The catastrophic beginning of the history of mankind
Right from the start, every Bible reader should be aware of the fact that at the beginning of human history, God made man in His own image, according to His own likeness. In this context, the words ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ do not refer to God’s physical appearance. Since God is a spirit, man has nothing in common with God as far as physical attributes are concerned. Man was created in God’s image, according to His likeness in the sense that just like God, man has the freedom to approve or disapprove of matters and persons. Man also has the freedom to decide to do or not to do certain things.
In theory, God could have made man in such a way that he was pre-programmed to love Him and be willing to obey Him. This would have been a mechanical, robot-like love and obedience. But such a human being would not have complied with God’s wish to make man a creature that is completely free to appreciate or reject Him, to trust or distrust Him, to obey or disobey Him. Robot-like love and pre-programmed obedience as permanent qualities would have made man imperfect in God’s eyes, not coming up to His standards, not in His image, or according to His likeness.
In the form of man, God wanted to create perfect beings, but in God’s eyes, perfection meant having freedom of choice. God wanted love, appreciation, and obedience that were the result of a condition of the heart, sincerely felt emotions, intelligent reasoning power, and choices made in freedom.
This God-given possibility to reject and distrust Him, to think that God had done them wrong, and to think that life without God would be a better life, was made use of by Satan and his devils in the realm of spirits as well as by Adam and Eve in the realm of human beings.
These created beings have allowed feelings of discontent and distrust towards God to impair their perfect mental capabilities and emotions. When this impairment got a permanent hold on them, they turned their feelings and thoughts into actions and rebelled against God.
The story of this rebellion is still generally known today. God had not allowed Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit of one particular tree in their paradise. Satan advised them to ignore God’s commandment and assured them that disobeying God in this matter would bring Adam and Eve great advantages – gains that God was not willing to give them.
Adam and Eve listened to the advice given by Satan and not the one given by God. In doing this, they showed that they wanted to make use of their God-given freedom of choice to turn against God and His plans.
What God had in mind when He created the earth and man is very clear from the very beginning of the Bible and is worked out more and more clearly on every page. God wants a paradise-like earth with perfect, completely happy people on it. These people do not suffer, do not grow old, and die. But such a paradise-like earth with people who are perfectly happy and will live forever can only be achieved with one kind of individuals. These are people who have decided once and for all to submit themselves to God in complete freedom, motivated by love of God and love for His works. An earth with rebels on it, with struggles and fights cannot be a paradise earth.
After the rebellion of Satan, Adam, and Eve, God could only conclude that he could never give Adam and Eve a place in the paradise earth that He had in mind. He sentenced them to death. They had thwarted His plans instead of doing their best to realize them.
By allowing to be alienated from their creator, Adam and Eve ruined their mental and physical perfection. It is obvious that when Satan spoke to Eve in the form of a snake, her mental abilities were already so much affected. She never realized that when God created snakes and other animals, He had not given them the power of speech. Even worse was the fact that when Satan advised her to eat the forbidden fruit of the tree and said that God had lied about the consequences of this eating, that disobedience would not result in death but would bring her a tremendous increase of knowledge and insight, Eve’s common sense never detected Satan’s lie. It should have motivated Eve to reject Satan’s proposal with proper indignation. The devil succeeded in really deceiving Eve. She really believed that eating the fruit of the tree would bring her great advantages. This could only happen because long before Satan addressed her, from her own choice and in perfect freedom, Eve had allowed evil thoughts and desires to enter her emotional life and her mind and had cherished them. Allowing bad thoughts and desires to enter her had clearly seriously damaged the health of Eve’s thinking power even before Satan had spoken one word to her.
Adam also had become unfaithful to God and alienated from Him in his heart and mind long before Satan seduced his wife, probably to a lesser degree than Eve. The Bible says that Eve was thoroughly deceived by the devil, but Adam was not deceived. Eve really thought that eating the forbidden fruit would bring her great advantages, but Adam’s mental powers were still sound enough to doubt Satan’s words, perhaps even to realize that Satan was the big liar and not God. Still, Adam was already so involved in what was evil that he did not decide to reject his wife’s proposal to follow her in her rebellion. He decided to be a follower of Satan and his wife and not of his creator.
The Consequence of Their Actions
In this context, it is good to realize that the impairment of the physical and mental perfection of Adam and Eve was not a form of punishment by God. It was not a punishment imposed on them after their act of rebellion. From what is written above, it is clear that when Satan addressed Eve, her mental abilities were already far from perfect. She was already too far gone to realize that snakes cannot talk and that what Satan presented to her as truth were very obvious lies. Moreover, Adam’s reaction to Eve’s invitation to follow her in her course of action demonstrates lack of common sense. Notice the extremely undignified attitude that Adam and Eve adopted when God demanded them to account for their behavior. They tried to hide from God, obviously not aware of the fact that man cannot hide from his creator. They failed to admit that they themselves were responsible for what they had done. They tried to find excuses for their behavior. Eve blamed the snake. Adam blamed Eve. This was childish and unworthy of a grown up human. God did not have to take away the perfection from Adam and Eve. They had already got rid of it themselves.
By cherishing wrong desires and allowing these to get a hold on them, Adam and Eve had already forfeited their human perfection before their fatal encounter with Satan. Cherished wrong desires and their lost perfection led to their sin. By sinning, they demonstrated that they did not belong to the kind of people with whom God eventually wants to fill His earth: people who voluntarily submit themselves to Him out of love for Him and who want to obey Him. God could not do anything but do what He had announced. Adam and Eve were sentenced to death. In what God had in mind with the earth and with man, there could be no place for them.
It is not possible to understand the central theme of the Bible without knowing all the details of what happened with Adam and Eve in paradise at the beginning of the history of mankind. It shows that after the creation of the first human pair, something went terribly wrong. After this, the rest of the Bible tells people how God has completely remedied what went wrong. God has repaired what Satan, Adam, and Eve have destroyed.