Sunday, June 8, 2014

Trouble in Paradise

It was the sixth day. God had done a lot the past few days, and He was almost done with His big project. He just had one thing left to do. He had made the land animals earlier in the day, and now it was time for the final touch. He took some dust from the ground and formed it into a man. Then He breathed life into the new man. In Hebrew, they have a word for “man”… Adam!

God put the man Adam in a beautiful garden. Brightly-colored parrots flew from tree to tree. A river flowed through the garden, and fish swam in the water, jumping and playing as they went. Peacocks showed their feathers, while dogs and cats played among the trees. The trees! They had some amazing fruits! Apples, plums, mangoes… The peaches and kiwi fruits tasted amazing! Right in the middle of the garden, God planted two trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Water from the rivers and streams watered the trees, and Adam didn’t have to worry about keeping the plants watered. But God did tell him to take care of the garden. About the trees, God gave Adam some very specific instructions: “See all these trees? Help yourself to whatever you want! Any fruit from any tree is cool to eat. Well, all except one. Don’t eat anything from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden. That fruit will kill you!”

God gave Adam an amazing job. He got to name each of the animals! A big gray animal lumbered by. “I think I’ll call that…an elephant!” said Adam. Then a very tall animal walked by. “Definitely a giraffe.” Adam looked down at the ground and saw a little bitty creature and said, “Hmm…I think I’ll call that an ant.” Then a bigger animal with a long snout came by and ate the ant. Well, obviously that needed to be called an anteater. Just then, he heard a bark, and a strange creature came bounding up to him, its tongue out and its tail wagging like crazy. “Aw, that’s a good dog!” said Adam. “Hey, I like it! You’re a dog.” An expectant meow came from another animal nearby, and Adam turned to see a creature licking its paws. “That would be a cat,” he said. Nearby, there was a bigger animal chewing grass. Adam decided to call it a cow, and another animal that ran by became known as a horse. A sleek, smooth creature jumped out of the water and back in, just long enough for Adam to decide that looked like it could be called a fish. The newly-named eagles proudly soared over the trees, while a small green creature with four legs and a long tail crept up to the man just in time to be called a lizard. It went on like this until all the animals had names.

But there was still something missing. Adam needed a helper. God made the man fall asleep, and while he was sleeping, God had a surprise up His sleeve. He took one of Adam’s ribs and turned it into a woman. Adam was impressed! She was beautiful! She soon got a name that meant “living”: Eve. She would be the mother of all living people.

But there was one animal that was very sneaky. One day it slithered up to Eve and said, “Ssso, did God really sssay you ssshouldn’t eat from any tree in the garden?”

“Nope!” said Eve. “He said we could eat any fruit in the garden, except for one tree in the middle. He says the fruit from that one tree will kill us.”

“Oh come on,” said the snake. “Kill you? Nahhh! It’sss called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for a reasssson. If you eat the fruit, you’ll know good and evil. Then you’ll be like God! Plusss, jussst look at it! Doesssn’t it look ssscrumptiousss?”

Eve looked at the tree. The snake had a point. It did look pretty amazing. Also, she wanted to learn more. Ah, why not? It’s just one fruit! So she picked a fruit and took a bite. It was delicious beyond words! She shared it with Adam and he took a bite. They closed their eyes and savored the flavor. This was incredible! When they opened their eyes, they noticed something for the first time: They weren’t wearing anything! Well, that’s embarrassing. They quickly grabbed some fig leaves and sewed them together to make some clothes.

Then they heard God walking in the garden. Uh-oh, busted. So they did what anyone would do in their situation. They hid. Finally, God said, “Where are you?” (Of course, He knew exactly where they were.)

So Adam said, “I heard you in the garden, but I was scared because I wasn’t wearing anything! So I hid.”

“Who told you that?” God said. “Did you eat from the one tree I told you not to eat from?”

Then Adam replied, “Don’t look at me! This woman you put here with me gave me a fruit! What was I to do?”

So God asked Eve, “What do you have to say for yourself?”

“Don’t look at me!” she replied. “The snake tricked me into eating it!”

So God had a sad task to do. He hadn’t wanted to do this, but because they had disobeyed His one command, there needed to be consequences. The woman would have children, but when they were being born, it would be very painful. The man would have to work the ground to get food, but it would be very tough. Weeds and thorns would get in the way. Prickly thistles would be a constant annoyance. Someday, he would become dust again, since he had been made out of the dust. The snake would slither on the ground and eat dust.

So God made clothes for Adam and Eve and kicked them out of the garden. Just to make sure they couldn’t get back in, God stationed an angel at the entrance to guard it.

But out of all that horrible news God had for them, there was one good thing. Yes, from then on life would be really tough. Men would have to plow the ground and battle thorns and thistles. Yes, women would have unimaginable pain when giving birth. Yes, as a result of this first sin, people would continue to sin. But someday, a descendent of the woman would come and put an end to the tempter’s evil trickery. This descendent would crush the snake’s head, but the snake would bite.

Many thousands of years later, a descendent of Adam and Eve came along, just as God promised. The snake, also known as Satan, was crushed on a hill outside Jerusalem as Jesus gave His life on the cross to save us. So Satan bit by killing Jesus, but Jesus crushed Satan’s head by rising from the dead. Someday Jesus will come back and finish the job.

As Jesus’ apostle John would one day end his last book recorded in the Bible, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

Adam and Eve
© Steven Sauke
Sketch, Coloring Page

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