, just because He loves His creatures and wants to forgive us all our sins, not because we deserve it, not in any way, but only because He is the God of grace. If we seek our refuge in Jesus, he will give us everything we need both in this life and in the next. But the whole and complete answer to what God really is we will not find while we are here on earth, but we have a hope of eternal life with Him, and then we will perhaps better understand and know God and how deep, infinite and boundless God’s love is … … …
God’s character and attributes.
Read Psalm 103. What can we find out about God in this psalm? This psalm tells us that God forgives us all our iniquities, redeems us from the perdition. He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and the mercy of the Lord is from eternity to eternity upon them that fear him; after them and His righteousness reaches to the grandchildren of those who keep His covenant and to those who remember His commandments, so they do according to them.
God’s character and attributes are reflected in God’s ten commandments. As the commandments are, so is God. David calls God’s law perfect and says that God’s law is the truth: The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple, Psalm 19,8 … // … Thy righteousness [is] an everlasting righteousness, and thy law [is] the truth, Psalm 119,142. Jacob calls the law of God perfect and says that it is the law of freedom: But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed, James 1,25 … // … So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty, James 2,12. Paul says that the law is holy, and that the commandment is holy and just and good: Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good, Romans 7,12.
When the law of God is thus spoken of, it reflects the attributes and character of God, then God must also be perfect, His word must be the truth, He is the God of freedom, and He is holy, just, and good. God’s law must also be from eternity to eternity, it must always have existed as it reflects God, because God has always existed, and will always exist.
The Bible says that God created the world, but why did he do it? Genesis 1,1-2,25.
When Lucifer rebelled and sinned against God in heaven, he said that God was erratic and acted arbitrarily. Lucifer accused God of being a tyrant and of being vengeful. One-third of all the angels God had created believed this lie, and we can assume that other living beings elsewhere in the universe also experienced the conflict that unfolded in the throne room itself in heaven. To prove his innocence, God does two remarkable things. First, God allowed Lucifer (hereafter Satan or the devil) to live and continue his rebellion against God. If God had put an end to Satan on the day he rebelled, all the creatures in the entire universe would have believed what Satan blamed God for. Instead, God allows the devil to continue to blacken His name. Then he created the earth and man.
When God does something, he always has a perfect plan, and the plan of creation was to create a being who was to be like God, as it says in Genesis 1,27: So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. But let us look at the world He created in which He was to put man:
Genesis 1,3: And Gud said – and it was so.
Genesis 1,6.7: And Gud said – and it was so.
Genesis 1,9: And Gud said – and it was so.
Genesis 1,11: And Gud said – and it was so.
Genesis 1,14.15: And Gud said – and it was so.
Genesis 1,20.24: And Gud said – and it was so.
What does the Bible say about what God created?
Genesis 1,4: it was good. The light.
Genesis 1,10: it was good. Land and waters.
Genesis 1,12: it was good. The herbs of the earth.
Genesis 1,18: it was good. Sun, moon and stars.
Genesis 1,25: it was good. The fishes, the fowls and the beasts of the earth.
We see from the text that everything God created was good, both light, land, sea, plants, sun, moon, stars, fish, birds and animals. Everything was done with care and love. Everything was good. In other words, God created a perfect world in a perfect universe before He created man.
And now we come to the climax of creation. God created one to be like Himself.
Genesis 1,26: And God said … … … Now we see that God created man, and what mandate God gave man. They should have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. This is because they were created in the image of God. They should have some of the tasks God himself has. The man God created were to subdue the whole earth and take care of all the living creatures that were on the earth, both in the sea, in the air and on the land, and being fruitful, becoming many, and filling up the earth.
Now we do not find, and it was so, neither in verse 26, 27, 28 or 29. In verse 30 it is true that God says once again and it was so, but here the text deals with the animals, and what they are to eat.
To see how God created man, we must go to Genesis chapter 2 and verse 7. Genesis chapter 1 tells the original creation story that explains what God did day by day. In Genesis 2,4-25 the complementary creation story is told. We get the same creation explained only in a complementary way. There are many who claim that there are two different creation stories in the Bible, and that the Bible is therefore unreliable. But there is no new story told in chapter 2, it is as said the same story, a complementary story, and the difference from chapter 1 is now we get new information that expands the story of what happened during creation. This becomes clear when we compare Genesis 1,26-27 with Genesis 2,7. We find this principle; first a basic story and then a complementary story that comes with new information, also in the book of Daniel and Revelation, among others.
