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The curse on the earth

Query for the Month


March 2006

Next up-date: April 1st 2006 (God willing).

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Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
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Genesis 3:17-19

  • [The Son of God said to Adam] ". . . 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." 
  • Why do we have to work the ground so hard for so little? – and then die!


    It certainly was not the Son of God's purpose that man should be sinful or that the earth should be so reluctant to give of its goodness. He made Adam and Eve pure and noble, with no tendency to evil. He placed them in Eden, where they had every inducement to remain loyal and obedient.

    "And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river [of life] went out of [the centre of] Eden to water the garden . . ." Genesis 2:8-10.

    (This situation will be repeated in the new world. "And he [an angel] showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street [channel] of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing [maintenance of the life] of the nations." Revelation 22:1-2.)

    Then He placed the law around Adam and Eve as a safeguard, for without law there is no recognition of sin. 1 John 3:4.

    Therefore they had knowledge of the original law of God. It was imprinted upon their hearts, and they were acquainted with its claims upon them. When they transgressed it, and rebelled from their state of happy innocence and became sinners, in the eyes of the universe the future of the fallen race was not relieved by a single ray of hope. But God pitied them, and He and His Son put into operation the plan They had devised in eternity. It had been decided that if a case like this occurred, then, "Even He [the Son] shall build the [spiritual] temple of the LORD; and [then] He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His [own] throne [that of the earth]; and He shall be a Priest upon His throne [a royal Priest]: and the counsel of peace shall be between Them both." Zechariah 6:13.

    So, when the curse, the result of the sin, was pronounced upon the earth and upon man, in connection with it was a promise that through the Son of God there was hope and pardon for their transgression. (See Genesis 3:17 and 15.) Although gloom and darkness hung like the pall of death over their existence, yet in the promise of the Redeemer, the Star of hope lit up the dark future. Thus the gospel was first preached to Adam by the Son of God.

    It was at infinite cost that God devised the means of relief. He "so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. There was no hope for the transgressor except through Christ. The Son of God saw that "there was no man [who could help], and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation to him [Adam]; and His righteousness, it sustained him." Isaiah 59:16.

    It was not the will of God that the sinless pair should know anything of evil. He had freely given them the good, and had withheld the evil. But, contrary to His command, they had eaten of the forbidden tree, and now they would have to continue to eat of it – they would have the knowledge of evil – all the days of their life. From that time the race would be afflicted by Satan's temptations. Instead of the happy labour heretofore appointed them, anxiety and toil were to be their lot. Food, which was freely supplied in the Garden of Eden, now required work to obtain. They, and their descendants, would be subject to disappointment, grief, and pain, and finally to death, not as punishment, but as a RESULT of their action.

    The Son of God never planted the seeds of death in the system. Satan planted these seeds when he tempted Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge which meant disobedience to God. Not one noxious plant was created in the LORD's world, but after Adam and Eve sinned, poisonous herbs sprang up. In the parable of the sower the question was asked of the master, "Did not you sow good seed in your field? From where then has it tares?" The master answered, "An enemy has done this." Matthew 13:27-28. All tares (weeds) are sown by the evil one. Every noxious herb is of his sowing, and by his ingenious methods of cross-fertilization and cross-breeding he has corrupted the earth with plants and animals that are not of God’s devising. Satan cannot create, of course, but he can mutate as any creature can, and that is what he does within the laws of heredity. And he has the right to do this because Adam gave him dominion when he disobeyed God.

    But Adam and Eve were not abandoned to the results of the evil they had chosen. In the sentence pronounced upon Satan through the serpent they were given an intimation of redemption. "I will put enmity [a desire for righteousness] between you and the woman," God said to him, "and between your seed and her Seed; it [the enmity] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." Genesis 3:15. This sentence, spoken in the hearing of our first parents, was to them a promise. Before they heard of the thorn and the thistle, of the toil and sorrow that must be their portion, or of the dust to which they must return, they listened to words that could not fail of giving them hope. All that had been lost by yielding to Satan could be regained by yielding to the Son of God. This still holds good today, for it is written, "Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?" Romans 6:16.

