In the beginning God created the heavens (the stars, the planets and space) and the earth. God spoke these things into existence. He said, "Let there be light" and there was light. God created everything that we know. The Bible tells us that nothing came into being other than what He created. (John 1:1) He created plants; such as flowers, oranges, pears, apples, peanuts, even the plants that we get chocolate and coffee from. He created the animals; lions, bears, ants, dinosaurs, cows, horses, dogs, whales, gold fish, all the animals. God even created us, by creating a man named Adam. Then God made Adam sleep and He took a rib from him and created a woman from that rib and Adam called her Eve. The name Eve meant that she was the mother of all living, because she would be the mother of all the people ever born. (Genesis 1-31, Genesis 3-20)
When God made Adam and Eve, He allowed them to rule over His creation; they were to rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. (Genesis 1:26)
They didn't have to be afraid of anything. No spider would bite them, no lion would try to eat them, no bee would sting them, and they all lived together without fear.
God gave all the plants as food for Adam and Eve and the animals. No animal ate anything other than plants. There was no death in all creation; no animal killed anything or any other animal. (Genesis 1:29-30) God brought all the animals to Adam to name. Whatever Adam called the animal that was what its name became. (Genesis 2:19)
On the sixth day of creation God was finished and looked at what He had created and it was all good. (Genesis 1:31) There are no death, disease, or sin in His creation.
There was just one thing that Adam and Eve were not to do. There was a special tree which God placed in the middle of the Garden of Eden. It was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was the one tree that God told Adam and Eve that they could not eat from. In fact God told Adam and Eve that if they ate from this tree they would die. (Genesis 2:16)
Before Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they didn't need to know what good and evil was, because there was only good all around them. But the serpent was sneaky and it spoke to Eve one day. It told Eve that God didn't want her and Adam to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because He knew they would be just like Him if they did. Eve looked at the tree and saw that it was pleasant to look at, it looked like it's fruit would be good to eat. Eve believed that the tree would make her wise, so she ate from it and gave some to her husband Adam and he ate it too. (Genesis 3:1-6)
By eating from the tree that God told them not to eat from, Adam and Eve sinned. As soon as they ate their eyes were opened and they realized the difference between good and evil and they realized that what they had done was evil. But it was too late, they had already done it. They also felt shame. Their shame made them realize that they were naked. They had been naked since they were created, but like the animals it didn't bother them until they had sinned, then they felt that they had to hide their shame. They needed cloths to cover them. They took fig leaves and sewed them together to make clothes. (Genesis 3:7)
Now God used to come and walk with them in the garden in the cool of the day, but this day, when He came they were afraid and hid from Him. They had never been afraid of God before this. He asked them why they were afraid and they said it was because they were naked. It was their shame because they had sinned that made them afraid of God. (Genesis 3:8-12)
Everything changed after Adam and Eve sinned. All creation changed, Adam and Eve started to grow old and knew that one day they would die. The animals started to age and would die too. Also before Adam and Eve sinned, there were no weeds that choked out what they planted, but afterwards they had to work at planting and growing food. Before sin it was not work to take care of the garden, and they did not have to work to find food, but after sin, they had to work hard at everything they did. (Genesis 3:17-19)
God made clothes for Adam and Eve from animal skins. This was the first death to be caused by the sin that Adam and Eve committed. An innocent animal had to die so that their shame could be covered. (Genesis 3:21) The Bible doesn't tell us, but I am sure that Adam and Eve grieved over the death of this animal. They must have realized that because of what they did this animal which they lived with had to be put to death. But crying and being sorry for our sins isn't enough, God's holy nature demands punishment for our sins.
God made them leave the Garden of Eden and wander around the earth. But He also told them that some day He would send a person who would take away their sins and their shame. But until that savior came from God, they would have to pay for their sins with the blood of animals. (Genesis 3:15)
Adam and Eve had two sons named Cain and Abel. Abel kept flocks and Cain was a farmer. They both brought sacrifices to God, Abel from his flocks and Cain from the fruit of his garden. God was pleased with the sacrifice made by Abel, but He was not happy with the one Cain gave Him. Fruits and vegetables can't cover our sins, only blood can cover our sins; someone or something has to die to pay for our sins. (Genesis 4, Hebrews 9:22)
God is not and was not a blood thirsty God. He demanded payment for our sins in blood because the blood represents the life of the person or animal. (Genesis 9:4) Sin brings death; separation from God, who is Life. God was showing Adam and Eve and us that payment for our sins is not a clean, painless affair. It costs, it is bloody, it is painful and it must be paid by someone. God already had made His plan of salvation; to send His Son to die for our sins, but He wasn't going to do it without mankind understanding how much that plan of salvation costs Him. (John 3:16, Ephes. 1:3-4, Romans 5:8)
Later there was a man named Abraham. Abraham was married to a woman named Sarah. Sarah couldn't have children and Abraham and Sarah grew old without any children. Yet God told Abraham that He would cause Sarah to have a child the next year, even though she was old and past the time in life where women can have children. And it happened just as God said it would, Sarah gave birth to a son named Isaac. (Genesis 21)
Now Abraham loved Isaac very much, but God came to him one day and told him that he must sacrifice Isaac. So Abraham and Isaac went to a mountain and climbed it. Isaac carried the wood for the fire, which would burn up the sacrifice. Now Abraham had sacrificed before so Isaac understood what was happening. But he asked his father Abraham where the sheep was that they were going to sacrifice and Abraham told him that God would provide the sacrifice. (Genesis 22:8)
Abraham would have been very sad, because he loved Isaac very much, but he also loved God very much and he knew that if God asked him to sacrifice his only son, then that is what must be done. He also trusted God, who had told him that he would have many children, so if God asked him to kill his only son, there must be something more to it, maybe God would bring Isaac back from death, Abraham didn't know, but he trusted God.
