What is man’s proper relationship to the land? If we listen to those in the environmental movement, we get one picture. Human “wisdom” proclaims that the earth is overpopulated. It says that because mankind is a blight upon this planet, we must restrict usage of the land. In fact, we should allow it to return to its natural, pristine state to preserve it. To facilitate this ideal, people should be removed from the rural areas to congregate in cities so that fewer people will live in outlying regions. This will honor Mother Gaia and make her happy. In our doing these things, Gaia, who preserves the planet and our interconnection with it, will bring all things back into equilibrium. This is necessary because man has upset the balance of nature and distorted her harmonic vibrations through his ruthless use of the earth’s resources.
Whether the powers that be really believe this or not is an open question. The one outcome of these extreme proposals is that they will result in a drastically reduced population which is easier to control because the people will have been brought together in fewer places and made subservient. If someone lives in a city, he has fewer means to be self-sufficient. He will thus be more dependent on those who are in charge of the food supply and all necessities for living. It’s a means to an end. And what is the end? You will own nothing and you will be happy. Oh, joy!
If we examine God’s Word, a completely different depiction emerges. We see this in how God instructed the prophet to prophesy to the land in Ezekiel 36:1:
“And you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord.”
Through this statement we do get the sense that there is an awareness of sorts which the land has. We’ve seen this previously in the account of the two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain kills Abel. Genesis 4:10-11 then says:
And the Lord said [to Cain], “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
The land is in some sense a living entity which responds to external stimuli and to which the Lord can speak so as to give direction. This is why God has Ezekiel speak directly to it so that it “knows” what He plans for its future. Look at Ezekiel 36:6-7 in this respect:
“Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I have spoken in my jealous wrath, because you have suffered the reproach of the nations. Therefore thus says the Lord God: I swear that the nations that are all around you shall themselves suffer reproach.”
We could say that this is all symbolic and that God is having Ezekiel go through this exercise in order to convey His Word in this manner to the people around him. But these verses don’t really have that feel. Consider further the following verses in Ezekiel 36:8-12:
“But you, O mountains of Israel, shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel, for they will soon come home. For behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. And I will multiply people on you, the whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities shall be inhabited and the waste places rebuilt. And I will multiply on you man and beast, and they shall multiply and be fruitful. And I will cause you to be inhabited as in your former times, and will do more good to you than ever before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I will let people walk on you, even my people Israel. And they shall possess you, and you shall be their inheritance, and you shall no longer bereave them of children.”
The Word Ezekiel brings forth informs the land of future restoration. Perhaps more importantly, it shows the land that it will again be used for productive purposes. There is the implication in this declaration that man’s use of the land is good. The land is there for a worthwhile purpose, which is for mankind (in this case the people of Israel) to grow crops, to build cities, to have the children of man increase upon it, and to walk on it as an inheritance from God.
What is also evident in this chapter is the importance of God’s holy Name, i.e. who He is and how He is distinct and sovereign. There is no mashing together the idea that God and His creation are the same and that all things are one. In other words, Creator and creation are separate entities, unlike the Eastern/New Age concept under which the environmental movement operates. God makes it quite clear that He is over and above all things. Not only that, but when man confuses this truth, God acts to correct it as noted in Ezekiel 36:18:
“So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it.”
Ultimately the purpose which God reveals through this prophecy and His drastic actions against the house of Israel for her disobedience, is that He will cause His children to someday walk in a new manner – completely different from how they’ve interacted with Him in the past. It’s all encapsulated in Ezekiel 36:26-28:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
No longer will God’s Chosen People, the people of Israel, simply be religious and follow the Law. The Lord will make a new covenant with them (Jeremiah 31:31-34). It will change everything.
And what will it look like? The remnant of Israel as the Tribulation ends will realize that Jesus Christ is and has been the One and Only Messiah. They will know this and bless Him because they will have the Holy Spirit indwelling their hearts as good and faithful servants of the Lord God Almighty. Israel will love the Lamb of God who shed His blood that they might live!