Poetry by Kay Cude. Used with permission. Click to enlarge.
A version of this was originally published on The End Time in December 2009
|Jan Brueghel the Elder
THE GARDEN OF EDEN WITH THE FALL OF MAN
In these waning days of the Age, do you think about the Garden of Eden? What untainted creation must have looked like? I do. The only mirror I have of earth as originally intended is in Genesis 1, and there, the LORD called it “good.” The reverse of that is earth in today’s condition. And today it looks pretty bad.
How far and deep has the effect of sin permeated our waters, our land, our food, and our very bodies and brains? Everything seems as poison now. Creation itself is laboring under the poisonous effects of a sinful world. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” (Romans 8:20-22)
“[T]herefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink.” (Jer 9:15) Matthew Henry writes of that verse, “Every thing about them, till it comes to their very meat and drink, shall be a terror and torment to them. God will curse their blessings.” Malachi 2:2 is that reminder of His promise to curse even the blessings of food and water.
I am not referring to the curse of oil spills or overflowing landfills or garbage scows nor greenhouse effects. I am talking the tide of sin-pollution and its impact on a falling world. “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets, ‘Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood And make them drink poisonous water, For from the prophets of Jerusalem pollution has gone forth into all the land.’” (Jeremiah 23:15). If we insist on wallowing in sin, then the Lord obliges by sending its visible manifestation to us and causes us to eat and drink of it.
Worse, “Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.” (Malachi 2:4). Does the dung promise to mean that if we speak refuse, live in refuse, offer Him refuse, that we will eat refuse? That just as we punish a puppy who messes in the house with rubbing his face in it, God will do the same?
How we have allowed sin’s effects to creep like a tide of polluted water to poison the world. How often we see the bitter herb ‘wormwood’ used in the bible as a visible materialization of our sin. And so it will be again: “The name of the star is called Wormwood, and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter.” (Revelation 8:11)
Sin is a terminal condition. Do not underestimate how seriously God takes it when we refuse to turn away from sin!! Do not underestimate your own sin! Do not think you will escape! The only remedy is the blessed Hope, His forgiveness, made possible because of His sacrifice of blood on the cross. If you feel burdened with guilt for your misdeeds, and believe Jesus died and rose again for your sin, then ask him with sincere heart to forgive you. Believe on His name. Only the forgiven of sin can dwell with the Most High and Holy. Those with sin in them will be given over to the poison that it truly is, now made increasingly visible and manifest in this dying world.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth
When God created the earth, He could have made it colorless. He could have used only His brush strokes of black, or gray, or brown. The world could look like this:
Did you ever wonder why God graced us with a common grace of color? He has made the world beautiful in its time, says Ecclesiastes 3:11. This beauty includes the spectrum of colors which we enjoy in all its prettiness. I particularly enjoy colorful flowers.
The Bible has in it of course, references to colors. It doesn’t, however, really explain if colors of the tabernacle meant anything, if they individually had a symbolism. Other colors do have a symbolism. Here is Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary’s entry on color:
Although the Bible contains relatively few references to individual colors, their symbolic associations are theologically significant. Colors usually symbolize redemptive and eschatological themes. The Bible is, however, silent on whether the colors used in the tabernacle, temple, and priestly garments held symbolic meaning.
Black signifies gloom, mourning, evil, judgment, and death (Lam 4:8; Micah 3:6; Zechariah 6:2 Zechariah 6:6; Revelation 6:5 Revelation 6:12). Its image is often one of dense, impenetrable darkness (Job 3:5; Isa 50:3). The terms “darkness” and “night” parallel this usage (Job 3:3-7; Joel 2:2; Zeph 1:15). Hell is the place of “blackest darkness” reserved for the godless (2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13).
The pale horse of Revelation 6:8 resembles the color of the terror-stricken and corpses (cf. Jer 30:6; Dan 10:8). The horse’s color matches the work of its rider. Its rider is called Death, who, with Hades, goes forth to kill a fourth of humankind.