Just before Abraham was about to kill Isaac, God called out to him and told him to stop and not hurt the boy. Then Abraham looked and found a ram caught in the bushes that God had provided for the sacrifice. So Abraham and Isaac killed the ram and offered it to God. (Genesis 22)
Why would God ask Abraham to kill his own son as an offering? Well God was testing Abraham, to see if he truly trusted God and loved God. God was also showing Abraham what He was going to do in the future to save us all from our sins. God was showing that He was going to send His Son to die in our place to take our punishment. (Romans 5:8)
God again showed this to the descendants of Abraham. The Israelites were prisoners of the Egyptians and God told the ruler of the Egyptians that if he didn't let them go, then all the first born boys of Egypt would die. The ruler refused and God sent a destroying angel to kill the first born boys. However, God provided a substitute for the first born of the Israelites. God told the people to take a perfect lamb from their flocks and kill it and then to put the blood on the door of their house, so that when the destroying angel came by he would see the blood and pass over their house. (Exodus 12)
From this time on, every year the Israelites were required to sacrifice a lamb for their sins. They were to take the lamb into their house for 14 days, to take care of it and make sure it wasn't sick. I am sure that the children became fond of this sheep in those fourteen days. They probably even named it and played with it. But when the fourteen days were over, they were to kill the lamb and eat it all that night.
God required these things, because He was showing them that payment for sins is not a nice thing. It is something that is horrible, because sin is horrible and because sin requires death as payment. God required the lamb to be eaten because the people had to make their sacrifice part of them.
We know that God later sent His Son to earth as a human to die in our place. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Isaiah 9:6) Jesus was God's Son who came to earth as a human so that He could be the Passover lamb for us. He died for our sins, so that His blood could cover our sins. Just before He was killed Jesus celebrated the Passover with his followers and He took bread and He took wine and gave it to them and told them that they must eat and drink because this was Him. In other words He was telling them that the bread and the wine represented His sacrifice and that they must make Him part of them, just like they were used to making the Passover lamb part of them. (Matthew 26:26-28)
Jesus often spoke of Himself as food: the bread of life (John 6:48), real food and real drink (John 6:55), living water (Jeremiah 17:13, John 4:10)
Then Jesus was crucified on a cross for our sins. He died at exactly the same time as the Passover lamb was killed, because He was our Passover lamb. He died for our sins so that we don't have to.
From the beginning God had been showing us that sin caused pain and suffering and death. He was showing us that for us to be forgiven someone else must die in our place. He showed this by using animals to cover Adam and Eve's shame. He showed this by asking Abraham to kill his only son. He showed this by requiring the Israelites to kill a lamb each year. All these things pointed to the day that Jesus would die for our sins.
God gave the plans to Moses to build a Tabernacle and later a Temple. This was to be the place that the people came to worship the and meet with God. But because the people were sinful they were separated from God. There was a inner place called the Holy of Holies, this is where the ark of the covenant was placed and on top of it was the mercy seat. This was the place that the blood of the sacrifice was placed by the High Priest. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and he could only enter with the blood of a sacrifice to atone for his own sins and the sins of the people. (Exodus 30:10, Hebrews 9:7)
There was a curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple, it kept everyone except the High Priest out/separated from God's presence. (Leviticus 16) This curtain which kept the people from the presence of God, represented the separation we have from God because of our sins. We needed a more perfect High Priest who could enter the Holy of Holies and atone for our sins once and for all. (Hebrews 7:26-28)
That more perfect High Priest was Jesus Christ. He atoned for our sins once and for all, when He died in our place and covered our sins with His blood. At the very moment He died, the curtain in the Temple that separated the people from the Holy of Holies was ripped in two from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:50-51, Mark 15:37-38) This represents the fact that Jesus opened the way for us to be reconciled to God the Father and to come to Him through the blood of His sacrifice. (Romans 5:10, 2 Corinthians 5:18, Colossians 1:22)
God was never truly pleased with the shedding of blood of lambs and bulls, but it was for us to understand the sacrifice He was making for us. Nor could the blood of lambs or bulls truly save anyone from their sins; they merely represented the faith of the Israelites in the future final sacrifice of Jesus Christ and that faith is what saved them, just as our faith in the finished sacrifice of Jesus Christ saves us today. (Hebrews 10)
If the Easter story ended there, we would still have a problem. Our sins would be forgiven, but we would still one day die from disease or old age and that would be the end for us. But the story doesn't end there. Jesus came back to life after three days. He was the same Jesus, He could eat, laugh, touch people, He was the same, except that He had defeated death. When He came back to life, He had a body that was like ours, yet it was different. It was perfect, all the bad things that happened because of Adam and Eve's sin, no longer happened to this new body. (John 10:27, Luke 22:15-16)
We know that if we follow Jesus and believe in Him, then we have our sins covered by His blood, and we won't have to suffer and die for those sins ourselves. Also since He defeated death, by rising again we know that we too will one day have a new body that can't die, and that won't ever get sick. (1 Corinthians 15:51-55, Job 19:25-27)
We also know, because God has told us, that one day Jesus will come back to earth and make things right. He will destroy all the sin in the world and all those whose sins have not been covered by His blood, those who do not trust and believe in Him. (Matthew 13:41-42)
But those of us who do trust Jesus and believe in Him, will live with Him forever on a new earth where things will be back the way they were before sin came into the world. There will no longer be any suffering, pain, sadness or tears and no more death. (Revelations 21:3-4)
We can rejoice and be at peace with God the Father, because Jesus died for our sins, and we have hope for the future because He is Risen!
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