“God saw all that he had made and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31a).
“….Cursed are you above all the livestock….Cursed is the ground…” (Genesis 3:14a, 17b).
God created order, life and light out of a chaotic, inanimate and dark earth. By divine act, life emerged from nothingness, light appeared in the darkness, and order reshaped the chaos. The formless empty darkness became an ordered light-soaked reality teaming with life.
God created a garden on his earth (Eden) where life, community and peace reigned. What he created was “very good.” And God rested in his creation, enjoying his world and delighting in his people.
The story in Genesis, however, moves from peace to violence, from community to suspicion, from life to death. Chaos enters human experience, evil grows in the womb of human freedom, and human death becomes a reality on God’s good earth.
The transistion from shalom to chaos, initiated by the human desire for autonomy, is what I mean by the “curse.” It is the language God uses as he addresses the serpent and the man in Genesis 3. The serpent is cursed (3:14b) and the ground is cursed (3:17b).
This is not scientific language. It is metaphor for the reintroduction of chaos into God’s good creation. It is a metaphor for brokenness, for the vandalism of shalom (as Cornelius Plantinga calls). It is a detour from the divine intent for life, peace and community into death, violence and tyranny. The cursedness of Genesis 3 anticipates the human spiral into inhumanity in chapters 3-11. Humanity, designed to image (represent) God in the world as co-regents over God’s good creation, became in its own eyes a god who could reach into the heavens and make a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4). Humanity became its own curse as they lived in a broken world.
The curse, or brokenness, is played out over and over again in the human drama. It is a story of death, destruction and dehumanization. Rather than imaging God, they create their own images to worship. Their images are not merely idols of wood and stone, but superstructures of greed, power, and genocide. They shed innocent blood. They build palaces on the backs of the poor. They seize power for its own sake. They will themselves to power, wealth and violence.
This is the human condition. It has become natural to human beings, their “second nature.” Though designed for good–for peace, community and joy, they are warped toward evil–violence, tyranny and anguish.
But the grace of God does not leave us in our hurt and bondage. Rather, God acts to redeem, restore and renew.
My favorite scene in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ is when Jesus, carrying the cross, falls to his knees under its weight. His mother runs to him and their eyes lock. With blood streaming down his cheeks and holding the symbol of Roman power and violence, Jesus says, “Behold, Mother, I make all things new.”
This is the promise of God. It will be the eschatological act of God in the new creation, in the new heavens and new earth. There the old order will have passed away and the voice of God will declare: “I am making everything new” (Revelation 21:5a).
A day is coming when there will be “no more curse” (Revelation 22:3). There will be no more darkness–the glory of God will fill the earth with l ight. There will be no more violence–the nations will receive healing and walk by its light. There will be no more death, mourning or tears–the Tree of Life and the Water of Life will nourish the people of God forever.
A day is coming when the curse will be reversed, revoked and rescinded.
“There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4b)
“No longer will there be any curse” (Revelation 22:3a).