When Easter and Creation Collide
April 12, 2020
The Bible is incredible even when viewed as simple a story. It starts off like a great, galactic space opera, “In the beginning…” with the “heavens and the earth”, the creation of the very universe and it ends with a massive battle, everything in flames and nearly destroyed, the long promised king returns, and by the finish everything is set right, the world is restored and there is huge, magnificent wedding feast filled with celebrants as diverse as the world is wide. In between, there are conflicts, massive battles, love and romance, and the fight for the very soul of man.
The lights go down and the camera zooms in through the darkness to a single, small world that’s the focus of our story. A beam of light splits the darkness and we see Earth drawn out of the waters. Land appears, as grass, herbs and trees begin to spread across the face of it. The camera pans upward, stars twinkle into existence, the Sun and Moon begin to shine. Like some great James Cameron movie, days begin to pass by in rapid succession with the Sun setting and rising as the camera turns and plunges beneath the waters of the ocean and seas, which begin to teem with life. Great whales swim by and a voice is heard saying,
Be fruitful, and multiply…
as the camera breaks the water’s surface, birds start to fly, cattle rise forth from the earth and begin eating the greenest spring grass you’ve ever seen. Then, the voice speaks again and it’s not Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones, their voices are but a pale imitation, and we hear,
Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them 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.
A single, solitary man appears, a woman by his side. They are beautiful and perfect, everything Hollywood wishes it could be.
The sun sets and rises again. All is peaceful and quiet, the couple roams across face of the earth, birds alighting on shoulders, fingers running through the manes of lions, lambs cavorting in the fields.
We could stop right there. And, oh, how we wish we could. But we are only on the second page of the story.
A flashback to man’s dawn, to his being drawn out of the dust of the earth and having the breath of life breathed into his lungs. He is handsome and strong. Yet as he roams among the animals, naming them one by one, the faintest glimmer of sadness, no not sadness, loneliness is seen in his eyes.
An ephemeral hand touches his forehead, he lays down, and begins to sleep. A rib is pulled from his side, and it forms into the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. He awakens with her by his side.
They walk on together, smiles on their faces. The loneliness gone and in its place a twinkle in both their eyes.
A beautiful garden is planted and they live there happily, walking in the light of the afternoon with all of God’s creation about them, rivers flowing to and fro with gold and precious stones lying along their banks. It is all beautiful and perfect, everything they could ever want.
Except, like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, there are two exquisite trees. The Tree of Life and The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the midst of the garden. With them go a single prohibition, heard coming from that voice again, saying,
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: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die
We turn the page for only the second time, and the woman happens upon a creature out of legend, a great red dragon. Yet there is no fire. There is no terror. Instead they begin to speak of God and desire, of power and pride, of foolishness and knowing better than one’s creator. And there is that tree.
What would it hurt? Why should any knowledge be forbidden? What could a single, simple taste do?
She picks it and bites. Immediately her lips redden and her beauty fades. A great cathedral bell tolls in the distance.
The Eve of all women has fallen.
Her husband is there now. He looks at her, a single tear in the corner of his eye as his stares upon her fallen form.
She turns, offering the fruit to him, to her Adam, a pleading question in her eye.
He lowers his head and raises it again, a pained look on his face. He takes the fruit from her hand and deciding in an instant bites heartily into it.
The cathedral bell tolls again. Stronger this time.
Adam, the first of all creation, has fallen.
A third toll.
Man has fallen … and with them, all of creation.
As the bell echos on, they turn taking one another’s hand and walk away from the camera as darkness edges in about them.
This is but the beginning of the greatest epic ever told. The first few pages of an 1,200 page story that will touch the hearts of all who ever live. A tale of treachery and loss; a tale of murder most foul; a tale of forgiveness, redemption, and victory that spans nearly 7,000 years.
But I can’t leave you there…
The lights come back up. We see our hero and heroine looking a little worse for wear, dressed in aprons of fig leaf stitched together, walking through the garden in morning’s clear light, and a voice, that voice calling out,
Adam, where art thou?
We see that same ephemeral hand parting aside the hanging growth where they have hidden themselves. An ephemeral face looks in as if to say, “there you are.”
Trembling, Adam speaks, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
This is where the excuses and finger pointing begin. “B-b-but God, the woman you gave me…”
“B-b-but, the serpent beguiled me…”
Meanwhile, the dragon, who has appeared, remains silent. He’s seen this before, and it didn’t end well.
Then, the cursing begins. Not as you and I cuss and curse. These literal curses fall from the lips of God.
The LORD God, now wholly revealed in spiritual body and in the fullness of his power, speaks three imprecations. He begins first with the dragon,
Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life…
The great red dragon is seen to shrink, first to a drake and then to a little wyrm as his color and scales fade, his voice is cutoff, and his wings shrivel away. He slinks off through the dust, disappearing into small hole in the ground, his castings appearing behind him.
God continues on, speaking the second to the woman,
I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Finally, turning to Adam, he speaks the third,
Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
We then see the LORD reach for a lamb. It is struck down and sacrificed, its coat turned into proper clothes for the man and his wife. Blood was spilled and yet no stain can be seen. The coats are naught but white and pure.
Gone are the works of their own hands, the fig leaves stitched together to hide their shame and nakedness, and in their place, coats of skins bought and paid for by a blood sacrifice offered to and by God from his own hand portraying a sacrifice to come. And they faintly understood the second part of God’s curse upon the serpent,
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
And there was hope.
Today we celebrate not the death of Jesus of Nazareth, but the resurrection and ascension into glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.