The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 2: The Creation
"By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all
the host of them by the breath of His mouth." "For He
spake, and it was;" "He commanded, and it stood fast." Psalm
33:6,9. He "laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not
be removed forever." Psalm 104:5.
As the earth came forth from the hand of its Maker, it was
exceedingly beautiful. Its surface was diversified with mountains,
hills, and plains, interspersed with noble rivers and lovely lakes;
but the hills and mountains were not abrupt and rugged, abounding
in terrific steeps and frightful chasms, as they now do; the
sharp, ragged edges of earth's rocky framework were buried beneath
the fruitful soil, which everywhere produced a luxuriant
growth of verdure. There were no loathsome swamps or barren
deserts. Graceful shrubs and delicate flowers greeted the eye at
every turn. The heights were crowned with trees more majestic
than any that now exist. The air, untainted by foul miasma, was
clear and healthful. The entire landscape outvied in beauty the
decorated grounds of the proudest palace. The angelic host
viewed the scene with delight, and rejoiced at the wonderful
works of God.
After the earth with its teeming animal and vegetable life
had been called into existence, man, the crowning work of the
Creator, and the one for whom the beautiful earth had been
fitted up, was brought upon the stage of action. To him was
given dominion over all that his eye could behold; for "God said,
Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them
have dominion over . . . all the earth. . . . So God created man
in His own image; . . . male and female created He them." Here
is clearly set forth the origin of the human race; and the divine
record is so plainly stated that there is no occasion for erroneous [p. 45] conclusions. God created man in His own image. Here is no
mystery. There is no ground for the supposition that man was
evolved by slow degrees of development from the lower forms of
animal or vegetable life. Such teaching lowers the great work of
the Creator to the level of man's narrow, earthly conceptions.
Men are so intent upon excluding God from the sovereignty of the
universe that they degrade man and defraud him of the dignity
of his origin. He who set the starry worlds on high and tinted
with delicate skill the flowers of the field, who filled the earth
and the heavens with the wonders of His power, when He came
to crown His glorious work, to place one in the midst to stand as
ruler of the fair earth, did not fail to create a being worthy of the
hand that gave him life. The genealogy of our race, as given by
inspiration, traces back its origin, not to a line of developing
germs, mollusks, and quadrupeds, but to the great Creator.
Though formed from the dust, Adam was "the son of God."
He was placed, as God's representative, over the lower orders
of being. They cannot understand or acknowledge the sovereignty
of God, yet they were made capable of loving and serving man.
The psalmist says, "Thou madest him to have dominion over the
works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet: . . .
the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, . . . and whatsoever
passeth through the paths of the seas." Psalm 8:6-8.
Man was to bear God's image, both in outward resemblance
and in character. Christ alone is "the express image" (Hebrews
1:3) of the Father; but man was formed in the likeness of God.
His nature was in harmony with the will of God. His mind was
capable of comprehending divine things. His affections were
pure; his appetites and passions were under the control of reason.
He was holy and happy in bearing the image of God and in perfect
obedience to His will.
As man came forth from the hand of his Creator, he was of
lofty stature and perfect symmetry. His countenance bore the
ruddy tint of health and glowed with the light of life and joy.
Adam's height was much greater than that of men who now inhabit
the earth. Eve was somewhat less in stature; yet her form
was noble, and full of beauty. The sinless pair wore no artificial
garments; they were clothed with a covering of light and glory,
such as the angels wear. So long as they lived in obedience to
God, this robe of light continued to enshroud them. [p. 46]
After the creation of Adam every living creature was brought
before him to receive its name; he saw that to each had been given
a companion, but among them "there was not found an help meet
for him." Among all the creatures that God had made on the
earth, there was not one equal to man. And God said, "It is not
good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet
for him." Man was not made to dwell in solitude; he was to be a
social being. Without companionship the beautiful scenes and
delightful employments of Eden would have failed to yield perfect
happiness. Even communion with angels could not have satisfied
his desire for sympathy and companionship. There was none of
the same nature to love and to be loved.
God Himself gave Adam a companion. He provided "an help
meet for him"—a helper corresponding to him—one who was
fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love
and sympathy. Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of
Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor
to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side
as an equal, to be loved and protected by him. A part of man,
bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, she was his second self,
showing the close union and the affectionate attachment that
should exist in this relation. "For no man ever yet hated his own
flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it." Ephesians 5:29. "Therefore
shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave
unto his wife; and they shall be one."
