When we read Genesis 3:14-19, we notice the irony of the judgments that God places on the devil, Eve, and Adam. The consequences of their actions were not arbitrarily decreed by God, no, they are each symbolic of the motivation that each had for rebelling against Him.
“And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:14-15)
Satan’s original rebellion against God was summed up by his desire to “ascend.” In Isaiah 14:13-14, Satan is quoted as having said, “I will ascend into Heaven…I will ascend above the heights of clouds; I will be like the Most High!” Verse 15 tells us that the result of this was that, “…Thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”
Here, in Genesis 3:14, we see the same thing happen as God sentences the serpent to crawl on his belly. He sought to soar above the clouds of heaven, now he is relegated to slithering in the dust of the Earth. He who would mock God’s commandment and entice the woman to eat of the sweet fruit of the forbidden tree would himself dine on the dust of the ground. He attempted to form a union, an alliance against God with the human beings that would be bonded and cemented by their common disobedience, yet God would place enmity between the two. He desired to rule over man, yet he would find himself under his heel.
“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Genesis 3:16)
What should have always been an occasion marked solely by joy and celebration would now bear the stain of pain and suffering. Sin tainted the beauty of childbirth which would now be accomplished through sorrow. The woman whose desire had been to become a goddess herself would now be consigned to a subservient role to the man. She who sought to rule would be ruled over herself.
“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; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)
The labor of the man would be greatly intensified, as well. The ground which freely gave of its produce would now do so only by the sweat of man’s brow. Edible plants and fruits would grow alongside thorns and thistles, grains would now grow up beside tares. The Earth that Adam had held dominion over would no longer freely serve him. Desiring to be a god himself, the man, too, was brought low and reminded that he was but dust. Rather than reigning over the Earth as a deity, he would struggle for even his daily food until he himself returned to the dust from whence he came.
A Pattern Established
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
Not only throughout the Book of Genesis, but throughout the entire Bible we see this pattern repeated over and over. Whenever we “sow” iniquity, we can be assured that we will harvest the same. There is often a great deal of irony in the judgments that come upon people, both in Scripture and in the world around us. When we attempt to do things contrary to God, we often find that the consequences are quite ironic as we reap results that are the complete opposite of what we intended.