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Have you ever been walking along and suddenly realized that you squished an ant without meaning to? Accidents happen; we all do it. But have you ever wondered if Adam or Eve stepped on an ant and killed it before the Fall?
Well, let’s first see if there could have been death before the Fall. Genesis tells us that everything God made “was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Would God call a creation full of death and suffering “very good”? No! Death is “the last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26) that Jesus came and died to defeat! We also know there wasn't death before sin because all the animals and people originally ate plants (Genesis 1:29–30).
So why is there death and suffering now? Well, Genesis 2:17 tells us that the punishment for disobeying God (sin) is death. Adam and Eve chose to disobey and do what God had told them not to do. Because of their sin, death and suffering became part of creation (Romans 5:12). Our world is full of suffering because of Adam (Romans 8:20–22) and man’s continuing sin. But it won’t stay this way! Jesus came and died, taking our punishment for us, so that all who trust in Him can be part of the new heavens and new earth. And because Jesus defeated death by rising from the grave, we know there won’t be any death or suffering again (Revelation 21:4).
We know that animals and people didn’t die in the Garden of Eden. So how did Adam avoid stepping on an ant and squishing it? Well, we live in a world that is in really bad shape because of sin. We see death and suffering everywhere and it’s hard to imagine a world without it. Try and picture a world where no one falls and scrapes their knee or where no pets die. It’s pretty hard to imagine isn’t it?
But just because it’s that way now doesn’t mean its always been like that. Do you remember the Israelites, God’s chosen people, from the Bible? After they left Egypt with Moses, they eventually disobeyed God and were punished by having to wander around in the wilderness for forty years instead of entering the Promised Land. During these long years of walking around, God upheld them so that clothes and shoes never wore out and their feet never got sore (Deuteronomy 8:4, 29:5). This is very different from the way that we observe God upholding the universe today (Hebrews 1:3) and is hard to imagine.
And do you remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Aded-Nego—Daniel’s friends? They refused to disobey God and were thrown in a fiery furnace by the king. But what happened? God protected them so that they weren’t hurt by the flames or smoke—they didn’t even smell like smoke when they came out! This isn’t our normal experience!
God is all-powerful—nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26)! The God who could protect the shoes, clothes, and feet of every wandering Israelite and who protected His servants from the fire could certainly sustain the perfect pre-fall world in such a way that no ant accidentally got squished. This would not be hard for the all-powerful God who created the universe simply by speaking.