IN THE BIBLE
*Scripture quotations from the King James Version
The Creation And Fall of Man
The best place to start a story is at the beginning. That is where the Bible story begins. The meaning of "Genesis", the name of the first book, is "the beginning". The first verse of the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) You will note that the statement, "In the beginning God . . . .", assumes the existence of God rather than trying to prove it. Men have always naturally believed in a supreme being. The Bible writers, supposing that any person with ordinary intelligence could see the handiwork of God on every side, did not waste space on that which should be evident to all. The Psalmist writes, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork." (Psalm 19:1)
The Days of Creation
We are not told when "the beginning" was, and it is useless for us to speculate. We do know that after God created the earth it was "without form and void." How long it remained in this condition we have not been informed. Sometime later, however, God placed the world in its present natural state. On the first day of creation He made light and created day and night. Heaven (called the firmament) was created on the second day. On the following days He created the heavenly bodies and members of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, with each species of plant and animal bringing forth after its kind. Last of all on the sixth day He made man in His own image. On the seventh day God rested from his labor.
The Fall of Man
God placed the first man, Adam, in the beautiful garden in Eden. Because it was not good for Adam to be alone, God caused a deep sleep to come upon him and from his side He took a rib, from which He made a woman who became Adam's wife. Adam named her Eve because she was the mother of all living. God gave the first couple the responsibility of keeping the garden and placed on them only one prohibition - they could not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," God told them. (Genesis 2:17) One day, however, the serpent (which was able to talk) told Eve that they would not die if they ate of that tree. This is the first lie recorded in the Bible. Eve believed him, ate some of the fruit and gave some to Adam who also ate. Immediately they knew the difference between right and wrong and hid themselves from God because they realized for the first time that they were naked. This was man's first sin. We are told that "sin is the transgression of the law," (I John 3:4) and Adam and Eve had transgressed God's law in disobeying His commandment.
Because they sinned, God punished them in several ways. They were cast out of the garden; woman was given the pain of childbearing; man was forced to labor for his food among the thorns and thistles; worst of all, death was brought on mankind. From that day until this, all men, with the exception of Enoch and Elijah, have died physically. Furthermore, spiritual death - eternal separation from God - entered the world on the day that Adam and Eve sinned.
From our parents we inherit the human weakness which in time leads us to sin. But we do not inherit the GUILT of Adam's sin or of our parents'. We are told, "So then every one of us shall give an account of HIMSELF to God." (Romans 14:12) We must answer for the sins we have committed, not those of our forebears. Because of our sin, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and have need of Christ to redeem us from that sin so that we might have an eternal home in heaven. This will be discussed in detail in another lesson.
The first two children born to Adam and Eve were Cain and Abel. One day Cain became angry with his brother and killed him. This was the first murder. For his sin Cain was banished from his people. Adam and Eve had many other children (Genesis 5:4) and undoubtedly they married among themselves to produce the first families. Little is told about the following years except that the number of men on earth greatly multiplied and people forsook God for the ways of sin. In those days men lived to be very old. The oldest man mentioned in the Bible is
Methuselah who was 969 years old when he died. Even Adam lived to be 930.
The wickedness of man so grieved God that He decided to destroy him. There was one just man named Noah, whom Peter calls a "preacher of righteousness." (II Peter 2:5) The Lord resolved to save him and his family. He commanded Noah to build an ark and gave him exact specifications. Noah built the large boat precisely as God had ordered.
Just as it was important for Noah to follow the blueprint the Lord gave him, so we today must be sure to follow God's commands exactly as He has given them to us. When the ark was finished, God told Noah to
take into it seven pairs of every clean animal and one pair of every unclean animal. Sometimes people wonder if the ark was big enough to hold every species. Actually there was plenty of room since the ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and three stories high. (That would be at least 450 feet long and 75 feet wide.)
When all was in readiness Noah, his wife, his three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) and their wives entered the ark and waited there seven days. It began to rain and continued for 40 days, covering the earth with a great flood. Only those in the ark were saved.
Peter, in showing that
baptism is essential to salvation, takes Noah an an example when he says, "Which sometimes were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us . . ." (I Peter 3:20, 21)
The water was on the earth for 150 days (Genesis 7:24) before the ark came to rest in the mountains of Ararat. Finally, the eight emerged from the ark, a year and ten days after the flood began, and offered a sacrifice to God. God promised that never again would He destroy the earth by water and as a seal placed the rainbow in the sky.
The flood ended the Antediluvian Period (before the flood.) The time after the flood is known as the Postdiluvian Period.
After the flood, the descendants of Noah were afraid that once again they might be scattered. They resolved to build at Babel a tower which would reach to heaven. This did not please God, so He confounded their language that they might not understand one another. This made them scatter in different directions. The sons of Japheth went north. Most of the peoples of Europe and America are probably descendants of Japheth. Ham's children settled in Canaan and Egypt and other countries in that region while Shem became the father of the Semitic peoples who include the Jews. Jesus Christ was a descendant of Shem. To gain a better understanding of this period, read the first eleven chapters of Genesis.