Humanity’s Relationship with the World, Part 2 (The Covenant & the Cross #36)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 3:17-19 which reads: “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Allow me to share with you some further commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck:

God told Adam that he would experience great pain in scratching out a livelihood. The word translated “painful toil” is the same word used for the woman’s pain. (This word occurs only three times in the Old Testament.) Death will be man’s end — he will return to the ground (a gracious provision in view of the suffering), and he will return to dust and become the serpent’s prey again. So much for ambitions for divinity! Man may attempt to be like God, but he is dust.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Leonard Ravenhill. He said: “One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed.”

Our topic for today is titled: “Humanity’s Relationship with the World (Part 2)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

As we look at God’s admonitions to Adam, we note two aspects of His judgment, both of which address man’s relationship with the world. The first aspect is that the ground is cursed because of man. What this means is not completely clear. On the one hand, it seems to set up the next aspect of judgment, which involves exhausting labor on the part of man to grow his crops. On the other hand, it seems to be a separate aspect of judgment.

This cursing of the ground may be what Paul addresses in Romans 8:20-21, where he notes that all of creation was subjected to “futility” and “slavery to corruption.” If so, then what we see here may be God announcing His temporary acceptance of Satan’s usurpation of man’s position of authority over the world. We do see later that even Jesus accepted the fact that Satan had become “the ruler of this world.” At the same time, Jesus anticipated Satan’s future demise. This concept, however, takes us into a realm totally separate from ours, the spiritual. It also implies warfare between fallen angels and God. This warfare is mentioned a number of times throughout the Bible and seems to lay a foundation for many of the struggles we face today—but that is an entirely different subject and must be dealt with elsewhere.

The second aspect of judgment is that difficult labor would be necessary for human sustenance. In a general sense, this means that agriculture would become a very laborious occupation: the ground would now produce thorns and thistles instead of the products desired. Consequently, man would have to labor “by the sweat of [his] brow” for his food. There are two factors involved in this judgment: weeds and thistles.


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