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From the Garden to the Desert … and on to the Cross - Part 1

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

By: Arnie Cole & Michael Ross

Our Age-Old Battle with a Deadly Menace

God speaks. Darkness hides. A soup of nothingness suddenly bursts with light and color and warmth.

God creates—water, air, sky, earth. And living beings! Creatures spring forth in every size and shape, splashing through the seas and thundering across the plains. Chirping. Flapping. Swarming. Bleating. Gnawing. Clawing. Digging.

“It is good.”

God gives. His essence. His heart. Himself.

As He reaches into the ground, dust pours through His fingers. But then He begins to form it, molding sand and mud into something familiar. A foot. An arm. A face. His greatest masterpiece.

“Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of the Earth.”[1]

God animates. Lungs inflate. Hearts beat. Eyes open wide—gazing back into His.

Humans: spirit, flesh, reason, emotion, passion, creativity, intellect. The finest reflection of God that He could dream up. His image. His family. Adam and Eve.

God blesses. And the first man and woman rule over the Earth.

“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill the Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”[2]

God rests. The world is complete. His work is finished.

“It is good, so very good.”

In the beginning, life was perfect.

Adam and Eve lived in a garden paradise “to work it and take care of it.”[3] It was their vocation, their life’s purpose. God spoke intimately with His children there, and He even walked with them “in the cool of the day.”[4] Imagine it: Two perfect humans enjoying a pristine world with their Creator. There was no fear or shame that came between them and God. No pain, no suffering, no hatred, no regrets. Just perfect harmony. Adam was one note, Eve the other, and God the third—woven together in a melody of relationship none of us has ever come close to recapturing.[5]

Way different from today, right?

I (Arnie) see brokenness all around me. In my own town—a relatively affluent Nebraska community—children and homeless families go hungry. Some huddle near busy intersections, clutching tattered signs: “Need Food.” “Unemployed Vet.” “Help My Family.” Teens who look more like streetwalkers and gang-bangers file into our schools. I flip on the news, and I’m assaulted by a barrage of non-stop misery: Rising gas prices, crashing markets; earthquakes along the Pacific Rim, tornadoes in the Midwest. “Terrorists mastermind another bombing. …” “Scandal on Capitol Hill. …” “A deadly shooting inside a mega-church. …”

Man’s inhumanity to man. Fractured families. Broken hearts.

Lying. Cheating. Stealing. Anger. Envy. Gossip. Greed. Pride.


Everywhere. All around us and in us—you, me … our children. No one is immune. Yet on most days we manage to stay pretty numb to it all. “We ignore our failures and downplay our moral meltdowns,” writes author Steven James. “We fill our lives with frantic distractions so we can avoid noticing the splinter of guilt embedded so deeply in our souls.”[6]

The question is, why do we have a splinter in our souls?

Genesis 3 tells us what happened in the garden: The serpent shows up, a lie about God is whispered, a soul-robbing choice is made, forbidden fruit is tasted, and then … BAM! Humans are tossed into the thorns of a fallen world.

Yet Adam and Eve were made in the image of God, and an image represents someone or something. So on Earth, they represented the Lord. They had every advantage to succeed: a perfect home, a perfect purpose, a perfect relationship.

So why did they end up immobilized by temptation and neutralized by sin? Why did such a perfect beginning for humanity degenerate into the chaos we experience today?

Two reasons.

[1] Genesis 1:26, The Message

[2] Genesis 1:28, The Message

[3] Genesis 2:15

[4] Genesis 3:8

[5] Steven James, Story: Recapture the Mystery (Grand Rapids: Revell, © 2006), 20.

[6] Ibid.

From Tempted, Tested, True

© Back to the Bible.

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