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January 2nd: Two of life’s most burdensome realities are explained in Genesis 2-4. Death and frustration with work are the results of humanity’s first parents rejecting God’s goodness and His laws. Before this “fall”, we see God create man and woman for life and meaningful work. Adam is created before Eve, and we are told twice that what Adam misses most before Eve is a “suitable helper” (2:19, 20). Adam is called to name trees, plants, and animals, and Eve is made to partner in this work. The tree of life shows that work would be done in a garden full of life. After Adam and Eve reject God’s one command, they and their children are accursed with death (3:19) and hardship in labor (3:17-19). This hardship plays out as their firstborn son refuses to give the best of his labor to God (4:3-4; note that Abel brings the firstborn animals) and kills his younger brother. Death and frustration in labor remain a part of our world’s order. When David, the great King of Israel, writes years later of his own work as the Lord’s “anointed” (Psalm 2:2), he faces great opposition: his adversaries often seek to kill him. Jesus entered this same world of death and labor to undo both curses and, as promised, to destroy the works of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). Jesus did so as “the nations raged against Him” in His work to bring salvation through death in order that we might have life (Acts 4:25-26).

Jeremiah Vaught