The sixth day of Creation had come to an end. During the first five days, the world had been transformed from chaos to a thing of perfect beauty. Darkness was replaced by light. The waters were pushed back as God commanded them. “ ‘ “This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!” ’ ” (Job 38:11, NKJV). The dry land sprouted into a canvas of colors and fragrances. Birds of all kinds and varieties flew about while fish and sea mammals swam and splashed in their aquatic home. Land animals of all types and species ran, jumped, or hung from tree limbs, depending on how the Creator had created them. Then, finally, humans were made, in God’s own image, unique beings in all the earthly Creation.
If only that were the end of the story—a perfect world, with perfect people, existing forever. Just think: Adam and Eve have many children, and then grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, whom they watch grow for an endless number of generations, each one bringing even more joy to the first couple, and to God, as well. It’s a scenario that we—existing in, and knowing only, a fallen world—can barely imagine.
And that’s because our imaginations have been formed in a world radically different from the one God had first created. How different are the two worlds, the world before sin and the world after? Here’s one example. As Adam and Eve, wrote Ellen White, “witnessed in drooping flower and falling leaf the first signs of decay, Adam and his companion mourned more deeply than men now mourn over their dead. The death of the frail, delicate flowers was indeed a cause of sorrow; but when the goodly trees cast off their leaves, the scene brought vividly to mind the stern fact that death is the portion of every living thing.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 62. We don’t have that reaction to a falling leaf because, having lived only in a world of sin, we have come to take death and suffering as inevitable parts of the cycles of life.
And that’s what this quarter’s lesson is about: the cycles of life, at least for us now, in this fallen world. And we are going to look at these cycles in the one place most of us cycle through them, and that is within the framework of family.
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