Previously, we saw that God leveled curses on both the serpent & Eve. More importantly we saw that, even though Mother Eve deserved death, God granted mercy by staying His hand and then poured out blessing upon Eve by promising that not only would she still mother all of mankind, but that through her seed would come the Deliverer who would ultimately defeat the serpent. All of that took place in Genesis 3:14–16, which brings us to verse 17:
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.”
Here now our first father Adam is confronted by the Lord Almighty because of his sin. The Lord begins, “Now Adam, because you listened to what Eve was saying…” I can almost hear Adam interjecting; “But Lord, you gave her the ability to speak; if you didn’t want me to listen to her, why did you do that? Surely as my rib she would have gotten me into less trouble…”
No, the sin was not merely listening to his wife. The word “listened” comes from the Hebrew shaÌ‚maâ€›. Strong’s definition of this word indicates that it often carries with it the implication “to obey,” and according to a concordance of the King James Version, it is translated in a version of “obey” upwards of seventy-five times.
There is an implication that the husband’s headship over the wife was in force even before sin created a disastrous imbalance in marriage. When I read that Eve gave of the forbidden fruit to her husband who was with her to eat of it, I question why Adam was sitting there like a lame duck, allowing the serpent to entice Eve into even thinking about the fruit. He knew the consequences: “thou shalt surely die.”
Maybe he hadn’t quite gotten used to this “female” thing and was lost in his thoughts, trying to figure out why she had things he didn’t (and vice versa).
Whatever the case may be, he obeyed his wife, and he ate “from the tree about which [God] commanded [him].” What happens next is striking. God does not strike Adam dead. Mercy! Sweet, overflowing mercy. And true to form, God passes over Adam and curses the ground in his stead.
Remember from Genesis 2:15 that it was Adam’s responsibility to maintain Eden. His labor was to tend to Paradise. I’d trade my job for that any day. But now, because of his sin, he’ll no longer be taking care of Paradise; a cursed world man must now contend with.
In toil or sorrow man will now eat from the ground. Here again is a curse paired with a blessing. Bringing forth food is now a toilsome act, but there will be food! Not only does God not strike man dead, but He still makes provision for his needs.
And that toilsome act continues to this day. Support your local farmers as you’re able, and never cease being thankful for those who make sure there is food at the grocery store for you & yours.
“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field.” Verse 18
There’s a dreadful thought. All those little self-defense mechanisms that plants have? They are there for us. When we pick a rose and blood is drawn by a thorn, it was meant to do just that. The ground is cursed, not only because of us but to be a curse unto us.
“By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” Verse 19
You know what I see here? I see the beginnings of a very simple little biblical principal that I don’t often here spoken of much: “If anyone will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). That was the command the apostle Paul gave while he was with the Thessalonians, and for those who are “leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all,” Paul commands “in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (3:11, 12).
I believe that principle was established way back in Genesis 3, where we learn that man eats bread (grace) by the sweat of his face (curse). There’s that pairing again!
And while these blessings & curses shall extend for all the days of his life, he is no doomed to die, for his body to become what it once was — dust.
I do not believe we are told what happened to Adam & Eve’s souls. We simply know that they died. However, judging by the fact that they disobeyed God while in complete paradise and harmony with Him, having Him curse them might cause them to be even more wayward. That’s complete speculation, however, and we at least do know that Eve credited the Lord for the birth of Cain.
The Bible is by no means an overly abstract book; a great deal of it is very practical, as you can see in these verses. Knowing what God spoke to Adam, Eve, and the serpent about helps connect us to their time, to their situations, because those things which God prescribed then continue even to our day.
And the curses will continue until that day when Jesus shall cause perfection to return to Creation, where there shall be no more curse. Perhaps I’ll do a post on the curses’ cessation.
All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.