God celebrated the first marriage. Thus the institution has
for its originator the Creator of the universe. "Marriage is honorable"
(Hebrews 13:4); it was one of the first gifts of God to man,
and it is one of the two institutions that, after the Fall, Adam
brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise. When the divine
principles are recognized and obeyed in this relation, marriage is
a blessing; it guards the purity and happiness of the race, it
provides for man's social needs, it elevates the physical, the intellectual,
and the moral nature.
"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and
there He put the man whom He had formed." Everything that
God had made was the perfection of beauty, and nothing seemed
wanting that could contribute to the happiness of the holy pair; [p. 47] yet the Creator gave them still another token of His love, by
preparing a garden especially for their home. In this garden were
trees of every variety, many of them laden with fragrant and
delicious fruit. There were lovely vines, growing upright, yet
presenting a most graceful appearance, with their branches drooping
under their load of tempting fruit of the richest and most
varied hues. It was the work of Adam and Eve to train the
branches of the vine to form bowers, thus making for themselves
a dwelling from living trees covered with foliage and fruit. There
were fragrant flowers of every hue in rich profusion. In the midst
of the garden stood the tree of life, surpassing in glory all other
trees. Its fruit appeared like apples of gold and silver, and had
the power to perpetuate life.
The creation was now complete. "The heavens and the earth
were finished, and all the host of them." "And God saw everything
that He had made, and, behold, it was very good." Eden
bloomed on earth. Adam and Eve had free access to the tree of
life. No taint of sin or shadow of death marred the fair creation.
"The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God
shouted for joy." Job 38:7.
The great Jehovah had laid the foundations of the earth; He
had dressed the whole world in the garb of beauty and had filled
it with things useful to man; He had created all the wonders of
the land and of the sea. In six days the great work of creation had
been accomplished. And God "rested on the seventh day from all
His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh
day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all
His work which God created and made." God looked with satisfaction
upon the work of His hands. All was perfect, worthy of
its divine Author, and He rested, not as one weary, but as well
pleased with the fruits of His wisdom and goodness and the
manifestations of His glory.
After resting upon the seventh day, God sanctified it, or set
it apart, as a day of rest for man. Following the example of the
Creator, man was to rest upon this sacred day, that as he should
look upon the heavens and the earth, he might reflect upon God's
great work of creation; and that as he should behold the evidences
of God's wisdom and goodness, his heart might be filled with love
and reverence for his Maker. [p. 48]
In Eden, God set up the memorial of His work of creation,
in placing His blessing upon the seventh day. The Sabbath was
committed to Adam, the father and representative of the whole
human family. Its observance was to be an act of grateful
acknowledgment, on the part of all who should dwell upon the
earth, that God was their Creator and their rightful Sovereign;
that they were the work of His hands and the subjects of His
authority. Thus the institution was wholly commemorative, and
given to all mankind. There was nothing in it shadowy or of
restricted application to any people.
God saw that a Sabbath was essential for man, even in Paradise.
He needed to lay aside his own interests and pursuits for
one day of the seven, that he might more fully contemplate the
works of God and meditate upon His power and goodness. He
needed a Sabbath to remind him more vividly of God and to
awaken gratitude because all that he enjoyed and possessed came
from the beneficent hand of the Creator.
God designs that the Sabbath shall direct the minds of men
to the contemplation of His created works. Nature speaks to
their senses, declaring that there is a living God, the Creator, the
Supreme Ruler of all. "The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth
speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge." Psalm
19:1, 2. The beauty that clothes the earth is token of God's love.
We may behold it in the everlasting hills, in the lofty trees, in the
opening buds and the delicate flowers. All speak to us of God.
The Sabbath, ever pointing to Him who made them all, bids
men open the great book of nature and trace therein the wisdom,
the power, and the love of the Creator.
Our first parents, though created innocent and holy, were not
placed beyond the possibility of wrongdoing. God made them
free moral agents, capable of appreciating the wisdom and benevolence
of His character and the justice of His requirements,
and with full liberty to yield or to withhold obedience. They
were to enjoy communion with God and with holy angels; but
before they could be rendered eternally secure, their loyalty must
be tested. At the very beginning of man's existence a check was
placed upon the desire for self-indulgence, the fatal passion that
lay at the foundation of Satan's fall. The tree of knowledge,
which stood near the tree of life in the midst of the garden, was [p. 49] to be a test of the obedience, faith, and love of our parents.
While permitted to eat freely of every other tree, they were
forbidden to taste of this, on pain of death. They were also to be
exposed to the temptations of Satan; but if they endured the
trial, they would finally be placed beyond his power, to enjoy
perpetual favor with God.
