New Defender's Study Bible Notes
3:18 thistles. It seems unlikely that God actually created thorns and thistles at this time. More probably, He allowed the beneficent processes and structures He had made previously, all of which were “very good” initially, to deteriorate in varying degrees, some even becoming harmful to man and to each other. There exists now a host of systems in nature (disease, bacteria, viruses, parasites, fangs and claws, weeds and poisons, etc.) which reflect a state of conflict, predation, and struggle for existence in the plant and animal kingdoms, as well as in human life, all of which seems, at first, to be inconsistent with the concept of an ideal creation. In the physical world there are storms and earthquakes, extremes of heat and cold, weathering and disintegration, and many other unpleasant phenomena. There is still need for research to understand the mechanisms by which this change of state from the perfect creation was brought about. In plants and animals, beneficent structures may either have mutated to malevolent structures or else have been replaced through natural selection by recessive characteristics, coded into the genetic system by God at the time of creation in anticipation of the future environmental changes that might be necessitated if Adam used his freedom wrongfully.
These systems and processes now maintain a balance of nature and so are indirectly beneficial in maintaining life on a cursed earth, even though individual organisms all eventually die. Had the Fall and Curse not taken place, populations would probably have eventually been stabilized at optimum values by divine constraints on the reproductive process. With God’s personal presence withdrawn for a time, however, it is more salutary to maintain order by these indirect constraints associated with the Curse, adding still further to the testimony that the world is now travailing in pain, awaiting its coming Redeemer.