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The curse

Query for the Month

of

June 2005

Next up-date: July 1st 2005 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
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Query:

Genesis 3:17-19

And to Adam He said, “Because you have hearkened 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; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field. In 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.” 

Just what is meant by the “curse”?

 



Answer:

Superficial readers of the Bible may think that God curses people when they disobey Him, but He has given us free will and so that would not be fair.  And He is fair.  This is what He says about that:

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Ezekiel 18:

21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he has committed [and be forgiven], and keep all My statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die [the second death]. 22 All his transgressions that he has committed [in his pre-Christian life], they shall not be mentioned to him: in his righteousness that he has done he shall live.

23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? says the LORD GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? 

24 But [note that] when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity [sin], and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does [if he chooses to stay in them], shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die [the second death].

25 Yet you say, “The way of the LORD is not equal [fair].” Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not My way equal?  Are not your ways unequal? [What you want is favouritism.]

26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and dies in them [without asking for forgiveness]; for his iniquity that he has done shall he die.

27 Again, when the wicked man turns away from his wickedness that he has committed [by receiving forgiveness and cleansing], and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. 28 Because he considers, and turns away from all his transgressions that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

29 Yet says the house of Israel, “The way of the LORD is not equal.” O house of Israel, are not My ways equal?  Are not your ways unequal? [This is repeated for emphasis.]

30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the LORD GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin [for the wages, or result of sin, is death]. 31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make [receive] you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel? [It’s your choice.] 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the LORD GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live you. 

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So why is it written in the Bible that the Son of God cursed Adam? 

First, let’s be clear that He did NOT curse Adam. The words are “CURSED IS THE GROUND for your sake.”  If we really understand that sin pays “wages” (Romans 6:23) then we should be able to see that this “curse” is the RESULT of the sin. The ground felt the result of Adam’s sin and it is this that the Son of God is commenting on.  He was saying that the earth would struggle from now on to produce the “goodies” that He had set it to do.  Therefore Adam would have to help it in ways which he had not had to do until then.  

Today we understand that when we pollute the eco system then many other things suffer, and that is what happened there.  Just what was the connection between Adam and the ground I don’t know, but it was obviously there.  He was, after all, made from the same materials, the “dust of the earth.”  That’s why it is written, “The curse causeless shall not come.” Proverbs 26:2.

Here’s a sample scenario:

Some years ago a decision was made to cull all the wolves out of a certain area in the United States (I think) because of their anti-human ways.  After a period it was noticed that the tree protection along the riverbanks was lessening and floods were becoming more frequent.  No one knew what the problem was although many remedies were tried.  Recently a decision was made that wolves belong in a wilderness park and they were re-introduced.  Lo, and behold, the trees began to grow back and the floods diminished.  How did that work?  It seems that the wolves killed the elks that frequented the area for their food, and this reduced the numbers who were grazing on the trees.   

So a “curse” is the absence of God’s protection, which has to be withdrawn when we choose to sin.  It is the opposite of “blessing”, but while that comes directly from God, the “curse” does not. However, while we have our freewill He must allow us to reap the consequences, although of course, because He loves us He warns us before we go into the temptation.  But do we listen?

The judgments of God do not come directly from the LORD upon sinners, but in this way: We place ourselves beyond His legal protection. He warns, corrects, reproves, and points out the only path of safety; then, if we who have been the objects of His special care will still deliberately follow our own course, independent of the Spirit of God, after repeated warnings, if we still choose our own way, then He must not continue to commission His angels to prevent Satan's decided attacks upon us, for this is now our deliberate choice.  As we have read in the quote from Ezekiel, this applies equally to both Christians and non-Christians, saints and sinners. 

It is Satan's power that is at work on sea, land and in the air, bringing calamity and distress, and sweeping off multitudes to make sure of his prey.  It is he who “has the power of death!”  Hebrews 2:14. (See also Job 1:9-12;  Ezekiel 33:11-20;  Psalm 9:16.)  It is he who has the power of “curse”, for death is the greatest curse on mankind!

God wants us to clearly understand that we will be visited according to our obedience or transgression. Despite this, wickedness and disease have increased with every successive generation, and the land has laboured under the curses which we have brought upon it because of continued disobedience.  God says, “Lift up your eyes to the heavens [the sky], and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished.”  Isaiah  51:6.

And in another place, contrasting the Son of God with His handiwork, “And, You, LORD, in the beginning have laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Your hands: they shall perish; but You remain; and they all shall wax old as does a garment; and as a vesture shall You fold them up, and they shall be changed [into the New World]: but You are the same, and Your years shall not fail.” Hebrews 1:10-12.

