Challenge 1 God makes the world

CONTENTS

 The story shown in bold is explored in full in the Big Bible Challenge book www.scriptureunion.org.uk/shop

 Stories in this challenge

The first people                     Genesis 2:15–22

The fall                                    Genesis 3:1–13

The flood                                Genesis 6:17 – 7:5 

God’s promise to Noah    Genesis 9:8–17 

The Tower of Babel              Genesis 11:1–9 

 

COMMON tips for this and every challenge

  • Always have a Bible in a child-friendly translation available as you take the Big Bible Challenge. Even when the Bible verses are printed in the Big Bible Challenge book, find them in a Bible as well. This will help the child gain confidence in handling the Bible and become familiar with its size and number of pages.
  • Finding your way around the Bible can be a challenge in itself! Each reading from the Bible is shown in a certain way, like this:

Genesis 2:15–22.

  • Use the Index or Contents page of the Bible to help you find the book (or books) in the Bible for the readings in this challenge. In this example, the book title is ‘Genesis’.
  • Each book of the Bible is in chapters. In this example, the reading is in chapter 2.
  • Each chapter is split into verses. In this example, the verses are 15–22. In most Bibles, the verse numbers are printed very small.
  • Many of the challenges have five readings from the same part of the Bible, so use a bookmark to keep your place and it will be easier to find the Bible reading next time.
  • The Bible consists of many ‘books’ collected together and presented as one. See if you can work out what sort of ‘book’ you are exploring: is it history or is it a letter? Are you reading words spoken by a prophet or written as a song?
  •  Spend time looking at and chatting about the artwork in the Big Bible Challenge. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’
  • When you have finished this challenge, use the simple evaluation sheet. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’

COMMENCE: your introduction to this part of the Bible

This challenge introduces many of the Bible’s grandest themes. For example, we come to understand:

  • that God exists, that he is the creator of all things and the world he creates is good
  • that human beings are the pinnacle of God’s creation, created in his own image, designed to live in relationship with him and to be his representatives on earth
  • that sin (rebellion against God; living as if God doesn’t matter) has entered the world and made a mess of it
  • that God has a marvellous plan to rescue us and bring us back into a right relationship with himself

Ernest Lucas (Encounter with God, April-June 2002, p13-14) suggests that the pattern of these first eleven chapters can be summed up in the phrase, ‘the spread of sin, the spread of grace’. The disobedience of Adam and Eve (chapter 3) is quickly followed by the murder of Abel (chapter 4), the flood to cleanse the earth (chapters 6-9) and the arrogance of the Tower of Babel (chapter 11).

But each major act of sin is met by an act of grace: Adam and Eve are clothed by God, Cain is given a mark to protect his life, Noah and his family are saved from the flood and the Tower of Babel is quickly followed by the call of Abraham – a call that commences the outworking of God’s plan of salvation that will culminate in the sending of his Son, Jesus. After the disaster of human rebellion, God is working to bring about restoration.

 

CONNECT: the five stories in this challenge

We live in a very confusing, messy and often violent world! While all around us we see terrible destruction and endless depravity, we also experience the wonders of creation, the benefits of community and the joy of human relationships.

How will you help the child you are coaching to read the Bible, to understand it and to engage with this strange world that is so full of conflicting experiences? Where will you start?

Well, Genesis 1–11 is a very good place to begin! In a few short words, these chapters and the selected readings offer a worldview that puts all human experience, good and bad, into perspective.

The key story in the Big Bible Challenge book (‘God’s promise to Noah’) is a story of hope. You can begin with it – or you may choose to follow these stories in chronological order rather than start with the key story. Whichever sequence you choose, don’t get so ‘bogged down’ in the topics of disobedience and its consequences that you miss the love that God has for his wayward creation. This love of God – his longing for people to be safe, to live life to the full and to return his love – is the overarching theme throughout the Bible. That’s why the key story is so important. That’s why Jesus came.

As you read the Bible with your child, never lose sight of the fact that it is God’s story you are reading. The Bible does not start with us – it starts with God (‘In the beginning, God …’). From the very beginning, we are left in no doubt that this is ‘his story’. And through the pages of the Bible God is inviting each one, young or old, to be part of his great unfolding story. God said, ‘Let there be light’ – pray that light will dawn for you and your child as you journey together in the great adventure of getting to know God!


CONSIDER: what this challenge means today

It’s easy for ‘sin’ to be a very abstract idea for children (and for adults) – something that has only a distant application to our own lives as ‘good’ people. It’s equally easy to think that only extreme things – like murder – can be called ‘sin’. But if those are our perceptions, then these chapters won’t make sense in today’s world.

What Adam and Eve did doesn’t sound so bad – they simply ate a fruit that they were told not to eat, and then tried to shift the blame. But in reality they were ignoring God’s way of living life and were choosing an opposite path that seemed more attractive. That’s why it was so serious. In the same way, the issue at Babel was not that the people wanted to build a tower, but the pride that they could control their destiny.

We do the same today. Talk together about the sorts of dilemmas that we get ourselves into because of ‘white’ lies, blaming others, wanting to have what we don’t have and so on… All of these have consequences.

But God loves us. We don’t have to be perfect. Just as with Noah, God is on the side of those who want to follow his ways.

You could draw or make a rainbow and record on it throughout the whole 20 challenges the promises God makes to his people.


CLARIFY: issues that may arise from this challenge

Why did God make the tree if he didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat it?

This is a hard one for children – and for adults! God made everything ‘very good’ – including the tree. So there wasn’t anything wrong with the tree. The issue was disobedience. So the question becomes: didn’t God set Adam and Eve up to fail by creating the rule? The answer lies in the nature of God. He was not trying to trick Adam and Eve because that is not his nature. He doesn’t try to trick us either. But he did want them to love him because they chose to – and the only way of knowing if they loved him was to know if they would choose to obey him. God didn’t want puppets without minds of their own but people who would love and follow him. He wants the same today! Jesus said: ‘If you love me, you will do as I command’ (John 14:15).

Why did God say that people would die if they ate the fruit – but Adam and Eve didn’t die?

It’s true that Adam and Eve did not die on the day that they ate the fruit. But when God first created them, his plan was that they would live forever. From the moment that they disobeyed God, they were destined to die. Death and disease were never part of God’s intention for his ‘very good’ world.

The serpent or snake

Throughout the Bible, God has an enemy. It is the devil or Satan. While God is completely good, Satan is the opposite. He wants to persuade people not to follow God. He’s very clever – he makes the things that we know we shouldn’t do seem very attractive or fun.

 

COMMUNICATE: talk with God

God made the world and everything in it, so take a little time to admire what he has made!

Go for a walk with your child: look around at everything you see and take it in turns to say ‘thank you’ to God for the things he has made. At the end of your walk, thank God for loving people ever since the beginning of the world.

If you are able to go outside, look at the trees, animals, people and so on. If a walk outdoors is not feasible, look out of a window instead; or you can walk around your home, or the building where you meet, and see how many times you can thank God for the things he has made.

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