Acts of violence and hatred have become so common we’ve become numb. Whether it’s another act of terrorism, a school shooting, or an incident of domestic violence, it has become far too easy to read the story and then move on with our lives.
I doubt anyone can look around and think, “Yeah, this is the way things should be.” No. Instead, we hear people giving their solutions to fix the problem: More education, Better laws, Tolerance of differences. We need to understand the problem before we can offer any helpful solutions.
Christians turn to Scripture to understand the world, and we know this is not the way God created the world. Sin always brings death – not immediate physical death, but death of relationships, trust, intimacy, etc. Christians throughout history have called this event “the fall,” because sin made all creation fall from holiness and shalom/peace. Where there was unity and peace, now there is division and conflict. The opening chapters of Genesis unpack the multiple relationships that have lost shalom because of the curse of sin…
God & People
Sin brought separation between humanity and God. It introduced mistrust and guilt and rebellion… and resulted in Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:22-24). No longer could people enjoy the intimate relationship for which they were made. We are now born with a sinful nature that leads us to doubt and resist the will of God, and instead we live in rebellion against worship of the Living God.
People & Nature
Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden in order to care for and cultivate creation, ruling over it as God’s representative. Now, however, the earth has been cursed and caring for creation has been made to be “painful toil” with thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:17-19). Where creation was in a state of peace, now we live in a world with earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, and even animals who may seek to take human life.
Man & Woman
Eve was made from Adam’s rib – his side – not from his foot or from his head. While men and women are different, they are equally made in God’s image. Where the Bible says woman was created as a “helper” (Genesis 2:15-25), this is a phrase commonly used about God as the “helper” of humanity, who comes alongside and gives strength where there is weakness. This isn’t a condescending phrase. Instead, it expresses the unity, partnership, and trust that ought to exist between men and women. But when sin entered the world, the blame-game and competition for headship began. The phrase “Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16) foretells the competition for dominance and headship between the sexes. We continue to see this played out in marriages, at the workplace, and in countless other spheres of life.
Brother & Brother
Shortly after Adam and Eve are sent out of the Garden of Eden their children continue the pattern of competition and blame. Cain kills his brother, Abel, after God is pleased with Abel’s sacrifice but displeased with Cain’s (Genesis 4:1-16). Sibling rivalry has existed for as long as siblings have tried to get along. Even within families, where there is an immediate bond, tension and competition reside.
Nation & Nation
As people began to populate the Earth, the search for power and prominence began. In Genesis 11:4 the nations conspire, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered throughout the earth.” The people’s attempt resulted in the Lord needing to do the very they thing were trying to avoid – scatter and separate the nations from one another. And the story continues, with nations working to “make a name for themselves” at each others’ expense.
Hope for a Fallen World
In the midst of the Fall into sin and death, there is hope. Even from God’s first pronouncement of judgment against sin there is the hint of God’s provision and rescue… while the serpent will strike at the women’s offspring he will ultimately be crushed in the process (Genesis 3:15).
1 John 3:8 explains Jesus’ mission this way, “The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s works.” Jesus was that offspring of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head. The devil and sin have always had a death sentence: it was pronounced through the empty tomb where Jesus conquered sin and death, and it will be carried out to completion in the Final Judgement (Revelation 20).
The Bible closes with a vision of the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21-22:5) after sin has been completely judged and uprooted from creation and perfect shalom has been restored.
Revelation 21:1-5 (CSB)
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.
Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.”
The world has indeed fallen under the curse of sin. While victory has been secured through Jesus Christ we continue to wait for the day of judgment when sin and death all all their effects will receive the condemnation they deserve. Until then, let us continue in the mission of Christ, to tear down the works of the devil by proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God and by living in Christian hope.