|Any time we discuss ultimate truth, we must go back to the beginning . . .|
|Story 1: Creation|
| In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep. The Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the waters.
God created everything out of nothing, and he spent six days, separating the light and dark, putting the sun, moon, and stars in the sky, and adding different forms of life on the earth. On the sixth day he created man and breathed life into him. He made the man out of dust, like the animals, but, unlike the animals, he created man in his image. God was happy with his world, and he called it “good.” On the seventh day, God rested. This was the first week, a pattern for all time.
God created man, male and female. To show the relationship, God made Eve out of Adam’s side. From that time on, a man would leave his parents and be joined to his wife, and the two would become one.
God created a home for them, called the Garden of Eden. God put them in charge of the plants and animals. They would tend the garden during the day, eat from the trees, play with the animals, and walk with God in the cool of the evening.
It was a forest, and God let them eat from any of the trees except for one: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was the law. The day they ate from it, they would die.
The serpent was an evil crafty thing. As soon as he entered the garden, he tempted Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. At first, she resisted, but he cleverly told her that if they ate from it, they would become as gods, knowing good and evil. He told them that they would benefit from turning their backs on God.
She ate the fruit and gave some to her husband who was with her. Their eyes were opened, and they realized that they were naked. They put on fig leaves to cover themselves. For the first time, they were afraid.
Sin came into the world and killed their relationship with God. He sent them out of the garden, out of paradise. Angels guarded it with a sword to keep them from entering again.
With sin came death and suffering. Man was no longer a vegetarian; nor were the animals. The plants grew thorns and thistles. Things wore down. Each person’s days were numbered. People distrusted and hated each other. There came wars and famine and natural disasters.
Nevertheless, God promised to restore his world. The prophet Isaiah told of a coming day when the world would be right again.
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. . . . He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea.”