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. (Genesis 3:17b-18, ESV)
Whether we think about a fatal car accident, a struggle with sexual identity, a major handicap, or a host of natural disasters, this world is filled with hardships, injustices, and burdens.
“Why would a good God allow some particular tragedy to happen?” “Why did God make me this way with these defects?” “Why didn’t God make me that way?”
Often missing in these questions—which are more often objections rather than queries—is a central tenet of the Christian faith. The universe is under a Curse. The Curse is not only important theology, it is impossible to understand life (from a Christian viewpoint) without it.
The Curse affects all aspects of our lives, not just our physical well being. It affects our ability to reason, our relationships, and the condition of our souls.
I can understand when people who claim ignorance of the Christian faith are also ignorant of the Fall and the Curse. Sadly, many individuals who have at one time or another been taught about the Curse seem to forget it. This is true even among faithful church members.
For some, the Curse is like an old commercial jingle—it is lodged somewhere down deep in the memory but rarely brought to mind. It is buried and all but forgotten.
Perhaps the reason for this lapse is that many do not consider the Curse an important part of Christian belief. Some might consider the creation narrative, the Garden of Eden, and the Curse as allegory, not actual history. Some are repelled by the idea of a God Who is offended and Whose wrath is kindled at sin. The nice god of popular culture curses, punishes, or judges no one.
Some believers may not understand the Curse’s relevance. The Curse is more than an explanation about how we inherited our sinful nature. It is a central belief, for without it we cannot grasp the full extent of Jesus’ atonement on the cross.
It is impossible to embrace a Christian worldview without a focus upon the Curse. The Curse explains why you must discipline your children, why crops fail, why we have pandemics, why the weather is too hot, and why Murphy’s Law seems to prevail.
It is true that the Curse cannot answer all our questions or objections for life’s injustices. God is all powerful. He is loving. He knows about our situations. Why doesn’t He, then, just fix things? The answer is that God has an alternative approach, using (but not condoning) evil to produce a long-term greater good (Romans 8:28), all of which is intricately linked to the Cross. None of us probably find this particularly appealing, but it is what it is. God’s ways are above ours, so we should not be surprised that He does things differently than we think we would (if we were God).
Since God, in His justice, has cursed creation, we look at the many blessings He gives us –- including answered prayer or holding back some disasters that could befall us—as God blessing us despite the Curse. To put it another way, God owes us nothing. The Curse communicates a broken relationship between God and His creation. Every blessing we receive, therefore, is a gift of His grace.
Instead of simply abandoning mankind—which He could have blamelessly done—He chose to Curse mankind and the created physical order. And we are all under that Curse. In a sense, the Curse is the first stage of redemption.
Paul explains that even believers, whose souls are already redeemed, suffer the physical consequences of the Curse because our bodies are yet to be redeemed. We do not experience redemption in the fullest sense until we are with the Lord and have our new immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-58).
Paul also explains that the entire universe is groaning in a state of misery, waiting for God to implement His redemption of the universe; this redemption has been purchased by the atonement Jesus offered.
Ponder Romans 8:20-23.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
The entire drama of redemption: creation, the fall, the Curse, the cross, resurrection, the Millennium, the Great White Throne, the New Heaven and New Earth—all of this was planned before the world was created and for the glory of God (Revelation 13:8, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).
Keep the Curse in mind. We can understand the news and the experiences of life in general through its lens. At the same time, keep the Cross in mind. The Cross provided for the undoing of the Curse. Some aspects of that undoing we see in our lives now, but one day the entire benefit of the Cross will be realized in totality.
Speaking of the New Heaven, the New Earth and the New Jerusalem, we read in Revelation 22:3, “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him” (NASB).
The Curse constantly takes its toll on us. But, for the believer, we can rejoice that the Curse is temporary!
Ed Vasicek was raised as a Roman Catholic in Cicero, Illinois. During his senior year in high school (1974), Cicero Bible Church reached out to him, and he received Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone. Ed earned his BA at Moody Bible Institute. He has served as pastor of Highland Park Church since 1983. Ed and his wife, Marylu, have two adult children. Ed has written many weekly columns for the opinion page of the Kokomo Tribune, published articles in Pulpit Helps magazine, and posted many papers at his church website. Ed has also published the The Midrash Key and The Amazing Doctrines of Paul As Midrash: The Jewish Roots and Old Testament Sources for Paul’s Teachings.