HAVE you ever looked down on the Earth from a high hill or a mountain or an airplane? From such high places the planet we live on looks very huge, even though we can see only a small part of it. Perhaps it is difficult for you to imagine how something so big could be built. But someone planned and built it, just as someone planned and built the house you live in. Wouldn't you like to be whisked back into the long ago, and see some of the amazing things that happened before the Earth came to be the way it is now? And wouldn't you like to learn about who lived on this planet long before men lived here? And how and why you came to be here?
A Time Machine
Then let's suppose we have a wonderful machine by which we can tune into the Stream of Time — and a machine that can show on its screen things that happened long before now and things that will happen in years to come! Let s suppose that you live in a small town in the Middle West or Mountain or Pacific coast areas of the United States, or in Canada, and that you would like to know what that town was like in the year 1800. You just press a button on the time machine and you say into the machine's microphone what you want to see. The screen lights up with a picture you don't recognize. It shows mostly a deep forest. This machine just doesn't work the way it is supposed to, you think. Another scene flashes on the screen. It shows the same thing as before, but from a different spot. Now you do see something familiar — the big hill just south of your town. And the water is the river that flows by it! But there are no buildings there. And no streets and no cars. Instead, there is the heavy forest. But what are those things in the little clearing at the river's edge? Teepees! Now you spot some figures moving slowly about, and as the image on the time machine zooms forward for a closeup, you plainly see — Indians! Now you realize that your town hadn't even started to be built back in 1800. Just as there was a time when your town and your parents and you didn't exist, there was also a time when the planet we now live on didn't exist. And just as there was a reason for the Earth coming into being, there was a reason for you coming into being. Do you know what it was? If you know the exciting answer to that question, then you have a wonderful piece of wisdom that most people do not have. Most men who are thought of as being very wise cannot give you the truth about it.
Let's Find Out
To find out what really did happen a long time ago, let us speak into the time machine and ask to be shown how things looked before there was anything in the vast space where our universe is now. Our minds cannot imagine such a long period of time. But if your mind could understand how far back it was, what would you expect to find then? So-called cave men who looked like gorillas? Vast seas full of wriggling worms that later were supposed to develop into human beings? Tremendous blobs of white — hot lava shooting through space to form new planets? Look at the time machine screen. It is inky black, as though every light in the universe were turned out. You are gazing out into cold, empty, black space as it was before the stars and planets were put there! At first the screen looks black. But our eyes are used to seeing only material things. Now, as they focus more strongly on the screen, we begin to be aware of a hazy, strange glow that is not like any material thing we have ever seen before. (I John 1:5; John 1:4.) It emanates from a Personage you cannot see, and gradually spreads out and becomes brighter and brighter, filling entirely the great expanse of nothingness that was at first before us. When we first looked into that inky darkness, there seemed to be nothing at all. But now we know there is something not material out there after all. WHO could it be? It is GOD.
"In the Beginning — GOD"
God had to be there first because He made everything that ever was. (Genesis 1:1.) Probably one of the first things you wonder about God is where He came from. He didn't come from anywhere. He has always existed. It is hard for us to understand. We must remember that "the secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever" (Deuteronomy 29:29). God always was and He always will be. (Revelation 1:8.) What is God like? We know what people are like because we ca n see them. Your parents and brothers and sisters — if you have brothers and sisters — are a family of human beings made of flesh and blood in the image or shape of God. (Genesis 1:26.) God is not just one person, but is really a family (Ephesians 3:15) of very special persons made of spirit. (John 4:24.) Spirit is something we human beings can't usually see or feel or hear. That's why you can't see God by looking into the space of millions of years ago, even though God was all that existed then. However, we can often see the things that God produces. We know of at least two spirit beings now in the God Family. One is God the Father. The other is Jesus the Son. Each Person in the God Family is called God, just as each human person in your family is called by your last name. God the Father and Jesus are both composed of Spirit, and they are holy and perfect. Their Spirit, like their light which radiates from them, goes out from them everywhere, and is called the Holy Spirit. (Psalm 139:7.) Now we know that we have gone back in time as far as we can go and still learn something. Next we should ask our time machine to show us something of what happened between that time and now — an era when God created the great universe in the vast expanse of space. We don't know just when the universe was made nor how long it took to make it; so instead of asking the time machine to take us back any certain number of years, we'll simply ask it to show us a picture of the universe as it appeared after God created it. This could have been millions of years ago. But we do not know for certain.
