Saturday, January 25, 2014

Did plants and animals die before the Fall?

Book of Genesis, Fall of Man.
Book of Genesis, Fall of Man. (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Was there animal and plant death before the Fall? Some say yes. They say that God created meat-eating animals, that Adam seems to have understood the word “death” (Gen. 2:17), and that while the man, woman, serpent, and ground were cursed in the Fall, there is no curse on the plant or animal kingdoms. But there are problems with this understanding. 

First, there is no mention of
the death of animals or plants before Genesis 3. Arguments from silence are by nature weak, but we also note that it seems animals were herbivores prior to the Fall. God gave green plants for all the animals and bird for food in Gen. 1:30, and animal predation will become obsolete in eternity (Isaiah 11:6-9). Further, we have today animals with sharp, meat-eating teeth like the panda which only eat bamboo. They need the long teeth to break the bamboo fibers. 

Adam did not question God’s meaning about any other word other than death. The idea of death would not fit with the description of the creation as “very good.”  

Also, in the Fall, the curse on the ground included all the cosmos (Rom. 8:19-23), and in Romans 5:12, Paul adds that death entered the world through sin.What we are sure about is that death is not natural for human beings (Enoch and Elijah demonstrate that). 

We were not created for death. Death is not part of the circle of life. Death is not our friend. It only comes once (Heb. 9:27), and that is quite enough. We can make the best of it. Death in old age is sometimes called good (Gen. 25:8; Num 23:10; Eccles. 3:2). But death is a very mean enemy. 

If you have ever dealt with it, you know what it does to a person and his body. It is an enemy with whom we all will have to deal unless and until Christ returns. Until then, we cling to Christ who has brought “life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10).