    Because Adam and Eve experienced sincere sorrow and repentance for their sin, and believed the precious promise of God, they were saved from utter ruin. As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour. Christ knew that He would have to suffer, the Innocent for the guilty, yet He became man's substitute. As soon as Adam sinned, the Son of God presented Himself as surety for the human race, with just as much power to avert the doom pronounced upon the guilty as when He died upon the cross of Calvary. It just required individual acceptance.

    Notwithstanding the curse was pronounced upon the earth that it should bring forth thorns and thistles, there is a flower upon the thistle, for the Son of God is always counteracting the result of sin. The world is not all sorrow and misery. God's great book of nature is open for us to study, and from it we are to gain more exalted ideas of His greatness and unexcelled love and glory. He who laid the foundation of the earth, who garnished the heavens and marshalled the stars in their order, He who has clothed the earth with a living carpet, and beautified it with lovely flowers of every shade and variety, wants His children to appreciate His works, and delight in the simple, quiet beauty with which He still adorns their earthly home.

    The warning given to our first parents – "In the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die" – did not imply that they were to die on the very day when they partook of the forbidden fruit, but that on that day the irrevocable sentence would be pronounced. Genesis 2:17. Immortality was promised them on condition of obedience; by transgression they would forfeit it. That very day they would be subject to death, which is separation from the God of life. God also laid out the situation in another place where it is written. "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD." Romans 6:23. It is only through the Son of God that we can receive everlasting life again. He stepped in and saved them from immediate death and then began to teach them how to defeat its power.

    In the beginning Adam and Eve were told that in order to retain an endless existence, they must continue to partake of the tree of life. Deprived of this, their vitality would gradually diminish until life should become extinct. It was Satan's plan that they should by disobedience incur God's displeasure; and then, if they failed to obtain forgiveness, he hoped that they would eat of the tree of life, and thus perpetuate an existence of sin and misery. But after man's fall, holy angels were immediately commissioned to guard the tree of life. Around these angels flashed beams of light having the appearance of glittering swords. Genesis 3:24. God does not punish, hurt, or destroy, therefore those "swords" represented a danger signal not to proceed. Because of their sinful nature none of the family of Adam were able to pass the barrier to partake of the life-sustaining fruit; hence there is not an immortal sinner. And God says of sinners, "the soul that sins, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:4. In the place of the tree of life today we have the word of God, the Bible, a prayerful "eating" of which will help maintain our spiritual life. Thus it is written, "Your words were found, and I did eat them; and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts." Jeremiah 15:16.

    But what did Adam, after his sin, find to be the meaning of the words, "In the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die"? Genesis 2:17. Did he find them to mean "You shall NOT surely die", as Satan had led him to believe (and so many others since), that he was to be ushered into a more exalted state of existence? Genesis 3:4. Then indeed there was great good to be gained by transgression, and Satan was proved to be a benefactor of the race. But Adam did not find this to be the meaning of the divine sentence. God declared that as a result of his sin, man would return to the ground where he was taken: "Dust you are, and to dust shall you return," He said. Verse 19. The words of Satan, "Your eyes shall be opened," proved to be true in this sense only. After Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, their eyes were opened to discern their folly; they did know evil, and they tasted the bitter fruit of transgression, and died.

    Adam and Eve had chosen the knowledge of evil, and if they were ever to regain the POSITION they had lost (not their salvation, for that is a gift) they must return to it under the unfavourable conditions they had brought upon themselves. No longer were they to dwell in Eden, for in its perfection it could not teach them the lessons which it was now essential for them to learn to be able to interact with the people of the universe. In unutterable sadness they bade farewell to their beautiful surroundings and went forth to dwell upon the earth, where rested the curse of sin.

    It was at that time that the Son of God said to Adam: "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." Genesis 3:17-19.

    In humility and inexpressible sadness Adam and Eve left the lovely garden wherein they had been so happy until they disobeyed the command of God. The atmosphere was changed, and it was no longer unvarying as it had been before the transgression. God clothed them with coats of skins to protect them from the sense of chilliness, and then of heat, to which they were to be exposed. Genesis 3:21.

