Missing Thoughts From Our Homiletics: Pertaining To Genesis 18:17-21 and Genesis 26:1-5: Land Dynamics

Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way.

The L-RD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the L-RD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the L-RD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

Then the L-RD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

Gen. 18:16–21 ESV

Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham.

And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the L-RD appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Gen 26:1-5 ESV

What is Homiletics?

Homiletics is the work of preaching. Basically, executing the act of verbally telling others what Scripture is saying. And it is very appropriate for the purposes of this post.

Homiletics (preaching) often goes hand-in-hand with hermeneutics (Bible interpretation).

We read, then with Holy Spirit’s help, we understand and interpret, and then we proceed to communicate that truth with others.

What Is Missing In Our Discussion of This Passage?

For the purposes of this post, something in our articulation of this pair of passages gets lost in the shuffle of talking with others about what is happening: what is going on in the human and divine interaction with the land?

Why Land Is Important?

Frequently, as belivers who talk about the holy writ, we do an excellent job dealing with the interactions of humans with other humans or humans with G-d.

However, when it comes to how humans deal with the land, animals, and other non-human elements, we regularly miss.

So, in an effort to help us miss less, I figured I would point out and speak to those issues to help us round out some badly-neglected areas of our theology and practice.

Dynamic 1: The Land Is Used To Unpack In Us

I was reading this morning in Genesis 26, and the comment the L-rd made to Isaac in verses 2 and 3 hit me. He says two separate things here; one long-term, and one near-term. Cast the vision, next task.

The long-term ultimate vision is “dwell in the land of which I tell you”.

The short-term seasonal assignment is to “sojourn in the land of the Phillistines”.

There was something in the land of the Phillistines that was useable in the hand of G-d to unpack something in Isaac.

Now, recall that Abraham’s life was punctuated by the building of altars. He had five major encounters involving altars.

Isaac’s life, if you read the short account of his life, is punctuated by the digging of wells, culminating in his peeps finding water in the land of Be’er-Sheva.

And this well-digging penchant, and the persistence and character-building, was unpacked in Isaac in the land of the Phillistines. That land was eminently useful for unpacking the digging gene in someone that had it.

Now, we might have previously been tempted to run verses 2 and 3 together and read them as if G-d is adding emphasis and saying the same thing. But, in reality, he is giving Isaac a couple of bits of information, and through the season of sojourning, G-d would build into Isaac the infrastructure of perseverance necessary to begin the next stage of possessing the land that G-d had in mind for his family.

Dynamic 2: The Land Speaks

This is why I included the Genesis 18 passage; I have said elsewhere, though where I do not remember, that the when we have that word for “outcry“ in the Genesis account, it refers to a distress cry for the police to come.

Sometimes, we speak to the land, and in recent times, charsimatic leaders have spoken of the defilement on the land in a city, and that we need to speak to the land.

The further issue that we often do not take up, is that sometimes the land speaks.

I have encountered numerous situations where survivors of one form of abuse or trauma or or another have gone through deliverance that was all about the minister’s capacity to fix them or minister deliverance or ministry to their spirits and, instead of there being a a two-way street of give-and-receive, where they talk with the human spirit, they talk at the human spirit. Their ministry method involves them firing off volley after volley of fully-automatic rounds from their spiritual M16-A2’s and they bind and loose (though they do not understand what those terms mean) and break and shatter, and yell and scream, and mediate a bunch of deliverance prayers from some crib sheet they have memorized, but not really bothered to take the time to earn some authority by shutting up and listening, and once they minister to the person, they say, “you are all better”.

No dialogue, and very little listening to the spirit of the one being ministered to.

And we often do the same with land. We clean it up, oftentimes without talking to it, and the land has its own emational makeup, after a fashion. In the case of Sodom, that was the land crying out in distress because of the sexual iniquity and idolatry in the land. And the L-rd dealt with the iniquity on the land.

The lesson for us: The truth is that the land is often speaking.

For us the questions to ask are at least two:

1) Are we listening and responding to what the land is saying?

2) Further, are we hearing what the L-rd is fully articulating about that piece of land?

Also, what treasures are in the land? Based on the gift that is in the land (Redemptive Gifts), what are the treasures that are available to unpack?

For Prophet land, the gift is vision. For Servant land, rest. For Teacher land, revelation. For the Exhorter, community. For Giver land, birthing. For Ruler/Judge/Deliverer land, building. And for Mercy Land, the gift of intimacy.

I will hand you some other thoughts here as an example. I had a vision recently of all sorts of resources on this piece of land, like lumber and sheet metal and iron rebar and the like.

These resources are often the precursors to something being constructed.

This could be an indicator of RJD or Giver land. RJD for the obvious building reasons, and Giver for the resources and raw materials to birth out new works.

So, curious, what is your land saying to you, and what work needs to be done?

Just some initial thoughts.

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