The following is a guest post by my dad.
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed [is] the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat [of] it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you [are], And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3.17-19 (NKJV).
It is easy to read the Bible with a predetermined perspective and never really see what God is really saying. Because of that, we have a tendency to misunderstand God, creating a picture of Him in our minds that is inconsistent with Scripture. We struggle in our Christian lives in large part because of our distorted view of Divine Father.
Our passage presents such an opportunity to miss the message that God has for us. We are familiar with the scene. Adam and Eve have lived in the Garden of Eden for a period of time. God had instructed them in how that life was to be lived and warned them what would happen if they disobey Him. The devil approached them in the form of a serpent, tempted them with the forbidden fruit, they fell, God appeared on the scene later and found them in their sin, and the judgement on them followed. Part of that judgement is recorded in the verses sited here.
Or, was it judgement? Could we misunderstand the message conveyed? May I propose to you that this is not judgement at all. It is a pronouncement that let them know the results of their choices. God had told them what would happen if they ate of the fruit; now He is painting the picture of what that looked like in part.
The words before us address man’s “sentence” to work. But, it is much more than that. What God is saying is, “I told you in the beginning that you weren’t supposed to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. As long as you listened to what I told you, you lived under My provision. I provided absolutely everything you would need…in fact, I was everything you needed. You were to depend on Me for everything and I took care of you.
“Now, you have decided to take matters into your own hands. Therefore, you are responsible to take care of yourself – to provide for yourself. That is the result of sin. Sin has the seed of destruction within it and now the fruit of your decision will be born. Your sin has affected everything – the earth is affected, is now cursed because of your actions, and will bear thorns, briars, and weeds, for example. You will have to work the fields, do the clearing, plowing, planting, and reaping. You were never meant for this, but this is what you have chosen.”
I understand that you may disagree with this and say something like, “It is clear that God is punishing them by putting them to work.” The problem with that view is that they were to work in the Garden. Work is not a punishment. What changed is who is responsible for each person’s provisions in life.
It seems natural to us to take on that responsibility. We make choices based on that perspective – where I am going to work, how much I want to make, how I will spend my money, and the like. According the the Word of God, it is unnatural. We were built to depend on Him for everything in life… recognizing that everything is His. In fact, that is why Jesus came – to restore us back to what is truly natural. Christianity is me coming to the point where I quit trying to live out the life I am supposed to live and let Him be my Provision in all things. Is it possible to live in that way? I believe that is the life to which He is calling us. Is it a message that you will no longer miss?