    When the holy pair transgressed the law of the Most High, the brightness departed from the face of nature and since then the earth has been marred and defiled as a consequence of their sin. It took a long time for the effects to show clearly, and they are still getting steadily worse as time goes by because of the nature of mankind’s sins. Left to itself the world would have fallen apart completely as it nearly did at the Flood, but thankfully, our Saviour also works on the consequences of our sin. He can completely nullify those effects on each individual (if we obey His voice constantly) but the overall effect of many unrepentant sinners is more than He can do legally. (One righteous man was not sufficient in Noah’s day to stop the Flood, but it was enough to save the planet.)

    The sinfulness of humanity had cast a pall over the fair face of creation; and so, instead of manifesting God, His works became a barrier that concealed Him. Men "worshiped and served the creature [creation, e.g. as in the theory of evolution] more than the Creator." Thus the heathen "became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." Romans 1:25, 21. Yet even in its blighted state much that is beautiful remains. God's object lessons are not totally obliterated, for, rightly understood, nature still speaks of her Creator.

    At the creation, labour was appointed as a blessing. It meant development, power, and happiness. The changed condition of the earth through the curse of sin has brought a change in the conditions of labour. However, although now attended with anxiety, weariness, and pain, it is still a source of happiness and development. And it is a safeguard against temptation, for its discipline places a check on self-indulgence, and promotes industry, purity, and firmness. Thus it has become a part of God's great plan for our recovery from the leap into sin.

    In the new conditions after Adam’s sin, although the earth was blighted with the curse, nature was still to be man's lesson book. But it could not represent goodness only; for evil was everywhere present, marring earth and sea and air with its defiling touch. Where once was written only the character of God, the knowledge of good, was now written also the character of Satan, the knowledge of evil. From nature, which now revealed the knowledge of good and evil, we as the children of Adam are continually to receive warning as to the results of sin.

    In drooping flower and falling leaf Adam and his companion witnessed the first signs of decay. The stern fact that every living thing had the sentence of death hanging over them as a result of their choice was vividly brought to their minds.

    Continually they were reminded also of their lost dominion. Among the lower creatures Adam had stood as king, and so long as he remained loyal to God, all nature acknowledged his rule; but when he transgressed, this dominion was forfeited. The spirit of rebellion, to which he himself had given entrance, extended throughout the animal creation. (See Genesis 9:2.) Thus not only the life of man, but the nature of the beasts (as well as the trees of the forest, the grass of the field, the very air he breathed), all told the sad lesson of the knowledge of evil. Henceforth they must all battle in toil and hardship against the power to which they had yielded their wills, for our enemy will not let anything go without a fight.

    It became the Son of God's purpose to alleviate by toil the evil brought into the world by man's disobedience. By work the temptations of Satan might be made ineffectual and the tide of evil stayed. And though attended with anxiety, weariness, and pain, labour is still a source of happiness and development, and a safeguard against temptation. Its discipline places a check on self-indulgence and promotes industry, purity, and firmness. Thus it becomes a part of God's great plan for our recovery from the jump into sin.

    The public feeling is often that manual labour is degrading; yet men and women may exert themselves as much as they choose at games, or in athletic contests, without being regarded as degraded. Satan is delighted when he sees human beings using their physical and mental powers in that which does not educate, which is not useful, which does not help them to be a blessing to those who need their help. While the youth are becoming expert in games that are of no real value to themselves or to others, Satan is playing the game of life for their souls, taking from them the talents that God has given them, and placing in their stead his own evil attributes. It is his effort to lead men and women to ignore God. He seeks to engross and absorb their minds so completely that God will find no place in their thoughts. He does not wish people to have a knowledge of their Maker, and he is well pleased if he can set in operation games and theatrical performances that will confuse our senses so that God and heaven will be forgotten.

