BIBLE STUDIES ON SUFFERING

© Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2002

2: CREATION AND SUFFERING

[1] The Normal World

What we must hold at the foundation of our understanding is that none of us have ever known God's normal world.

The normal world, the one that God created, was very good. 'God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.' (Gen 1:31a; read also 1:4,10,12,18,21, & 25)

In the normal world that God created human beings reflected the nature and character and glory of God: 'Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness" . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.' (Gen 1:26a,27)

In the normal world that God created reproduction, families, population increase were a blessing: 'God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth ..."' (Gen 1:28a)

In the normal world that God created work and responsibility were a blessing: 'God blessed them and said to them . . . "fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."' (Gen 1:28; see also 2:15)

In the normal world that God created the relationship between husband and wife was satisfying and fulfilling: 'This now is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh' (Gen 2:23a; see also Matt 19:8b)

The normal world that God created was a world without killing: 'Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground - everything that has the breath of life in it - I give every green plant for food." And it was so.' (Gen 1:29-30)

The normal world that God created was a world without shame: 'The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.' (Gen 2:25)

The normal world that God created was a world of freedom: 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden ...' (Gen 2:16) 'He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.' (Gen 2:19)

In the normal world that God created man's freedom was not autonomous, but was within the fence of God's command, that is, within his role as creature: '... but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ...' (Gen 2:17a).

In the normal world that God created man had the potential to live for ever: 'In the middle of the garden (was) the tree of life ...' (Gen 2:9; see also 3:22)

In the normal world that God created sin and death were possible only outside the fence of God's command: '...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.' (Gen 2:17)

In the normal world that God created there was an uninhibited relationship between God and man. Read Genesis 1:28-30; 2:15-22; 3:8ff).

[2] The Invisible World

Along side of God's normal, visible world, in which there was neither sin nor suffering, there also exists a world which is not normally visible to humans. This world was also created by God, through his Son, Jesus Christ:

Colossians 1:16: 'For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.'

John 1:3: 'Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.'

In this invisible world there are a range of creatures:

  1. Cherubim (Genesis 3:24; see also Exodus 25:17-22; 26:1; 1 Kings 6:23-35; Ezekiel).
  2. Seraphim (Isaiah 6:1-7, only mentioned in this vision).
  3. Angels.
  4. Evil spirits/demons.
  5. Satan (the Devil, the Destroyer, the Deceiver, the 'god of this world', the 'prince of the power of the air').
  6. The sons of God (Genesis 6:2; Job 1:6; 2:1).

It is important to identify at this point that all of these, because they are created by God, are neither outside of his authority nor able to thwart his purpose. He is Sovereign. They are his subjects, accountable to him, whether they like it or not. Read Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7; Mark 5:6-13; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6.