God placed man under law, as an indispensable condition of
his very existence. He was a subject of the divine government,
and there can be no government without law. God might have
created man without the power to transgress His law; He might
have withheld the hand of Adam from touching the forbidden
fruit; but in that case man would have been, not a free moral
agent, but a mere automaton. Without freedom of choice, his
obedience would not have been voluntary, but forced. There
could have been no development of character. Such a course
would have been contrary to God's plan in dealing with the
inhabitants of other worlds. It would have been unworthy of man
as an intelligent being, and would have sustained Satan's charge
of God's arbitrary rule.
God made upright; He gave him noble traits of character,
with no bias toward evil. He endowed him with high intellectual
powers, and presented before him the strongest possible inducements
to be true to his allegiance. Obedience, perfect and perpetual,
was the condition of eternal happiness. On this condition
he was to have access to the tree of life.
The home of our first parents was to be a pattern for other
homes as their children should go forth to occupy the earth. That
home, beautified by the hand of God Himself, was not a gorgeous
palace. Men, in their pride, delight in magnificent and costly
edifices and glory in the works of their own hands; but God
placed Adam in a garden. This was his dwelling. The blue heavens
were its dome; the earth, with its delicate flowers and carpet
of living green, was its floor; and the leafy branches of the goodly
trees were its canopy. Its was walls were hung with the most magnificent
adornings—the handiwork of the great Master Artist. In
the surroundings of the holy pair was a lesson for all time—that
true happiness is found, not in the indulgence of pride and luxury,
but in communion with God through His created works. If men
would give less attention to the artificial, and would cultivate
greater simplicity, they would come far nearer to answering the [p. 50] purpose of God in their creation. Pride and ambition are never
satisfied, but those who are truly wise will find substantial and
elevating pleasure in the sources of enjoyment that God has placed
within the reach of all.
To the dwellers in Eden was committed the care of the garden,
"to dress it and to keep it." Their occupation was not wearisome,
but pleasant and invigorating. God appointed labor as a blessing
to man, to occupy his mind, to strengthen his body, and to develop
his faculties. In mental and physical activity Adam found one of
the highest pleasures of his holy existence. And when, as a result
of his disobedience, he was driven from his beautiful home, and
forced to struggle with a stubborn soil to gain his daily bread,
that very labor, although widely different from his pleasant
occupation in the garden, was a safeguard against temptation and a
source of happiness. Those who regard work as a curse, attended
though it be with weariness and pain, are cherishing an error.
The rich often look down with contempt upon the working
classes, but this is wholly at variance with God's purpose in
creating man. What are the possessions of even the most wealthy in
comparison with the heritage given to the lordly Adam? Yet
Adam was not to be idle. Our Creator, who understands what is
for man's happiness, appointed Adam his work. The true joy of
life is found only by the working men and women. The angels are
diligent workers; they are the ministers of God to the children
of men. The Creator has prepared no place for the stagnating
practice of indolence.
While they remained true to God, Adam and his companion
were to bear rule over the earth. Unlimited control was given
them over every living thing. The lion and the lamb sported
peacefully around them or lay down together at their feet. The
happy birds flitted about them without fear; and as their glad
songs ascended to the praise of their Creator, Adam and Eve
united with them in thanksgiving to the Father and the Son.
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The holy pair were not only children under the fatherly care
of God but students receiving instruction from the all-wise Creator.
They were visited by angels, and were granted communion
with their Maker, with no obscuring veil between. They were
full of the vigor imparted by the tree of life, and their intellectual
power was but little less than that of the angels. The mysteries
of the visible universe—"the wondrous works of Him which is [p. 51] perfect in knowledge" (Job 37:16)—afforded them an exhaustless
source of instruction and delight. The laws and operations of
nature, which have engaged men's study for six thousand years,
were opened to their minds by the infinite Framer and Upholder
of all. They held converse with leaf and flower and tree, gathering
from each the secrets of its life. With every living creature,
from the mighty leviathan that playeth among the waters to the
insect mote that floats in the sunbeam, Adam was familiar. He
had given to each its name, and he was acquainted with the nature
and habits of all. God's glory in the heavens, the innumerable
worlds in their orderly revolutions, "the balancings of the clouds,"
the mysteries of light and sound, of day and night—all were open
to the study of our first parents. On every leaf of the forest or
stone of the mountains, in every shining star, in earth and air and
sky, God's name was written. The order and harmony of creation
spoke to them of infinite wisdom and power. They were ever
discovering some attraction that filled their hearts with deeper love
and called forth fresh expressions of gratitude.
So long as they remained loyal to the divine law, their capacity
to know, to enjoy, and to love would continually increase. They
would be constantly gaining new treasures of knowledge,
discovering fresh springs of happiness, and obtaining clearer and yet
clearer conceptions of the immeasurable, unfailing love of God.
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"The Temptation and Fall"