Entry Level Theological Truth [40]

“Therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man.” Genesis 3:23

American Gothic

Since the fall, life on this planet is a continual struggle for humanity to survive and thrive. Some of the difficulties are self-imposed through mankind’s pervasive evil behavior, fallibility, and impotence; other problems are the product of sin’s effects upon the natural world. All of this trouble may be traced back to Adam’s disloyalty to his Creator as seen in his disregard of the first commandment recorded in Scripture (Genesis 2:16-17.) Instead of being God’s steward on earth to make the planet achieve its potential, through his disobedience, the first man brought the curse upon the world. Rather than performing his work with joy and without impediment, Adam is now banished from the garden of pleasure to laboriously eke out a living from the recalcitrant soil. Thus, the man of dust (Genesis 3:19) tills the ground with mixed success – he obtains his bread, but toils for every crumb. Relief from this hard life is only to be found in the Lord’s future promises regarding the new heavens and new earth.

 


The Daily Grind



 

The existential angst that man feels on this earth stems from the tragic history of Adam’s fall. Though made from earth and meant – under God’s authority – to be a lord over the earth, he is a stranger here, never quite in control of his environment. The natural problems facing his progeny are legion, and they are as much incapable of fixing them as was their first ancestor. Amid the gloom, however, the history set forth by the Bible offers hope for deliverance.

Centuries after Adam was afflicted by the curse his descendant Lamech named his son Noah (“Rest”), saying: “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed” (Genesis 5:29.) This moniker proved to be prophetic, for he was the builder of the ark that the Lord used to preserve humans through the flood. Afterwards, the Almighty promised not to destroy the natural world, declaring: “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease” (Genesis 8:21-22.)1

 


“Rest And Holiness There Find”



 

God’s deliverance of Noah through the flood reveals the Almighty’s design to give rest from the effects of the curse to those who receive His grace. The Lord Jesus spoke of it in His famous invitation: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-20.) The Lord Jesus offers this spiritual rest now to anyone who will receive His yoke by being saved. In the future, His victory over sin and the curse will be extended throughout the new heavens and new earth. As Revelation 22:3 asserts: “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” Man’s toil will give way to trouble-free service and worship towards His Creator. Fellowship will be completely unfettered and humans will enjoy God as He always meant them to. As Watts poetically asserted this truth:

No more let sins and sorrows grow, 
Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found, 
Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace, 
And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness,

And wonders of His love, 
And wonders of His love,

And wonders, wonders, of His love.2

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1Two able Hebrew scholars are worth quoting on this point: “‘I shall not curse the soil any further.’ It is important to note the position of עוד in this sentence, coming after לקלל to ‘curse,’ not after אסף ‘do again’ as in the parallel clause ‘Never again shall I smite.’ This shows that God is not lifting the curse on the ground pronounced in 3:17 for man’s disobedience, but promising not to add to it. The flood was a punishment over and above that decreed in 3:17. This is further confirmed by the milder word for ‘curse,’ קלל ‘treat lightly, disdain,’ used here as opposed to the graver term ארר, used in 3:17…Furthermore, it is also quite apparent that the curses pronounced in Gen 3—weeds, toil, pain, death, emnity with serpents—are part of man’s present experience, so that 8:21 cannot be stating they are lifted after the flood.” Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 1. (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), p. 190. [Boldface mine.]

“The assurance goes far beyond [verse] 21. It does not abolish disasters, but it does localize them, so that the human family may overcome them by forethought such as Joseph’s and by compassion such as Paul’s (2 Cor. 8:14).” Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Vol. 1 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p. 101. [Boldface mine.]

2Isaac Watts, Hymn: “Joy To The World,” accessed here: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/j/o/joyworld.htm on 9/29/12.

“Rest And Holiness There Find” in second heading quoted from R. C. Chapman, Hymn: “Oh my Savior Crucified,” from Spiritual Songs, #71; accessed on 9/26/12 here: http://www.stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/71

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4 comments

  1. made me think…intervention at Babel kept the promise of never again destroying all living things…so again at the time of the end when Christ comes in power.

  2. Lee W. Brainard

    Oh, what a wonderful day that will be, when we pass from the bondage of this fallen creation to the wonderful freedom of the children of light, when we pass from faith to sight, when there is no more night.