The ground is to be worked and the fruit of that labor is to be used in the service of God. In the Old Testament the people were required to bring a portion of their crop to the temple. They were to provide for the priests and the poor through their little plot of ground. This generous gesture was considered an act of worship.
“We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the Lord…and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor” (Nehemiah 10:35-37).Holy Ground
God’s presence is always transformative. It even has an impact on the ground. Regular ground is quickly changed into “holy ground” when God shows up. We see this in the story of Moses and the burning bush. Moses could have come upon this bush an hour before his encounter with God and there would have been no reason to take off his shoes. When God comes on the scene everything changes. A bush becomes the holy of holies and the ground surrounding it becomes dangerous to walk on. The implications of this are staggering when one starts to think about the new heavens and new earth. God’s presence will permeate the world in a way not yet known. All ground will be holy ground when Christ returns.
Ground and Hope
“Then he said, ‘Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground‘” (Exodus 3:5).
At death men return to the dust. Scripture often talks about death as “sleep.” This is because our bodies will only be laid in the dust for a limited time. The promise of resurrection means that we will rise from the dust again. “From dust to dust” will not be the final words spoken over us. God will do a miraculous resurrection work. He will create us a second time from the dust!
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).
Implications of our Connection to the Soil
- Our creation from the dirt creates an inextricable tie between us and the earth. We were meant to be here. An unearthly existence is unnatural for human beings. This is why our ultimate hope is not eternity in heaven, but eternity on a new earth with resurrected bodies. God’s intention for human life lived on earth will not be thwarted. The ground beneath our feet should be a daily reminder that we belong on the earth.
- Our interrelationship with ground should inform how we evaluate what has value in life. We often spiritualize things and demean normal human existence. You can do this only when you conclude that we were not meant to be here and that our goal is to journey through this place as detached and unscathed as possible. The fact that we were created for this earth brings value to every created thing along with every human task. The ground beneath our feet should be a daily reminder of the value of tangible earthly things.
- Creation from dust should invoke humility and awe in all human creatures. When we recognize that God formed us from a clump of dirt how can we be anything but amazed. When we recognize that our origins are in the mud how can we boast about anything. The ground beneath our feet should be a daily reminder of our creatureliness.
- The ground we exist upon is first and foremost a gift of God. Eden, the Promised Land, the New Earth, and your back yard are gracious gifts of the Creator. He gives us soil to live upon. He gives us space on his created earth to work and enjoy. The ground beneath our feet should be a daily reminder of God’s grace toward us.
- The reality that we have come from dust and will return to dust invites us to look our mortality square in the face. It’s amazing how effectively we push this reality away. The ground beneath our feet should be a daily reminder of our mortality
- Our destiny is connected to the earth. We groan along with the earth for deliverance from bondage and decay. We ache for the removal of the curse. The hope of the earth is the hope of the believer—the return of Christ. When Christ returns the dead will be raised from the dust and the earth will be completely renewed. The ground beneath our feet should be a daily reminder of our hope of resurrection and life on a restored earth.
Is there anything else that you would add to this list of implications? Any further thoughts on the importance of our connection to the soil?