An event as large and catastrophic as the hurricane which struck the Gulf Coast of the United States last week can only be understood in the context of the full teaching of Scripture. It is not enough to focus on one or two texts. On the contrary, we must look at the big picture and draw our conclusions only in light of the entire storyline of the Bible.

Genesis chapter one states: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." [Genesis 1:1-2] From there, God creates the entire cosmos--light, the moon, the sun, stars, fish, birds, and animals--simply by speaking them all into existence. And at every point of creation, Scripture tells us that God declared His work to be "good." Throughout this entire sequential unfolding of creation, the divine verdict is consistently, "It is good." In fact, at the end of chapter one, "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." [Genesis 1:31]

The big story thus begins with God bringing glory to Himself by creating an order, a cosmos, a universe, a planet, and everything on this planet is very good. The Lord looked at His own work and declared it good--not just better than it could have been, but very good, which is to say, perfect.

In Genesis chapter 2, the story continues with the creation and differentiation of man and woman, and the institution of marriage. So we read, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." [Genesis 2:24-25] At the end of chapter two then, the world is still a picture of perfection. One might wish that the story had ended there, with the world in perfect bliss and the man and woman in perfect innocence--naked and not ashamed before their Creator. Unfortunately, however, Genesis one and two are followed by Genesis three.

Genesis three tells the story of the Fall, a story that centers in the volitional, willful act of Adam and Eve to break the command of God, and to do that which the Lord had forbidden. Giving themselves to temptation, they rationalized their desires, justified their action in their own eyes, and ate the fruit that was forbidden them.

"Then the Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' And the woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate it.'" [Genesis 3:13] No one escapes God's condemnation for this rebellion. In the next few verses, He curses them all--the serpent, the woman, and the man. Finally, and significantly, God pronounces a curse on all of creation: "Cursed is the ground because of you," he tells Adam. "In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your fact you will be bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." [Genesis 3:17b-19]

When humans sinned, not only did it affect Adam and Eve and their descendants, but the earth--the cosmos itself--was corrupted. After Genesis three, we must speak of humanity as being in a fallen state, but many of us forget that creation itself is fallen, too. The creation is cursed. If the Fall had never occurred, there would be no hurricanes, no tsunamis, no earthquakes, and no forest fires. There would be no droughts and no floods. Before the Fall, the Lord declared the world to be very good. It was, in other words, perfect. People did not have to plow and cultivate; the earth simply brought forth produce, giving up its fruit willingly.