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Lessons from the Land

God has filled the earth with so many evidences of His word that even the ground can be an effective teacher.  If you tend a garden, maintain a yard, or take care of property, then you know about the lessons of the land.  The groundís tendencies and characteristics are figurative of certain spiritual truths that we should all understand.  Letís consider these traits of the ground and learn some of the lessons from the land.

One lesson we can learn from the land is that the effects of sin are real.  Whenever we see weeds, thorns, and thistles growing from the ground, they should remind us of the curse of sin that hangs over the earth.  These despised and troublesome plants are the direct results of the first manís disobedience to God.

Letís recall that when God created the earth, everything in it was very good (Gen. 1:31).  Nothing in the world was touched by the corruption of sin.  When God made man, He placed the man in a bountiful garden filled with "every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for foodĒ (Gen. 2:7-9).  God commanded Adam to cultivate and keep the garden and prohibited him from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:15-17).  However, Eve succumbed to the temptations of the serpent by eating the forbidden fruit, and Adam foolishly followed her into sin (Gen. 3:1-6).  When God pronounced the manís punishment, He said to Adam in Genesis 3:17-19,

"Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ĎYou shall not eat from ití; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.Ē

Ever since that cursed day, the ground has demonstrated the corruption and destruction of sin.  Not only does the ground produce thorns and thistles, but also it swallows up the dust of the dead who are buried in it.  The lesson from the ground in overgrown fields of weeds and in graveyards of the dead is that "the wages of sin is deathĒ (Rom. 6:23).  We should be reminded of that lesson every time we see these things.

Another lesson from the land concerns the heart of man.  The Lordís parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-23 teaches us about the various conditions of manís heart by comparing it to the ground.  Four kinds of soil were identified, and only one of them was suitable for producing fruit from the good seed sown in it.  The compacted ground beside the road represented a dense heart without understanding from which the seed of Godís word is quickly snatched away by Satan.  The rocky ground was a figure of a heart that receives Godís word with joy but provides no firm root in which the His word may grow.  The ground covered in thorns represents a heart that is overcome by the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of riches so that the word of God is choked out.  Only the good soil can bear fruit, and it symbolizes the heart of a man who hears Godís word, understands it, and bears fruit.  This means that he keeps Godís word and does His will.

These various kinds of soils are common, and their lessons should be common as well.  The different conditions of the ground around us should remind us to take care of our hearts so that we may be fruitful like the good soil.  The word of God has been sown in abundance by the Holy Spirit, but how do we receive it?  If our hearts are like the hard, rocky, or thorn-covered ground, then Godís word can bear no fruit.

One more lesson from the land teaches us to remain faithful to God.  In Hebrews 6:4-6, the Bible warns about the possibility of apostasy, saying that those who fall away from God "again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.Ē  To finish the thought, the Scripture says, "For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burnedĒ (Heb. 6:7-8).  By using a lesson from the ground that receives rain, this passage teaches us that God blesses those who make good use of His blessings in Christ, but He curses and destroys those who receive His spiritual blessings and yield only sin.

This lesson from the land is a clear warning to Christians that they are expected to be faithful from the time they first believe until they die (Col. 1:23; Rev. 2:10).  We are expected to use Godís blessings faithfully in the service of God and others or else be counted as worthless and face the fate of destruction.  Just as the ground filled with thorns and thistles is burned, so also will fruitless Christians be destroyed (John 15:6).

These lessons can be understood by anyone who has ever observed the world around us.  Beautiful, lush gardens as well as overgrown fields of weeds, thorns, and thistles silently speak forth valuable, spiritual lessons for those whose hearts are open to learning them.  Letís learn these lessons and take them to heart so that we may be ready in the day when our bodies return to the dust of the ground from which they came (Eccl. 3:20; 12:7).

Stacey E. Durham