On Agriculture

Originally published in The Global Voice, Volume 13, Issue 8: October 2015.
Read the whole edition here.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground… And the Lord planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. Genesis 2:5, 8

The first man, Adam (whose name means ‘humanity’) was placed in God’s garden to maintain its order and produce a sustainable environment. According to this text, God would cause it to rain, and the man would work the ground. God and man, working in tandem, would see the benefit of food production and sustainable health.

Food production is hard work. Anyone who has planted a garden knows that it’s one thing to produce a few supplemental goods, but it’s a whole other thing to produce enough to not only feed your family, but do it in such a way that there is no anxiety during cold or dry seasons.

Adam’s eldest son was also a farmer. Cain offered his first fruits to God, likely in a desire for God to do more to increase his harvest and, in turn, make his workload easier. However, it seems that because “God had no regard for his offering,” this would not be the case. This made Cain upset. He goes on to kill his little brother and waters a field with Abel’s innocent blood (4:11-12). As a result, God tells Cain that he will never again be able to produce from the ground, and that he should wander (4:12). In an act of rebellion, Cain goes on to settle and build the first city—the first group of people who don’t grow their own food, but instead rely on others to do so. Cain and his descendants learn how to navigate life independent of the ground; they develop meat production, the entertainment industry, and weapons and technology manufacturing.

Jeremiah 4:3 For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.”

The city, Cain’s alternative to the garden, promised people ideas of security, affluence and comfort. However, the Bible continues to call God’s people to reconnect with the ground, a call back to the garden. The prophet Jeremiah told the people of the city of Jerusalem to go back to their ancestral lands, break up the ground, and cultivate it so as to not sow among thorns. In God’s name he offered the people an alternative to their inevitably failing economy of the city—he wanted them to grow food with God.

Matthew 13:8-9 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.

When Jesus says, “He who has ears, let him hear,” he obviously wasn’t just referencing humanity in general, who all have ears, but he was referencing that group of people in the land who understood his metaphor—farmers—those who had ears to hear his communication. City people didn’t have life science classes. The realities of food production were absent from their considerations.

The condition of our economy is no longer reliant on the production of food. The economies of our cities are man-made structures that rise and fall with the trends of power, most often and unfortunately related to violence and the sacrifice of our innocent brother over to our desire to produce.

In contrast, to teach people how to engage the ground in an effort to produce food is to engage the economy of God. In this economy, the trends of the city and the fluctuation of the market would never leave anyone hungry.

In this edition of the Global Voice, you’ll see how we’re producing food in our communities here and abroad, and teaching others how to do the same, disconnecting them from the economy of man, and reconnecting them to the economy of God—where everyone has a chance to eat.