We are told, “The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away, the haughty [stiff-necked] people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore has the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate.” Isaiah 24:4-6.

Many marvel that the human race has so degenerated, physically, mentally, and morally. They do not understand that it is the violation of God's constitution and laws, and the violation of the laws of health, that has produced this sad degeneracy. The transgression of God's commandments has caused His prospering hand to be removed, and this brings about the “curse.” 

We are told; “Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not [cannot] hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverseness. None calls for justice, nor any pleads for truth: they trust in vanity [futile things], and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.”  Isaiah 59:1-4.

What has the Son of God done about it?  As He said to Adam, He has tried to turn the curse into a blessing.  “Cursed is the ground FOR YOUR SAKE” were His words.  He hoped that the extra work involved would make mankind aware of the consequences of sin, and maybe, just maybe, lead to a renunciation of it.  Because of this He continued, “In sorrow shall you eat of it . . . in the sweat of your face” (verses 17 and 19).  The “thorns and the thistles” which now sprang up – these are pictures of the difficulties and trials that make humanity’s life one of toil and care – were to be used for our good, as a part of the training needed to bring us back to our position in God’s kingdom.  We were to learn from the physical to the spiritual and recognise that as Satan can mutate plants to produce weeds, so he manufactures trials for us, using our inherent weaknesses. 

It is also written: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also [the thorns and thistles of life]: knowing that tribulation works [develops] patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.” Romans 5:1-5.

We should be aware that the earth has felt three curses.

The first curse was experienced when Adam chose to sin and this allowed the weeds to flourish, for he gave this world into Satan’s hands. 

The second curse came upon the ground after Cain murdered his brother Abel. “And Cain talked [argued] with Abel his [younger] brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?” And He said, “What have you done?  The voice of your brother's blood cries to Me from the ground. And now are you cursed from [by] the earth, which has opened her mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.  When you till the ground, it shall not henceforth yield to you her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shall you be in the earth.” Genesis 4:8-12.  Now man was told that he would have to keep moving from place to place on the earth in order to find enough vitality in it to grow healthy crops.  This “curse” meant that even greater effort now had to be put in to produce enough good food.  But this advice was ignored also, and Cain set up the first city system, persuading people to stay put.  “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod [later known as Babylon], on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he [Cain and his followers] built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.”  Genesis 4:16-17. 

The third and most dreadful curse which God could not prevent, came upon the earth at the Flood over a thousand years later. “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence [nature responded into kill and be killed as men worsened]. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for [because] all flesh [humanity and animals] had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth [for they won’t let Me save them].”  Genesis 6:11-13. This was also the result of sin, not God’s deliberate action.

As a sample of the long-term effects of sin consider this: During the Flood the planet’s surface was cracked in many places producing what are now known as tectonic plates.  We are probably all aware that that is it the movement of these “plates” that causes earthquakes and tsunamis today.

Thus the land has felt the curse more and more heavily. Before the Flood, the first leaf which fell and was discovered upon the ground caused those who loved and feared God great sorrow. They mourned over it as we mourn over the loss of a dead friend. In the decaying leaf they could see an evidence of the curse, and of the decay of nature.  Now men and women see only the “beautiful” colours, the colours of death and the curse is almost forgotten.

This principle of the earth suffering is confirmed in the New Testament.

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Romans 8:18-23.

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation [the hope] of the creature [creation] waits for the manifestation [revealing] of the sons of God.  For the creature [earth] was made subject to vanity [futility], not willingly, but by reason of him [Adam] who has [also] subjected the same in hope, because the creature [creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God [into what we call the NEW world where lion and lamb can walk together]. For we know that the whole creation [all the world] groans and travails in pain [in agony] together until now. And not only they [the plants and creatures], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

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Conclusion:

The sins of humanity have brought the sure result – decay, deformity, and death. Today the whole world is tainted, corrupted, stricken with mortal disease, the curse. The earth groans in earthquakes and cyclones etc. under the continual transgression of its inhabitants.  As Jesus said, “There shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers [different] places”, so there are, and they are increasing as the sin increases, for, “as it was in the days of Noah” . . . . Matthew 24:7; 37. 

 oooOooo


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.
Next query. To be discussed from July 1st 2005.

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Matthew 20:22-23

Jesus answered and said, “You know not what you ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They say to Him, “We are able.” And He says to them, “You shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on My right hand, and on My left, is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of My Father.”

 What does the Spirit mean by “the cup”?

 

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