Look at what is coming on the screen! The black curtain of depthless space is now jeweled by millions of specks and patches of light of various colors. Each one of those specks of bright light is a gigantic, flaming sun thousands upon thousands of miles across. And though those suns, or stars, look as though they are grouped together like clusters of diamonds in priceless brooches, they are many billions of miles apart' (Isaiah 54:2.) The universe is so big that we cannot see but part way through it. It's tremendous size is something our human minds cannot even begin to understand. This should give us some idea of how much wiser and more powerful our Creator is than we are. (Job 22:12 and 38:4-6.) Somewhere in those bright clusters of beautiful stars our Earth was created. Men have thought up various ideas of how it came to be there. Some have even been foolish enough to state that our world, as well as the other bodies in the skies, just happened to be made without God having anything to do with creation. This silly idea is even taught in some of the most famous schools throughout the world. (Psalm 53:1.) Just how God created the Earth should not be as important to us right now as why He created it. If we were to ask our time machine to show us a picture of it after it was made, we would see a gigantic, blue — green globe hanging in breath — taking beauty against that wondrous, star-studded, black curtain of space. You wouldn't re cognize any of our planet's continents or markings, because when it was first formed it was quite different. What did God use to create the stars, planets, comets and other objects of the universe? He had to have material, just as the carpenters or your father needed material to build the house you live in. (Hebrews 11:3.) God Himself is composed of Spirit, as you already know. His Holy Spirit emanates from Him everywhere in the universe, just as light shines from a lamp throughout a room. It is a mysterious and wonderfully powerful something we human beings can't describe because our minds are not able to grasp very much about it. The Holy Spirit is something that is everywhere. It is the very essence of God Bowing out from Him. By it God created and now controls and rules the universe and everything and everyone in it. Everything that exists was made by it. It is the most important thing there is.
When our Creator used His Holy Spirit to make the universe, He didn't do it just so He would have something vast and beautiful to gaze upon. (Isaiah 45:18.) He also created millions of spirit beings, or angels to live in it. Many of them served Him in the place He made for His throne, called heaven. We don't know where heaven is, but possibly it is somewhere in the northern sky. (Isaiah 14:13.) On the other hand, it could be very close to us. (Isaiah 66:1.) We do know that it is probably invisible to human eyes, just as spirit beings cannot be seen by us. A long time ago there was in heaven a chief angel whose name was Lucifer. That name means Light Bringer, or Shining Star of the Dawn. God created Lucifer very wise, good and capable. Lucifer was perfect in his ways when God created him, and brilliant in knowledge and beauty. (Isaiah 14:12.) Therefore God made Lucifer ruler over the newly created Earth, where millions of angels were sent to dwell. Lucifer's throne was in a place called Eden, where later the first human beings came into being. From this place Lucifer governed the angels of the Earth by carrying our all of God's orders and laws. You see, God is the Supreme Ruler over the whole universe, because God created it all, and it all belongs to Him. When He made Lucifer ruler over the Earth, Lucifer was to obey God and carry out every rule and instruction. (Ezekiel 28:13-15.) Lucifer was perfectly obedient in these things. He did all that God commanded. There were years and years of great happiness and contentment among the angels while they and their king, Lucifer, obeyed everyone of God's laws. This is because of the fact that God's laws are given to make beings happy. Then one day Lucifer permitted a wrong thought to come into his mind.
