I’ve been spending the week with Daniel Block working through the book of Deuteronomy this week. He’s just touched on a topic that keeps coming up in Deuteronomy: the relationship of Israel to the land and creation. Block says this is a theme all throughout Deuteronomy, and in fact, all throughout Scripture.
We often tend to think of Scripture in terms of our relationship with God, like this:
But this is not accurate. It’s only part of the picture. In reality, Scripture establishes a three-part relationship that looks more like this:
You see this right from Genesis, with the creation mandate. It’s also spelled out in the Torah in terms of our relationship with the land and creatures. God establishes covenants with his people, and his people have responsibility in terms of that covenant to administer creation. When we are not faithful to covenant, things fall apart in creation as well.
You see this all throughout Scripture. An example in the prophets is Hosea 4:1-3:
Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,
for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns,
and all who dwell in it languish,
and also the beasts of the field
and the birds of the heavens,
and even the fish of the sea are taken away.
I asked Dr. Block if this helps us understand the cosmic implications of the gospel, and he said, “Of course!” The gospel isn’t only about reestablishing a bipartite relationship between God and us; it restores a tripartite relationship between God, his people, and the earth. Not only is our relationship with God restored through Christ’s work, but creation itself is being redeemed.