All Things Die: The Curse of Genesis 3

Over the summer my son was in a bug club.  The purpose was to catch and identify bugs, kill them in a jar of chemicals or in the freezer, stick pins through them, and then display them in a box.  The contents of the box, became a tool to help us continue learning about the insects and spiders.  This project became an adventure for our entire family.  Together we caught bugs and pinned them.  Toward the end of the summer, we had over 90 varieties of insects and spiders.  We still marvel at the differences between the various insects.  We love the contrasting colors, sizes, and shapes.  We still cringe at the sight of the menacing hobo spider (not yet caught at the time of the top photo).  Upon opening the box, we still "ooh" and "aah" upon seeing the wings of the butterflies.  It's amazing every time.

But the bug box is a clear reminder of the Fall of Genesis 3.  We've managed to pin the earth's curse.  Displayed in our box is Genesis 3.  The box is a monument to death, corruption, and decay.

When we open the box, the stench of rotting abdomens and decomposing tissue wafts upward, lodging deep into our olfactory glands.  It's a bit of an illusion that these bugs are memorialized.  Really only their lifeless exoskeletons seem to stay on the pin.  We see the skeleton, but everything else (for the most part) is transforming into goo inside the visible insect shell.  In death, these bugs can't even hold on to the colors that at times define them.  I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the exoskeletons turn to dust.

Where these bugs were once bright and colorful, they seem to be growing dull and sad.  The vibrant yellow of the bees is becoming a flat brown.  The red of the lady bug is turning a pinkish gray.  The shiny blues and greens of the dragon fly have gone and only the color of stone remains.  The grasshopper is starting to look like a cigar with legs (although not at the time the above photo was taken).  And the discoloration of death is very apparent on the katydid that was once entirely an eye-popping green, only now to be partially green on the wings and a deep rusty brown on the head.  And like rust, the decay is rapidly spreading to other parts of the katydid's fallen body.

We have ninety-something varieties of insects and spiders and yet every single one of them shows similar signs of the Curse.

After Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and then handed some to Adam, God had something to say.  First he proclaimed a curse on the serpent (which also happens to be a promise of the coming Messiah). Then God proclaimed the curse that would befall the woman because of her rebellion.  Then to Adam, God 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 3:17-19, ESV).
On the first pass, this curse clearly looks more like a curse upon Adam.  It doesn't seem to say that the earth is cursed, just the land where Adam works.  If we exegete this text correctly, we really don't see much of a curse upon the entire earth.  It's not like the proclamation of a cursed earth found in Isaiah 24.  But look again.  Notice what's happening here.  Look at the event beyond the moment covered in this text. Could it be that the "corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire" as mentioned in 2 Peter 1:4 (ESV) is more than a curse only upon Adam or the land under his feet?

In the beginning, the Garden seems to mirror the New Heavens and New Earth we see in Revelation 21 and 22.  There's a picture in the garden that looks much like what we'll find in the New Temple.  We even see the Tree of Life in Genesis 2 and 3 again in Revelation 22.  We get the feeling that there was no tears in the Garden, nor was there death, mourning, or pain, just as we see in the New Heavens and New Earth in Revelation 21:4.  As Jesus defeats sin that goes all the way back to the rebellion in the Garden, death is destroyed.  Jesus holds the keys of death.

Bugs die.  Why?  Why is there corrosion and decay in animals and plants?  Why does man have a constant reminder of death, rust, and disease all around him?

I propose that when sin entered the world, so did death and its effects.  The ground is cursed, but this curse appears to be much more than just the ground under Adam.  The curse appears to extend beyond the dirt of the field.  If we understand this correctly, man is indeed responsible for the destruction of the world, but recycling isn't going to redeem the earth--Jesus is.  The Curse has touched all of creation and my son's bug box is a monument to the Fall.