You, Me, and the Ground (1)

You may recall a post from a couple weeks back on the dust. In that post, I highlighted the significance of being created out of the dust. This post is an extension of that line of thinking. I am intrigued about our relationship with the ground. Even writing that sentence feels weird. Relationship with the ground? Seems strange. You may be surprised to find that  Scripture actually has a bit to say on the topic. So here we go. You, me, and the ground. I will explore this theme over the next three posts.

Made From The Ground


Scripture indicates that mankind, plants, beasts, and bird were made from the ground. None of these creatures were created from nothing. They were all formed out of the ground. This creation out of something motif implies that we are all vitally connected to the substance from which we came. We are “from” the ground!

“The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground” (Gen 2:7).

“And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight” (Gen 2:9).

“Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens” (Gen 2:19).

Terrence Fretheim in his book on Creation Theology spells out the importance of texts like this in our theology.

“Even more the ground (adamah play on adam) proves to be a crucial ingredient for the creation of the human. Human beings are not created ‘out of nothing,’ but out of an already existent nonhuman creature, a creature that has creative capacities (Gen 1:11-13, 24). The ground proves to be an indispensable medium for the creative work of God the potter (of nonhumans as well as humans, 2:19). In other words, human beings are keenly dependent upon the ground not only for their sustenance and livelihood but also for their very being. Without the ground they would neither exist nor survive. At the same time, as we have noted, the ground depends on the human for its proper development. Issues of dependence and interdependence  in a highly interrelated world are her brought to the forefront.” [1]

On a side note, this truth may be the most significant and foundational for building a biblical ecology.

Made For the Ground


The ground preceded us. It was foundational for our existence. We are dependent upon it for our life and sustenance. Ground exists for our good. And yet, there is a sense in which we were created for the ground as well. As Fretheim put it, we dwell in a “highly interrelated world.” The ground is dependent upon us to cultivate and keep it. That seems to be the thrust of these two texts. Note especially the language of the second passage.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen 2:15).

“The Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken” (Gen 3:23).

Ground as Gift


Our existence is a generous gift of the Creator. The context of our existence is no less a gift. He forms us from the ground and then allows us to live, move, and have our being on the same thing from which we were made. This ground that we make our home on is considered a gift, whether it be Eden, the Promised Land, or the New Earth.

 “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed” (Gen 2:8).

“Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Deut 26:15).

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5).


[1] Terrence E. Fretheim, God and the World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005), p. 54.
 
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