"I am king over millions of angels," he said to himself. "From them I could form a great army powerful enough to attack God and His angels. If I could seize His throne in heaven, I could take God's place as supreme ruler of the whole universe!" (Isaiah 14:13-14.) The mere thought of conquering God and making himself ruler of the universe ca used great pride to grow in his mind. And the more he let his mind dwell on this greedy idea, the more anxious he became to do something about it. What had started our as only a wrong thought in time grew into an evil plan that was to plunge our planet and universe and even heaven into a terrible storm of trouble. At last Lucifer made his evil plan known to his subjects. He made tempting promises to any who would follow him in his scheme. By telling many of his angels that he would make them rulers over other worlds in far — flung space, and others that they would be given high offices under him in heaven, Lucifer managed to bring a third of the angels into his army. (Revelation 12:4 and Job 4:18.) Most of the angels stayed loyal to God, however, and refused to turn against the Eternal One who had brought them into being. The pride and greed that had grown from his evil idea caused Lucifer to lose some of his great wisdom. Otherwise, he would have known for certain that he could not possibly be successful in any war against his Creator. But Lucifer's wrong thinking caused him to believe something that wasn't true, and from that time on Lucifer's thinking has been false. Filled with the belief that he could really conquer his own Creator, Lucifer decided to carry out his plan. With millions of angels willing to obey him, instead of God, he swept up to heaven with them for the attack. (Jude 6) The war that resulted between millions of spirit beings must have been an awful thing. Probably they used great forces and strange and awesome powers we human beings know nothing about. Today some people think that hydrogen and cobalt bombs and rocket ships blasting into space show the greatest powers that exist. But these things are puny and weak compared to the powerful forces at God's command. God has always been the most powerful being to exist. No human being or spirit or army of human beings or spirits has any power to move Him in the slightest.
In this war that happened in heaven, perhaps God allowed Lucifer to have a very small bit of success in warfare — just so Lucifer would think that he was about to win. Thus sudden and awful defeat would be even more bitter. Awful defeat was what Lucifer ran into. The terrible power of the Creator was loosed upon Lucifer and his angels with such terribly destructive force that he and his followers were blasted out of heaven and back down to Earth. (II Peter 2:4 and Isaiah 14:15.) God wasn't done with His attackers, however. Lucifer's great sin of rebellion against the rule of God turned him into a devil. His name was changed to Satan, which means enemy. (Revelation 12:9.) Those evil angels who had followed him were from then on known as demons. Demons are hateful, bitter, unhappy spirit beings whose pure spirit light has gone out forever, and who therefore have nothing but a miserable, hopeless future. Satan was allowed to keep his rule over the angels who had become demons (Luke 4:5-6), but he lost his power over the angels on Earth who had not sinned by following him.
Awful Penalty of Sin
Whenever God's laws are broken, suffering and trouble and destruction are certain to follow. Therefore, during that great battle when Satan and his millions of demons tried to conquer God, a great and awesome change came over the planet. (Genesis 1:2.) What had long been a beautiful planet, our Earth, was turned into a cosmic wreck. At first terrific winds came up, flattening vegetation everywhere. Seas were whipped into rolling mountains of water. Earth's crust shook and buckled under the pressure of the raging elements. Here and there the crust split open and flames and lava spewed high into the sky. The atmosphere was filled with smoke so thick that nothing could live in it. Huge, flying reptiles that soared through the skies in those days were dashed to the ground. Thundering herds of dinosaurs, or giant lizards, came to sudden death. Many of them, fleeing from roaring, lava — belching volcanoes, plunged to their end in deep chasms that opened up by terrible earthquakes. The flattened vegetation, covered by whole seas of boiling water and lava, was turned into what we know today as coal. The raging elements on land and in the sea and sky were churned up with a force that plowed up all of Earth's surface. It was as though a million hydrogen bombs had bee n se t off a ll over the world. Probably nothing lived through that terrible time. Animal and vegetable life was crushed out. (Psalm 104:29.) The only living things left upon the planet were the evil, restless demons whose law breaking had broken the perfect balance, harmony and beauty of the world God had lovingly created for His creatures. For a time our planet stayed buried in a deep sea of gases, smoke and water vapor. There was no longer any dry land. Oceans covered the whole Earth. The gases and smoke and vapor were so thick that no light could reach the seas that covered the planet. How long this condition lasted we do not know. But at last came the moment when God started preparing for a very important event in His great plan — bringing human beings into existence. Now there are several other planets besides Earth swinging around our sun, and it is quite likely that there are even many more planets here and there in the universe. But as far as we know, Earth was the only planet God chose and prepared to be the home of human beings patterned after His image.
