Creation and Fall
Why the Incarnation? Why did God come? Why did he step into his creation in the person of Jesus Christ? The bible gives us a number of reasons, all of them related to the fact that we live on a fallen planet. In order to understand this we need to go back to the beginning.
The opening chapters of the bible are profoundly important in that they express profound spiritual truth: ‘In the beginning God…’ God is, he exists. ‘God created…’ We are creatures of the Creator. His creation was good. This is a recurring refrain in Genesis 1, repeated five times, culminating with ‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good’.
This raises an obvious question: What went wrong? What about all the evil and suffering in the world? Jesus told a parable pointing us to the answer:
‘An enemy did this’. (Matthew 13:28). The apostle John puts it very strongly when he declares: ‘The whole world is under the control of the evil one’. (I John 5:19).
In the last book of the bible, there is a picture of a war in heaven between Michael and his angels on the one hand and the dragon and his angels on the other. (Revelation 12:7-9). We are told that ‘the great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.’
Satan is thought to be a fallen angel, originally one of the most splendid of God’s created beings. There are two rather obscure passages in the bible which point to Satan’s fall being the result of pride, Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28: 12-18.
The story of the Fall is in Genesis 3. Satan the tempter appears in the form of a serpent. His first temptation was to doubt the word of God: ‘Did God really say?’ What is our own answer to this question? Do we believe that the Bible is the Word of God, authoritative for faith and practice? Eve successfully resisted this temptation: ‘Yes, God did say.’
The second temptation was to disbelieve God. Adam had been warned that death would be the result of eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17). Satan accused God of being a liar ‘You will not surely die’ said Satan to the woman. Then, tempting her with the sin of pride, said: ‘You will be like God.’ Eve chose to believe the lie of the evil one. The sin of disbelief, rejecting the truth of what God had said, led to the sin of disobedience, the eating of the forbidden fruit, which in turn led to spiritual death, the severance of their relationship with God.
The apostle Paul expresses it like this: ‘Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned’. (Romans 5:12)
The four steps leading to the Fall can be expressed like this:
Doubt – Disbelief – Disobedience – Death
The reason that planet earth is the Visited Planet is because it is also the Fallen Planet.
The good news is that ‘When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive in Christ.’ Colossians 2:13
Note: The image is a stained glass window at the Melkite Catholic cathedral in Roslindale, Massachusetts depicting an Creation according to Genesis. January 2009 photo by John Stephen Dwyer