The Bible gives fascinating answers to life's greatest questions. In the first verse of the Bible, God answers the question "Why Are We Here?" We are here because God created us, and our purpose in life is to serve and please him forever. Later on, in the first chapter of the Bible, God tells the answer to the question "Who Are We?" Some say humans are nothing more than super monkeys, but in Genesis 1:26 God says, "Let us make man in our own image." None of the plants or animals were said to have been created in God's image. Only man was created this way. We are unique. We are more than animals. According to the Bible, all mankind, every single human being has been created in the image of God and therefore has a special dignity and worth that far surpasses that of the animals.
In the first few chapters of the Bible, we are given an answer to another great and baffling question: "Why Do We Suffer and Why Do We Die?" If there is a God and if God is good, then why is there so much human suffering and why do we eventually all die?
God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)
When the creation was originally completed, the Bible says that everything was very good. That means there must not have been such things as suffering and death at the beginning. But the Bible goes on to explain to us why suffering and death came to this world.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die. (Genesis 2:15-17)
God gave a commandment and spelled out the consequences for breaking this simple rule. And the consequences were very serious indeed. God said that if they disobeyed him and broke the rule, then they would surely die. Here is the first mention of death in the Bible and in the course of time. So far as we know, God never intended that we die. He didn't create us to die, but he said that if we chose to defy him, then and only then would we surely die.
Probably you know the story of what the first human pair decided to do:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
When the woman say that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:1-6)
Now, notice the consequences to their sin:
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:7)
They feel guilty and ashamed. Not only that, they begin for the first time to feel very afraid, afraid especially to be in the presence of God:
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" (Genesis 3:8-11)
Emotionally, they are wounded. They are broken. Something is not right. But this isn't the end of it. There is more damage to come.
The man said, "The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it."
Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." (Genesis 3:12-13)
Now for the first time, there is division between the man and the woman. Adam blames the woman for the mess they are in. There are hard feelings between the husband and the wife. Here is a preview of every marital fight, every family fight, and every human fight to come. And it all is the result of sin. Why do families fight and disintegrate? Why is war so common? The Bible says it is all the consequence of sin. But unfortunately, there is more.
To the woman He said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." (Genesis 3:16)
As a result of their sin, God increased their pain. Why is there so much suffering and pain? The Bible says it is all the result of sin. Further, he tells Adam:
To Adam He said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,'
"Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust that you will return." (Genesis 3:17-19)
God curses the earth. Why are there so many natural disasters? Why is nature so often uncooperative with us? The Bible says it is all the result of sin. And then what does God say will happen to the man and the woman? They will die. This too is the result of sin. And the Bible says that we too die because of sin. See Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned--"
And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life." (Genesis 3:20-24)
Finally, and this is the worst consequence of all, there is separation from God and from the tree of life.
Sin causes all kinds of destruction and division. It divides us inside ourselves. It divides us from family and friends. It divides us from nature. And it divides us from God.
This is why we suffer and this is why we die. But Jesus brings us good news.
For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly, Romans 5:6-10
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- (Hebrews 2:14)
Christ died for us and through him we can be delivered from sin and even from death. God's son has endured our punishment and died in our place. Now God offers us a pardon. The terms to this pardon are simple.
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:15-16)
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:38-39)
God offers the pardon, but not forever! Accept the pardon while he offers!