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What the Bible says about Curse upon Generations
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 3:14-19

Often neglected in favor of more "exciting" prophecies, this first prophecy holds the fundamental principles for understanding the nature of Satan's relationship to Christ and the church, woman's relationship with man, man's relationship with nature, and sin's role in human suffering. Few subjects are more important!

The setting of this prophecy provides the necessary background information we need to understand the full implications of God's pronouncements in these verses. Adam and Eve were still living in the Garden of Eden. Satan, speaking through a serpent, had just deceived Eve into eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She, in turn, had persuaded Adam to do the same. These sins demanded the judgment of God, which He expresses as curses that would result from their disobedience.

At first glance, the curses seem severe. These two innocents—babes, really—had no armor "against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). However, they had received instruction from God on the very point in question (Genesis 2:16-17), and this should have been sufficient to deter them. From God's point of view, their actions were sheer rebellion!

In addition, when God inquired about their actions (Genesis 3:11), they neither admitted their transgressions nor sought forgiveness. Instead, they shifted the blame—Adam to Eve, and Eve to Satan (verses 12-13)! Their actions throughout this scenario told God plenty about their character, making his predictions certain.

Thus, what we see is that God did not curse them—they cursed themselves! Because of sin's predictable course, God merely voices the consequences of their actions in prophetic terms. This prophecy, then, includes Satan's ultimate guilt and punishment, mankind's battle of the sexes and struggle to survive, and the need for a Savior to repair the damage they had caused. What we see in microcosm is the plan of God!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part One)

Genesis 3:14-19

The Bible's first prophecy contains three major curses, one each upon Satan, women, and men. Or does it? The answer depends on one's perspective and time reference.

Certainly, the curse on Satan seems a mixed bag! Men have either been subject to his deceptions or fiercely waging war with him for six thousand years. Yet it is the struggle of the fight that prepares our character to inherit eternal life. We live in hope and faith that God will see the curse through to its end, the total humiliation and imprisonment of the Adversary.

To a woman in labor or to a man sweating out in a field under the sun, God's pronouncements surely feel like curses. Yet, maybe only moments later, the satisfaction and joy in seeing a healthy baby or a job well done can make it all seem worthwhile. We feel grateful that God has given us such blessings.

If nothing else, this should make us think about the "curses" and "blessings" in our lives. Could something terrible turn out for the best? Could seeing "our ship come in" prove our ruin? There is much more to God's gifts and judgments than meets the eye:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! "For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?" "Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?" For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Three)

Genesis 3:14-15

Some aspects of this prophecy began to be fulfilled almost immediately, but a huge time gap is built right into it. Its main feature, the revelation of the coming Messiah and His work of dealing the deathblow to Satan's efforts, did not come to pass until four thousand years later. Thus, the prophecy had dual application: One part for the serpent and Adam and Eve happened almost immediately, and its exceedingly more important part was fulfilled later.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Ten): Babylon the Great Is a Nation

Genesis 3:17-19

Genesis 3:17-19, God's judgment on Adam, covers men's leadership difficulties, his never-ending struggles to survive, and his "dust in the wind" mortality. All these came upon mankind, and males in particular, as a result of being cut off from contact with God, symbolized by the tree of life. The "human condition" is a long step below the idyllic conditions God made available to humanity in the Garden!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Three)

Genesis 3:17

In God's curse, one three-word phrase makes all the difference: "for your sake." Modern translations render this phrase (be'abûr) "because of you" or "on your account," attempting to show that the ground's curse came as a result of Adam's sin. However, God had already given the reasons for the curse earlier in the verse, so why need He repeat it?

"For your sake," while including the idea of "because of you," brings out another nuance that the modern renderings leave out. Since man would be cut off from God and His Holy Spirit, the ground would be cursed for man's sake, that is, for his benefit, advantage, or good. As with all acts of God, the perfect standard of goodness, the curse on Adam would do mankind "good in the end" (Deuteronomy 8:16), although its initial manifestations would entail hardship, toil, and privation.

How can such a curse—with such long-lasting and harsh consequences—be good? Paul comments on this in Romans 8:19-22:

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

The apostle says here that God pronounced the curse on the creation "in hope" of "the revealing of the sons of God," which would release it "from the bondage of corruption." God designed the curse on Adam to enhance man's chance to enter His Family! God would rather have done it another way—through His guidance in the Garden of Eden—but since Adam and Eve chose rebellion, He designed Adam's curse to reach the same end by a different means: hard toil, struggle, and eventual death!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Three)

Genesis 3:19

The last part of God's curse on Adam involves the brevity of physical life. To this point, death had been mentioned only as a threatened punishment for sin (Genesis 2:17), so it must be assumed that, as long as Adam and Eve remained sinless, they would not die. Paul writes in Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned."

God designed His wording of Adam's punishment to link mankind with the earth: He was created out of it, and when he died, he would return to it. His sin had removed him from the environs of the heavenly and forced him to dwell, labor, and die in the earthly. Yet even this has a silver lining:

And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. (I Corinthians 15:45-49)

The benefit of a physical body is that it can die! This may sound strange, but it is exactly this fact that makes man able to become immortal sons of God! Men can die and be resurrected, following the pattern set by Christ, receiving eternal life and the rewards of His Kingdom. It is our righteous living in the flesh through the grace of God that qualifies us for this glorious potential.

