Story 10: The Curse

Genesis 3

Digital art of lizard eyes.

God had made the first man and woman in His image, and now that sweet relationship was broken.  The mother and father of the human race had joined the enemy of God in mutinous rebellion in His Garden Temple.  They did the one thing He told them not to do for their own protection.  The perfect rest and bliss of paradise and their capacity for intimacy with God was shattered by their sin.  They invited the knowledge of evil into their souls, surrendering themselves to cravings of depravity and selfishness that they were not created to bear.  They were enslaved.  They could no longer respond to God with their whole self.  They were meant to reflect the beauty of their God, but now that reflection would be distorted and diminished.  Everything had changed, and God’s judgment was on them.

First He turned to the serpent:

 

“Cursed are you above all livestock,

and all the wild animals!

You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust

all the days of your life.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

he will crush your head,

and you will strike his heel.”

 

Satan had used the snake to make his appearance to the woman and now it was a cursed creature.  And one day, God would utterly destroy Satan and his toxic power of evil.

Within these words of God as He cursed the snake, there was an amazing act of grace.  When the woman crossed the line into sin and away from God, she made a treacherous alliance with Satan.  The immediate effect was that she was filled with unbearable shame, which is the natural, inevitable cost of separation from God and His goodness.  It is the loss of belonging.

But now, even as He was addressing her betrayal, God claimed her back for Himself. Though she did not deserve it, she was still chosen by God.   She had blindly and foolishly given her affection and loyalty to the snake, but God still moved on her behalf.  He did not let her knowledge of evil utterly overwhelm her and blind her with destructive desires.  He limited the power of the snake to destroy her ability to know good and evil, and He put enmity in her heart against the serpent.  He created a way to transfer her desires and affections back to Himself so that she would be able to love her Lord. She was still broken, but she belonged to God.

The curse of the Fall was still on the human race. The mother and father of all humans had made a decision that could have brought total destruction on all of their children ever born.  But God stepped in and limited the devastation they had caused.  From that day on, all of humanity throughout the ages would have to decide; did they want to be the offspring of Satan and live in defiance against God, or did they want to be the children that God made them to be, depending on Him and living by faith?  Every human from that point on would either belong to the Kingdom of Darkness or the Kingdom of Light.  The two Kingdoms would battle against each other until the end of time.

In a way, Satan had succeeded.  Humanity was under a terrible curse.  There would a constant battle for the hearts of humanity.  Much of the human race would descend into horrific acts of evil, bringing incredible levels of suffering and pain.  But God is brilliantly wise and breathtakingly clever.  He took what Satan meant for evil and turned it into the occasion for the most beautiful act of mercy and grace in history. Right in the middle of God’s curses, at the very onset of humanity’s impending trial, He gave a bright and glorious hope.  It is the hope of the world.  One day, a descendant of the woman would have a Child.  That Child would crush the head of Satan, and the evil serpent would wound His heel.  The great enemy of God would be utterly destroyed by a Man, but the Man would bear everlasting scars for His magnificent victory.  God would use the woman who had brought the Curse on the world to bring the One who would destroy the Curse.

The Lord gave Satan his doom, but since the Serpent had not acted alone, the woman would have consequences, too.

 

“‘To the woman He said,

 

‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;

with pain you will give birth to children,

Your desire will be for your husband,

and he will rule over you.’”

 

When God made the woman in the Garden, He gave her the incredible gift of being the one who would bring new life into the world.  That is probably why Satan went after her in the first place.  Her remarkable body was the place where new humans would be formed, producing tiny creatures who were made in the image of God.  The love she shared with her husband would bring all of this wonder about.  Now that the Curse had come, that tremendous beauty became distorted.  Giving birth to children would be an agony of pain.  The loving partnership she was meant to have with her husband was also changed.  In a distorted version of what was meant for their relationship in the Garden, he would now rule over her.

 

To the man, God said:

“Cursed is the ground because of you;

through painful toil you shall eat of it

all the days of your life.

It will produce thorns and thistles for you,

and you will eat the plants of the field.

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food

until you return to the ground,

since from it you were taken;

for dust you are, and to dust you will return.”

 

When God made the first man in His image, He gave him a very special role.  He was to be God’s servant king, presiding over the animals and cultivating the land so that it would produce good things.  Now that the Curse had come, Adam would continue to serve the Lord, but now the Curse would infest the process and turn it into burdensome labor.  What was meant to be a joy and delight would now be difficult and painful.

The very earth would be cursed as well.  It would rebel with thorns and thistles against the first man’s attempts to tame it   And one day, Adam himself would die and return to the ground.

If we look around us, we see that this is still true for humans today, just as Scripture describes.  The terrible Curse did not just fall on Adam and Eve, it fell upon all of their descendants for all time.  It changed the very heart of humanity, so that the image of God is broken in us all.  We were created to inherit the blessings of the Garden, but instead we inherited the effects of the Fall.  The Curse also fell on everything the human race was meant to rule.  The universe became warped and the earth was cursed.   The ground that was meant to provide abundant fruit has grown hard and dry.  Weeds have choked the life from the good plants.   Droughts and famines have come and people have gone without food for months and years.  Humans, animals and plants are all vulnerable to disease and pain and violence.  Death comes to all, and we all return to dust.  It did not have to be that way.

Many in the world might scoff at this story.  They might say it is only a myth, a story for children, or a lie.  But it is remarkable how accurate this story is in terms of the actual world as we experience it.  No other field of science or psychology has effectively described the human condition as powerfully as this story, and no theory in halls of academia have been so profoundly influential over thousands of years of human history.  But most importantly, this is the story as told by the divinely inspired author of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.  It sets the stage for us to understand why we, as a race, are always longing for something more, and always so profoundly dissatisfied with the world as it is.  Something deep within us understands that we are broken, that this world is broken, and that we were made for something more.  There is a universal yearning for the peace, bliss, and belonging of the Garden.

It is impossible to measure the amount of pain and suffering and loss that has come to us all because of the first rebellion against God.  The Lord is the only source of goodness, light and hope in the universe.  Tearing away from Him meant tearing away from His blessings.  But if the first humans failed so miserably when they lived in a perfect Garden, what hope would they have now that they were living in a cursed and dying world?

But God, the merciful Lord of all, was still determined to bless.  He understood every terrible thing that would happen because of the Curse, and He had an unimaginably beautiful plan.  God would work in history to fix everything.  He would spend thousands of years persevering with the human race to bring it back to the proper and perfect order that He intended.  It is a plan that is still taking place in the world.

The question for every person is whether they will stand on the side of the serpent or if they will stand on the side of God.  Will they live as the offspring of Satan in stubborn rebellion against God?  Or will they live as children of the woman, broken and humbled but chosen by God to live by faith in Him?

Everyone who joins the battle for the Lord in this cursed world will risk suffering.  It is part of overcoming the vicious enemy of God.  The war has been waged for all these thousands of years, but the final victory is certain.  One day, the God who made all things will restore all things to an even greater beauty than the Garden that was lost.

 

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