The Frustration of Work
Genesis 3:14, “14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, And dust you will eat all the days of your life;
Alright, before we jump into verse 14 we need to keep the big picture in mind of Genesis 1, “All of creation is spoken into existence.” Then, in Genesis 2 the God of Scripture zeroes in on His prize creation of humanity, and Adam and Eve are given the responsibility to cultivate and keep the garden (2:15), and everything is good.
Until Genesis 3 we see a fracture that enters into this story of goodness, and as a result we see frustration in our lives and in our world today. Write that in your notes, “Genesis 1-2 everything is good, but in Genesis 3 we see frustration.”
This frustration we see in life isn’t a 21st Century problem, an American problem, Donald Trump problem, an economic problem, or a ethnic problem, but this frustration runs throughout all of creation, all of humanity, and it starts off in Genesis 3, verse 1.
It is a whisper of doubting the goodness of God, the glory of God, the greatness of God, and Adam and Eve take the bait. Adam and Eve believe the lie, and the moment they do we see frustration enters into all of humanity and all of creation. It is called sin.
At this point it would seem like all hope is lost, but in verse 14 the God of Scripture pulls out His inner Liam Neeson and says to the serpent, “I have a particular set of skills.”
The “curse” in verse 14 is the God of Scripture saying to the serpent, “I am not going to give creation over to you.” The God of Scripture is drawing a line in the sand in the curse. The God of Scripture is declaring war on evil and corruption and frustration in the curse.
Yes, there is a frustration in life, yes, there is a frustration in work, yes, it is one step forward, and two steps back, yes, it is always something breaking, but let us never assume that we are going through the work of life being tossed to and fro by the serpent and the God of Scripture to see who might win.
No, the God of Scripture is in control of all things, even in our frustration, and beginning in verse 14 the God of Scripture begins make right what went wrong.
Genesis 3:15, “15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”
I need you to lock in with me, because this verse is loaded with goodness. The word, “enmity” in verse 15 means “hostility.” In our world today we like to think of humanity as naturally good people, who just make bad choices. Doesn’t that sound nice? They will teach us that humanity is just a clean slate shaped by unfortunate circumstances, but in verse 15 we see there is a hostility in humanity.
The “you” in verse 15 is in reference to the serpent, and the woman is Eve, and at this point there is going to be a fork in the road of humanity. Stay with me. In verse 15 we begin to see the promise of a new group of people, a new race of people whose eyes, heart, mind, and soul have been open to the lie of the serpent.
I know this might be difficult for some us, but this is why in John 8 Jesus is standing before the religious leaders, who are still in the lie, and says, “You are of your father the devil.” You are of his offspring, you are of his seed, but in Genesis 3:15 we see the promise of a new people in her seed, and it is all established by One who will come to “bruise the serpent on the head with a devastating blow.”
When you see the phrase, “He shall bruise you on the head” it is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and return. It is a crushing blow. The “bruising of His heel” is said by one theologian that Jesus' crushing blow to the serpent is so powerful and so devestating that it leaves a bruise.
I know it isn’t there fully in verse 15, but there is a foreshadowing. It is what theologians refer to as the, “proto-evangalium” the “first manifestation of the gospel.” It is the first manifestation of the God of Scripture saying, “Yes, there will be some frustration in life, there will be some pain in life, but that pain and frustration is not forever.” There will be an end to that pain and frustration, and the God of Scripture is calling out to all of humanity, “Where are you?”
He knows where we are. He knows we hiding in bushes, covering ourselves with status, friends, careers, romance, and desperately trying to find life outside of Him, and He calls out, “How much longer are you going to hide?”
Genesis 3:16-17, “16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.”
There is so much to draw out of those two verses, but lets just focus on the phrases highlighted in yellow on the screen, because again we see the God of Scripture drawing a line in the sand and saying, “I am not going to give creation over to you” and in verses 16 and 17 it gets personal.
In verse 14 the curse was connected with the serpent, but in verse 16 and 17 it is the God of Scripture saying, “I am going to fix what went wrong” and it comes with consequences for humanity.
It is possible we could say, “I thought the God of Scripture was loving, kind, gracious, glorious, and good?” Why can’t He just make everything perfect? He did. In Genesis 1 and 2 He created everything good. We rejected it. We have all believed the lie of the serpent. He said in Genesis 2, “If you eat of the tree you shall surely die.” It is a cosmic death, and that carries cosmic consequences.
Illustration: Therefore, in verse 16 there’s going to be pain in childbirth. There’s going to be pain in raising children. There’s going to be pain in marriage, and life is going to be hard.
Don’t misunderstand. It could be darkness for eternity where all of creation is cut off His glory forever, but in His grace the God of Scripture says, “Here’s a little pain in childbirth (relatively speaking.)
In verse 17, there’s going to be toil. There’s going to be sweat. There’s going to be frustration at the work of our hands. Isn' that true? There is pain. It's not as dark as it could be. 2 Thessalonians teaches us the God of Scripture is actually holding back darkness and death, but there is pain.
In addition, the fracture of Genesis 3 isn’t just at the serpent level (14), or the human level (16), but even in nature (17).
In verse 17 the ground is cursed. Nature is supposed to thrive in glory and beauty in perfect rhythm, and yet we see floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunami’s, and animals are skittish as they turn on one another in fights to the death.
Romans 8 actually teaches us that creation is groaning and longing for the day of restoration, like a woman in child birth, creation is eagerly awaiting the day Jesus will return and restore what rightfully belongs to Him.
So that yes, today, there is pain and frustration, but that pain and frustration is just for a little while, because the good news is that the God of Scripture makes a promise in Genesis 3, verse 15 that one day a Savior will come who will call out to all of humanity, “Where are you? Come to Me all you who are weary.”
It is at the cross that Jesus takes our curses of Genesis 3 upon Himself (Galatians 2), it is at the cross that Jesus takes our pain of childbirth upon Himself (Isaiah 53), it is at the cross that Jesus takes our toil and sweat (Luke 22), so that in Adam the tree of life becomes the tree of death, but in Jesus the tree of death becomes the tree of life to all who call on His name. Won’t you hear His call on your life?