While Genesis 1,26-27 tells us how the creation of man took place, the basic story, in general terms: verse 26: Let Us make man in Our image … // … and verse 27: So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them, Genesis 2,7 the complementary story, tells in detail how God created man. And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. This verse shows us that the Almighty God, who stretcheth out the heavens and spreadeth the earth (Isaiah 44,24), bows down in the dust and formed man with His own hands. Everything else in the whole universe, from the biggest stars to the smallest things, God created by speaking to them in existence in the following way … … And God said … … and it was so … One of the biggest stars we know is called Betelgeuse (/ betelgˈøsə /). This star has a radius that is 1180 times the radius of the sun, and it has a volume that is 1.6 billion times the volume of the sun. If Betelgeuse is Wembley Stadium in London, our sun will be the size of a small apple with a diameter of 7 – 8 cm. and then the earth will be a tiny dot with a diameter of less than 1 millimetre. This huge star God created only by speaking it to existence, God said … … and the star stood there. From the smallest creep to the largest star, everything was created by God saying! …… And it stood there, and not least, it was good.
But when He created man, the Creator of the universe did something unexpected. What was He doing? Well, God the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, bowed down to the dust and formed man with his own hands and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils.
What does God want to tell us here?
What God wants to tell us here is that man is very special to Him, and God wants to have an intimate and special connection with each one of us.
The creation is the first act of love God performs for humans. God’s greatest wish was that man should live and live in a perfect world with his creator. After each time God finished creating something, He said it was good, and we find that God said this about the following things He had created in the following verses: light in Genesis 1,4, land and sea in Genesis 1,10, the plants of the earth in Genesis 1,12, sun, moon and stars in Genesis 1,18, fish, birds and animals in Genesis 1,25. But now, after God had finished creating man, God said that what He had done was very good. It was simply perfect.
The first act of love God did after man was created.
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made, Genesis 2,2-3.
There are many who wonder at the claim that God rested! The question is whether God rested because he was tired? God cannot get tired the way we humans get tired. He also did not rest because humans were tired, for they had just been created. But if God was not tired, why did God rest? This is a relevant question, and there are two explanations that really say the same thing. 1) He wanted to give Adam and Eve which he had created a whole day they could set aside to be with their Creator and God, without having to do their daily work in the garden God had set them to lease. 2) As we see above, the seventh day, the day that came after God had finished the creation, was blessed and sanctified by God. To bless is briefly explained to wish some happiness, in other words if we follow God’s request, He will let us partake of the divine. God will thus bring us under His grace, power and protection. To sanctify something, be it an object, a human being, or as here one day, is something only God can do. When God has sanctified a day, it means that God’s presence is especially present on this day. So when God blessed and sanctified the seventh day, the last day of the week, the Sabbath, our Saturday, it means that God throughout history, right into eternity, will be especially present on the Sabbath to bless those who are willing to meet Him on this day. None of the other six days of the week are blessed or sanctified. But despite the fact that we can read in Genesis 2,3 that God blessed and sanctified the seventh day of the week, many claim that there is no difference in the days of the week. All days are alike, they say.
But is it the case that all days are alike?
Unfortunately, this is like other doctrines that diverge in all directions because one does not let the Bible interpret itself. Many people use Romans 14,5-6 to claim that all days are alike. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth [it] unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard [it]. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. They use these two verses to defend the fact that all days are alike, and they tear parts of a verse, or a couple of verses out of context and then use it at their own discretion. This is wrong, a big mistake. The context in which this is, is about completely different things than the weekly Sabbath. Paul begins in verse 2 by saying that … one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. If we read the whole chapter, we see that Paul is mainly discussing food and that we should not inflict our next sorrow with what we eat. In verse 15 it says this: But if thy brother be grieved with [thy] meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. It is obvious that Paul is talking here about what one can and cannot eat. This is under what we call the law of Moses, not under God’s ten commandments, where we find the Sabbath commandment. Paul says that we can eat what we want, even what the Bible calls unclean food, but if it offends our brothers, neighbours or friends, then we should not eat such food in their presence.
