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  • Death, in the beginning?

    I've been praying and pondering this topic, and God has blessed me with a few gems of knowledge. It is a branch off of this post by Lou in the thread The three acts of creation - the 3 parts of our being - the three steps of salvation: #9 Something innocent has to die for us to have life, and a light response in #14. I welcome you along on this journey, and hope to hear your feedback, especially if any of it needs serious correction.

    As an approach to this question, "Where is death in Gen 1?" it helped me to first ask, "Where is life?" which really means, "Where is Christ?"

    In Gen 1 life is evident as God makes the land that will bring forth living things, and then He makes the living things. And God sees that they are good, of significance to us that His first eloquent words are about His good works.

    God is light and in him is no darkness at all (1Jn 1:5). Good is not a mixture of some good and some evil. It is purely good! Remember this for later.

    Jesus, the Creator, is equated with life and the light of men (Joh 1:4; Gen 2:7; and many others). He is the Word, He was in the beginning, with God, and He was God (Joh 1:1-3). In Gen 1, God said a lot: there is God's Word.

    Here is another aspect of Jesus, our Savior, in Gen 1,2 and mirrored in Eph 5:

    Gen 1:27
    27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

    Gen 2:23-24
    23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

    Eph 5:28-32
    28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

    And God saw that it was good, as evidenced in His creation and witnessed by His Spirit:

    Gen 2:25
    25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

    Tit 1:15
    15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

    The tree of knowledge of good and evil is a peculiar device. It provides a solid choice between good and evil. The infamous tree itself is good:

    Gen 1:11-12
    11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

    Gen 2:9
    9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    Now, where is death among all the life, light, and goodness?

    (In fact, God does not speak plainly about evil in Gen 1, even though He boldly takes credit for it elsewhere (Isa 45:7; Pro 16:4)).

    God's commandment about the pivotal tree indicates that death exists, and implies that man knew its ramifications, at least as far as the body. Keep in mind that Gen 2 drills down into the overview provided in Gen 1. Later, after Adam and Eve have eaten of the tree, we learn it did not bring forth physical death; and the serpent's deception took full advantage of obfuscation to make a legally valid pretext. If that death penalty was not physical, it must have been spiritual--a fundamental conclusion supported by a large portion of the Holy Bible.

    Gen 2:16-17
    16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

    Gen 3:3-4
    3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

    So where might death have first appeared?

    Gen 1:3-8
    3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

    (I don't think this is an act of creation or making. I believe it is a covenant (Jer 33:20-21; Jer 33:25). Covenants are an iron I have in the fire that I hope comes to a finish soon, the good Lord willing.)

    On the first and second day: 1) light and darkness, Day and Night; 2) the firmament (Heaven). Everything after the second day, God remarks in his holy scripture that He saw that it was good. Why does He not say the same thing about first two days? Remember the previous comment: good does not mean a mixture of good and bad? This may be of relevance here.

    On the first day, the earth was "without form, and void". There are scholars who take significant meaning from the Hebrew words, which can imply destruction and ruin, as if life had been present and was brought to an end. Death is the end of life. If so, then here is death. If not, then at least here is an absence of living things and a potential that the life of living things might end.

    Also on the first day, light and darkness were set apart (Gen 1:4; Joh 1:5). They cannot come together. They are a fundamental antithesis.

    Later, in Gen 1:16 we see the two great lights each "rule" (Strong's H4475, dominion, government, power, rule) over their respective times. In other places in the Old Testament this word is more commonly translated as "dominion". This is not the same original word as describes Adam's "dominion" in Gen 1:26,28 (Strong's H8278, subjugate, tread down, rule). The light that rules the day is said to be greater than the light that rules the night; we can see with our eyes this is so (Rom 1:20). This is a shadow of the enmity in Gen 3:15, and in that same judgment sin entered into the world and death by sin.

    In the natural, darkness is the absence of light; it cannot fight against light in any way, because it is powerless against it. So also, in the spiritual.

    Joh 1:5
    5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

    Ecc 2:13
    13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.

    (The Greek word for "comprehended" in Joh 1:5, G2638, has a much richer meaning: take eagerly, seize, possess, apprehend, attain, find, obtain, perceive, (over-) take.)

    We can see the excellence of light and the utter folly of the love of darkness in the natural, as well as throughout the Holy Bible.

    On the second day the firmament is a shadow of the dominion of Satan, prince of the power of the air. It is the realm where his minions roam, from where they besiege God's creation in order to (spiritually always, and sometimes physically) kill, steal, and destroy. Here also is death.

