“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.” (Genesis 3:17-19 KJV)
Wow! I think these verses are quite possibly the least enjoyable verses in the entirety of the Bible. Not only is this chapter the chapter where we read about mankind’s fall, but we zero in on the specifics of the individual punishments. In considering the punishment that Adam receives there are two very interesting items inside what God is saying. First, it is obvious that from this point forward that Adam is going to have to work. One of the fundamental pieces of surrender is work. The most dangerous thing that Adam can do after having received a knowledge of good and evil, aside from eating of the tree of life at this point, is to be in a position where he can philosophize and begin making plans for managing his new found knowledge. The first step to reconciling the mistake of trying to become your own source for the knowledge of good and evil is to return the management of any process back over to the rightful creator. Working under the hand of the rightful master is the best way to maintain a check on reality and on knowing the realness of what has actually been created. It is one thing to sit around in a fallen state plotting the construction of your agenda and the establishment of your kingdom. It is quite another to surrender those plans and go to work under the authority of the actual creator. Following God may be back breaking, hand blistering, and brow sweating work that makes you tired, hungry, and in need of a bath. Yet, this type of work relieves stress, builds an appetite, and delivers the sweetest rest better than any plotting, managing, or organizing could ever do. It is one thing to try to manage a world that you would like to live in. It is quite another to go to work in one that all ready exists. Whether it is Adam’s work or the work the Lord has given us, the best thing we can ever do to acknowledge His Lordship in His ability to manage that which needs managing, in allowing Him to fight the battles that need fought, and in relying on Him to provide the produce that we need to survive on is to go to work for Him.
Another interesting item is the idea of dry ground or dust. It is the land that the men on Jonah’s ship tried to row to, but were unsuccessful (see Jonah 1:13). It is the land that Jonah was vomited out onto (see Jonah 2:10). It is the dry ground that the children of Israel walked across in the escape from Egypt (see Exodus 14). It is the dry ground that God had just separated from the water (see Genesis 1:9,10). It is the dry ground that God posted a limit on where the proud waves could not enter (see Job 38:8-11). It is here on this dry ground that the work is to be done. It is on dry ground that the provision of God is made known. It is on dry ground that He has made room for us where the waters once covered over completely. This must have been a stark reminder to Noah and his family when dry ground no longer existed and yet God made the ark to rest on dry ground in the mountains of Ararat (see Genesis 8:4). It is also a picture of baptism when we come up that there is dry ground to climb out onto again. It is true that this land would yield thorns and thistles. Anyone worked in any level of politics even at a level as simple as the local home owners association? There are lots of thorns and thistles. Yet God put us to work and gives us dry ground to work. In our surrender and trust in God’s ability to manage all that needs managing there will come a harvest from our work right here on the dry ground that He has placed us on. It is by learning to trust and obey Him now that we will some day have the right to eat from the tree of Life.
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14 KJV)