An expensive dye, purple represents wealth and royalty (Judges 8:26; Est 8:15; Daniel 5:7, Daniel 5:16, Daniel 5:29; Luke 16:19); for this reason, idols were attired in purple (Jer 10:9). The purple dress of the harlot symbolized Roman imperial rank (Rev 17:4; Revelation 18:12, Revelation 18:16). Before his crucifixion, Jesus was robed in purple in mockery of him as “king of the Jews” (Mark 15:17, Mark 15:20; John 19:2, John 19:5; cf. Matt 27:28,; “scarlet robe”). Garments of purple suitably clothe a wife of noble character (Prov 31:22).
Red symbolizes blood. Israel’s sin as brilliant scarlet and deep-red crimson is analogous to the bloodstained hands of murderers (Isaiah 1:15 Isaiah 1:18). The images of red, blood-soaked garments of God as an avenging warrior (Isa 63:1-6) and the fiery red horse bringing slaughter through warfare (Zech 6:2; Rev 6:4) describe divine retribution against evildoers (see also Joel 2:31; Rev 6:12). The red color of the dragon (Rev 12:3) and beast (17:3) symbolizes the shedding of innocent blood (11:7; 16:6). The red heifer (Nu 19:1-10) and scarlet wool (Heb 9:19) symbolize the Old Testament means of purification through blood; the New Testament powerfully expresses the fullness of Christ’s atoning work through a contradictory color image: believers’ robes are washed pure white through the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9 Revelation 7:13-14 ; 19:13-14).
White signifies purity and holiness. It depicts complete forgiveness of sin. David and Israel’s bloodguilt would be fully removed, leaving them whiter than snow/wool (Psalm 51:7; Isa 1:18). It represents the absolute moral purity of God (Da 7:9), Christ (Rev 1:14; Mark 9:3; pars.), angels (Mark 16:5 ; pars. Acts 1:10), and believers (Rev 2:17; 3:4-5; 4:4), and thus of the divine judgment of God (20:11) and Christ (14:14). It indicates the certainty of God’s conquest and victory over evil (Zechariah 6:3 Zechariah 6:6; Rev 6:2; 19:11).
H. Douglas Buckwalter, Bibliography. G. W. Thatcher, Hasting’s Dictionary of the Bible, 1:456-58; P. L. Garber, ISBE, 1:729-32; A. Brenner, Colour Terms in the Old Testament; “Color, ” BEB, 1:494-96.
Color is a common grace. Every person on the planet whether young or old, saved and acknowledging the creator or unsaved and worshiping the creation, enjoys the colors of this earth. Everyone can admire a sunset, colorful avian plumage, floral hues that delight the senses.
Common Grace refers to the grace of God that is common to all humankind. It is “common” because its benefits are experienced by the whole human race without distinction between one person and another, believers or unbelievers. It is “grace” because it is undeserved and sovereignly bestowed by God.
The Lord God created a world that is beautiful. Its beauty is enhanced by the colors He created for us (and Him!) to enjoy in our common grace. The painted desert, the lush tropics, the animals, insects, and fish in all their rich tones and hues are a joy. He didn’t have to But He did.
Thank you Lord!
I like natural history. It’s God’s creation. I like thinking about how He has created everything from nothing with just a word. I see the intricacy of His creatures and flora and fauna and I’m just amazed. But reading natural history books is a two-edged sword. Most are written from a secular point of view, and at some point the pricks of the constant lies within such books grate, and I abandon the endeavor.
Only to try again later, lol.
I wrote recently about the Victorian craze for seaweed collecting. This was a craze in which mostly women who were constrained by cultural pressure not to collect the more seductive looking plants participated. It was based on an original article at Atlas Obscura, which is a secular magazine. My article was to look at the issue through a biblical lens.
One of the natural history books mentioned in the Atlas Obscura article was a seaweed journal by Margaret Gatty. AO wrote of her,
One of the best known and most dedicated of these so-called seaweeders was Margaret Gatty, a children’s book author who took up the hobby while convalescing in Hastings, on Britain’s southeast coast, in 1848. Gatty’s crowning work of algology, British Sea-Weeds, is an exhaustive compilation of local seaweeds, fully described and illustrated in 86 colored plates.
