What We Lost When We Sold the Farm
Man was created with an inherent and intimate connection with the land. Our connection to the ground is probably more intimate than most people would like to admit. How intimate? “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground …” (Genesis 2:7). Man was created from soil. The physical elements that comprise your body originate in the dirt. It doesn’t get much more intimate than that.
But Adam wasn’t just physically created from dirt; he was created to have a special connection to the land. You can study the account for yourself in Genesis. In chapter 1, it’s evident that God recreated planet Earth for the purpose of sustaining human life. Prior to Adam’s creation on the sixth day, God spent a full five days perfecting the conditions and materials that to this day make our globe the only successful incubator for humans. The land was created by God for man.
Now read and think about Genesis 2:15: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.” God vested Adam and his progeny with the responsibility to “dress” and “keep” the land—in other words, to work the land and then to protect and preserve it. Put bluntly, man was created to have a relationship with the land. There is a remarkable reason for this.
Exodus to the City
Briefly consider how divorced mankind is today from the land, the weather and our physical environment in general. According to the United Nations, by the end of this year half the world’s population will live in cities. This has never before happened in history. In the world’s most developed regions—Europe, North America and Oceania—far more than half the people live in cities.
Although cities have been around since the time of Cain, the West’s cultural infatuation with cities, and the mass trek from the land to the city, began in the 18th century with the Industrial Revolution. The pilgrimage thrived as demand for factory workers rose and a new bourgeoisie class of merchants, bankers and white-collar workers blossomed. The faster that nations developed, the more that cities became hubs of activity, the center points of trade, commerce, culture, education and recreation—and an appealing alternative to life on the land.
Across the Western world, cities have thrived while those living on the land have struggled to avoid being swallowed by wealthy commercial farming operations, rising costs of production, fierce competition and the growing rate of devastating natural and weather-related disasters.
This isn’t even addressing the cultural and psychological impact the shift away from the land has had on the mindset of Western societies. You’ve probably heard about inner-city children not knowing milk comes from cows, or seen the reality shows where trendy city-slickers head to the farm to educate their naive, living-life-behind-the-eight-ball counterparts. Often, farmers are seen as fools living a primitive lifestyle.
Western societies are almost wholly disconnected from the agricultural lifestyle, the land, the weather and the environment. We ignore and underestimate the dominating influence of agriculture and the environment on our lives. Still, the majority, riding blindly on the man-made-global-warming, save-the-polar-bears bandwagon, believe they value the land and have a connection with it. But their devotion—manifested in their touting an unproven, self-hating theory—is shallow, vain and baseless.
The reality is, English-speaking societies have virtually severed all contact with nature, the land, the environment and the weather. We have become a city-centric, materially focused people with little appreciation for the natural world we live in. The land and weather are for farmers, we reason. They have no bearing on our lives.
God’s Purpose in Land Use
Mankind was created by God and put into a carefully crafted ecosystem that depends on laws—including agricultural, environmental and atmospheric laws. If you study the Bible openly and honestly, you will see that God created this Earth—with its systems of flora and fauna sustained by weather patterns—expressly for mankind’s individual and collective physical, mental and spiritual development. Read Genesis 2:15 again: Adam was given the responsibility to dress and keep the Garden of Eden. He was called to be a farmer; he was called to have a connection with the land, the environment and the weather.
Why would God give Adam this responsibility? God didn’t instruct Adam to build cities, or develop complex systems of government or finance. He told him to “dress” and “keep” the land. Why?Because God knew that working the land would keep Adam focused on Him
The Bible is packed with evidence that God’s presence is revealed in His creation. Take the weather, for example. Throughout the Bible God says that He pulls the levers governing our planet’s weather patterns (e.g. Job 38). God obviously created the weather as a means of sustaining human life, but He also created it as a means of interacting with mankind.
Righteous men such as Abraham and Joseph understood this. These men were obedient, and then relied and called upon God to bless the weather that governed their agricultural success, which ultimately made them incredibly wealthy men. Both were farmers, and their relationship and dependence on the land helped keep them in close contact with God.
God uses the weather as a means of revealing both His love and His anger toward mankind! Few chapters in the Bible explain this as well as Leviticus 26, known as the blessings and cursing chapter. In the first 13 verses of the chapter, God outlines the blessings—one of which is rain in due season—that come when mankind obeys His laws.
Beginning in verse 14, God outlines the curses for disobedience. Notice verse 20: “And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” God says He will curse the land. In Deuteronomy 28, the counterpart to Leviticus 26, God talks about weather curses even more specifically: “And the heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron” (verse 23).
Weather is a measure of God’s happiness with mankind! Tragically, mankind today, blind to God’s presence in the land and weather, is ignorant of the correction God is delivering through the land and weather—thereby forcing God to intensify the curses!
Vanity has caused us to bury the amazing truth about God’s purpose for the creation under millions of tons of concrete and steel. We think city life is the height of progress.
In truth, the further mankind has gotten from the land, the further he has gotten from God!
The rejected reality is that the land and the farming lifestyle as it was created by God is a spectacular teaching tool, a means of educating us, strengthening our relationship with our Creator and establishing God’s presence at the center of our lives.
This isn’t to suggest we should all quit our jobs and become farmers. We can, however, personally guard against participating in the cultural divorce from the land. Make it a personal goal to forge—through study, prayer and even practical experience—a deeper respect, appreciation and love for the physical creation. As we do that in a right spirit, we will better see our Creator!