Lately, I’ve been studying the early chapters of Genesis. It’s incredible to see how Genesis captures the essence of the human condition today. The mandates placed on humanity by God to be fruitful and multiply and to hold dominion over the whole Earth and everything in it permeate every action humans take in this world. Yet these actions are now mixed with the consequences of us choosing to live life on our terms. In our hearts, we know the calling on our lives but we don’t live out those mandates as God directed. Instead, we opt to live in the ways we think our best. Ever since humanity chose to define good and bad apart from God’s design, we have wreaked havoc on the world. We have been fruitful, but often that fruit is now poison. We like to multiply, but we now steal, kill, and destroy each other. We love taking dominion, but we all too often oppress, exploit, and devour what we were meant to cultivate, care for, and protect. Our desires and actions are warped, decayed, and destructive. We were beings meant to bring order and instead we usher in chaos.
Not only are our desires disordered, but the environment in which we live is now cursed with challenges and hardships. We were meant to live in the Garden of Eden, designed for our enjoyment, provision, and shelter, but now live in a wilderness that challenges us at every step. If we are honest with ourselves, somewhere in our being, we remember Eden. In the depths of our hearts, we know our lives aren’t what they should be. We can numb that feeling for a time but when tragedy strikes, we cannot deny it.
We were made to be rulers and "order-bringers" to an abundant and beautiful world, but are now chaos creatures in a scarce world set against us... yet we have hope! Since the moment we chose our own way and turned away from Him, God has moved towards us. We see this image throughout the Hebrew Bible: God offering chance after chance for humanity to turn back to Him. In Malachi, we see one clear example of this. “Return to me, and I will return to you” says the Lord of hosts. He then speaks to the specific issue he sees at the time, that the Israelites weren’t tithing their possessions to the Lord. Later, he says that they don’t see any profit in serving the Lord, but God makes a promise that if they turn back to Him, then their land will be a land of delight, now able to produce fruits abundantly. The phrase “A land of delight” is starkly similar to the Garden of Eden(which means delight or pleasure).
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty." - Malachi 3:10-12
"To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from 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 you will return.” - Genesis 3:17-19
These show us such a clear picture of how returning to the Lord unravels the curse on the Earth.
However, as we see throughout Scripture, Humanity is unable to turn back to the LORD. Time and time again, the LORD provides direction and encouragement to turn back to Him but humanity can never quite make that turn... not fully. Yet the LORD continued pursuing. We see glimpses of a promise throughout the Hebrew Bible that one day God will make the world right. One day, a man will be born who will lay down His own will for the Lord's.
400 years after the last letter of the Hebrew Bible was written, that man was born and His name was Jesus. The consequences of our choices began to unravel. Through Him the way to God was made and by Him we are made right, once again able to live the eternal life for which God made us, for all those who believe in Him.