Nothing is harder to direct than a man in prosperity; nothing more easily managed than one is adversity. — Plutarch

Nursery Book of Bible Stories - Amy Steedman




The Beautiful World

When night comes down and everything is dark and black, we sometimes are a little afraid, for we cannot see all the pleasant things around us, and it makes us feel lonely to be in the dark. The very first thing of all we want is light.

So it was when God made the world that the very first thing He did was to make the light. It had all been quite dark until He looked down and said, "Let there be light," and then the beautiful light came.

There were many things to be done after that. There was the light to be divided into day and night, and the sky and the land and the sea to be made and set all in their right places; and as God worked He was glad, because He saw that it was all going to be very beautiful and very good. But still the earth was quite bare, worse even than the garden in winter when all the flowers are dead, because there had never been any trees or flowers or grass at all. So then God made a glad springtime to come bursting over the earth, and flowers and trees began to grow, and green leaves and buds and corn began to sprout; and instead of a bare, dark world there was a great garden, all clothed in a beautiful green dress and starred with flowers.

Now there is one thing which a garden needs above everything else, and that is sunshine. So God made the sun to shine down from the blue sky in the day-time, and he made the silver moon that hangs up there like a great lamp in the night-time, and all the stars that shine "like diamonds in the sky." Spring, summer, autumn, and winter —God arranged them all, so that everything should grow in its right time.

It was a very silent earth still, for trees and flowers grow very quietly; but soon the sweet sound of music came stealing into the world, for, after making all the fishes that swim in the seas and rivers and streams, God made the dear birds that chirp and twitter as they fly about. He taught them, too, to make their nests, and bring up the baby birds, so that we should always have birds in the world to sing their songs to us.

Now in the air there was the sound of fluttering wings, and in the water the fishes swam and flashed their tails, and only the earth was waiting for the animals and insects that were to make it their home. So God next made all the beasts and cattle and all the creeping things, and when He looked down He saw it was all very good.

Then it was that God made the greatest thing of all, for it was something that was made "in His own image," which means like God Himself. He made the first man Adam, and the first woman Eve, and He made them different to all the other things which He had created, because He put into them some of His own life, the part of us which we call our soul.

At first the two people whom God had made were very happy indeed. They lived in the most beautiful garden, where all the most wonderful trees and flowers grew, where there was nothing to harm them and everything to make them happy. All the animals and birds were their friends, and Adam gave all of them their names; and there was no suffering or pain in the garden, because everything was good.

Then a sad day came, when Eve was disobedient and all the happiness was spoilt. God had said that Adam and Eve might enjoy all the delicious fruit that grew in the garden except the fruit of one special tree which they were forbidden to touch. But the tempter came, and whispered to Eve that it was very hard that she should not taste that fruit, and that God would not really punish her if she did. Poor Eve was not wise enough to listen to the voice inside her, which told her she must not disobey God; and so she did as the tempter suggested, and all the happiness in that beautiful garden came to an end.

Neither Adam nor Eve had ever known before what fear meant; but now that they had disobeyed God, they were afraid to meet Him, and went and hid themselves. And God was very sorrowful to think His children had disobeyed Him, and by their wrongdoing had brought sin and death into the beautiful world which He had made so good.

No longer could Adam and Eve live in the fair garden, for they must be punished; and God sent them out, and placed His angels with flaming swords to guard the way back.

It had been easy work for Adam in the garden to look after all the growing things; but now it was very different. Thorns and thistles, and all kinds of weeds began to spring up and to choke the good plants, and Adam had to toil hard from morning till night; and Eve too soon learned what it meant to be tired and sorrowful.

But even then there was still some happiness left, for God sent Eve a great gift, the gift of a little son. She called his name Cain. And afterwards another baby boy was born, and this second boy she called Abel.

Perhaps she thought she could never be very sorrowful again, now that she had two boys to love and care for; but, sad to say, as the boys grew up, sorrow and sin crept in again. Cain began to be jealous of his younger brother. From angry, jealous thoughts came angry words, until at last followed angry blows, and Cain killed his brother out in the fields, where he thought no one could see him. But he forgot that God sees everything we do, even when we think we are quite alone, and his punishment followed swiftly. God put a mark upon his brow, and sent him to wander alone out into the world, far away from his home and his mother. Then Eve knew, even better than before, all the trouble and pain and suffering which sin had brought into the world.

[Illustration] from Nursery Book of Bible Stories by Amy Steedman
CAIN