Summary: Dark forces in opposition to God ruled the natural world outside the Garden of Eden
[IN GOD’S IMAGE – 10 – THE QUESTION OF NATURAL EVIL]
This message is part of a series of 90 sermons based on the title, “In God’s Image – God’s Purpose for humanity.” This series of free sermons or the equivalent free book format is designed to take the reader through an amazing process beginning with God in prehistory and finishing with humanity joining God in eternity as His loving sons and daughters. It is at times, a painful yet fascinating story, not only for humanity, but also for God. As the sermons follow a chronological view of the story of salvation, it is highly recommend they be presented in numerical order rather than jumping to the more “interesting” or “controversial” subjects as the material builds on what is presented earlier. We also recommend reading the introduction prior to using the material. The free book version along with any graphics or figures mentioned in this series can be downloaded at www.ingodsimage.site - Gary Regazzoli
Last time we talked about two sources of evil in the cosmos.
• These are the two sources of moral evil at play in the cosmos, a rebellious devil bent on destroying God’s good purpose, and a fallen humanity with a now darkened, futile and foolish heart.
• Both parties wilfully rejected the overtures of their Creator’s love and provision, exercised their creaturely freewill and introduced evil into the cosmos.
If these two terrible evils weren’t dire enough to contend with, there is another frightful evil waiting for them outside the security of the Garden – “natural” evil.
• We saw how the two trees were used to present Adam and Eve with the possibility of choice so as to test their faith in God’s providence.
• But there was another important aspect to these two special trees and that was, their choice would determine where they would live.
• If they chose the tree of life, they would have remained in the garden under God’s care and protection, safe from both moral and natural evil.
• But now as they were being marched from the garden, they discovered they would live in a totally different landscape to the one they enjoyed in the garden.
• In keeping with their decision to determine for themselves what was good and what was evil, this new landscape would provide them with that ominous prospect.
• Dark forces in opposition to God ruled this landscape.
• And instead of having the comfort and security of faithfully relying on their Creator and Father, they would now have to rely on their own wits for survival.
Natural evil has been described as the dark side of God’s good creation.
• It is the evil that comes from natural causes such as earthquakes, floods, volcanos, droughts, disease epidemics, birth defects, etc.
• They are part of the natural processes of the environment that originate independently of human motives or decisions.
• Modern science has made great strides in both explaining and countering some of the harmful effects of natural evil, but nevertheless, it remains a serious threat to the well being of the inhabitants of our planet.
• We have to be realistic and face the fact there is a structural evil inherent in nature as pain and destruction are part of the natural order.
• And again the question arises, as to the source of this “naturally” occurring evil.
• To attribute this source of evil to God, again seems so out of sync with His character.
• The Garden of Eden was more in sync with God’s character.
Yet it is not just humans alone who suffer at the hands of nature.
• The animal kingdom is made up of both predators and prey.
• Survival of the fittest reigns in the animal kingdom.
• It seems Alfred Tennyson’s memorial phrase, nature is “red in tooth and claw” reflects the reality of life in the wild.
• Yet this seems to have been the nature of things long before humans arrived on the planet.
• The fossil record reveals a pre-humanoid world of terrifying flesh-eating dinosaurs that roamed the earth millions of years ago devouring other creatures.
• Flesh-eating dinosaurs weren’t the only threat as the fossil record reveals many came to a premature end through natural causes such as meteorites, volcanic activity, mud slides, earthquakes, tar pits and dramatic climate change.
• Even though the earth was “cursed” after the fall of man, this seems to be the existing state of affairs prior to the arrival of man on the scene (Genesis 3:17-19).
• To claim nature only started behaving in this hostile manner as a result of the fall, how then do we explain the paleontological record of a violent earth preceding the fall?
• To attribute this hostile and violent state of affairs to a benevolent omnipotent Creator who describes His creation as “good” is inconsistent with His character.