How God Creates
For five days God worked at making Earth over into a place that would be just right to support human life. (Genesis 1:23.) Can you imagine what great power and awesome forces it took to change the whole surface of our planet in less than a week? Remember, God is not just one Person, but the Divine Family. The Father does the supreme planning. He decided what to do. Then He told the second Person of the God Family to do it. This second Person is called the Word of God because He is the Spokesman who does the speaking, as the Father commands Him. This second Person is the one who later was born as a human, and became Jesus Christ. So this second Person, or the Word, commanded what God the Father decided to do. Instantly the mighty and all — powerful Holy Spirit produced whatever the Word commanded. That is how God created and formed everything by Jesus Christ. (John 1:3.) On the first day of reforming Earth's surface, God prepared periods of night and day by clearing away much of the smoke and gases surrounding the whirling planet. Thus a little light came through to Earth for the first time since Satan and his demons were cast back down from heaven, when deep, heavy blankets of dark clouds were formed from the wrecking of the world. At that time those clouds had cut off all light rays from the sun, moon and stars. (Genesis 1:3-5.) On the second day God formed a vast layer of fresh air over the Earth. This caused much of the water vapors to seep upward, like steam out of a teakettle, and to form great, billowing, clean clouds high in the sky. This air, a combination of healthy gases, is known to us as the atmosphere. (Genesis 1:6-8.) It was very necessary to prepare the atmosphere, because man has to breathe air in order to live. He actually lives in a deep, heavy sea of gases, much as sea creatures live in the deep oceans.
God called this atmosphere Heaven. (Genesis 1:8.) However, He also spoke of two other heavens. One is the vast space beyond our atmosphere. (Genesis 1:14.) The other is where His throne is. (Acts 7:49.) He doesn't tell us just where that is, and astronomers can't find out because it isn't visible to human eyes. On the third day, our Creator molded Earth's crust so that some of it was high and some of it was low. The great layer of water covering the planet drained into the low areas, causing deep seas. Large areas of land were left above water, forming continents. (Genesis 1:9-10.) On the continents God planted all kinds of vegetation — trees, bushes, flowers, grass — everything that could grow out of the ground. And in that same day the lands of Earth began to be green with plants of all kinds springing up from the soil. (Genesis 1:11-13.) On the fourth day God cleared away the last of the dust and harmful gases from the sky, thus letting the sun, moon and stars shine in their full brilliance and splendor upon the lands and seas. (Genesis 1:14-19.) On the fifth day the Creator planted in the sea whales, fish, eels, octopi and many, many other water creatures. On that same day He also formed various kinds of birds to fly through the air. From these sea creatures and air creatures came many others of their kind, and in time the seas and the skies were swarming with living things. (Genesis 1:20-23.) Now God had renewed the whole face of the Earth in five days, and at last the planet was ready for God to create man to live on it. But before He created man on that sixth day, God formed other creatures to live on land. Elephants, cattle, lizards, worms, insects — every kind of thing that walks or creeps was brought into being that day. (Genesis 1:24-25.)
