Print Version March 2nd, 2005
The Law and the Land … that’s the strange link that’s forged all through this part of Deuteronomy. The Law and the Land.
The Law is given for the sake of the Land. So that the people might enter the land of promise and live there. The Land is given for the sake of the Law. So that the all the nations might gaze on Israel and marvel that such a Law—and such a God—lives among them.
You get the feeling that it is no arbitrary Law Moses offers them—not just a book of rules—not just what God thought up that day—you get the feeling the Law comes with the Land. God may be the giver, and it may be human hands that carve the stone, but the law rises up from the soil and blows in the breeze down from the hillsides. The law of God and the law of the Land.
Land given and Law given and, between the two, the one God who burned and thundered on the mountain at Sinai. All that divine energy channelled by Law and making the Land live. And the people with the touch of the land under them and crackle of heaven above them the envy of their neighbours who clamour for such a law for themselves, for such a God—drawn near in the Law, into the Land.
That’s the offer Moses makes. Take up the Law and enter the Land and God will live in the midst of you … not just in tabernacle and sacrifice but in waking and sleeping, in herding and tilling, making a living, loving a friend, baking the bread, wiping the dust from your eyes. Land and Law.
Lent. And the voice of our Land has fallen silent these days and we rarely hear it speak with power. All the mystery is gone. All the holy fear. And the nuclear pulse of God’s presence hardly crackles among us either. Maybe in here we still hear the dying echoes … but the deafening roar of divinity seems to have left our land.
When were you last astonished by the bare soil under your soles? When were you last burned by an electric holiness too powerful to contain?
Personally … it’s been a while … … but I hope and I wonder … What would it take for us, once more, to enter the Land and Live?