The book of Genesis offers identity, purpose, and hope to God’s chosen people through the land; this tangible gift from God allows the people to suffer and thrive according to their obedience to Him and commitment to His promise.
God gave to Adam the gift of land in the garden of Eden, to tend it and care for it. It was in this place where God came to man and walked with him, shared a relationship. At the time of the falling out, God sent Adam and Eve out of the garden and cursed the ground to which Adam would seek for food (Gen. 3:17). So sacred was this place that upon being driven from Paradise, God sent a cherubim to guard the land and the tree.
Mankind continued to be fruitful as God commanded, and yet man’s heart was wicked and violent. These behaviors and corruption angered and saddened God, to which He separated man from the land as a result of the flood. When the waters receded and man was given another chance, the descendants of Noah populated the land and established their regions.
Like the expulsion from Eden and the flood, the Tower of Babel marked a particular even in which God’s displeasure with the people resulted in their loss of land and home, their anchor.
It was to Abram that God specifically designated a region of land to Abram’s offspring because of Abram’s commitment to the Lord (Gen. 12:7, 13:14-17). The land was used again to illustrate loss of identity and lack of hope through Abram’s dream (Gen. 15:13). After the dream, God invoked a covenant with Abram regarding the land. This land established hope to Abram and assurance of God’s abiding love and devotion to His servant and Abram’s descendants.
The connection of identity with the land was evident when Esau sold his birthright for a cup of soup to his brother, thus marking the domination of Israel over Edom.
God again promised to Jacob that he would be a great nation in Egypt (Gen. 46:4). The fulfillment of this promise was revealed in Genesis 47:27-28 where Israel established himself and his generation in Egypt.
The blessing of God to His people through the element of land was made final in the last verses of Genesis as Joseph promised hi family that God would save them and restore them to the land promised of their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 50:24-26).
The proof of God’s designation of identity and hope to His people through the land is still evident today as we witness God’s followers strain, fight, and kill for the promise of their birthright.