Thursday, 2 September 2021
And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. Revelation 22:3
The words of John just noted the tree of life which will bear its fruit and of which the leaves are for “the healing of the nations.” What was lost in Eden, the tree of life, is restored in New Jerusalem. But more, John next says, “And there shall be no more curse.”
The Greek word is a noun found only here in the Bible, katanathema. It signifies “an oath-curse which ‘devotes something to destruction’” (HELPS Word Studies). Thus, by implication, it is an accursed thing. The curse was introduced into the biblical narrative in Genesis 3:14 with the cursing of the serpent. As the serpent (the devil who is Satan) has already been chucked into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10), he is taken care of. But the earth was then cursed in Genesis 3:17 –
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19
The humanity of Christ Jesus lived out life under this cursed ground, but He did so without sin and without ever sinning. He died on Calvary’s cross and was interred for the sins committed by His own creatures. Death came in as a result of sin, and sin was dealt with by His obedient death.
The sentence of man for his rebellion was carried out in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Lord God didn’t cause the man to receive anything that He Himself wasn’t willing to endure. Thus, He is both Just and the Justifier of everyone who calls on Him.
However, because He prevailed over the devil, He was resurrected by the power of God. The curse has been removed through Him, and now anyone who calls on Him will likewise be freed from the finality of death. The full realization of this is found here in Revelation 22.
From Genesis 3 until Revelation 22, the idea of that which is accursed has literally permeated Scripture. But now, as the Bible is ready to close out, the promise of there being no more curse is brought forth. Never again will such a thing come to mind. And the reason for this is that “the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it.”
In the place where Christ reigns with all power, authority, and abundance of grace, there shall be no room for a curse. The people will receive the goodness of His presence in a state of eternal joy. The memory – meaning the contrast – of what was in their earthly life, and what now is in the heavenly existence, will be an eternal reminder of what it means to dwell without the stain of sin. And without sin, there will be no negative effects of sin, such as corruption or death.
In this wonderfully blessed state, John next says, “and His servants shall serve Him.” Of the word “serve,” Vincent’s Word Studies says –
“The word originally means to serve for hire. In the New Testament, of the worship or service of God in the use of the rites intended for His worship. It came to be used by the Jews in a very special sense, to denote the service rendered to Jehovah by the Israelites as His peculiar people. See Romans 9:4; Acts 26:7; Hebrews 9:1, Hebrews 9:6. Hence the significant application of the term to Christian service by Paul in Philippians 3:3.”
This then answers the age-old question, “What will we do in heaven?” Was man created to work the soil of the Garden of Eden? Not at all. Worshiping and serving God through Christ as noted now signifies the restoration of what was lost in Genesis 2 where man had intimate fellowship with God. First, in Genesis 2:7, it said –
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
Next, it said –
“The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” Genesis 2:8, 9
After creating man – only after creating him – does it say that the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden. Eden means “delight” or “pleasure” and was, if man obeyed, a place not for work, but for a different purpose.
This is important to consider because in Genesis 2:5 it noted that there wasn’t yet a man to “till the ground.” This garden is something special and something intended for the man He formed. The ground which needed to be tilled was outside of the Garden, not in it.
If you stand back and look at the larger picture of the Bible, it’s clear that God knew before the fall that man would fall. And so, the garden, despite being made as a place where God would fellowship with man, didn’t fill the entire earth. Instead, the Garden was a localized place of grace, of abundance, and of provision from God above, not from the ground below.
God knew that man would fall and would be removed from the garden. But his time in the garden was not one of work, despite how most translations render it. In Genesis 2:15, it says –
“Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.”
This suggests that work is being proposed for the Garden of Eden. However, in looking at the purpose of the garden, this makes no sense. As noted, the man was to till the ground. However, that was outside of the garden. Man was formed outside Eden and then placed there.
John Sailhamer states that “The man was ‘put’ into the Garden where he could ‘rest’ and be ‘safe,’ and the man was ‘put’ into the Garden ‘in God’s presence’ where he could have fellowship with God.”
The word for “put” in verse 15 is the word yanach, a completely different word than what was used in verse 8. Dr. Richard Howe notes concerning this word, yanach –
“… the sense of the verb is causative, meaning that God ‘caused Adam to rest’ in the garden.” If God “caused Adam to rest” in the garden, then why would man need to tend and keep it? Dr. Howe notes, “The problem with these translations is that the pronoun in the verse does not agree in gender with the word ‘garden.’”
The word ‘garden’ is masculine in Hebrew, and so ‘garden’ can’t be the object of the verbs. Because of this, either this verse is an exception to the rule of the Hebrew language, or the verbs aren’t referring to the garden at all and instead something else is meant.
Doctor Howe’s conclusion is that the verbs should be taken as abstract in meaning and that “The significance of ‘resting the man in the garden’ is not to demonstrate man’s relationship to the garden, but rather to provide a setting for the story to demonstrate man’s relationship and responsibility to God.”
Therefore, his translation has an abstract meaning. Instead of “tend and to keep,” he says they should be translated “worship and serve,” as both words are translated elsewhere in the Bible. It wasn’t the garden to which Adam was responsible, but to God – to worship and to serve Him. Dr. Howe notes that, “Before the fall, Adam’s attention was directed upwards toward God.” He was to serve God through keeping His commandment, and he was to worship Him through trust and obedience.
But “After the fall, Adam’s attention was directed downwards toward the ground.” Instead of looking to God for sustenance, he had to look to the ground. Instead of looking to God for eternal life, he would look to the ground as his final resting place. Understanding what occurred in the Garden of Eden and what is now promised in Revelation 22:3, it is seen that restoration of what was originally intended is promised to be seen once again. Man will serve God as was originally intended at the very beginning.
Life application: The lesson for us is that we have a choice. We can look upward to God, to worship and serve Him as He determines, or we can look to the ground and attempt to have our own works justify us. In the end, the ground is a hard master, one of bondage and pain, but the Lord is gracious and tender. As He promised to Israel –
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The garden was lost to man, but through Jesus, it can be restored. In the Garden, there was no curse, just the chance to worship and serve the Creator. Jesus promises the same to us here on the final page of the Bible.
To worship and to serve the Lord our God
Eternal fellowship in a land of Delight
On hallowed soil our feet will trod
And the Lord shall always be in our sight
In His light, to walk and also to praise
The Lamb of God who was slain
Illuminated by His ever-glowing rays
No tears, no fear, no sorrow, no pain
Come to the waters and be restored
Drink and receive grace from the Lord
Heaven’s door is open for all to go through
But you see it’s guarded with cherub and sword
So, to pass through the gate, this you must do
It is the gospel, “Call on the Lord”
By faith in His work and by faith alone
Access is granted past Heaven’s sword
His blood was shed for your sins to atone
Again, I beg you, call on the Lord
Again, I implore you, call on the Lord
Yes, make it today. Call out to God through His offer of peace. Call out to God through JESUS!
Lord God, as astonishing as it seems, You have done it! You have taken what we ruined by our disobedience, and through the work of Christ Jesus, You have returned all things to the way they were originally intended. You are great and You are worthy of all our praise, worship, and allegiance. Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty – Hallelujah and Amen!