A basic tenet of Biblical Christianity is that sin deserves punishment, more specifically the eternal punishment of Hell. Such a view may be unpopular in today’s world and society, but there is no sense in denying that the Bible teaches it. And if the thought of God judging sin seems too medieval, or too unenlightened, consider anew – at some deep level, we want God to care. We don’t want a god who doesn’t care if there is injustice, or rape, or genocide, or terror. Even today, we don’t hold a government who permits such things to be good. Nor should we construct a god who doesn’t care about sin. We don’t even really want that god, no matter the spirit of our age. So the Curse in Genesis 3 is consistent with judgment on sin; it is what should be expected from a holy God:
The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” 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; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 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.” (Genesis 3:14–19, ESV)
The surprising feature of Genesis 3 isn’t judgment on sin. That should be expected. The surprising – really the astounding – feature of Genesis 3 is grace promised in the midst of that judgment: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The stunning fact is that God, who would be completely just to do so, does not give up on sinful humanity but instead purposes to save us. And not just to save us, but to save us by giving us victory over the serpent who has brought about our fall – to have the offspring of the woman – a human – crush the devil’s head.
Redemption from the curse does not begin in Matthew 1:1; it has been God’s purpose from the beginning, as soon as the curse was pronounced. Buried in the worst news the world has ever heard is the promise of redemption, the promise which will be worked out through the ages of world history. Redemption where we would least expect it.
And so it is in our world. With all the darkness, all the danger, all the trauma. Nonetheless, there is redemption to be found where we least expect it. And so it is in our vocations. With all the difficulty we experience under the fall, with all the thorns and thistles the ground produces, with all the troubles, the politics, the struggle – there remains redemption, often in surprising places.
Where has redemption surprised you in your work and vocation?
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