This week I am sharing three words that will help you better understand the Bible. These three words hold the story of the Bible together and keeping them in mind will prevent us from reading the Bible in a haphazard, random way. The three words are son, land, and blessing. Today I want to share with you what I mean by the word “land.”
The Bible begins with a garden and a command for man to subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28). The garden of Eden was the best of the earth. It represented life under God’s control. It was a life giving place of abundant blessing. As the image of God man was to grow the garden. He was to spread out upon an otherwise wild planet, cultivate it and do what God did, bring forth life.
In the fall man not only lost the garden, but he also lost the blessing of the land (Gen. 3:17-19). Now the earth was cursed and subduing it would be no easy task. A new tension now enters the story. God wants to give man land, but man will struggle to keep it.
The Bible is very geographic. Every story has a location. We often ignore these geographic notes as insignificant bylines to the story, but they are not. There are promises for land. There are battles for land. There are famines in the land. There are disasters in the land. There are evil people who inhabit the land. When reading the Bible one must surely agree that the cities, nations, clans, and peoples that control the various “lands” of the Bible are not fulfilling their “imageness.” Furthermore, famines, quakes, and floods are not normal parts of a garden party.
We have not made a garden out of the planet. We have made a mess of it.
An important plot of the Bible becomes how will God redeem the land? He promised a land to Israel. They won it and they lost it. Will they ever faithfully inhabit it? Will we ever have a garden again? Will the earth ever be subdued or will it remain forever wild? Paul sympathizes with the difficulty of living on a sin cursed planet, but he has incredible hope that one day the SON will come to redeem us and in so doing he will also redeem the land from the curse (Rom. 8:18-25). We need a garden again.
The good news is that the Bible begins with a garden and it ends with a garden. In Genesis 3 the heavens and the earth were ruined. In Revelation 21 the heavens and the earth will be made new. Adam lost access to the tree of life (Gen. 3:23). This is why we die. In Revelation 22:2 we are able to return to the tree. The rest of the Bible is the story of life in between the trees; life lived in a wild land.
As you read the Bible pay attention to the land. Where are we in the story? Who is in the land? Is it being possessed in righteousness? Is the garden growing because of the people in the land? What are the promises concerning the land? How has God kept His promise?
If you want to better understand the Bible, pay attention to the land.