Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Genesis 3:17-19

17 And he said to the man, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”

The Original Intent

1) What tree is God referencing? (verse 17)

God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to work within it and be its caretaker. (Genesis 2:15) The garden was a delightful place; I imagine lush green trees and plants with animals basking in their shade. Flowers in various colours and sizes with butterflies, birds and other insects flitting and buzzing among them, all at peace with one another and existing in perfect harmony. I hear the rush of the river flowing jubilantly through Eden, its waters glistening like jewels in the sun. In the middle of Eden stood two trees, the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:9) 

God told Adam he could eat from any tree in the garden, except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or else he would die. (Genesis 2:17) Eve, being deceived by the serpent, chose sin over obedience to the Lord, and ate from the tree. Alongside her was Adam, who could have stopped her, but didn’t. She offered the fruit to her husband who willingly took it and ate, sinning with her.

Death instantly became their earned consequence. Not only would they physically die one day, but the effects of spiritual death were already upon them as shame and fear slipped over them.

The Everyday Application

1) What tree is God referencing? (verse 17)

The NKJV MacArthur Study Bible suggests it was a test of obedience to see whether they would choose to love and follow themselves or God as supreme. Many years later, God gave Abraham a similar test, but Abraham acted in faith and obeyed the Lord. (Genesis 22:1-8)

Adam & Eve’s disobedience resulted in death, spiritual and physical both for themselves and every human born after them. Sin had entered the world; spiritual death meant separation from God. Even today, every sinful choice against God’s character and His commands brings the same consequence. Proverbs 6:20-23 provides some benefits of obedience, “My son, keep your father’s command, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching.  Always bind them to your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk here and there, they will guide you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; when you wake up, they will talk to you. For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life.” 

If Adam and Eve had eaten of the Tree of Life, they would have experienced eternal life and been forever trapped in their sin. Today, through Jesus Christ, we can be reconciled to God and experience eternal life but without the consequence of sin and death! “Truly I tell you, (…) you do not have life in yourselves. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:53-54)

The Original Intent

2) What is the significance of the thorns and thistles? (verse 18)

Because of Adam’s disobedience God cursed the ground, meaning food would no longer be easily available as it was in the garden. Adam and Eve would now need to labor painfully to cultivate their own food. The ground which Adam once ruled and yielded to him in gentle submission, would now resist his reign by producing weeds, thorns, and thistles. Work would be hard, laborious, and toil wouldn’t produce the fullness of results as was originally intended.

Symbolic references to thorns and thistles are common in the Bible as they point to the struggle against sin. Proverbs 15:19 says, “A slacker’s way is like a thorny hedge, but the path of the upright is a highway,” which indicates that a lazy person makes his own life difficult by not working hard for what he wants, while the righteous man is willing to do what it takes to make his life work. Ezekiel 28:24 says, “The house of Israel will no longer be hurt by prickly briers or painful thorns from all their neighbors who treat them with contempt.”

This means Israel’s enemies who oppressed them or lured them into sinful idolatry, would be freed by God when he restores his kingdom, and brought them into His Land of freedom from the thorns of sin. (Ezekiel 28:25-26)


The Everyday Application

2) What is the significance of the thorns and thistles? (verse 18)

In the Bible, thorns and thistles symbolized difficulty, pain, or suffering as a result of sin. In the New Testament, Jesus used thorns to represent the pull of sin in His famous parable about the Sower and the Seed. He warned that thorns (sin) had the power to choke out the freedom and forgiveness only found in Jesus when a person chooses worry and the deceitfulness of wealth over trusting Jesus. (Matthew 13:3-22)

About a year ago, I had a situation at work where they hired an assistant for my office. She had an annoying habit of trying to do my work for me. I objected and complained to my boss, who was also new. He ignored my complaints and the assistant used this as leverage to continue disrespecting my desk and my office. This caused me many sleepless nights to the point I wanted to resign. But I decided to pray about it and the Lord told me, “Lisa, you work for Me.” (see Colossians 3:23-24) When the Lord shifted my heart, I was able to press against sin and its effects with God’s perspective and His help as I began working for the Lord! I dedicated my work to the Lord and I must say today, my boss recognizes my worth so much, he not only verbally praised me but gave high ratings on my performance appraisal.

The Lord has shown favor when I submitted to Him, and now the assistant respects my office space and my work. Thorns are plentiful in life as sin lures us away from a close relationship with God, but we don’t need to let them win. We can take any problem to Jesus and He will help us overcome. (James 4:7)

The Original Intent

3) What did God mean by, “you will eat bread by the sweat of your brow?” (verse 19)

Following verse 18 we see how Adam now needed to work hard to cultivate his own food. The Hebrew word for bread, ‘lehem’, is also translated as food in other passages like Proverbs 27:27 that describes God providing enough food for whole households.

The work Adam did in the garden before his disobedience must have been pleasurable and fulfilling, and I’m guessing there were no such things as weeds. Now, he had to clear the land from all its weeds, till the soil and plant, all without the garden tools we are familiar with today. The work would have been grueling and he would do this for the rest of his life in order to survive. By his painful toil, he would labor just to eat.

The Everyday Application

3) What did God mean by, “you will eat bread by the sweat of your brow?” (verse 19)

Before ‘the Fall’ from perfect relationship into sinful brokenness, Adam and Eve had everything provided for them directly from the Lord. All they needed to do was just pick their favorite fruit or vegetable and eat. This didn’t mean they didn’t work, as they had been entrusted with caring for the whole land and living things! The difference was ease and enjoyment without sin, and struggle and pain with sin.

Because of disobedience, work became difficult and reduced in glory to merely providing food to survive. This consequence continues as our reality today as we must work hard and diligently to earn a living. My work days are usually long, with a two-hour commute to work, eight hours at work, and then another two-hour commute home. I’ve been doing this for over thirty years. By the end of the day I’m exhausted, but I must say looking back, God has blessed me. I want for nothing and have come to a point in my life where material things are no longer important. What’s important is living for Jesus. In Him, even the curse of toilsome work is lessened.

He tells us, “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

God gave Adam and Eve everything they needed in the Garden of Eden, and while we understand that life is not easy and there will be thorns to overcome, He promises care for us if we seek His kingdom and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)

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