Others refer to Colossians 2,16 to deny that there is a difference between the days. Here it says: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]. The Jewish calendar was full of Sabbaths, or annual holidays or feast days, which were strictly regulated. These are the days that fall during the feast, New Moon, or Sabbaths (in the plural) in this verse, and the next verse clearly explains that it is just like that. Verse 17 says which are a shadow of things to come … The annual feasts were instituted to teach Israel about the salvation that was to come in Jesus Christ. They were just a shadow, or an image of what Jesus was going to do. These annual feasts are described in Leviticus chapter 23, and are The Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of firstfruits, the feast of weeks – Pentecost, the feast of trumpets, the day of atonement – Yom Kippur, and the feast of tabernacles. All of these festivals reflect different parts of the plan of salvation. This also means that Colossians 2,16 is not covered by the law where we find the Sabbath – God’s Ten Commandments. We can therefore safely assume that the law Paul is talking about here is also part of the Law of Moses, also called the Ceremony Law (s), not the Ten Commandments. Food, drink, holidays, New Moon and Sabbaths are also mentioned here, but note that Sabbaths are in the plural. The word Sabbath simply means rest, a seven-day period, a week, a rest day, to abstain from work. In order to attend these religious holidays, which could come on all different days of the week, Israel and the Jews had to refrain from work while these days were being celebrated.
I am of the opinion that there is not a thing or a word in the Bible that is superfluous. When Moses received the Ten Commandments, it was God himself who had written them on two stone tablets. Later, Moses wrote down what is called the Law of Moses on parchment, and there is a lot of symbolism in this. The law of Moses was written on parchment – a perishable material – by a man and was kept outside the ark of the covenant and this means that this law is perishable – as man is. In contrast, God’s Ten Commandments were written on stone – a lasting material – by the eternal God and were kept inside the ark of the covenant, and this means that the Ten Commandments have eternal validity.
When Paul talks about food and the food regulations, which are parts of the Mosaic Law, in both Romans 14 and Colossians 2, we must understand the days he mentions here to be the ceremonial days / feast days = ceremonial Sabbaths that the Jewish calendar is filled up with. These feast days entered the Jewish calendar to point to Jesus and were fulfilled by Jesus through His service both on earth (life, work, and death on the cross), and in heaven in the heavenly temple where He performs important work in day.
Here are the seven annual feasts or holidays. It is well spent time studying chapter 23 in Leviticus, this will give a deeper insight into what has happened and what will happen soon.
|Passover||23,4-5||14. Nisan||The cross||Jesus died on the cross*|
|The unleavened bread||23,6-8||15.–21. Nisan||The grave||Jesus rested in the grave*|
|The feast of the firstfruits||23,9-14||16. Nisan 6. Sivan||Resurrection||Jesus rose from the grave*|
|Pentecost||23,15-22||6. Sivan||Pentecost||The Holy Spirit shed*|
|The feast of the Trumpets||23,23-25||1. Thisri||Preparation to the second advent||Proclamation of the three angels message and the second coming of Christ*|
|The day of atonement||23,26-32||10. Thisri||Yom Kippur||The investigative judgement in heaven**|
|The feast of tabernacles||23,33-43||15.-22. Thisri||Jesus second coming||Jesus leaves the most Holy and returns to earth***|
** This is an ongoing action when this ends the Saviour will come again.
*** Not started.
Genesis 2,3 says that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. This day is, and will always be, different from the other days, because God blessed and sanctified this day, the seventh day of the week – the Sabbath. It was only this day that God blessed and sanctified, none of the other six days was blessed or sanctified by God. The weekly Sabbath was instituted in the Garden of Eden before the Fall to remind man of the Creator and creation. The ceremonial Sabbaths were instituted long after Israel was brought out of Egypt, some 2,500 years after sin entered the world, to point to the Saviour who would come and deliver mankind from their sinful condition.
When God sanctifies something – which here is a day – then it means that God has set this day aside for holy use. This means that there is a difference in the days because God has sanctified and blessed the day he especially wants to be present in our lives. What we need to do is conform to God’s will.
Why did God institute the Sabbath?
We find the answer in Mark 2,27 where Jesus says: … … The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.
