1 1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
In the beginning there was God. There were no heavens, there was no earth, and there certainly was no us. This is the exclusive point of reference by which we must navigate our way through God’s Word as we consider the question of suffering. Every thought that we have, event that we consider, breath that we take – everything – is there only because God created.
The Bible contains approximately 31,100 verses, 61 of which occur prior to the Original Sin that ushers suffering into the human condition. However, 26 of these 61 verses deal with events prior to the creation of humans. Therefore, God’s Word spends only 35 verses out of 31,100 (or barely more than one part in a thousand) dealing with the pre-sin / suffering human condition.
We should not be surprised by this result. God’s purpose in providing His Word is to deal with our condition as it is as opposed to looking back on what once was. These 35 verses are all that’s required to give context to our current state and illuminate what has been lost. An understanding of both is necessary in order to begin our journey.
1 27So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; 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.”
29Then 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. 30And 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.
31God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
On the sixth day God’s creation reaches its pinnacle – humankind. We are created “in the image of God.” The closest example of a being created “in our image” is that of a biological child. Although clearly different in kind rather than just degree, the intimacy, love, protectiveness, nurture and delight felt by parent for child, and the reciprocal response of child to parent, goes far towards illuminating the relationship that God intended between humankind and Himself.
Note also that in this first version of the human creation account there is no reference to “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” or commands limiting human action. This is as it should be, for this narrative is exclusively about God’s mighty acts of creation. This passage invites us to worship with the Psalmist “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1)