    One of the surest safeguards against evil is useful occupation, while idleness is one of the greatest curses; for vice, crime, and poverty follow in its wake. "Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger." Proverbs 19:15. It is those who are always busy, who go cheerfully about their daily tasks, who are the useful members of society. In the faithful discharge of the various duties that lie in their pathway, they make their lives a blessing to themselves and to others. Diligent labour keeps them from many of the snares of him who "finds some mischief still for idle hands to do." In God's plan for Israel every family had a home on the land with sufficient ground for tilling. Thus were provided both the means and the incentive for a useful, industrious, and self-supporting life. And no devising of men has ever improved upon that plan. To a large degree, the poverty and wretchedness that exist today is owing to the world's departure from it and moving to towns and cities and ceasing to be directly involved in producing their own food.

    Nature, though marred by sin, speaks not only of creation but also of redemption. Though the earth bears testimony to the curse in the evident signs of decay, it is still rich and beautiful in the tokens of life-giving power. The trees cast off their leaves, only to be robed with fresher ones; the flowers die, to spring forth in new beauty; and in every manifestation of creative power is held out the assurance that we may be created anew in "righteousness and holiness of truth." Ephesians 4:24, margin. Thus the very objects and operations of nature that bring so vividly to mind our great loss also become to us the messengers of hope.

    The tide of woe that flowed from the transgression of our first parents is regarded by many as too awful a consequence for so small a sin, and they impeach the wisdom and justice of God in His dealings with man. But if they would look more deeply into this question, they might discern their error. God created man after His own likeness, free from sin. After Lucifer’s rebellion the earth was peopled with beings only a little lower than the angels; but their obedience must be tested, for God wanted the world to be filled with those who would keep His law and love their fellow-creatures. They would eventually have replaced the one third of angels who had left heaven. Yet, in His great mercy, He appointed Adam no severe test. And the very lightness of the prohibition made the sin exceedingly great. If Adam could not bear the smallest of tests, he could not have endured a greater trial had he been entrusted with higher responsibilities. In his sin, he chose to follow his wife and abandon God.

    As a remedy for this action, the impress of Deity, clearly seen in the pages of the Bible, is also seen upon the lofty mountains, the fruitful valleys, the broad, deep ocean. Rightly regarded the things of nature speak to man of his Creator's love. He has linked us to Himself by unnumbered tokens in heaven and in earth. This world is not all sorrow and misery. "God is love," is written upon every opening bud, upon the petals of every flower, and upon every spire of grass. Though the curse of sin has caused the earth to bring forth thorns and thistles, there are flowers upon the thistles and the thorns are hidden by roses. All things in nature testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy. His prohibitions and injunctions are not intended merely to display His authority, but in all that He does He has our well-being in view. He does not require us to give up anything that it would be for our best interest to retain.

    The opinion which prevails in some classes of society, that religion is not conducive to health or to happiness in this life, is one of the most mischievous of errors. The Scripture says: "The fear of the LORD tends to life: and he that has it shall abide satisfied." Proverbs 19:23. "What man is he that desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." Psalm 34:12-14. The words of wisdom "are life to those that find them, and health to all their flesh." Proverbs 4:22.

    True religion brings man into harmony with the physical, mental, and moral laws of God. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly [completely]; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless to the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

    It teaches self-control, serenity, temperance. Real Christianity ennobles the mind, refines the taste, and sanctifies the judgment. It makes its possessor a partaker of the purity of heaven. Faith in God's love and overruling providence lightens the burdens of anxiety and care. It fills the heart with joy and contentment in the highest or the lowliest lot. True religion tends directly to promote health, to lengthen life, and to heighten our enjoyment of all its blessings. It opens to us a never-failing fountain of happiness. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them than that which they are seeking for themselves. "Is not this the fast [the work] that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to deal [share] your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? When you see the naked [the poorly clothed], that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rearward." Isaiah 58:6-8.

    We are doing the greatest injury and injustice to ourselves when we think and act contrary to the will of God. No real joy can be found in the path forbidden by Him who knows what is best, and who plans for the good of His creatures. The path of transgression leads to misery and destruction; but wisdom's "ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." Proverbs 3:17.