In Genesis 2,8 we read that God put man in the garden of Eden to take care of the garden, and in Genesis 1,28 we learn that man was to rule over the other creatures God had created. Man was thus to work, but they were not to work more days than God did when He created. In His wisdom and love, God gave man a weekly day where they could rest from their work and just be with their Creator. They were probably with God the other six days of the week as well, but on the Sabbath they could put away everything else and just be with the Creator. So it is with us. We can be with God every single working day of the week, but on the Sabbath we will turn our foot away from our work and only be with our Creator and God this blessed day. God himself chose this special day to be with his people, and it is this, God’s special presence, that makes the Sabbath – the seventh day of the week – holy. God has not blessed or sanctified any other day.
Now there are many who claim that Sunday is the last day of the week. This is both right and wrong. The fact that Sunday is placed last of the week’s seven days in our calendars is connected with an international decision that decided that Sunday should be the last day of the week. This came into force on large parts of the world on January 1, 1973.
The Sabbath has its roots all the way back to the Garden of Eden, before Adam and Eve sinned against God, when everything was perfect, even very good, and the Sabbath is eternally valid. This day is full of blessing if we keep the Sabbath as God desires: If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it], Isaiah 58,13-14. * speaking [thine own] words is translated from the Hebrew word davbar (daw-baw ‘) which means speech – word, but here it is used in the figurative sense of empty talk or empty words.
As Jesus said in Mark 2,27, the Sabbath was made for mankind, ant this means all mankind. Yet there are many who claim that the Sabbath is a Jewish thing – that the Sabbath is only for the Jews. The Jews are, as we know, descendants of Judah, Jacob’s fourth son. Even highly educated theologians claim that the Sabbath is reserved for the Jews, which is really incredible, for Isaiah tells us that the Sabbath is for everyone, not reserved for one of the 12 tribes of Israel – the Jews: For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose [the things] that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, everyone that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices [shall be] accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people, Isaiah 56,4-7.
The Sabbath is also enshrined in God’s Ten Commandments, and this also shows that the Sabbath is for everyone, and not least that it has eternal validity. God’s fourth commandment is as follows: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work: But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it, Exodus 20,8-11. It was out of love for his people that God created the Sabbath so that they could spend a whole day each week just being with their Creator and God.
I often use the term God’s Ten Commandments about the commandments. By the way, I’m not alone in doing that. The Bible itself uses this phrase 19 times, as here in Revelation 12,17: And the dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. … // … and in Revelation 14,12: Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. So, why does the Bible make a number out of this with God’s commandments? That is because we have a different version of the Ten Commandments. Before the papacy was established as we know it today, it began to change the commandments. And in a relatively short time, the second commandment was removed, the fourth was changed by Sunday taking over Saturday’s place as God’s Sabbath, and the tenth commandment was divided into two to still have ten commandments. We therefore have the Ten Commandments of God and the ten commandments of the pope.
The second thing God does for the people He had created was to give them access to the tree of life.
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 …//… And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden … … Genesis 2,9.
God had created a perfect world where there was no sin, distress, sickness, torment or death, because God loved the people He had created. The tree of life was already created to give people eternal life, and in Revelation 22,2, which takes us to the new earth, we read: In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations. It was out of love that God gave humans the right to eat of the tree of life, so that they might live forever in communion with God in the perfect world that God had created. But the right to the tree of life was lost when they sinned against God. God could not allow people to eat of the tree of life after they had sinned because then sin would have been eternal, but after Jesus’ return, and in the New Jerusalem and on the new earth, the tree of life will again be available to God’s people.
The third thing God did for mankind was to establish marriage between a man and a woman.
It appears from history that Adam gave names to all the animals God had created, but he found no creature that was like himself. I think it hurt Adam, and God saw this. What God did now was to give Adam someone like him, and Eve was created. This is also an act of love because God knew when he had created Adam that it was not good for man to be alone. In Genesis 2,18 we read: And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. Furthermore, we read how created the woman: And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman*, because she was taken out of Man*. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh., Genesis 2,21-24. * puns in Hebrew; female – isha (of man), man – ish. We see through creation that God does all he can to make man happy, God spared nothing, and in the beginning there was perfect happiness in the Garden of Eden.
We know that man was created with free will, that is, man could choose what he wanted to do. It is an absolute necessity that God gives free will to his creatures as long as God’s law is the law of freedom and reflects the character of God, who tells us that God is perfect, His word is truth, He is the God of freedom, and He is holy, just and good. Therefore, He must also give His creatures freedom to choose – even with the risk involved in choosing what is wrong. Everything else is as far from freedom as it is possible to get.
