Q&A: Are changing seasons a result of the Fall?

Are changing seasons a result of the Fall?

Question

Since there was no death before the Fall, are the changing seasons a result of the fall of Adam?

Answer

There are some who teach that the changing of seasons implies death of some sort, so it must have transpired after the fall of man. However, even though man didn’t die before the Fall, there was still death in the garden. Adam and Eve at least ate plants and fruit, (and possibly even meat, see below) before the Fall. This necessarily implies the plants and fruit died when they were picked and eaten. In addition, the process of sprouting requires that a seed sacrifice itself, or die, in order to grow and become a plant. Jesus himself spoke on this very point saying, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24; 1 Cor. 15:36). God set the seed cycles from the very beginning (cf. Gen. 1:11-13). Clearly, while man himself didn’t die before the Fall, there was other death in the world prior to it.

While the Fall of Man has significantly impacted the changing seasons we observe today, Scripture teaches us that the changing seasons are actually part of God’s original creation. As the Psalmist wrote, “You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter” (Psa. 74:17). So, any disorder within the seasons should be attributed to the Fall of Man, but not the origin of the seasons themselves. Looking at the third day of creation is instructive:

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day (Gen. 1:11-13).

Here we observe sprouting of vegetation, yielding of seed and bearing of fruit taking place. When does this happen? During seasons. The author of Ecclesiastes clarified this seasonal activity when he wrote, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted” (Eccl. 3:1-2; cf. Psa. 1:3). Again, these seasonal cycles are part of God’s original design (cf. Prov. 6:8).

Moreover, the seasons are part of God’s witness that an "intelligent designer" was at work during creation and re-creation. As Paul teaches us, “Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17; cf. Gen. 8:22). So, general revelation of the seasonal cycles is verifiable evidence of the Creator!

And speaking of general revelation, science too reveals that the seasons are a built-in function (as continuously upheld by the word of God - Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:3) because of the way the earth tilts and rotates around the sun. Consider what space and science writer Nola Taylor Redd tells us:

The cycle of seasons is caused by Earth's tilt toward the sun. The planet rotates around an (invisible) axis. At different times during the year, the northern or southern axis is closer to the sun. During these times, the hemisphere tipped toward the star experiences summer, while the hemisphere tilted away from the sun experiences winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

At other locations in Earth's annual journey, the axis is not tilted toward or away from the sun. During these times of the year, the hemispheres experience spring and autumn. [1]

The earth's daily orbit and annual rotation is how God ordained evening and morning (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31) as well as summer and winter (Gen. 8:22; Psa. 74:17), therefore we should have no problem understanding that the seasonal patterns were part of God’s wonderful and intelligent handiwork from the very beginning.

Footnote

[1] “The Four Seasons: Change Marks the Passing of a Year” by Nola Taylor Redd. (https://www.livescience.com/25202-seasons.html). Last Accessed 23 February 2020.

Related Topics

Did man eat meat before the Fall and the Flood?
What About Hebrews 11:3?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).