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Weeds and Decay

Death Preserved

hopelessness of life without God

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.

Genesis 3:19

In the previous post, we looked at the life changes God brought upon the woman after her sin and how she would experience labor pains in giving birth. These pains, although intense, would be relatively brief and would culminate with the arrival of a new life. The process would be painful, but the woman could look forward to the joy of receiving a child. Thus, she would have hope in her suffering. We will see that Adam’s changes were of a different type.

Adam had listened to the voice of his fellow-creature, woman, above the command of his Creator. His disobedience brought a curse upon the ground, so that it would take hard work to produce food. Unlike his wife’s labor pains, which were relatively short, Adam’s labor would be continuous until the day his body returned to the ground (Genesis 3:19). Thus, God placed Adam in a scenario without hope – he had to work all his life and his only escape would be through death. Unlike the woman, he would receive death at the end of his labor instead of a joyous reward. 

Generally, when a person faces a long, arduous task, they can be encouraged to see the work to completion by a promise of satisfying rest. But Adam’s work continued until death. He could not enjoy rest after his lifelong labor was complete because at the end of his life he ceased to live (physically speaking). So although his labor ceased when he died, he had no ability to live in the rest that followed. He would work all his life with nothing of substance to look forward to, apart from God.

God did not make this change on a whim. He did it deliberately so mankind could not help but see that, although independence from God may be fun, ultimately it is devoid of hope.

Man’s only hope is in God, who alone is able to make a man live after death. 

I’m not sure how long it took for Adam to put all these things together, but he evidently came to see the contrast between his wife and himself. His disobedience brought hopelessness and death, but through the Seed of the woman would come the hope of Life. In light of this, he chose ‘Eve’ as a fitting name for his wife (Genesis 3:20).

After these things, God provided clothing for Adam and Eve which allowed them to stand without shame before their Creator. It is what God does. He came to them asking questions that exposed their sin, but not to shame them. When God asks His people to step into the light and admit their sin and disobedience, it is not to humiliate them. On the contrary: when they confess their sin, He removes their shame and enables them to stand before Him freely. So He gave Adam and Eve clothing to cover their nakedness and shame.

Finally, God preserved physical death by preventing access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24). Although blocking access to unlimited life may seem like a great evil, it was actually great kindness. By eating from that tree, people could escape physical death. But physical death is the key to escaping sin-corrupted flesh, for the only deliverance from sin’s corruption in the flesh is the death of the flesh. 

Protecting people from that disaster was so important that God placed an armed angel before the tree. He would not risk losing any human to permanent corruption of sin. Had God allowed physical death to cease, there would have been no escape from the corruption of sin in the flesh and mankind would have been lost forever, like the fallen angels. But by keeping physical death, God left open the pathway for the Seed of the Woman to go through physical death and win eternal salvation of life.

God preserved physical death to keep open the way of salvation for mankind.

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