    God gave to our first parents the means of true education when He instructed them to till the soil and care for their garden home. After sin came in through disobedience to the LORD's requirements, the work to be done in cultivating the ground was greatly multiplied, for the earth brought forth many weeds and thistles because of the curse. But the employment itself was not given because of sin. The great Master Himself blessed the work of caring for the soil in the Garden. "And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." Genesis 2:15.

    It is Satan's purpose to attract men and women to the cities, and to gain his object he invents every kind of novelty and amusement, every kind of excitement. And the cities of the earth today are becoming as were the cities before the Flood. Who will be warned? God says, "Come out of the cities" both spiritually and literally. Revelation 18:4. We should not consider it a great deprivation that we must go into the countryside, but should seek for that place where we can be alone with God, to learn His will and way.

    Not only should we live separately, we should eat differently in order not to waste our energy in producing food which will only harm us. In order to know what are the best foods, we must study God's original plan for man's diet. He who created man and who understands his needs appointed Adam his food. "Behold," He said, "I have given you every herb bearing seed [grains and nuts], . . . and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it [the fruit] shall be for meat [food]." Genesis 1:29. Upon leaving Eden to gain his livelihood by tilling the earth under the curse of sin, man received advice to eat also "the herb of the field" [i.e. some of the plants, not just their product]. Genesis 3:18. Now, grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet recommended for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigour of intellect that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet.

    But not all foods wholesome in themselves are equally suited to our needs under all circumstances. Care should be taken in the selection of food. Our diet should be suited to the season, to the climate in which we live, and to the occupation we follow. Some foods that are adapted for use at one season or in one climate are not suited to another. So there are different foods best suited for persons in different occupations. Often food that can be used with benefit by those engaged in hard physical labour is unsuitable for persons of sedentary pursuits or intense mental application. God has given us an ample variety of healthful foods, and each person should choose from it the things that experience and sound judgment prove to be best suited to his own necessities.

    Riches and idleness are thought by some to be blessings indeed; but those who are always busy, and who cheerfully go about their daily tasks, are the most happy and enjoy the best health. The sentence that man must toil for his daily bread, and the promise of future happiness and glory, both came from the same throne, and both are blessings.

    Poverty, in many cases, is also a blessing; for it prevents youth and children from being ruined by inaction. The physical as well as the mental powers should be cultivated and properly developed. The first and constant care of parents should be to see that their children have firm constitutions, that they may be sound men and women. It is impossible to attain this object without physical exercise.

    Through disobedience to God, Adam and Eve lost the their place in Eden, and because of sin the whole earth was cursed. So one of the first things that the Son of God told His representative people after the exodus from Egypt was that if they followed His instruction, their land would have greater fertility and beauty. Christ Himself gave them directions in regard to the culture of the soil, and they were to co-operate with Him in its restoration. Thus the whole land, under God's control, would become an object lesson of spiritual truth. As in obedience to His natural laws the earth should produce its treasures, so in obedience to His moral law the hearts of the people were to reflect the attributes of His character. Even the heathen would recognize the superiority of those who served and worshiped the living God.

    "Behold," said Moses, "I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do so in the land whither you go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what nation is there so great, who has God so nigh to them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?" Deuteronomy 4:5-8.

    What can we look forward to?

    The Son of God says, "My righteousness is near; My salvation is gone forth, and My arms shall judge the people; the isles [the Gentiles] shall wait upon Me, and on My arm shall they trust. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, 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 [cling to sin] shall die in like manner: but My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished." Isaiah 51:5-6.

    Of Christ it was said, "Of old have You laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They shall perish, but You shall endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shall You change them [into the new world], and they shall be changed [forever]." Psalm 102:25-26. And this is repeated in the New Testament, "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: but You are the same, and Your years shall not fail." Hebrews 1:10-12.

    Therefore, one day we shall see in the earth made new, the conditions of the Garden of Eden restored.

    Praise the LORD.



    We should be aware that the "curse" did not come from God, but is the RESULT of Adam's sin.  What God was trying to save him from was the fact that his disobedience would affect all of his solar system, not just himself.  It was impossible to explain this to Adam, but we know today that one small action of man can have far-reaching consequences.  We have learned this by experience.

    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.
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