Man, who was made from the dust of the ground, rebelled against his Creator and so brought a curse upon himself and upon the ground from which he was taken. God’s curse upon man is found in Genesis 3:17 where it is written: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return.” So it was that God cursed the ground from which man who rebelled aginst him was taken.
The curse included three elements. The first, that the way in which man would gain necessary nourishment for his hunger would be diffincult and would ultimately put man back in the gound from which he was taken–it would now be a toilsome burden to get food to eat. man would sweat to get the food he neededWork was not the curse, the curse made work a burden. Whether sweat was realized prior to the fall or not is not determined, but it is certain that the curse on the ground would make work a burden and the undesirable effect would be the sweat of the brow.
The second element to this curse was the actual evidence that the curse was on the ground. The earth would now bring forth thorns and thistles–something that it had not produced prior to man’s fall into sin. Finally man would return from the ground out of which he was taken. Man was nothing more than dust of the earth formed into the image of God. Now that man had rebelled against God he would return to the ground from which he was taken–the ground that the LORD had cursed because of man’s sin. Man would die. This is the greatest part of the curse that came upon Adam and that comes upon all men. “It is appointed once for man to die and after that the judgment (Heb. 9:27).” This is the inevitable fate of every man and woman. If this (i.e. death) were the end of the matter (as so many want to believe) then it is a most hopeless life that man must live. But the God of the Scriptures, the God who formed us out of the dust of the ground, is not only just–He is also gracious and merciful. In Genesis 3:15, prior to the curse placed on the ground, God promised to reverse the effects of man’s rebellion by Satan and his kingdom by sending a Redeemer–born of a woman–to be wounded by Satan (the serpent) while crushing the serpents head. This Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man, who did destroy the works of the Devil when He hung upon the cross. “Having disarmed principlaities and powers He made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them in it (Col. 2:15). He became a curse for us so that the blessing of eternal life and an everlasting inheritance might be ours by faith in Christ Jesus.
The evidence that He became a curse for us is found in the Gospels. In Luke 22 we are told that Jesus “sweat great drops of blood” while he was in the Garden beginning His WORK of suffering for us. Matthew Henry wrote: “Sweat came in with sin, and was a branch of the curse, Gen. 3:19. And therefore when Christ was made sin and a curse for us, He underwent a grevious sweat, that in the sweat of His facew we might eat bread, and that He might sanctify and sweeten all our trials to us.”
And he bore the second part of the curse right before He went to the cross. Matthew tells us, “When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a redd in His right hand.” The crown of thorns was the mock crown that the Lord of glory had to wear because of our sin. He bore the curse of the ground that He Himself had cursed when man sinned. The crown of thorns now has great significance to the entire realm of redemption. The curse is lifted in the death of Christ and will be seen to be so in the “new heavens and the new earth” on which the redeemed of mankind will be with their Savior.
Finally, He bore the third part of the curse. Jesus Christ died on the tree. He died. He hung on the cross until He breathed His last. He did not deserve to die personally because He had no sin. The Scriptures clearly teach that “He (God the Father) made Him (God the Son) who knew no sin to be sin (i.e. the sin-bearer) for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).” So He must have died for someone. He died for all His people throughout the ages of the church whom the Father had given to Him. As the second Adam (Romans 5) Jesus Christ took the curse of Adam upon HImself–completely and perfectly. Death is now swallowed up in victory. There is no fear in death for the believer because Christ has conquered death forever. The believer has passed from death to life (John 5:24) and death is now his entrance into glory. Brother and sisters in Christ, is this not a glorious truth that draws us to our Savior and comforts our hearts. May it ever be that which stirs us to worship and adore Him who is our substitute and curse remover. “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 (Revelation 22:3).”