Memory Text: “ Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; …’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’” (Genesis 1:26-27Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.)
The biblical account of the Creation of humanity is one filled with hope, happiness, and perfection. Each day of Creation ended with the divine pronouncement that it was “good.” Certainly that didn’t include typhoons, earthquakes, famine, and diseases.
The sixth day of Creation ended with the divine pronouncement that it was “very good.” That is because that day the Lord created beings in His own image: humans. Something He had not done with anything else in the Genesis account. These beings were, of course, perfect in every way; they’d have to be. After all, they were made in the image of God. Thus, of sheer necessity, they did not include murderers, thieves, liars, swindlers, and the vile in their ranks. What happened?
This week’s lesson looks at the Creation, at what God had first made, and then at what happened to that perfect Creation. Finally, it touches on the quarter’s theme: what God is doing to make things right again.
The Week at a Glance: What does the Bible teach about origins? What kind of relationship did God want with humanity? What was the purpose of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? What hope was given to Adam and Eve immediately after they fell?
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, April 3.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.).
A scientist had just lectured on the orbits of the planets around the sun, and the orbit of the sun around the center of the galaxy, when an old lady in black tennis shoes rose and said that the earth was a flat disc sitting on the back of a turtle. The scientist, jesting, asked what the turtle sat on, and she responded that it sat on another turtle. “Ma’am,” the scientist continued joking, “what then does that turtle sit on?” She answered, “Another turtle,” but before he could ask what that turtle sat on, she wagged her finger in his face and snapped, “Save your breath, sonny, it’s turtles all the way down.”
However cute, that story deals with the most crucial issue of human existence — the nature of the universe itself. What is this world that we find ourselves in by no choice of our own? Why are we here? How did we get here? And where are we all finally going?
These are the most basic and fundamental questions people could ask, because our understanding of who we are and how we got here will impact our understanding of how we live and how we act while we are here.
Look up the following texts: Gen. 1:1Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth., Ps. 100:3Psalms 100:3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Isa. 40:28Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. Acts 17:26 Eph. 3:9Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:Heb. 1:2, 10Hebrews 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 1:10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:. How does each one, in its own way, answer some of the above questions? What is the one point that they all have in common?
What is interesting about Genesis 1:1Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.. (or even the other texts) is that the Lord does not attempt to prove that He is the Creator. There are no elaborate arguments to make the point. Instead, it is simply and clearly stated, with no attempt to justify, explain, or prove it. Either we accept it on faith, or we do not. In fact, faith is the only way that we can accept it, for one simple reason: none of us were here to see the Creation process itself. It would, indeed, have been a logical impossibility for us to have been there at our own creation. Even secularists, whatever view of origins they hold, have to take that view on faith for the same reason that we as creationists have to: none of us were there to view the event.
The Bible states that God created humankind — male and female — “in His own image” (Gen. 1:27, NKJV). Based on this idea, answer the following questions:
1. What does it mean that God created us in His own image? In what ways are we “in His own image” (NKJV)?
2. According to the Genesis account, did the Lord make anything else “in His own image” (NKJV) other than humankind? If not, what does that tell us about our unique status, in contrast to the rest of the earthly creation? What lessons can we draw from this contrast?
3. What else can be found in the account of the creation of humankind that sets the race apart from anything else the Lord had created? See Gen. 2:7 Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul., 18-25 Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed..
Although we must speak of God in human terminology, we must not forget that He is a spiritual Being ( John 4:24 John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.), possessing divine characteristics. All we can say is that in our physical, mental, and spiritual natures, we reflect in some way our divine Creator, however much there remains about Him that is still, at least for us, shrouded in mystery. The Bible emphasizes, however, the spiritual and mental aspects of our mind. These aspects we can develop and improve. It is the uniqueness of the human mind that makes possible a nourishing relationship with God, something the rest of anything in God’s earthly creation seem unable to do.
Notice, too, the unique account of how God made woman. Both men and women share the incredible privilege of being made in the image of God. In their creation, there is no hint of inferiority of one to the other. God Himself made them both from the same material. God made both equal from the start and placed them together in a special relationship with Him. Both had the same opportunity to develop their God-given characters in a way that would bring glory to Him.
Notice God’s first spoken words to humankind, at least as they appear in Scripture. He points them to their ability to procreate, to reproduce more of their own kind. He also points them to the earth itself, to the creation, and He tells them to replenish it, to subdue it, and to have mastery over it. He also points them to the plants they can eat. In short, according to the Bible, God’s first words to man and woman deal specifically with their interaction and relationship to the physical world.
What do Genesis 1:28-29Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. tell us about how God views the material world? Do they imply that there is something bad in material things and our enjoyment of them? What lessons can we learn from these early scenes in human history about how we should relate to the creation itself?
Also, with these words, God takes the first steps toward a relationship with humankind. He speaks to them, gives them commands, tells them what to do. There’s a responsibility implicit in words too. God has asked them to be masters over this wonderful creation that He Himself has made.
Genesis 1:28 says that God blessed Adam and Eve. What does that mean? What kind of relationship does it imply between them and their Creator?
God addressed Adam and Eve as intelligent beings who could respond to His kindness and enter into communion and fellowship with Him. Also, as creature-children, Adam and Eve were dependent upon the blessing and care of their Creator-Father. He provided all they needed. They did nothing to deserve what He gave them. They were purely recipients of something they did not earn.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” ( Gen. 2:16-17Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.).
