© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 21 November 2016
2A3. God’s primary purpose in all of His creation:
To express His own nature forever,
beginning especially on Earth by making Himself known to people worldwide,
and through them as they responded to Him
2A3(title) God’s primary purpose in all of His creation
The following notes are based on a survey of the whole of GEN 4:1 – 6:8 to find indications of God’s primary purpose after the FALL, and His ongoing strategy to accomplish it.
2A3(sub-title) To express His own nature forever, beginning especially on Earth by making Himself known to people worldwide, and through them as they responded to Him
2A3(a) God’s primary purpose had not failed, been thwarted or changed
The catastrophic outcomes of the FALL raise questions about whether God’s primary purpose had failed or at least been thwarted, or had to be altered.
God later “regretted” and was “deeply troubled” that He had made people! Gen 6:6,7b. Was this because His intention to make Himself known THROUGH people had ended in total failure?! Even worse, had His creation of people been a terrible mistake??! It might seem that this was the dismal end of God’s “great experiment” in creating the universe!!
On the contrary, God continued to express His own nature in all of His creation despite the FALL. In particular, God’s condemnation and judgment showed that His Enemy’s attempt to take authority over Him had failed completely [1B32(b)].
God also continued to make Himself known TO Adam and Eve. But their only positive experiences of Him were His merciful responses to them [1B33]. Otherwise their interactions with God were negative due to their guilt and His judgment of them. Even the ground continued to affect them and their descendants negatively Gen 4:12a, 5:29b.
Yet these outcomes were still expressions of God’s own nature. His power and perfection would be expressed at all times in all of His creation, whether experienced as positive or negative by the people. His love for all people also continued to be expressed whether they appreciated it or not.
Therefore God was still accomplishing His primary purpose. It had not failed or been thwarted, despite the actions of God’s Enemy and by Adam and Eve that had resulted in the FALL. Like God Himself, His primary purpose was unchanging.
After the FALL God let Adam and Eve retain many of their capabilities, both physical and spiritual [1B33(c)]. In that sense they still had something of “the image of God”. But because of their disobedience they and their descendants were alienated from Him.
In exhorting Cain, God now identified and personified His Enemy as sin Gen 4:7b. This was the first biblical occurrence of that word. The Hebrew word (hattat) for “sin” occurs 293 times throughout the OT. It meant offending against God, a deviation from what He requires, a missing of the mark or the road.1 In principle it was any violation of God’s absolute requirements.
2A3(c) The people’s further negative responses to God, and the consequences
God warned Cain that His Enemy, as sin, was “crouching at your door, it desires to have you” Gen 4:7b. Then God commanded Cain to “rule over it” Gen 4:7c. But Cain responded negatively, ignoring these warnings. He chose to disobey God and sinned grievously Gen 4:8,9b.
Eventually almost all people worldwide came to see things only in terms of the desires of their own sinful hearts and acted accordingly Gen 6:5. So sin did indeed “have” them. They had come under the control of God’s Enemy. Their freedom to choose became no longer free!
Consequently all people had the “image and likeness” of sinful Adam and Eve Gen 5:3b instead of the “likeness of God” Gen 5:1b. This apparent distinguishing between the meanings of “image” and “likeness” again seems to be deliberate [1A3(e)]. It implies that after the FALL the ways people used their God-given capabilities were no longer God-like but sinful.
For people ever again to share positively with God in accomplishing His primary purpose, they had to regain at least something of “the likeness of God”. Somehow their problem of being controlled by sin had to be resolved. Only then could they use their capabilities in a God-like way. God could then make Himself known THROUGH them positively.
2A3(d) God’s strategy of love, through His ongoing interactions with sinful people, to restore their relationship with Him
Although God’s primary purpose had not changed, the FALL had ended God’s original relationship with people and His principles for their lives on Earth. So for Adam and Eve to have any sense of ongoing positive participation with God, new “rules of the game” would be necessary [2A(intro)1].
What had become clear was that for God to accomplish His primary purpose positively THROUGH people would always be constrained by the voluntary nature of love [1A6(f)]. It seems that for this reason the sin of Adam and Eve came as no surprise to God. He apparently even expected that they would choose to disobey Him, sooner or later! [1A12(b)].
Yet despite their blatant violation of God’s one requirement, they did not die immediately. God had not expressed His perfection and power absolutely. He was prepared to withhold or postpone some of His judgment and punishment of them.
Therefore God had shown that He still valued fallen, sinful Adam and Eve by being merciful to them [1B33]. This demonstrated His ongoing commitment to people [see 2A8]. His love for them was unchanged, even though they did not love Him!
