Blessings & Condemnations in Genesis 3 (Part the Second)

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‚ma‛. 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.

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Rick Beckman