The Fruits of the Fall
Francis Bourdillon, 1881
"Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to work the ground from which he was taken." Genesis 3:23
When we look into the Bible — we see the reason of many of the strange and perplexing things which are around us. For instance, we find ourselves living in a world of labor. Why is labor necessary? Why does not the ground of itself, bring forth food for man? Why must man work, and work hard — if he would live? We have the answer in the Bible. Things were not always as they are now. A great change once took place, and the history of it is given in this chapter.
Before the fall, Adam and Eve lived together in the garden of Eden, happy in the favor and presence of God. They had no guilt to make them afraid of Him — nor pain, nor sorrow, nor death. They had everything to make them happy. The earth brought forth freely all that they needed. They had no painful toil. All their labor was easy and pleasant. We read that "the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden, to work it and keep it." Thus their time was passed in pleasant work and delight.
But they listened to the voice of the tempter and broke God's command — and from that moment, all was changed. They must no longer remain in Paradise. They must leave that happy place, and go forth into the wide world — and there work hard for their bread. The very ground was pronounced cursed for their sake. Thenceforth it would need hard and constant labor to make it produce food for man. "To Adam He said: "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground — since from it you were taken; for dust you are — and to dust you will return."
So it has been ever since, with all the race of Adam, for nearly six thousand years — and so it is still. The ground must be tilled. Man's constant labor is required. In the sweat of his face, he must eat his bread. Season after season he must plough and sow and weed and reap — rising up early, and late taking rest. If labor should cease — then food would fail. He will get no food, without toil.
Thus we see from the Bible how it is that this world is now a world of labor — why work is the general lot of man — why the child of the laboring man must work as soon as he is able to earn anything — and why generation after generation is born to labor still. Our first parent fell into sin — and God made labor to be his lot, and the lot of his children after him.
It is true that labor to a certain degree is not painful but pleasant, not hurtful but healthful. There are some also who, in the providence of God, are not forced to live by bodily labor. Yet not the less true is it, that labor is among the fruits of the fall; not healthful exertion of body or mind — but weary, wearing toil — with cares and anxieties and troubles which were unknown in the golden days of the world, before sin had entered.
Nor was labor the worst part of the consequences of the fall. See the change that took place in Adam and Eve themselves. They used to love God's presence — now they shrink from it. Never until now, must He ask, "Where are you?" Never until now, had His voice been heard without delight. But now see them hiding from His presence, and trembling at His call.
Why do they fear? Because they have sinned. Oh, what a change did sin make! To leave the garden of Eden and to labor for their bread was but a change in their condition — but this was a change in themselves. Sin had entered into the world. Our first parents were now sinners. And all who have come after them have been so too — except for Him who took our nature upon Himself to save sinners.
Fallen man does not love God or His presence. Guilt has estranged him from God. Until renewed by grace, he is far off from God in his heart. Ever since the fall, sin has been in the world. Hence come not only estrangement of heart from God — but also the ten thousand evils that man does to man. Hence come crime, misery, war, oppression, and cruelty. All date from that sad day when Adam and Eve fell from God.
Then death also came. Sin came into the world — and death by sin. The sentence went forth, "For you are dust — and to dust you shall return." Adam went forth, to labor awhile — and then to die. From the moment that the sentence was pronounced — he and all his seed became subject to death.
The sentence is still in force. We are born into the world. We live here for a few years. We toil, we suffer, we sin. We have our joys and sorrows, our hopes and fears, our changes, sicknesses, losses — and then we die. This is our appointed lot, as children of Adam. Dust we are — and unto dust do we return.
Is this all that a Christian has — all that he may hope for? This short, sad, sinful, toilsome course — is this the Christian's all?
Oh, no! Hardly had man fallen, when a hope of restoration was given him. A Deliverer was promised. Again and again, as generation after generation lived and died, the promise was repeated, with more and more of clearness and fullness.
At length, in God's good time, the Deliverer came. The Son of God Himself was born into the world and lived and died and rose again. He is called the second Adam. But He is far greater than the first Adam. He came to restore fallen man to favor and peace with God. He did so by His death upon the cross. He died and rose again. He made an atonement for sin and overcame death and fulfilled the law of God — and all for us, to save and restore a ruined race.
Now, in Jesus, there is life for the believer — eternal life, pardon, peace, rest, salvation. True, his outward lot on earth is not changed. Still he must labor; still he is subject to sickness and sorrow; still sin cleaves to him; and still he must die. But his hardest labor is cheered by the love of God. In sickness and sorrow, that love is his comfort still. If he falls into sin, he may have recourse to the blood of sprinkling. For him, death itself has lost its sting. He must labor — yet not without ceasing. From the very first, God in mercy appointed one day in seven as a day of rest; and the Lord's day is to the Christian his happiest day, happy in itself, and happy as a pledge and foretaste of that rest which remains for the people of God.
There is such a rest. God has promised it to every believer. Let him live in the hope of it. Let that blessed hope sweeten all toil, and cheer all sorrow. In that better Eden no serpent can beguile — and there no sin can come. There man will love God with a perfect love and find in His presence fullness of joy. Never again will he tremble at His voice, never fall again, never be called to leave that happy place. Already the believer has some foretaste of that heavenly rest, but it is the hope of Heaven itself that forms his chief joy below.
Oh, make sure of a present portion in Christ. You were born of Adam's race — a fallen creature. Look to it that you have a part in the second Adam by faith. Sin, death, and ruin came by Adam. Life and salvation comes by Jesus Christ. He is made known to you in the gospel. A full salvation is freely offered to you in Him. Eternal life is promised to all who believe in Christ. And spiritual life, the pledge of eternal life — is promised to all who seek the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ask, and you shall receive.