“Gen 3:19 — “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.”
Satan would have said: “In pleasure shalt thou eat bread until, in the process of evolution, thou become as God; for out of an insignificant atom wert thou taken, and unto a mighty God shalt thou evolve if thou continue on and on.
What did God say, though? — “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread all the days of thy life; that is, for your own sake you are now to have hardship in making a living, and you might just as well reconcile yourself to it.” Although such was not man’s lot before he sinned, it became his lot as soon as he was taken out of the Garden, as soon as he earned the curse.
“But,” you ask, “why did God purpose that all of us should go through hardship and sorrow before we are taken back into Eden? If He is to take us back, why did He not do it in the beginning, in Adam’s days?” — The answer to all these questions is found in
Luke 15:11-13 — “And He said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.
And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.”
The story is that there were two sons in the family. The older one chose to remain home, but the younger one chose to go away. And you know what happened shortly afterwards: The younger son wasted all his substance in riotous living.
I am sure that the father knew beforehand that his son was headed for hardship. He loved him and longed to spare the youth from shame, sorrow and hard trial that he was headed for. The very fact that on the boy’s return, the father met him while yet a long way off, and made a banquet for him, even after he had wasted his father’s substance and disgraced the family name, is evidence enough that the father loved the boy supremely. The boy was allowed to leave home only because nothing but experience of his own could ever demonstrate his folly, and prove the father’s love for him.
What forced the boy to dislike home? — It was his desire to live riotously. No boy or girl under the same circumstances runs away from home except for the hope of gaining freedom and to practice riotous living, to do at will what the carnal heart longs to do.
There may be a great deal of temporary fun in prodigality but it only ends in humiliation and disrepute. If the prodigal were living in our day, what do you suppose he would do to start out on the highway of fun, to have a good time? — The first thing he would do for sure would be to buy, if possible, an automobile, fine clothes, a diamond ring, a sparkling stickpin, and a wrist watch. Oh, yes, he would not neglect to put a flower in his lapel and a silk handkerchief in his pocket. There may be nothing wrong in having some of these things, but it certainly is not commendable or even good taste to adorn oneself with everything that can be put on. It is, to say the least, ridiculous to deck oneself in peacock fashion.
And whom would the wayward boy take for rides? — The girls, of course. And where would they go? — Not where the preachers go, and not to church, either.
Luke 15:14 — “And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.”
If you spend all you have and all you earn, you too, will sooner or later have famine. Providence brought the famine in order to bring the boy to “himself,” to his senses. Indeed, no boy runs away from home when he is himself; and, conversely, neither does he return home understandingly before he comes to himself. Thus he learns his lesson, but at what a cost! At what a cost!
Luke 15:15, 16 — “And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.”
The prodigal obtained a job all right, but it did not “fill the bill,” he was still in want.
Luke 15:17-19 — “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of they hired servants.”
He finally discovered that he had been playing the fool, and so he began to reason with himself about going back home, saying, “Just think how many servants are in my father’s house and they all have plenty. Why should I perish with hunger? But, what shall I say when I get there?” Having come to himself, he felt, of course, that he must say just the right thing, the thing that would commend him to Heaven as well as to earth.
Had that boy taken his father’s counsel in the first place, he would not have had to be humiliated. And what a humiliation! And what a lesson, too, not only for the young, but for the old also. Yes, there are thousands, young and old alike, who learn great lessons, but they often pay a tremendous price only because they are ever listening to the “humbug” of the Devil. Why are they so easily carried away with his allurements? — Only because his attractive bait appeals to man’s selfish and sinful nature.
The prodigal’s humiliation awaits all the young who do not profit by the counsel of the older, and all the older who do not profit by the counsel of the Lord. This is one of the laws of God which no one has ever been able to dodge.
The prodigal’s experience now answers the questions, Why did God remove Adam out of the Garden? Since God has to forgive him some day anyway, why did He not forgive him shortly after his fall and take him back to Eden? Why could not all mankind have been thus saved from going through misery and death before going back to Eden?
Had God allowed Adam and Eve to remain in the Garden after they had sinned and continued to have access to the “tree of life,” He would have thereby perpetuated their sinful lives in their sinful state. What a terrible thing that would have been — sinners having to live for ever and ever! And had He spared them and their descendants from going through hardships and death, they could no more have come to realize what life of sin is, no, no more than could the prodigal before going through licentiousness, bankruptcy, hard labor and poverty.
