In Splinters we laid the groundwork for pulling out those nasty little lies that the enemy uses to deceive us into blaming God for all kinds of stuff. We removed Splinter #1 by reminding us of the cosmic battle that is raging around us and has been since before we were formed from the dust. That same dust is what God declared the serpent will crawl in and eat. The devil wants us to believe that God was really mad because we couldn’t follow the rules and therefore God had to punish us indefinitely on the Earth. I believe we settled the argument of who is to blame and it isn’t God. Satan started this thing and God intends to use us to finish it through the victory of Jesus on the cross. So the next splinter to extract is:
1. Did God curse the Earth because we failed to obey Him and therefore we needed a continual reminder of how bad we are while we work and toil to produce nothing of value on this Earth? NOPE!
First let’s take a look at the passage.
Gen 3:17 And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; 18Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; 19In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return. (AKJV)
I believe this passage is actually an expression of God’s mercy. When we ate of the wrong tree we became aware of good and evil. We became law-abiding, list following, shame filled, independent, self-inspired creatures destined for a life of guilt and condemnation. Adam and Eve hid in the bushes as soon as they made the transition from healthy dependent communal children of God to death bound fallen humans. It was our choice but the devil’s plan. So God dealt with satan directly:
The Lord God said to the serpent,“Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (ESV)
God not only cursed the devil He made us the devil’s mortal enemies. The very dust from the Earth that the serpent was destined to eat is from the ground that now was cursed by the devil’s presence. God was telling Adam that his new life outside of the garden was going to be a struggle. God had to put Adam and Eve out of the garden so they wouldn’t live forever. The shame and condemnation that resulted from their bad fruit poison would be an eternal punishment if they lived forever. Putting them out of the garden and letting them die was an act of mercy. Letting them know about what was to come was an act of mercy. Just after this God sends them out fully clothed. Again an act of mercy.
I believe there were some practical implications of God’s farewell speech. One was the fact that production of food from the ground (farming) was a necessary toil. In the garden all the food was provided. Outside the garden we would have to produce food. See it as a product of independent living. When you send your kids off into the world to find a job and fend for themselves it is tough. You love your kids and know they need to grow up and move on but you worry about them making it on their own. Imagine God having this conversation with mankind. It had to have been difficult.
God warns them about thorns and thistles. It could be a farming truth but could also be the reality of fighting against the lies of the enemy. Check this out:
Heb 6:7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. (ESV)
Matt 7:16 You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? (AMP)
Remember that the enemy has every intention of deceiving us, destroying us and killing us. It is his nature. There is no good in him at all. His plan from the beginning was to turn us from God, make us independent and ruin our lives. He plants every form of seed that leads to destruction. He is constantly choking out any good crops we bring forth. He is a murderer. God was giving us some advanced intelligence to watch out for our enemy.
God mentions the sweat of our brow. Of course this will be hard. The enemy is very good at his job. He is a professional divisor. He fell from Heaven and rebelled against God. His greatest asset is his ability to reproduce that same behavior in us. He plants lie after lie about how God is mad, angry, judgemental and wants to punish every wrong step. Those are all lies. The goodness of God leads us to repentance. God draws not pokes. God rewards not punishes. God gives Grace not retribution. God gives what we need not what He needs. Jesus dies for us not for God. If none of that works for you then at least see this:
Gal 3:12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (ESV)
Jesus died to remove any curse, any remanent of a curse, any memory of a curse and excuse of a curse. I personally don’t believe God cursed the land so we would learn a lesson. I believe the curse is a product of a bad ruler in the devil. I believe the curse is a fruit of a fallen existence based on leaving a dependent relationship. But if you can’t stomach that concept then know the truth that now there are no excuses to blame God for curses. They have been removed.
Likewise the sweat we were to endure while fighting the enemy Jesus took care of too.
Luke 22:41-44 He pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?” At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face. (The Message)
Maybe Jesus was so stressed that He released blood from His capillaries that mixed with His sweat. I have heard that taught as if His blood redeemed our toil. Maybe so. Maybe not. Know this: Jesus sweat for us one final time. At the cross the devil was defeated. That toil against the enemy was brought to an end. If we are walking in victory, in the Spirit, abiding in Him the devil has no place to attack us. We are sons of the most high God. We are kingly priests. Jesus is King and we are His brothers and sisters. We have all His authority on this planet. We are taking back land from the serpent jerk.
I don’t know where you find yourself in this discussion. I can say that this post was very hard to write because I can’t argue with the language of the Bible only the interpretation. I didn’t get all Greek and Hebrew on you but just spoke from my heart. I do believe the cross is a gateway to knowing who God really is. I believe the knowledge of the love of Christ as expressed in His sacrifice is the key to unlocking the mysteries of God’s nature. So when I look backwards in time I see the same loving and compassionate God I see in Jesus. When I look back I see a God that has always been Jesus on the cross. I see a God that has always redeemed the faithful. I see a God that justifies the ungodly. I see a God that credits righteousness to those who know Him and trust in His promises. So I feel compelled to reveal this amazing God I call my Abba! He is that good. He is that loving. I pray He reveals that to you.