    Death is also there in the potential of sin, which had not yet entered, but lieth at the door.

    Gen 4:7
    7a If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.

    Apparently, eating the forbidden fruit was not punishable by bodily death, though it does bring the curse of corruption: I infer aging, physical death, and eternity in death in the natural (this seems like a very deep topic, and I'm already running long so I will let it dangle). We know that the natural comes first:

    1Co 15:46
    46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

    The Gen 3:17-19 pronouncement by God was the punishment, and man's spirit died under satan's dominion (government, power, rule) who man chose over God. Death of the body must have been present from the beginning. It must provide the antitype of spiritual death which entered upon the act of disobedience. Hence, "dust to dust" would not have been the consequences, rather the context, the term of the just sentence: for life.

    ...

    But thanks and all praise be to God that He provided for our every need from the beginning!

    Gen 2:9
    9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
    Last edited by Baruch; September 21, 2014, 05:04 PM.

  • #2
    Did God create evil ?

    Hi Baruach,

    I read your article and this sentence caught my attention that you wrote:

    (In fact, God does not speak plainly about evil in Gen 1, even though He boldly takes credit for it elsewhere (Isa 45:7; Pro 16:4)).
    Ist - what is evil - is evil not when anyone disobeys The Lord.

    Now God could allow evil to exist, but could God create evil ? How could God create disobedience. Maybe if God said let there be light, and there was NOT light, that would be evil. But did not the Creation obey His every word.

    What about this scripture:

    Psalm 19
    For the director of music. A psalm of David.

    1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
    2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge
    .
    3 They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
    4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
    In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
    Does not the whole creation declare the glory of God. certainly evil is NOT the glory of God is it ?

    I think this translation is a better translation of Isaiah 45:7

    Isaiah 45
    . 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, 6 so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other. 7 I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. 8 "You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD, have created it.
    Proverbs 16
    3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. 4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends-- even the wicked for a day of disaster. 5 The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
    Disaster is not evil, it may seem evil to mere men. The flood was a disaster to many men, but it was NOT evil. For God does NOT do evil. If God did evil, how could he judge us for doing evil.

    The flood was mercy and justice. It was justice for those who had made themselves beyond redemption, but it was mercy for those in the ark and all of us. If the whole world would have made themselves beyond redemption, then Christ would have had no one to be born from and we all would have been lost. Certainly God saved us all by the flood.

    So I do not see how God could have created evil. Although some translations may make this seem like that is what is being said.

    Maybe you can show me the error of my thinking.

    Grace to you
    Lou Newton

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi, Lou,

      Thank you so much for making me think further about this word, "ra" aka "evil".

      You seem to not be a fan of word studies. I like them, maybe more than I should. If I get one stuck in my craw I will sometimes spend hours on it, looking at every angle I can pick out and sampling other verses to get a fuller flavor.

      So I hope you'll indulge me. And I beg you in like mind, perhaps you can show me the error of my thinking!

      Here is a brief analysis of Hebrew words translated as the word evil:

      H205 aven x 1, vain, nothingness
      H1100 belial x 1, without profit, worthless
      * H7451 ra x 660, many applications, 440 are evil
      H7455 ro-a x 1, badness, naughtiness (Jeremiah uses this more than any)
      H7489 ra x 96, do evil, evildoer

      Examples of Hebrew words translated as a phrase containing the word evil, just to show there are options for succinct wording. This is not exhaustive:

      H2161 zamam x 1, thought evil, plan, plot
      H7462 ra-ah x 1, evil entreat; x 172, feed, shepherds, shepherd (this one is strange)
      H8956 lashon x 1, evil speaker

      * H7451 is by far the most common form in the OT. It appears 660 times, two thirds of which are "evil". This is the word used in Isa 45:7. In the Masoretic text it is ubiquitously two letters, resh ayin, with few variations (there were so many I had to settle for skimming a search with highlighting and saw many, many precise "resh ayin" highlighted; which means not compounds or conjugations). "ra" is translated as:
      440 x evil
      59 x wickedness
      26 x wicked
      20 x hurt
      19 x mischief
      14 x bad
      less than 10 x sore, trouble, evils, ill, affliction, harm
      less than 5 x adversity, grievous, mischiefs, naught, noisome, sad, wickedly, adversities, afflictions, calamities, displease, displeased, distress, evilfavouredness, great, grief, ... vex

      One could certainly make a case for this versatile word meaning "bad", "distress", "adversities", "afflictions" in Isa 45:7 to soften the meaning or separate it from man's wickedness. But it's remarkable to me that "ra" was chosen when there are words that specifically mean adversity, distress, etc. Why would God pick a word that generally means "evil"?