“But,” you say, “If the Lord could not have brought Adam and Eve into the Garden before first passing through death and the resurrection, did He have to curse the ground and cause them to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow?” And why did He have to cause them to eat their bread in sorrow for 6,000 years? — Because all who are ever to enter the Kingdom, get back into Eden, must first come to themselves as did the prodigal, for all must be brought to realize that everything away from the Garden is nothing more than swine’s husks.
Because work is essential and because sinners by nature dislike work, the thorns and thistles were created to compel them to go to work for a living. If we leave the obnoxious weeds in the ground, and spend our time having fun, they will choke out the crops, and we, like the prodigal, will have famine. Thus, no work, no eat. God Who knows what is best for us has made it that we earn our living the hard way, to work all day long with but little rest.
Those who come to themselves, to them work is pleasure. Only fools hate work.
Before the modern machinery was invented farmers were not so troubled with pestilence as they now are. But just as the machinery increased and improved, so the bugs did, too. And for what reason? — To still keep us working and thus out of mischief.
When I came to the United States some years ago, I saw all manner of machinery, machinery that did a great amount of work in a short time. But along with these conveniences, what else did I see? — I saw thistles and thorns multiplied a thousand fold, and pestilence of all kinds devouring the crops.
In the Old Country we did not have machinery, but we never had to spray any vegetation. Why? — Because working without machinery the people were busy as it was. If they had had to fight pestilence too, and nothing with which to fight it, then they could have raised nothing and would have had to starve. Thus it is seen that if the machinery frees us of work, God sends the bugs to put us back to work.
The Lord commanded that we should with sweat earn our living, but He knew that most of us would not do so if we did not have to. And He also knew that if we did not have much to do, we would get into mischief, into riotous living, and consequently never come to ourselves, and never go back to Eden. He therefore cursed the ground for our good.
Moreover, to the woman who sits down and does but little to keep up her home, God brings the bed bugs and roaches, the mice and the rats, the flies and the ants, the lice and the fleas, and the mosquitoes, too. These will put her to working inside and out if anything will.
Were it not for the pests, what would man be! God, you see, made all these things for a good purpose but in spite of the pests’ urging sluggers to get up and start moving, still some prefer to live as pigs! Why wait until He sends His great army of pests? Why not take His counsel, keep busy, and do what you can to make others happy, to make the world better than it is, to let it know that you are in it to do it good, not to be burden upon it? Then the angels will delight to encamp round about you, and the Lord Himself will come and sup with you.
If we make God’s business our business, His kingdom our home, then all the other things which we are striving for and worrying about will be supplied to us in great abundance. Let us, then, no longer be Christians outwardly and Gentiles at heart, but rather let us be without “guile in our mouths” and with “palms in our hands.”
Why did mankind have to wait six thousand years before he could return to Eden? — Because it takes that long to get a large enough number of repentant prodigals, prodigals who have come to themselves, who realize that it is better to be a door keeper in the Father’s home than to be sunk in so-called fun away from His home. God is not taking any of us back into Eden in the state of mind we were born with. No, no more than He took Adam back into Eden in his fallen state. All must come to themselves. “…Affliction shall not rise up the second time.” Nah. 1:9.
Now we can see why it is easier for a camel to go through the needle’s eye than it is for a rich man to get into the Kingdom. Only the prodigals who through experience realize that this world is not their Father’s house, only those who start back to Eden with the same kind of mind and with the same kind of confession as that of the prodigal are to make up the Kingdom.
Moreover, when the children of Israel went into the land of Egypt, they made a fine living in Goshen. They lived like kings. Yes, they had even much better living than the best of the Egyptians. God knew, though, that if when the time neared for their deliverance they continued to live like kings, if everything continued to be as easy for them as it had been while Joseph was living, they never, never would make up their minds to go back to the promised land. So it was that Providential trying circumstances were brought to cause them to cry day and night for deliverance. Then they were ready to go. To make sure, though, that they all would leave Egypt, the Lord permitted the Egyptian taskmasters to lash their backs and to make their labor extra hard while Moses was in the land. Likewise must the love of the world be beaten out of us, too, if we are ever to start out for our Eden home.” Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 1 page 4-11 by V.T. Houteff.