It’s a big universe out there, and we are not alone in it, either. The same God of love who created us had created other beings as well. And out of love, too. They are known as angels.
For an unknown period of time, the universe was in perfect moral harmony, like a single chord. Then, one of these angels, the one closest angel to God, began to doubt God’s love. His name was Lucifer. He was perfect, and he saw the Father, the Son, and the Spirit more vividly than any other being in the universe (Ezekiel 28:14, 15). Yet Lucifer became discontented with his position as the leading angel of heaven. He began to desire the throne of God for himself.
The Bible depicted his fall like this “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.” (Ezekiel 28:15). How could that be? A perfect being created by a perfect God in a perfect heaven? And, yet, iniquity was found in him? How?
As we saw, love, to be love, must be freely given or it is not love. And so Lucifer, even in the perfection of heaven, using the moral freedom that love demands, rebelled against the love and authority of God. Here is how evil, suffering, and death arose, because Lucifer brought his rebellion to earth.
Adam and Eve were created to love, and thus created free, too. God had given them a test of loyalty, a simple test actually, one which would show whether or not they could be trusted with the freedom given to them. He had warned them against eating of a tree that, God said, would lead to knowledge of good and evil, and that they would die if they ate the fruit of that tree. (Genesis 2:16, 17). They had been created to know only good, only love, only life. Evil, hate, death were never part of the original plan.
War in Heaven
Spies and Lies
Eve, however, was one day engaged by a talking serpent in the forbidden tree. Eve did not know that the serpent was Lucifer. He lied to her, saying, “You will not die if you eat this fruit. God is afraid that you will gain knowledge by eating this fruit. He is afraid that you will be like Him, gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4, 5 author’s paraphrase). Eve saw the fruit and wanted the knowledge that she was lacking.
Deceived, she ate; her husband did, too. The couple did not know that the universe was watching them, and that their decision would send all the earth into a spiraling evil cycle of disease and death. They could have trusted in God, but they didn’t. Using the freedom inherent in love, they chose to know evil instead. This is how the war between good and evil began in humanity, a war that we all feel in our own bones as well.
Clearly, Adam and Eve had disobeyed God. But was God unfair? Why didn’t He make them not eat from the tree? Was God’s government of love faulty? Was humanity going to have to be destroyed because of their single act of disobedience?
Immediately Adam and Eve understood evil. They looked at each other and saw a naked person standing in front of them. Instead of pure and holy thoughts, their thoughts turned to impure thoughts. They became ashamed and wanted to be clothed so that eyes wouldn’t be able to see their nakedness (Genesis 3:7). Thus began a war within humanity between good and evil.
They didn’t know it in that moment, but they had taken themselves out of their positions of authority and made Satan their prince (John 12:31); (Matthew 4:8, 9). Satan would now have restricted access to heaven as earth’s representative (Job 1:6). And so, a question was left in the minds of all the beings in the universe, “Was Lucifer, the accuser, correct about God (Revelation 12:10)? Was Lucifer’s law of selfishness better than God’s law of selflessness?”
Clearly Adam and Eve had disobeyed God. Was God unfair? Should someone else rule the universe—namely, Lucifer? What would Lucifer’s rule over earth look like? Would it ever be possible for humanity to come back from this? Could they ever be holy again? Could they ever obey God? The struggle of good and evil in life had been sparked, and the universe wondered where it would end.
At some point before the world was created, the Godhead convened (Ephesians 1:4, 5). Love counseled together and formulated a plan just in case, in the freedom given to humanity, they were to rebel. What would God do? God could destroy them, yes. But that would cause all the other beings in the universe to fear God. They would know that they could never question God without being wiped out. That fear would destroy the love and trust God wants to have with the intelligent creatures. His domain of love would turn into one of fear, instead. How, then, could God save humans, who were now on a trajectory toward death (Genesis 2:7; 3:19)?
God chose to do the only thing that He could do to provide hope to the humans. He would love them still. This plan was not just a word that would be said. It wasn’t just a feeling to be felt or a look on God’s face. It would be a display to all the universe of what Love is. It would be the defining moment for Love. God himself would be born as a human, live a life of suffering on the earth, suffer more than any other human has ever suffered before, and die with all the guilt and shame of those whom He would save. God would die in the place of the humans so that they could be raised to life (Philippians 2:5-11).
Even though, yes, humans die now, that’s not the eternal death, the eternal separation from the Life-Giver that comes at the very end of all things for those who chose not to accept what God has so graciously, and at great cost to Himself, provided.
This is known as the plan of salvation.
Council of Love
War on Earth
After mankind sinned, they were immediately told of the plan of salvation. They were told that one of their offspring would crush the head of the serpent, which was Satan in disguise (Genesis 3:15). Then they were sent from the beautiful garden that God had created as their home. The earth was now filled with sin, suffering and death.
But there was also hope.
Right from the start, God gave Adam and Eve a continual reminder of His plan to come and die for humankind's evil. He showed them how to sacrifice a perfect lamb. This would be the foundation of His plan for the redemption for all who wanted to be redeemed. God had a detailed and intricate blueprint designed for salvation, but mankind was too immature then to understand it. The altar and the sacrifice of a lamb would have to do, at least for now. One day the Savior would come, and, like a sacrificial lamb, He would sacrifice His life to save humanity. With every lamb that was sacrificed, and every child that was born, the hope of a Savior was kindled.
Soon, many children came, but none was the Savior. Their children married and had more children. Those who had never seen God and never witnessed the events of their parents began to question if their stories were even true. Already, murder had entered the world through the first child of Adam and Eve—Cain. Other evils and murders swiftly increased (Genesis 4:8, 19, 23). Mankind became so evil that people had only evil thoughts, and they had them continually, too (Genesis 6:5). God determined that evil was too great, and that His plan hadn’t had time to mature yet. So, God would provide another illustration of His plan for salvation of humanity. He would send a worldwide flood to destroy nearly all the life on earth (Genesis 6:13).
But before this flood, God in His love provided a way of escape. Anyone who wanted could be saved from the destruction of the world. God was sending a lifeboat, the Ark.
Noah would build the Ark and offer everyone life. All they needed to do was walk into the boat (Genesis 6:17, 18; 7:2; 1 Peter 3:19, 20), even though no rain had ever fallen before. God was again offering a test of loyalty and trust. It was another simple test, too. The people were faced with a stark choice, just as Adam and Eve had been given. They could either believe God and be saved by getting on the boat, or not believe. Again, the reality of freedom, the freedom inherent in love. In the end, only eight people chose life. (Genesis 7:7)
To read the flood story, read all of Genesis chapters 6-9