But if people did not love God, how would they ever choose to obey Him Gen 4:7a? How then could He ever express His own nature and make Himself known THROUGH them positively?
God wanted all people to be restored to a loving relationship with Him. But because this depended on love, He would never force them to obey Him [1A6(f)]. So His strategy was aimed at influencing them to freely choose His ways rather than follow their own sinful desires. Restoration of their relationship with Him became the central feature of accomplishing His primary purpose.
2A3(e) Was God’s accomplishing of His primary purpose on Earth still just a beginning?
Adam and Eve originally had the potential to live forever. They could have eaten the fruit of the Tree of LIFE. But this was withdrawn after the FALL Gen 3:22,23-24. So would there not now be an eternal future for people and all of God’s creation? [1A3(m)(ii)].
The brief account of the life of Enoch shed brilliant light on this issue. Enoch “walked faithfully with God” (in a loving relationship with Him) for 300 years Gen 5:22,24a. Then miraculously Enoch did not die! Gen 5:24b. That was unlike all those listed before and after him Gen 5:3-20,25-31. This seemed to imply that he did live forever – as if he had eaten the fruit of the Tree of LIFE! Gen 3:22b. It also implied that what God was doing with people on Earth was potentially just the beginning of an eternal accomplishment of His primary purpose.
Where God took Enoch was not stated Gen 5:24b. It was “away”, presumably to somewhere other than Earth. So apparently God’s eternal accomplishment of His primary purpose was to involve unknown realms beyond Earth.
Later God gave His first warning of a coming “deadline” for judgment Gen 6:3 [see 2B31(d, e)]. The use of the word “forever” again implied that there was potential for the Earth and people to always exist. Or alternatively, that the Spirit of God had been intended to “remain in” people always.
In any case, God Himself would continue forever, no matter what the outcomes for people might be [1A1(b)(i)]. But it had become obvious that accomplishing His primary purpose was especially focussed on the Earth and people.
2A3(f) The sublime accomplishing of God’s primary purpose THROUGH people – acts of “worship”
There is a brief narrative about offerings being brought to God by Cain and Abel Gen 4:2b-5. It simply describes what they each brought, then God’s and Cain’s responses [see 2B24(a)(ii)]. There is no mention of why they brought their offerings or how they offered them, but it is implied that they were wanting to gain God’s favour Gen 4:4b-5.
Apparently they knew something about who God was and what He is like. So by bringing their offerings they were attempting to express to God their attitudes to Him. This was based on their knowledge or understanding of Him and of what pleases Him.
Abel acceptably expressed God’s true nature back TO Him (unlike Cain and his offering). Abel did this THROUGH his intentional, formal act of worship, motivated by right attitudes. God’s pleasure was indicated by His positive response to Abel and his offering.
It could be seen as a sublime example of God accomplishing His primary purpose. He had succeeded in bringing Abel to want a restored relationship with Him, resulting in making Himself known TO and THROUGH Abel.
This was the Bible’s first record of an act of “worship”. That word does not occur in the NIV until later Gen 22:5, 24:26,48, 47:31 and translates a different Hebrew word to “offering”. But both refer to basically the same intentional actions, along with other related words such as presenting “sacrifices” Gen 8:20, 22:2,13, 31:54, 46:1, “building altars” Gen 8:20, 12:7,8, 13:4,18, 22:9, 26:25, 33:20, 35:1,3,7 and “calling on the name of the Lord” Gen 4:26, 12:8b, 13:4, 26:25. All of these were deliberate acts of acknowledging God. They were the worshippers’ formal or ritual expressions to Him of their attitudes to Him.
Gen 4:26b is possibly another mention of acts of worship in Era 2. It at least indicates that such responses still happened after the death of Abel. So Seth and his descendants were a welcome addition to the family of Adam and Eve! Gen 4:25. Until then the ungodly line of Cain Gen 4:23-24 had been their only descendants.
The brief account of Enoch “walking with God” for 300 years Gen 5:22-24 [2A3(e)] indicates that a fully intimate relationship had been established between them. It also implies much about Enoch’s attitudes, although no specific acts of worship are mentioned.
Arrow 2A1 -> 2A3
This arrow indicates that God’s primary purpose in all of His creation flowed directly from His own nature and was in fact the expression of that nature.
1. W.E.Vine, Merrill F.Unger and William White Jr,Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville: Nelson, 1985), page 232 (OT section).(Return to reading).