What do you think is around the bend on the forest path depicted in the header of my site? Do you find yourself wanting to quicken your pace so you can see what’s next? Or would you rather linger on the path and take in all the details of the forest before moving forward? Perhaps you’re afraid to see what’s around the bend?
Today, as I write my first ever blog post, I relate to all these questions! I chose that picture intentionally. Not simply because I love taking strolls in nature but because the first book of both the Hebrew and the Christian Bible, Genesis, describes the creation of our natural world.
And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that is was good. Genesis 1:11-12 ESV
Then after mankind is created God says, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” Genesis 1:29 ESV
Chapter 1 of Genesis is a broad strokes description of the creation of the earth and everything in it. Turning to chapter 2, we receive a more detailed view.
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2: 8-9 ESV
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”. Genesis 2:15-17 ESV
Did you notice in God’s command that there is no restriction from eating from the tree of life at this point in the text? The only forbidden fruit is from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It isn’t until after Adam and Eve disobey God’s command that we learn they had not yet eaten fruit from the tree of life.
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever–” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22-24 ESV
Part of God’s response to their disobedience is to place a restriction on access to the tree of life. This restriction fulfills God’s word of warning in his command that they would die if they ate the forbidden fruit. But in God’s grace they don’t die immediately. Instead it appears that the first substitutionary atonement for sin is enacted by God to properly clothe the man and woman.
And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Genesis 3:21 ESV
Previously everything God made was simply spoken into being. Here we are told God made the clothing out of skins. I believe we are being told here that an animal was slaughtered to provide the skins. This then is a foreshadowing of the animal sacrifices the people of Israel are later instructed to practice for their sins and ultimately God’s sacrifice of Jesus for all mankind.
Can you see even in these few verses taken from the opening chapters of Genesis that God delights in his creation and is already beginning His plan of restoration at a time that He is heartbroken over their sin?
I’m convinced if you read the chapters in full you will find even more evidence to support that God is in the business of restoration. I’d love to hear what you find as you spend time reading and meditating on these three chapters.