As Father had promised, He created an Earth through Jehovah. (Moses 1:32-33; John 1:3.) The nature of creation, especially the creation of Man, and the subsequent Fall are vital to our understanding Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice. The details of the creation, I leave to Genesis; rather, let’s discuss the state of the Earth after God had finished His work of creation.
After creating Man, "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). The Earth was in a state of "paradisaical glory" (The Articles of Faith 1:10). Flowers, fruits, and vegetables sprouted spontaneously (see Moses 4:24). The enmity that currently exists was not on the Earth; "the cow and the bear [could] feed; their young ones [could lay] down together: and the lion [ate] straw like the ox" (Isaiah 11:7). In other words, the Earth was not subject to the curse of mortality (2 Nephi 2:22).
Most strikingly, Adam and Eve were not subject to temporal—the separation of the body and the spirit—or spiritual death—the separation of man from God. (2 Nephi 2:22). They were immortal and eternal beings living in the garden of Eden, and God the Father and Jehovah, the pre-mortal Jesus Christ, walked and talked with them in the Garden. (Genesis 3:8; Moses 4: 14-16; 5:4). Moreover, Adam and Eve did not know good from evil. As innocent as babies, they were not even ashamed of their nakedness (Genesis 2:25; 2 Nephi 2:23), nor did they know they were naked until after they partook of the forbidden fruit. (Genesis 3:7). Consequently, they were not subject to the physical attraction which exists between men and women, and they could not have children. (2 Nephi 2:23.) This inability to sire and bear children posed a problem: One of God’s purposes in the Plan of Salvation was to give us physical bodies as tangible as His, and Adam and Eve, the only people on Earth, were incapable of preparing any physical bodies for our spirits.
But there was a way.
God granted Adam and Eve agency—the power to act and to receive a just recompense according to that action—but it was limited. Heavenly Father commanded Adam and Eve to "be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" (Moses 1:28). And He also "commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Moses 3:16-17).
And Adam and Eve could not keep both of these commandments. If Adam and Eve were to obey the commandment to multiply and replenish the Earth, their bodies needed to undergo a change through which they would be capable of reproducing. And if they chose to remain in the Garden of Eden by not partaking of the forbidden fruit, their bodies would not have undergone that change. (2 Nephi 2:22-23.)
That is, Heavenly Father gave Adam and Eve the power to choose between a continual existence in the Garden of Eden—where they could enjoy the blessings of immortality and the presence of God—and mortality, in which they would be cut off from the Garden of Eden and the presence of God but would be capable of having children.
This choice was represented by two trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve could not eat the fruit of both. The Tree of Life corresponded to the commandment not to partake of the forbidden fruit and thus remain in the Garden of Eden, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil corresponded to the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. If Adam and Eve wanted to stay in the Garden, they could eat the fruit of the tree of life or that of any other tree, except, of course, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But if they decided to enter mortality, then they needed to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and to be cut off from the fruit of the Tree of Life (see Alma 12:22-23).
Interestingly, this opposition between commandments (and trees) was not only vital to bringing about the conditions necessary for mortality but without such opposition, "all things must have vanished away" (2 Nephi 2:13; read 11-16).
Along with the opposing commandments (and trees), the devil tempted Adam and Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit for "he sought . . . the misery of all mankind" (2 Nephi 2:18). Lucifer knew that the resultant Fall would make it possible for Adam, Eve, and their posterity to be subjected to his will, thus enabling him to destroy us. Satan also knew that the plan hinged on the mission of Jesus Christ, and if he could prevent Jesus from effectuating the Atonement then all would share his misery.
Therefore, he tempted Eve by telling her a half-truth: "Ye shall not surely die [if you eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge]; For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Moses 4:10-11). Eve believed Satan but also recognized that there was no other way to bring about the necessary conditions of mortality, and she "took of the fruit . . . , and did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, . . ." (Moses 4:12-13).
After Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, Heavenly Father confronted them and asked what they had done. I have heard some say that Adam’s response was an attempt to put the blame on Eve. I disagree. Rather, Adam was explaining his thought process. In effect, he said, "Eve partook of the fruit, and we knew that she would be cast out of the Garden of Eden and I would not. So to keep the commandment that I should cleave unto her and that we should have children, I partook of the fruit." Both Adam and Eve confessed, and because justice must be satisfied, the consequences of their decision were outlined: They would be cast out of the Garden of Eden and would become subject to the struggles of mortality. The Earth would be cursed, or would fall to a lower sphere of existence, requiring them to work for their survival (see Moses 4:24). Father also said that their physical bodies, which had been organized from the elements of the earth, would return to the earth through death and decomposition (Moses 4:25).
In other words, the Fall subjected Adam, Eve, and their children to physical and spiritual death. One day, they would die, and all would live in a world where God no longer walked and talked with His children.
But, thankfully, Eve would become a mother to bear children "in sorrow," and "[her] desire [would] be to [her] husband" (Moses 4:22), who would be given the responsibility to preside over the home and to provide for his wife and children (see Moses 4:23). Thus, making it possible for all of us to come to Earth to receive physical bodies.
Truly, "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:25.)
And so Adam, Eve, and their posterity could have joy, Heavenly Father explained to them that was another consequence of the Fall (which we often overlook): the gift of a Savior. In the state in which Adam and Eve were created, there was no need for a Redeemer because neither of them could sin. (2 Nephi 2:23.) And Heavenly Father first mentioned the promised Savior as He spoke to Lucifer, after Lucifer had persuaded Eve to partake of the fruit. He said, "I will put enmity between thee . . . and [the seed of the woman]; and he shall bruise thy head. . . ." (Moses 4:21). There is only One who is the seed of a mortal woman and not a mortal father. The seed of the woman is Christ, and Heavenly Father was teaching that Christ would come to destroy the works of Satan.
After instructing Adam and Eve, Heavenly Father "drove out [Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden] and . . . placed cherubim and a flaming sword, . . . to keep the way of the tree of life" (Moses 4:31), "lest [Adam and Eve] put forth [their] hand[s] and partake also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever" (Moses 4:28). This was necessary for "if it had been possible for Adam to have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death, and the word would have been void, making God a liar, for he said: If thou eat thou shalt surely die" (Alma 12:23). "And," mercifully, "the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; . . ." (2 Nephi 2:21).
Immediately, Heavenly Father began effecting the Plan of Salvation for His children on Earth. Alma taught that God "sent angels to converse with [mankind], who caused men to behold of [God’s] glory. And they began from that time forth to call on his name; . . . Wherefore, [God] gave commandments unto men, [having placed] themselves in a state to act . . . [And] God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son; therefore, whosoever repenteth and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest" (Alma 12:29-34).
Thus, this life became a probationary state, (Alma 12:24) a time to show whether we would keep the commandments of God or not. (Abraham 3:24-25).
In conclusion, I quote the words of Eve which she said after she and Adam learned about Jesus Christ and their redemption through His merits: "Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient" (Moses 5:6-12).
Therefore, the Fall needed to happen, and because Jesus Christ came, it was not a tragedy. Rather, it set in motion God’s eternal purposes for us. (2 Nephi 2:24.)