17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
After Adam and Eve sin and disobey the command of God, this is a part of the curse that God gives out. Think of a curse less as a witch hexing someone and more as a pronouncement of punishment.
Now we come to see how the toilsome, laborious form of work we tend to think of first comes into the picture. This work is “in pain”. Instead of the lush garden producing fruit as God’s blessing, now it will produce thistles and thorns. They will eat the plants of the field, instead of the fruit of the garden. They will eat bread “by the sweat of their face”. This work is now for survival. Anyone familiar with gardening or farming resonates strongly with these words.
Note that it isn’t the work itself that is cursed though; it is the creation that is cursed. Verse 17 says, “…cursed is the ground because of you…”. The creation is no longer producing food for them as a blessing from God that they must only work and keep in that “work that is enjoyable” sort of way. The work to produce food will be incredibly difficult because the creation will resist and sort of fight back. So the difficulty in our work, the toilsome nature of it, the pain in production, the exhaustion of our bodies is a result of the curse. The work itself is not cursed. Indeed it is still required to fulfill the mandate God gave the first humans in the garden.
The curse here to Adam concludes with a stark reminder of the nature of humanity. “…for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” ouch right! But this is the beauty of the Genesis creation narrative. It gives great dignity to humans (God giving them his image, giving them authority over creation) but also humbles humans with this statement of their nature.
Today I’ve included a little more of the bible Project podcast we started yesterday. In this portion they will discuss more of this kind of toilsome work after the fall and the difference between work before the fall.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
ff to 3:08 for additional content
Two Kinds of Work – Bible Project Podcast
Work is often hard. But remember it isn’t the work itself that is cursed. it is the curse of sin upon the creation and in humans, and in us that makes work difficult. Reflect today on how your sinfulness makes work more difficult. How your bad attitude diminishes the enjoyment of your work and ruins relationships around you. or perhaps how your selfishness has led you to idolize your work or the resources attained from work. Or how you lose your cool when something doesn’t go right. Pray for the Spirit’s conviction and guidance in those areas to move away from the negative affects of sin on your work.