On the flip side, our physical nature also makes it possible for God to rid the universe of anyone unwilling to submit to Him. Unlike angels, men can be completely consumed in the Lake of Fire—totally destroyed for all eternity and unable to defile the holiness of God's Kingdom. Though God desires "all [to] come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9) and "all men to be saved" (I Timothy 2:4), He has this option should it be needed. Revelation 19:20 shows that it will indeed.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Three)

Genesis 3:19

God pronounces a curse upon mankind after Adam and Eve's sin. It is not that working is a curse; God had previously told them they were to dress and keep the Garden. Rather, the curse is the burden of providing for oneself in a world that has turned its back on God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part One)

Matthew 27:25

Either out of a genuine concern for justice or out of a sardonic resistance to the Jews' petty politics, Pontius Pilate wanted to free Christ. Lacking in the end the requisite moral strength, he remanded Christ over to the garrison for crucifixion, but not until he had literally "washed his hands" of the whole affair. Matthew alone tells us that, at this juncture in the proceedings, "All the people answered and said, 'His blood be on us and on our children.'" The phrase "all the people" probably refers to the rabble, instigated by the Temple leaders.

They did nothing other than what God had ordained from the foundation of the world. No more, no less! Furthermore, in the execution of God's plan, both Gentile and Jew had a hand. Notice Acts 4:27-28, which records the words of Peter and John:

For truly against Your Holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

However, not all are given to see the hand of God so clearly as Peter and John saw it. Concerning Matthew 27:25, one former minister of the church of God commented that God would be "remiss" (this is, lax in carrying out His duties) if He did not bring this statement on the Jews' heads. In making that statement, he tacitly expressed his agreement with the "blood libel"—the traditional Catholic and Protestant interpretation of this passage as a self-imposed curse that God has honored over the centuries.

Properly understood, however, the peoples' statement is absolutely not a curse. Moreover, God has nowhere bound Himself to chastise Jewry as a whole for the actions of a relatively few people in Pilate's judgment hall that morning.

The peoples' comment indicates the strength of their conviction that Christ was an enemy of God and the nation. They were thoroughly persuaded that their actions in pursuit of Christ's death were correct. Rather than being a curse, their statement emphasizes the extent of their deception. For, as sincere as they were, they were totally wrong in seeking Christ's death, utterly blind to the reality that He was their hoped-for Messiah. Their comment was a formula: "We know we're right, and we're willing to die for our stance. So sure are we that we're willing to stake our children's lives on our position as well."

In stating their convictions in those terms, they betrayed their lack of understanding of God's law, for they based their statement on the incorrect belief that God punishes children for their parents' sins. The prophet Ezekiel speaks at length of this erroneous idea and of the misleading proverb it had engendered over the years. He quotes the false proverb in Ezekiel 18:2: "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge."

A question the disciples asked of Christ, recorded in John 9:2, indicates that they too were still under the spell of this false proverb. Concerning the blindness of a particular man, they ask, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Christ, not accepting the false premise of their question, comes up with a totally different reason: "that the works of God should be revealed in him" (verse 3).

The disciples in John 9—and the Jews in Matthew 27—made their statement at a time when God's prophecy, expressed in Ezekiel 18:3, had not come to pass: "'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.'"

In Christ's day (and to our own!), people still believed that God punished children for the sins of the fathers. Beginning in verse 4 of Ezekiel 18, God sets forth four scenarios to point out the fallacy of this manmade belief. Notice verses 14 and 17, part of the third scenario:

If, however, [a man] begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and considers but does not do likewise, . . . [but rather] has executed My judgments and walked in My statutes-he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; he shall surely live!

God summarizes the teachings of these four scenarios in verse 20:

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

In saying this, God is telling us that He Himself follows the law He established for us, recorded in Deuteronomy 24:16: "The fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin."

Amaziah obeyed this law when "he executed his servants who had murdered his father the king. However he did not execute their children. . . ." The writer of Chronicles then continues by quoting Deuteronomy 24:16 verbatim (see II Chronicles 25:3-4). Though Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9; Isaiah 14:21; and Jeremiah 32:18 seem to contradict this principle, these verses speak, not of God's judgment for sin, which is always on the perpetrator himself, but of the disastrous consequences of the fathers' sins affecting "the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me."

Nowhere does Matthew—or anyone else—ever tell us that God acquiesced to carry out vengeance on those who cried, "Crucify Him!" before Pilate's judgment hall. Nowhere does Matthew intimate that God consented to punish their children over the centuries. If He had committed Himself to carry out these peoples' so-called "curse," He would have knowingly bound Himself to violate His own law for centuries.

Charles Whitaker
Are the Jews Cursed for Deicide?

Romans 8:19-22

The apostle says here that God pronounced the curse on the creation "in hope" of "the revealing of the sons of God," which would release it "from the bondage of corruption." God designed the curse on Adam to enhance man's chance to enter His Family! God would rather have done it another way—through His guidance in the Garden of Eden—but since Adam and Eve chose rebellion, He designed Adam's curse to reach the same end by a different means: hard toil, struggle, and eventual death!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Three)


 




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