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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Do you know the legend of Hercules and Antaeus, the giant wrestler, whose strength was incredible so long as he stood firmily on the earth? But when he was held, rootless, in midair, by Hercules, he perished easily.

This next post is equally interesting and strange I think.

Some Thoughts About the Earth and Righteousness

By John Paul Jackson


You start seeing some odd things when you look past the traditional understanding of Scripture and consider it in fresh ways. This passage has been holding my attention:

“So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”
— Genesis 4:11–12

If Cain’s sin caused the Earth not to yield its strength, what does it mean when the Earth does yield its strength?

This concept is not off-handedly mentioned one time in Scripture and then never mentioned again. Perhaps the most notable or well-known reference to it is found in Romans:

The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
— Romans 8:20–22

Paul seemed to believe that the Earth is more than inanimate soil, stone, etc. He seemed to believe that the Earth has some sort of ability of choice — that is, some ability of will. Perhaps it is not a “will” as we currently understand will, but clearly, there is something going on in Romans 8 that suggests the Earth expects, feels futility, hopes, groans and desires that something specific comes about.

If the Earth has a will, as Paul apparently thought, does it therefore have a choice about when and how and to whom it yields its strength? If sin caused the Earth not to yield its strength, does righteousness have an opposite effect?

This concept may be somewhat “metaphysical” in nature, but it is time for the Church to really come back to the understanding of the order of creation: how God created us to function, how He created the Earth to function and how the two are meant to function together.

There is a reason God did not simply speak us into existence, as He did the vegetation, the animals, the moon and stars. Instead, He chose to create us out of the Earth. He shaped us with His fingers — from the soil. Why would He do that? Could it be that humans have a relationship with the Earth and the Earth has relationship with us that we don’t yet understand? Could it be that just as it was with Cain, our choices affect the Earth?

Perhaps when we walk not in sin but in righteousness, we will see the Earth “yield its strength” to us. What would that look like? No doubt, the full answer to that question would require much, much more space than I have here, but Abraham’s story seems to give a slight understanding.

In Genesis, God told Abraham, “Go to the land I will show you.” He didn’t tell him where to go or give him directions, but Abraham still somehow ended up right where he was supposed to be. The only trail he apparently followed was the one his flocks and herds took as they sought pasture on the Earth. So the land itself helped Abraham get to where he was going. It yielded to his righteousness, and the result was that he walked in the fullness of his destiny.

We tend to gloss over how creation is supposed to help us follow God’s purpose. But as we gain a deeper understanding of how He designed creation to work, the more we will be able to comprehend why He does what He does in our lives and what we can do to cooperate with Him.