At last God performed the most important task of physical work. Using the material from which He formed the Earth, He made a human being! (Genesis 1:26-28.) This first human being was fashioned in such a way that he looked very much like God. It was as if God were a sculptor, making a statue of Himself in flesh and blood and bone. Actually, He made this first man out of the dust of the ground, then caused him to breathe air and to become alive — and he became the first living soul of his kind. (Genesis 2:7.) God named this first human being Adam. Adam was the first living, mortal man on this planet. (I Corinthians 15:45.) The Creator had already planted a beautiful park for Adam to live and work in. This park was in Eden, a land on the other side of the world from what is now the United States of America. God knew that Adam would become lonely if he were the only human being. He took one of Adam's ribs, while he was sleeping, and by His creative powers formed it into a woman. God gave her to Adam for a companion. Adam named the woman Eve. (Genesis 2:18-22.) All this God made and created in six days of work. Each day then was just twenty-four hours long and had a night time and a day time just as it has now.
HOW the Sabbath Was Made
But God had not yet finished His week of creating. On the seventh day He rested from His work, and therefore created the Sabbath day by resting instead of working. (Genesis 2:2-3.) Thus ended the first week in the history of the refashioned planet on which we human beings have lived for almost six thousand years. The seventh day, on which God rested, He called the Sabbath. (Exodus 16:26.) He blessed it as a special day of rest, and set it apart as His very own day, belonging to Him. He made a law that man should always observe that holy day every week by resting and assembling in church for worship. God made that day holy time, and commanded all people to always keep it holy. He gave the other six days to man for man's work and play, but the last day of the week He kept for Himself. (Exodus 20:8-11.) You will probably remember that the last time we used our time machine was when we wished to see the whole Earth as it was in the distant ages during which angels happily lived there. Now let's turn to the machine again to get a view of part of the beautiful Garden of Eden, the park where Adam and Eve lived.
You probably see on the screen a deep green, grassy slope leading down to a stream of brilliant, sparkling, blue water. The slope is decked with graceful shade trees, fruit trees and colorful clusters of plants and flowers. Beyond the fern-banked stream is a towering cliff of red and yellow agate, over which falls a foamy ribbon of glistening water. At one side, in the distance, are rolling hills covered with green groves of leafy trees and flowering bushes. In the distance on the other side is a lush jungle of amazingly beautiful vines trailing thickly between graceful, tall palms. (Genesis 1:31.) Some close-ups on our time machine screen show strange birds of bright hues flying from tree to tree. Their songs fill the air with a soothing music that seems to tell us that here is real peace and happiness. Another view shows us Adam and Eve beside the stream. They are watching with amused interest the antics of fish, turtles and other water creatures playing in the clear, cool water. Now our time machine picks up a view of Adam and Eve happily busy — Adam dressing and pruning the lush shrubs, vines, and flowers and joyfully singing praises to God — Eve preparing a delicious meal full of eye — appeal as she beams in delight over what she is doing. They are very happy in their work. But they also enjoy pleasurable hours of walking and talking with God — and there is time, too, for healthy, relaxing walks through nature. Perhaps the first thing you will notice about Adam and Eve is that their bodies are perfectly formed. Adam is straight and muscular and handsome. Eve is beautiful and graceful. It is not hard for you to see this, because they are unclothed. You see, no clothes were needed by Adam and Eve because it wasn't cold in the park. Besides, there were no thistles or thorns to scratch them. They didn't realize that there was such a thing as being naked, and therefore they were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25.) Look at the screen again. A huge lion has moved out from the deep shadows of the thick trees, and is slowly moving up behind Adam and Eve! The two human beings are so interested in the water creatures that they have no idea the great beast is so close to them. But in the next moment Adam's keen sense of hearing causes him to turn and see what is almost upon them. He swings his strong, right amount to seize the lion's heavy mane — and then playfully scratches the head of this beast who has simply come for a friendly visit! Before Eve was created, God asked Adam to name all creatures. (Genesis 2:19-20.) In this time of perfect peace, all creatures were friendly and harmless — just as they will again be in the time of peace that will come to the world in just a few years. (Isaiah 11:6-9.) In looking at these scenes from the distant past, probably you have paid little attention to the time machine itself. But now look at it closely.
It's the BIBLE!
Perhaps for the first time you realize that it is shaped very much like an open book. On closer examination, you note that what you thought was the machine's viewing screen is actually the open pages of the most important of all books — the Bible!