      Interestingly, in Isa 45:7, prior to the word "ra" is the word "choshek", H2822 (dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness: - dark (-ness), night, obscurity.) God expands or clarifies on this word by application of the word "ra".

      I don't want to overdo the word study. Even though I have some years of Hebrew, they are rusty and it is very hard for me to make any case for or against seasoned scholars, and especially one that paints God in an "evil" light. Maybe it did not mean "evil" 2/3 of the time back in BC days. Maybe the Masoretic text is tainted in some respects. Maybe I am at fault because I put all my eggs in KJV and its mountains of scholarly work, and am very wary of Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Nestle-Aland and the stack of new interpretations that sprung up since the 1800's. Exegesis must somehow meet my walk in the Spirit, and KJV fits me. I, adoring God and wanting only to please Him, am exceptionally averse to insulting and blaspheming Him--I trust we all are! I very much want to know and understand Him, and I believe this "ra" is an important aspect.

      It appears plainly that if God wanted to say something clearly different, He could have without any effort whatsoever. God is holy. I really dig what you said about the flood, and I agree it was an act of mercy and justice. It was also an act of "ra".

      Man is quite an accomplished inventor of evil; Gen 6:5, only evil continually; Rom 1:30, inventors of evil things; Pro 1:16, Isa 59:7, feet run to evil; Jer 17:9, deceitful above all, and desperately wicked. I absolutely do not mistake these qualities for God's.

      There is a difference in God-ra and man-ra. There must be or, as you say, God would not be able to judge us justly. That difference, I surmise, is not in a two-letter word or in phrase. I propose it is in the nature, purpose, and intent; and perhaps most importantly WHO, i.e. Creator or creature, Sovereign or debtor, Holy or fallen, Eternal or corruptible, Righteous or unrighteous.

      So there appears to be a "ra" of God and a "ra" of man. And they are not the same. One is righeous and the other is not.

      Sorry for the wall of text. Hopefully it is not too off-putting.
      Last edited by Baruch; September 21, 2014, 11:48 PM. Reason: remove "x 440" and "x 59", artifacts of editing

      Comment


      • #4
        Very, very interesting, and probably noteworthy, it appears that "ra" H7451 in the Masoretic Hebrew is only used in reference to the tree of good and evil, until Gen 6:5 when God saw the wickedness (ra) of man was only evil (ra) continually.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Baruch View Post
          Gen 2:16-17
          16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
          I think that it only makes sense that Adam and Eve had to have had some understanding of what death was/is. How could one understand what death was unless they had seen it before.

          There are three primary colors, depending on how you look at it: Blue. Red, and Green (or Yellow). Combinations of these make up all the colors we know. Now, say I saw a brand new color, one you had never seen before, and I called this color, Durie. How could I begin to describe this new color to you? How can one describe the color red to a man who has been blind his whole life? It seems there are some things we must see or experience to even begin to understand. Like the grace of God.

          So, somehow or another, it seems to me that Adam and Eve had some kind of idea what death was/is. If that's true, then death must have been in existence before the fall of Adam.

          Grace to you,

          Travis

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Travis View Post
            I think that it only makes sense that Adam and Eve had to have had some understanding of what death was/is. How could one understand what death was unless they had seen it before.

            There are three primary colors, depending on how you look at it: Blue. Red, and Green (or Yellow). Combinations of these make up all the colors we know. Now, say I saw a brand new color, one you had never seen before, and I called this color, Durie. How could I begin to describe this new color to you? How can one describe the color red to a man who has been blind his whole life? It seems there are some things we must see or experience to even begin to understand. Like the grace of God.

            So, somehow or another, it seems to me that Adam and Eve had some kind of idea what death was/is. If that's true, then death must have been in existence before the fall of Adam.

            Grace to you,

            Travis
            Amen and amen Travis. I see no reason to assume that there was no natural death before the fall of man. There is much reason to say that there was no spiritual death in men before the fall.

            God has left much evidence that stars were born and died before man ever was created. The plants grew and the seeds fell to the ground before the fall. That is the death of the seed as Jesus uses this example of death as a parable of His death.

            Lou

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