This test provided Adam and Eve with an opportunity to exercise their free will. It also challenged them to respond positively or negatively to their relationship with the Creator. It also shows that God had made them free, moral beings. After all, if they did not have the opportunity to disobey, why would the Lord have even bothered warning them, in the first place, against disobedience?
“Everything preceding in this chapter has paved the way for this climax [ Gen. 2:16-17Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.]. The future of the race centers upon this single prohibition. Man is not to be confused by a multiplicity of issues. Only one divine ordinance must be kept in mind. By thus limiting the number of injunctions to one, Yaweh gives tokens of his mercy. Besides, to indicate that this one commandment is not grievous, the Lord sets it against the background of a broad permission: ‘from any tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.’ ” — H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis (Columbus, OH: Wartburg Press, 1942), vol. 1, p. 127.
By calling Adam and Eve to obey His will, God was saying: I am your Creator, and I have made you in My image. Your life is sustained by Me, for by Me you live and move and have your being. I have provided all things for your well-being and happiness (sustenance, home, human companionship) and have established you as ruler of this world under Me. If you are willing to affirm thisn relationship with Me because you love Me, then I will be your God, and you will be My children. And you can affirm this relationship and the trust implicit in it by simply obeying this specific command.
In the end, our relationship with God can be effective and lasting only if we freely choose to accept His will. Rejecting His will is, in essence, to claim independence from Him. It indicates that we believe we do not need Him. That is a choice that results in the knowledge of evil, and evil leads to alienation, loneliness, frustration, and death.
We tend to believe people we know and instinctively distrust those whom we do not. Eve naturally would have distrusted Satan. Furthermore, any direct attack against God would have made her defensive. What steps, then, did Satan take to bypass Eve’s natural defenses? (Gen. 3:1-6Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.).
“Deplorable as was Eve’s transgression and fraught as it was with potential woe for the human family, her choice did not necessarily involve the race in the penalty for her transgression. It was the deliberate choice of Adam, in the full understanding of an express command of God — rather than hers — that made sin and death the inevitable lot of mankind. Eve was deceived; Adam was not.” — The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 231.
As a result of this blatant transgression and disregard to God’s command, the relationship between God and humankind is now broken. It changed from open fellowship with God to fleeing in fear from His presence (Gen. 3:8-10Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. 3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.). Alienation and separation replace fellowship and communion. Sin appeared, and all its ugly results followed. Unless something was done, humanity was heading for eternal ruin.
In the midst of this tragedy, what words of hope and promise did God speak? (See Gen. 3:15Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel..)
In their utter helplessness, Adam and Eve were to gain hope from this Messianic promise, hope that would transform their existence, because this hope was God-given and God-supported. This promise of the Messiah and of final victory, however vaguely stated at that time, lifted the gloom into which sinning had placed them.
The Bible overflows with calls to sinners and backsliders. Compare Ps. 95:7-8 Psalms 95:7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 95:8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:; Isa. 55:1-2 Isaiah 55:1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 55:2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness., 6-7 Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.; Luke 15:3-7 Luke 15:3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 15:4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 15:5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 15:6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.; Luke 19:10 Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.. What others can you find?
Read Ellen G. White, “The Creation,” pp. 44-51; “The Temptation and Fall,” pp. 52-62; and “The Plan of Redemption,” pp. 63-70, in Patriarchs and Prophets.
Mother sought help when I was about 2. She sent me to a special needs school that taught me sign language and how to speak. My teacher taught the sounds of letters and words. I put my hand to her throat when she spoke and then tried to replicate the sound with my own throat.
My mother cried because her son couldn’t hear her voice. “Don’t worry,” the teacher said. “Have patience. Everything will work out fine.”
I attended the special needs school for two hours every day. I also studied at an Adventist school for two hours daily. The church school taught me how to read and write and, most important, it taught me about God.
I attended the Adventist school up to the age of 8. But the school didn’t have teachers who knew sign language, so Mother ended up sending me to a public school with teachers who could communicate with me.
The first time that I met other Adventist young people with hearing impairments was at a church-organized conference at Linda Vista Adventist University. It was wonderful to mingle with other Adventist young people with the same needs as me. I was invited to attend the annual conference again the next two years. Then the Inter-America Division organized its first special needs conference and held the event at Montemorelos University in Monterrey, Mexico. At the conference, a desire grew in me to serve God as a pastor. But how? I could never afford the tuition.
As the conference concluded, university president Ismael Castillo made a surprising announcement. “Do any of you want to study here?” he asked.
He offered a full scholarship for the tuition. I understood then that God was calling me to be a pastor, and I stood up.
I am the first deaf theology student at Montemorelos University. This is my second year at the university. It is difficult because no one knows sign language. I concentrate hard and try to read the teachers’ lips. I failed several classes my first year, and I have to retake those classes.
I have led several evangelistic meetings for the hearing impaired, including in Mexico City. Churches with deaf people invite me to preach.
I have a huge desire in my heart to graduate and serve as a pastor. I dream about going to the mission field, perhaps to Spain as a missionary to the hearing impaired.
Please pray for the hearing impaired. We all have dreams. We are willing to do big things for the Lord.
This quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help open a missionary training center at Montemorelos University.