Since God had given men free will, this free will had to be tested against something. They didn’t need free will if they didn’t have the opportunity to choose between different things! We also have free will – free will to choose to serve God as He prescribes in His word, or to follow our own desires and do what we want to do. God wants us to serve Him because we want to do it, not because we are forced to do so or are afraid of the consequences of not worshiping God. An example: There are two dogs. One looks unhappy, sticks his tail between his legs and beeps as soon as he sees his owner. The other comes running and jumping with joy and greets his owner. What does this say about the two owners?
The owner of the first dog oppresses his dog and comes only because he is afraid of being beaten and punished, while the owner of the second dog has always shown the dog his love, and the owner has formed an unbreakable bond between him and his dog – a bond of love. This is how God relates to us humans. He does today, and he did in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. He wanted to have, and still wants to have, a relationship built on love – the love of God, and all that God has done so far has been because of love for his creatures. But God will also test our love for Him. God’s law has always existed (see God’s character above), but it was never a problem for Adam and Eve to relate to the law because they had a close and intimate relationship with their God and friend. We saw in Genesis 2,17 that God had planted a tree that gave knowledge of good and evil, and that God had told the people that the day they ate of this tree they would die. This tree was the only test for Adam and Eve, and the only ban they received was related to this single tree.
Adam and Eve sinned.
The prehistory of what is happening now is found in Revelation 12,7-9: And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
As we see, the problems in heaven began when Lucifer – the light bearer, who was God’s archangel, and who was highest in rank among all created beings, became arrogant and wanted as much power and authority as God. In Isaiah 14,12-14 we read this: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
But the devil’s rebellion was repulsed, and as we see in Revelation 12,7, Michael and His angels won over the dragon and his angels, and they were cast down to earth. By the way, Michael is one of the names of Jesus. Here on earth, the devil took the opportunity to entice people to fall, that is, to rebel against God as he himself had done. Adam and Eve had never been tempted, and a lie had never been uttered in the Garden of Eden. This was something they had no experience with. Had the devil tried to get Adam and Eve to worship something else like God, I do not think it would have worked because man knew his God and Creator. What is happening now is that the devil is using the serpent as a medium. Satan speaks through a snake when he lures Eva into his trap. The serpent was the most beautiful animal that God created, full of the most beautiful colours, and with wings it could fly around. It could not be anything less than the most beautiful thing that God had created that the devil possessed to carry out his deception. It is said that the serpent (the devil) was more cunning than anything else that God had created, and in Genesis 3,1 the serpent says: Has God really said: You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?
But what did God say to Adam and Eve? God said they could eat freely of all the trees in the garden, except the one tree that gives knowledge of good and evil, (Genesis 2,16-17). It was just a single tree they should not touch. How is Satan formulating his deception? Look closely at what God says in Exodus 2,16-17 and how Satan formulates his question in Genesis 3,1.
God said: … Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it … …
The devil asked: … Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
How is the devil approaching the problem?
Satan formulates his words in such a way that Eve feels that she must give him an answer, and that is exactly what the devilish plan he had laid out was about. He wanted to get people talking, and then trick them into going against God’s commandments. Satan is as close to the truth as it is possible for him to come, and at the same time as he is as far away from the truth as possible. The devil is a master in seducing. He changes what God has said in a subtle way. It is quite right that God mentioned all the trees in the garden, and this is what Satan turns around, and then he asks if they are not allowed to eat the fruit of any tree! Yea, hath God said…… We still hear this statement today, and not only in the world, but we unfortunately also hear it from the pulpits in many churches … … also within our own church.
When Eve answers, the devil has got her where he wants, and follows up with the world’s first lie: Ye shall not surly die! Maybe the devil said through the serpent: Just look at me, I have eaten of this fruit and can speak! God does not want you to have the best in life, come, just eat this good, tasty fruit … … … Then the devil follows up by saying: 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.
This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It is like an echo from when Lucifer started his rebellion in heaven. In Isaiah 14,14, Lucifer, the devil, says of himself before he fell: … … I will be like the most High and in Genesis 3,5 he says to Eve: … … ye shall be as gods.
