Every book needs a strong opening. God’s perfect book starts, ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.’ And so the week of creation follows — the first three days separating to create spaces, the second three days filling those spaces, followed by one day of rest. God looks at it all: it’s good, very good.
At the peak of this creation, he places humankind as man and woman. God places them in this perfect temple-garden where he is able to dwell with them. Having invested his own image within them, he instructs them to continue his work of ruling his creation under his authority according to his ways. As they multiply and fill the earth, so they are to take God’s rule with them.
But it doesn’t go well. In the snake, the Devil brings temptation to the woman. They were given one restriction so that they could demonstrate a willing submission to God. They were not to eat from the tree that would bring awareness of good and evil. Instead, they could eat from the tree that brought life forever. But by questioning God’s word and his goodness, the woman and man ate the fruit.
From that point onwards, the world was corrupted. A curse came upon the whole of creation, bringing pain and sadness, burdensome toil and conflict, even death. All this because, as humankind, we rebelled against our good God and decided we knew better than the One who knows all. And yet in this, God promised to crush the evil work of the snake in the descendant of the woman who would be hurt in the process.
As the man and woman, Adam and Eve, were banished from the garden and from God’s presence, so they were restricted from eating the fruit that brought life. Sin has reigned in humankind ever since and death has been the consequence.
This rebellion of sin is inescapable, as demonstrated by Adam and Eve’s descendants. In cold blood their firstborn son, Abel, is murdered by their jealous secondborn son, Cain. Furthermore, one of Cain’s descendants follows in his footsteps by seeking revenge in murder as well.
Their third-born, Seth, heads the family tree. Though each descendant carries the image of God by being made in their father’s image, yet they also carry with them the poison of sin and its fruit of death. Each descendant dies, leaving the world crying out for an answer, for the one who will crush the snake’s descendant.
Humankind gets so bad that God brings judgement in a global flood. He plans to wipe out all people, including all the animals, yet he deems to save one man and his family out of his loving kindness. Noah is told to make a boat big enough for all the animals and his family. As Noah responds in faith, so he is saved, and through him, humanity is saved.
When he comes out of the ark, although God sets a promise in place never to judge the world by flood water again, Noah demonstrates that he has carried the corruption of sin within him on the boat. He drinks the wine he makes, gets drunk and lies naked in his tent. What’s worse, his son sees him, and brings further shame to his father and curse upon himself, demonstrating that he has inherited sin’s curse.
As people multiply again, they fail to fill the earth, instead gathering together to build a city and a tower in defiance of God and to become their own gods. As God comes down to see their puny tower he confuses their languages, forcing them outwards to fill the earth as they multiply.
And we’re left wondering, with such a great beginning that all went so wrong, what hope is there for humankind if sin is so inescapable? Where is the one who will crush the snake’s descendant and stop the rule of death through sin?