The following “daily meditation” is one of the pieces that I wrote for Episcopal Relief and Development’s Lenten Meditation Guide. It was offered by them as today’s Lenten devotion.
The land shall not be sold in perpetuity,
for the land is mine;
with me you are but aliens and tenants.
At its heart, the story of God’s people is also a story of the land. In the Old Testament, Adam and Eve are expelled from the land and the Israelites wander for years throughout a foreign land, finally establishing their home in a land promised to them by God. In Leviticus 25:23, God reminds the Israelites, as they are about to make their home in Zion, that the land fundamentally belongs to God; they are “but aliens and tenants.”
Amidst detailed instructions about the land resting during the seventh year and the restoration of it during the year of Jubilee, it is significant that God speaks of the land so specifically, outlining how we are to behave in relation to the land because of God’s particular care for it. Without our genuine care for the land we cannot properly care for God’s people, or, consequently, respond to God in the manner that God instructs.
By midcentury the world’s population will reach nine billion people, yet already one in seven is underfed or chronically malnourished. Our use of the land now is certainly as important to God as it was in the time of the Israelites. Let us work and pray for its wise and compassionate use, remembering that we are all still “but aliens and tenants” in God’s land.