A very good friend of mine died yesterday after struggling with a crippling stroke a few years ago. He went out with the girl next door to my girlfriend. He was my best man at our wedding. His name is Rob. I knew him for at least 55 years. We were colleagues (pastors) together in the same denomination. Today he is with the Lord Jesus he preached so passionately about. He has been released, not just from the mortal body, but from the extreme handicap of being bedridden, unable to communicate, frustration, and all that goes along with what he suffered with. Glorious release yet great loss to his beloved family and friends. What came to my mind is that for all of us without exception, the punishment upon Adam is true for us all:
Ge 3:19 for dust you are and to dust you will return.
(1) Man was taken from the ground.
Gen 2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
(2) Man’s punishment is that he return to the ground.
Ge 3:19 “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground.”
(3) Man returns to the ground at death.
Ge 3:19 “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
There is however another dimension we must consider. It is that man is body and soul. The physical dies and returns to the ground but the spiritual … the souls does not die. It lives either with God eternally or with the devil in hell eternally. I have the confidence that my friend who died is with the Lord because he was spiritually regenerate. It’s not that I want him to be with the Lord (naturally I do). I know he is with the Lord because he proved throughout his Christian life that he was born again, love Jesus passionately, preach the gospel fervently and demonstrated intentional Christian living throughout life.
As we proceed with Adam and his punishment, it might be worthwhile to know that the words “Adam” and “Adamah” are closely related. “Adam” means man and “Adamag” means ground. It should not be strange to know this because man was taken from the ground and will return to the ground. Please read:
Ge 3:17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
1) From ruler to servant. Where Adam was to rule the land with his wife submissive to him, he changed the dynamics and submitted to her. Now he shall be subordinate to the land! That is he shall submit to the land. The man is no longer pure, sinless and innocent. He is no longer fit to live in an environment of purity. He forfeited that right and privilege when he sinned. Look at this verses again:
Ge 3:17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you.”
See the Bible words in italics? “Because you listened, and ate, because of you.” The fault is not God’s nor the woman’s. The fault falls squarely upon the man!
2) Why would such a good God curse the land he saw as very good? We all know the problem of allowing people, whoever they are, child, teenager or adult, to escape their sinful deeds without consequences. Adam rebelled against God. He thought he could be like God or even above God. He listened to the words of the evil one, rejecting God’s good words. If God overlooked his sin, he would live within paradise as a lost soul, never realizing his need of salvation. Because Adam ate from the forbidden fruit, he would now have to plant and cultivate his own food. No free meals. There is however a blessing. It is that he shall eat. Hard work will not result is starvation … through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Although he would encounter additional hardship because of:
Ge 3:18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you … he will be fed … you will eat the plants of the field.
It might be fair to stop here and mention that man, because of sin, shall work and work hard to sustain himself. Irrespective what work you do, you shall work hard to earn your keep. Many think the glamor of acting is the incentive to act. What most people do not realize is that acting is hard work. Early mornings and late night. Hours in the gym. Speech classes. Repetition of takes … over and over again until the director is happy. Weeks if not months away from family. Should the movie be a success, the rewards are plentiful, but it is hard work. Take the CEO who earns into the high six figures or even into the seven figures monthly. Apart from what it took to get him there, his family never sees him. He earns the cash but to get that his life is slavery. On the lower side of the scale, the laborer or blue collar worker works long shifts to earn a pay check to struggle to survive. Wherever we are on the scale, we work hard to survive. This is due to the first sin in the Garden.
3) Life on earth never gets better! My son-in-law says this life on earth is the best or worst it will ever get here, until we arrive in glory! Consider these words:
Ge 3:17 through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return
(1) Life will be hard for all of life. Your lot might improve economically, only to fail emotionally, physically or relationally.
(2) The thorns and thistles, without spiritualizing its meaning could also suggest the struggles of life you go through. Just as thorns and thistle are not planted. They spring up without being planted and are a curse … so are the troubles you go through in life. Most of them are not sought. Without looking for it, problems find you.
(3) The curse upon the land with its impact on all of life is our lot for all of life. Many want to ignore it or pretend it does not exist, but it is there.
(4) Yet as God gave that little sparkle of hope that man shall eat when he works hard … another sparkle is the promise of Messiah in verse 15.
Today we stand on the other side of Calvary. Adam and all descendants before Jesus arrived stand before Calvary. Yes they would be saved through faith, yet for us it’s far easier as that which was couched in imagery, poetry and prophecy is fulfilled. We have the Gospel and we are able to, through faith, confession and repent enjoying a relationship with God, with the promise of eternal life, life on earth gets better. We might not have all the money, possessions and health, but we do have forgiveness of sin, the gift of salvation, the adoption into God’s forever family and the assurance of heaven when we die.
Father, thank You that You have not left us without hope. Thank You for the Gospel and thank You that today we can enjoy what Adam lost with the assurance of being with You in Your Paradise one day, just as Rob is today. Amen.