And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Genesis 3:17
suggested further reading: Romans 8:18–25
In response to Adam’s sin, God announces that the earth will be cursed. Since Scripture tells us the blessing of the earth refers to the fertility which God infuses into the earth by his secret power, so the curse is the opposite privation, in which God withdraws his favor from the earth. Thus the condition of the world varies with respect to men, according to whether God is angry with them or shows them his favor. We may add that punishment is exacted, not from the earth itself, but from man alone. For the earth does not bear fruit for itself but to supply food to us. The Lord, however, determined that his anger should, like a deluge, overflow all parts of the earth, so that wherever man might look, the atrocity of his sin should meet his eyes.
Before the fall, the world was a fair and delightful mirror of God’s favor and paternal indulgence toward man. Now, all the elements show us that we are cursed. And although (as David says) the earth is still full of the mercy of God (Ps. 33:5), yet we now see signs of his dreadful alienation from us. If we are unmoved by those signs, we betray our blindness and insensibility. Lest sadness and horror should overwhelm us, though, the Lord also sprinkles everywhere the tokens of his goodness. Moreover, though the blessing of God is never seen as pure and transparent as it first appeared to man in his innocence, yet, if what remains behind be considered in itself, David truly and properly exclaims, “The earth is full of the mercy of God.”
for meditation: The disturbing savagery of the natural world around us is the result of our sin. The suffering and pain in animals is the consequence of our transgression. Should that not move us to mourn our sin and its consequences for all of creation?