I find no difficulty identifying the two worst days in the history of our planet. The first was when Adam and Eve joined the cosmic rebellion, and the second was the day that the human race crucified the Lord of Glory. These were not isolated events; the first precipitated the second, and in more ways than one.
The Adamic Curse
When Adam and Eve nibbled on the forbidden fruit, they were doing more than simply eating or even disobeying their Creator. They were attempting usurp the Almighty and take up residence on His royal throne. Such treason meant separation from the one true Source of life and peace, in addition to piling upon human shoulders a burden beyond our ability to bear. And if all that was not bad enough, the human race has also been subjected to an ancient curse:
And He said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice 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.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
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.”
Genesis 3:17-19 (HCSB)
The obvious ramifications of this curse involve the many challenges we face in planting, growing, and harvesting crops. But there is also a spiritual dynamic. The sweetest tastes of our human experience are produced through painful and exhausting efforts. What do I mean?
The Fruit of Life
In his letter to the Galatian church, the apostle Paul provides us with a description of spiritual fruit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23a (HCSB)
Consider the qualities and virtues that make life meaningful and bring peace to our relationships. They are all right there in the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. But because of the Adamic curse, these qualities are either elusive or non-existent in our families. For those families that are healthy, considerable, painstaking effort is required to keep everyone happy and connected. The spiritual fruit that sweetens life on this planet does not come naturally or easily.
Cursed No More
The news of the Adamic curse is grim, but thankfully, all is not lost! Jesus died on the cross as a treasonous covenant breaker, becoming a curse Himself, so that He might break the curse of death and unfruitfulness plaguing our globe:
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed. The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:13-14 (HCSB)
What does all of this mean? The Son of God wore the thorns of the Adamic curse on His brow as He hung on the cross. His subsequent resurrection then shattered the power of the Adamic curse, preparing the way for the Holy Spirit to take up residence in our hearts. Instead of faltering under the burden of an ancient curse, God’s people are now inundated with divine blessings that flow through the presence of the Spirit.
The Agent of Rest
The Bible records that when Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two:
Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. Matthew 27:50-52 (HCSB)
The temple curtain is what separated God’s presence from the people. Only the male Jewish high priest had been permitted to pass beyond that veil, and only one time per year. Christ’s sacrificial death meant that all people, regardless of gender, race, or religious pedigree could be cleansed from their sins and be made holy. With the veil torn, all humans now have the opportunity to access God’s presence, and just as importantly, the Holy Spirit is free to dwell in any believer’s heart.
The Lord made this new and exciting opportunity clear on the day of Pentecost, which was celebrated fifty days after Christ’s sacrificial death:
When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech. Acts 2:1-4 (HCSB)
The blessings promised to Abraham and his descendants have come to the people of God through the presence of the Holy Spirit. In so many ways, the Holy Spirit is the Agent of Rest who brings us peace and causes sweet spiritual fruit to grow in our lives. No longer must we stagger under the weight of the Adamic curse. We are free to live in God’s presence and experience the untold blessings that accompany Him.
*Bob Santos has authored several books, and this post is drawn from an upcoming work titled The Search for Rest.