These are selected plates of her seaweed drawings,
Selected plates from Margaret Gatty’s “British Sea-Weeds.” BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY/PUBLIC DOMAIN
I love those colored plates from natural history books from the 1800s. I own two rare books,
A popular history of the mollusca : comprising a familiar account of their classification, instincts and habits and of the growth and distinguishing characters of their shells, by Mary Roberts, 1851; and
Popular British conchology. A familiar history of the molluscs inhabiting the British Isles, By George Brettingham Sowerby, 1854.
I love the hand colored plates of the plants or animals they carefully drew. I also have several books by Harvard University paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould (secular guy, sigh). There’s French poet-philosopher Paul Valery in his engaging meditation on the aesthetics of the seashell, as Amazon describes his work. Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s musings on shells in her famous Gift from the Sea. And so many other books. I guess now that I’m thinking of listing them, my library contains quite a few natural history books. Rachel Carson, Farley Mowat, John Hay, Abbot & Dance…
In this article I enjoyed from the New York Times Review of Books, I learned from this article “What the Trees Say,”
In 1664 John Evelyn, diarist, country gentleman, and commissioner at the court of Charles II, produced his monumental book on trees: Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest Trees. It was a seventeenth-century best seller. Evelyn was a true son of the Renaissance. His book is learned and witty and practical and passionate all by turns. No later book on trees has ever had such an impact on the British public.
I love trees. Maybe I’ll get that book. Hmmm. Maybe you’ll get those books.
As much as I love reading about the creation from scientists of various kinds, there’s nothing like reading the Bible, God’s actual account of His world. As poetic as Lindbergh was, as witty as John Evelyn was, as precise as Sowerby or Roberts was, the thrill of reading about the creation from God Himself never fails to thrill me. As familiar as these verses are, they still ignite a reverent awe at His power:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7And God madeb the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. (Genesis 1:1-8)
Nature displays God’s glory. The best place to read about that is His word, what He, Himself, has declared.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. (Psalm 96:11-12)
We are glad because as Job 12:10 says,
In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.
Is there any better place to be, if you’re saved? In His hand? Is there any worse place to be, if you’re not saved?
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)
The creation itself groans under the weight of the curse laid upon it.
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; (Genesis 3:17a)
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:22).
And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:39-40)
For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond. (Habakkuk 2:11)
the stones, &c.—Hitherto the Lord had discouraged all demonstrations in His favor; latterly He had begun an opposite course; on this one occasion He seems to yield His whole soul to the wide and deep acclaim with a mysterious satisfaction, regarding it as so necessary a part of the regal dignity in which as Messiah He for this last time entered the city, that if not offered by the vast multitude, it would have been wrung out of the stones rather than be withheld (Hab 2:11). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
A humble praise to the Lord of all creation, the One who has the very earth in His hands. The King of all Glory- Psalm 24:1-4
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
In response to Bible reading, prayers, and devotional this week, I offer my own humble praise to the Lord, who will release the earth and all its believing inhabitants from the curse. Our hearts will be refreshed and made free from sin’s presence. The earth itself will flourish without tempest or stain. What a day that will be!
May the frothy brine
hurling itself upon the stony shores
and heaving in boundless surge
soon whisper your glorious name
in serene tranquility.
May the trees which quiver and shake
in unending winds
driven relentlessly against them,
soon stand as majestic towers of tranquility,
affirming your creative glory.
May the ground under the feet
of the righteous and wicked,
fields and foundations that reel like a drunkard,
soon quell in serene repose
placid under the nail scarred soles of the returning King.
May the earth disgorge its dead-
some to eternal life and others to unending contempt,
yet all to cry out that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
~ By EPrata
[Inspiring verses: Philippians 2:11, Zechariah 14:4, Isaiah 24:20, Luke 19:40]
Click to enlarge. Used with permission