The first consequences of sin; They realized they were naked and were scared.
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.
That they realized they were naked must be understood in a figurative sense. When man was created, they were sinless, and they were covered by the righteousness of God, reflecting the glory of God in a way that they were not naked. When they fell into sin, they lost the righteousness of God and became naked. The fact that they sewed fig leaves to cover themselves must also be understood in a figurative sense. When they lost God’s righteousness, they tried to justify themselves with their own deeds. We know that is not enough. We cannot justify ourselves, only God can justify us.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden, Genesis 3,8.
Until the fall, I am sure that Adam and Eve with joy looked forward to meeting their God and Creator in the Garden of Eden, but now, having eaten of the forbidden fruit, they were afraid when they heard God coming walking in the garden.
God’s immediate response when Adam and Eve sinned.
When Adam and Eve fell into sin, God could let them take responsibility for their own choices, and He could let them perish in their sinful state. It was not necessary for God to care more about them. But God isn’t like this. I’m sure God wept when they fell into sin, for a sinful human cannot see God and live, and God created them to have someone to share his love with.
So instead of rejecting them, God calls Adam, and asks: Adam … … where art thou? It is not that God did not know where Adam and Eve were, but it was to awaken Adam, to make him acknowledge what he had done. But instead of humbling themselves before God and admitting their mistakes, they begin to blame others for their sins. What are the two doing when it comes for a day that they have violated God’s command that told them not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden? First, Adam blames God when he says: … The woman whom thou gavest [to be] with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat, (Genesis 3,12), and Eve follows up with blaming the serpent by saying: The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat, (Genesis 3,13). Instead of taking responsibility for their own actions, they blame others.
But despite the fact that Eve blames the serpent and Adam blames God, God does not reject them. What He is doing now is another manifestation of God’s infinite and boundless love: Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them, Genesis 3,21.
When they fell into sin, they tried by their own work to hide their shame or justify themselves through their actions. But humans can never justify themselves and stand clean and innocent before God. Now we get the first lesson of God’s plan of salvation, a plan that was laid before man was created. Man cannot save himself it is only through an innocent living being who must die that there is salvation. This living being – the lamb – that was sacrificed in this verse was the first living being that died on earth, and the first sin offering in history. After the lamb was sacrificed, God made coats to Adam and Eve and He clothed them with the coats. In other words, they were clothed in the Saviour’s righteousness.
What did John the Baptist say about Jesus when He came to the Jordan River to be baptized?
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, John 1,29. In Revelation 5,6 John the apostle writes this: And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain … … …
The first thing God did when man fell into sin was not to reject them, but he shows his boundless love in the way that He forgives them what they have done, even though they will not take responsibility for their own actions. When Adam and Eve finally ask for forgiveness, God considers them righteous, symbolized by the coats he made for them from the skin of the lamb.
The other consequences of sin; Enmity, curse and punishment.
The rest of chapter 3 in Genesis tells us about enmity, cursing and punishment: And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head*, and you will strike his heel. To the woman he said, 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. To Adam he said, «Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, You must not eat of it, 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, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return, (verses 15-19) …//… And the LORD God said, The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever. So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life, (verses 22-24) (NIV 1984). * This is the first Christ Prophecy in the Bible and says that one day God will put an end to all the misery that sin has caused.
As we see, it will not be just good days for man who have just sinned against God. God’s people will face problems and trials in almost every area and in every phase of life. It will be a battle for survival, and it will be a battle against Satan’s intrigues and lies. The magnificent garden that God had planted for mankind now became a forbidden area for them, and death will eventually make its inroads among mankind as well. When humans sinned, they opened an abyss between themselves and their Creator. An abyss so deep and so wide that no human can cross it.
Although God did not reject people when they fell into sin, and despite the fact that He forgave them their sin, something we see in Genesis 3,21 where God clothed them in coats made of leather, we see here that the man must bear the consequences of his actions. As I said, God could have chosen to let them die in their shame and sin, but our loving Creator is not like that. Instead of leaving them to themself, he extends a helping hand. He forgave them their guilt and clothed them with His righteousness. So is God in our day too. It is only because of His infinite and boundless love that God showed me mercy and forgave me all my sins when I turned to Him. Why? It is as John says in his first letter chapter 4 and verse 8:…… because God is love.