Lesson 7

Paradise Lost: The Fall's Impact on Creation

(Genesis 1 & 3; Romans 8; Revelation 20)
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Introduction: For weeks now we have been looking at God's account of His Creation. We have discussed the logic of evolution vs. creation. We have also discussed how evolution affects our view of God. This week we study how a belief in the Creation week is essential to a proper view of sin and the destiny of man.

A note from last week: I suggested the lesson's explanation of the "two creation" problem and Genesis 2:5 was complex and doubtful. One of my readers kindly passed my comments on to the author of that section of the lesson. You will find his response at the end of this lesson.

  1. UP OR DOWN?


    1. How do you feel today? Better than last week? Better than a year ago? Better than ten or twenty years ago? (We won't go further because we do not want to strain your memory.)


    2. Does your body get better with age?


    3. Evolution tells us that we are getting better with time. It tells us that man is now much better than he started. Let's see what the Bible says. Read Genesis 3:16-19.


      1. These verses are God's statement about how man will live now that he has sinned.


        1. Is life going to be better?


      2. What do childbirth and raising food have in common? (They allow mankind to survive.)


      3. Do you think it is a coincidence that God chose punishments that went directly to man's ability to survive?


        1. If this is not a coincidence, what do you think God's point was in this?


        1. Do you think it had anything to do with the nature of the sinful act - eating forbidden fruit?


        2. Do you think it had anything to do with the nature of the motivation to sin - not trusting or believing God?


        3. Does the punishment teach us to trust God more or trust our own works more?


          1. Does the punishment remind us that we are dependent upon God for survival?


          2. What does it say about our ability to do better apart from God?


      1. Verse 17 tells us that God cursed the ground. What significance do you see in God cursing the ground as opposed to trees or water or anything else? (Our lesson (Sunday) has a very interesting comment that the earth plays a special role in the Creation and it is "hard to overestimate its importance.")


        1. What important role do you recall that the earth (or ground or land) played in the Creation? ( Genesis 1:11 - the land produced vegetation; Genesis 1:24 - the land produced animals; Genesis 2:7 - the land produced man. God used the earth as the source for much of His creation. Now the "source" was cursed.)


      2. Genesis 1:28 tells us that man was to "subdue" the earth and rule over the animals. Did disobedience to God make that task easier or harder?


        1. If you say harder, how had that task changed? (The land and animals were now in rebellion against man's rule. Genesis 9:2 provides an inference that from the time of the Fall until the time of the Flood, the animals were a real danger to man. It appears that it is only after the Flood that animals fear man. (Of course, that might be explained by the fact that man only started eating animals at that point ( Genesis 9:3) - a fact that would naturally dampen the animals' enthusiasm for man!)


          1. Was God teaching man a lesson through the rebellion of the land and animals?


      1. Look again at Genesis 3:19. Is it still man's final destiny to subdue the earth after sin? (It looks like the earth "subdues" man because he returns to dust.)


        1. Would we have returned to dust if Adam and Eve had not sinned? (No. See Genesis 3:22.)


        2. Why do you think God decided to have us return to dust? (This shows very clearly that sin reversed Creation. Instead of getting better, man now has a painful path of survival (food production and childbearing) that will eventually end in him returning to his roots, the ground.)


    1. Read Genesis 3:22-24. What other negative things happened to man as a result of his sin? (He lost his home in Eden and he was deprived of the source of vitality, of eternal life. He also lost God's trust because God guarded the garden!)


    2. All things considered, is man on an upward or downward track after sin?


    3. If you believed in evolution instead of this account of the Creation and the Fall, in what way would your view of sin be different?


  1. SPIRITUAL SPIRAL


    1. Read Genesis 3:14-15. Who is at odds? Men and snakes?


      1. Is this a real snake? (While it is probable that Satan used a real animal for his deception, there can be little doubt that this "snake" was really Satan. Revelation 12:9 refers to the "ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.")


      2. What does it mean, as a practical matter, to have enmity with Satan?


        1. What is Satan's attitude towards man now? (He is hostile. Revelation 12:12&17 reveal that Satan is furious with us and has declared war on us.)


      3. How does the fact that Satan has declared war on you affect your spiritual life?


        1. How does it affect your day to day living?


  2. RESTORATION


    1. If man and nature have been on a downward path ever since man sinned, is there any hope for them to get better?


      1. On what is this hope based? (Read Romans 8:11, 16-21. Only God's intervention, the life and death of Jesus on our behalf, freed us and the entire creation from the evil of sin. We do not naturally become better. We only get better because we were rescued from our own misdeeds!)


    2. Read Isaiah 65:17. Will we get a "second chance?" Will the new creation be at least as good as the old?


      1. Will it be different? If so, how? (It will be better because Satan, sin and suffering will be gone forever. See Revelation 20:10&14; Revelation 21:27. They will be gone. Isaiah 65:17 precludes the righteous seeing the Devil or the wicked writhe in the pain of hell forever. The text says that the former things will not be remembered or come to mind!)


    3. Friend, God gives us the only way to reverse the evil that resulted from the entry of sin into the world. Will you accept His way out?


  3. NEXT WEEK: WAS THERE DEATH BEFORE SIN?


This is the response of the author of part of last week's lesson to my criticism of the lesson's explanation for the "two creation" problem.

From: Randall Younker <younker@andrews.edu>

Hi! You have the right person. In brief, modifers in Hebrew are extremely important--more so than in English. While esev is a common Hebrew word for plant, the combination, esev hassadeh is not. The full expression with modifier, "plant of the field" is rare and unique--as I point out in the lesson and more specifically in the companion book, esev hassadeh occurs only in Gen 2:5 and 3:18. Those familiar with Hebrew recognize that such a specific occurrence of Hebrew words in combination in close proximity is done deliberately by the Hebrew writer to draw attention to the words and indicates a specific plant. The type of plant is inferred from the context of Genesis 3:18. This has been recognized by Hebrew linguists in various commentaries and by specialists dealing with botanical expressions in Hebrew. One of the best and first scholars to recognize and discuss this at length is U. Cassuto, a Jewish scholar. English speaking folks who are not familiar with how Hebrew works often read translations of Hebrew and treat the words as if they were originally written in English. This can lead to a blurring of the original intent and meaning in Hebrew. The Hebrew language is "designed" to say a lot more in a lot fewer words. This can be seen even by a novice who compares the length of an English sentence with its Hebrew equivalents. My point for mentioning this is that the concise nature of Hebrew wherein thoughts are expressed in fewer words means that words in Hebrew have more meaning and modifers are more important for nuancing meaning than they might be in English--thus the combination esev hasadde "plant of the field" is not as casual or incidental in its meaning in Hebrew as it might appear in English. It is quite specific and intentional. There is no doubt that the botanical expressions in Genesis 2 and 3 are quite different from those in chapter 1 and were intended to be understood differently by the Hebrew writer and his audience. It is not esev by itself that is important--it is what esev is modified with--the use of esev in combination with hasaddeh occurs only in Chapters 2 and 3-not 1 and this is quite important in Hebrew. The play on words and word combinations in these chapters "jump" out at the reader familiar with Hebrew and how it is used. Hope this rather technical explanation helps.

Cordially,
Randy Younker, Director
Institute of Archaeology
Andrews University

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