The world that God had originally created must have been an amazing place. The earth was teeming with life in land, sea and air, and there was no such thing as death. All created things—man, beast, and bird—were vegetarian. In God’s garden, Eden, there were fruit trees and food plants separate from the plants of the field. Creatures went about in whatever skin, fur, or feathers they were made with. Procreation was painless. Work was pleasant. Every creature was free, unfettered, and there was no such thing as fear. God had conversations with man, and man spoke freely with animals.
And then there was the Fall.
Adam and Eve were not given 613 Jewish regulations to follow. They were not even given Ten Commandments. They were given just one rule—do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And they chose to break it.
Once he and Eve ate from that tree, they gained vision into a world that had no innocence. All of a sudden, their nudity was shameful. They hid from a God they used to walk with. They experienced something neither had ever felt before, something unfamiliar and horrifying. Fear.
"I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid…"
Even worse, that fear was directed at God.
"…so I hid."
Hiding from God is the first thing people do when they mess up. Why? Because we all innately know and feel that God is holy. When we sin, we become unholy. And the two states are magnetic opposites.
God’s answer was to banish them from His garden and out into the rest of the world, where Adam had been born.
Sadly, even though it was man who committed the crime, the rest of creation had to share in his sentence. By overstepping one guardrail, Adam and Eve plunged both them and all other living things into millenia of corruption. Gone was the pleasantry of work. Gone was the personal companionship of God. Gone was the communion with animals. And once man had the need for clothing, the very first death took place. To hide the nudity that Adam and Eve were now aware of, God made garments of skin. We’re not told which animals they came from, but they were the first creatures to be sacrificed for Adam and Eve’s sin.
Sin is never localized. Sin is like a dirty bomb. Once it is detonated, its effects are felt everywhere. It contaminates everything in our sphere—our family, our livelihood, our community, our pets, and the world at large. There are several accounts in the Bible when God sent judgment down upon both men and animals, even though it was men who sinned.
But God is a god of grace. If we are willing to stop hiding from God, and face Him with our brokenness—if we are willing to stop pointing fingers and own up to our part in our mess—God is willing to forgive. Better than that, He is able to restore. He is able to contain the effects of the dirty bomb, and make things right again. He is able to cleanse our heart of its disobedience, and restore the relationship between Him and us. And this blessing extends to our animals and their offspring:
"All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks." (Deuteronomy 28:2-4)
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”(Genesis 3:1-5)
But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:9-12)
"For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:5-6)
“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20-21)
"If a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its people and their animals, even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord." (Ezekiel 14:13-14)
"If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks."