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The Word on the Week

His Land

The farmer had the ring fort demolished and used the stone to infill a nearby pond. He had bought the land a couple of months before and thought that ownership gave him the right to do what he liked with it.

When the Judge fined him €25,000 this week he discovered otherwise!

Despite the fact there are 40,000 ring fort sites identified in Ireland it seems that each one of these National Monuments are precious. “They are held in trust for the culture of the country” the Judge warned.

So, who owns the land?

Can the Bible throw any light on the matter?

Land features throughout the Bible story. It was originally promised by God to Abraham in Genesis Chapter 12 and for the next 500 or so years was known as the “Promised Land”.

The partial fulfilment of the promise came when the Israelites under Joshua took possession of some of it after they escaped from captivity in Egypt.

However it wasn’t till the reign of King David that the whole of the promised land entered their possession.

The people’s relationship to the land formed something of an acted parable. When they obeyed and lived Godly they prospered and defeated their enemies. When the disobeyed their fortunes were reversed and they became subject to the hostile nations which surrounded them.

The Israelites knew the rules but their propensity to break them by sinning ultimately led to their exile at the hands of the Babylonians. Now they had lost everything. One of the most plaintive verses is in 2Kings 25 verse 21 “So Judah went into captivity , away from their land”.

The question was would God still be their God?

The captivity lasted 70 years during which they realised from their scriptures that their fate had been predicted as a consequence of their behaviour. But God was still with them, guiding them throughout their exile.

National restoration to the land was pioneered by Nehemiah and Ezra and some efforts were made to rebuild the temple. These did not amount to much when compared to the glory of Solomon’s temple but the prophet Haggai spoke of a better day which dawned with the arrival of Jesus proclaiming that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand (St Matthew chapter 4 verse 17).

For those who had eyes to see the coming of Jesus was the end of the exile for the people of God. The land was a cipher for his Kingdom where those who bow the knee to him enter by faith into the new covenant in his blood which is the title deeds of this new land. St Paul referred to Jesus in similar terms in his letter to the church at Colosse, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (chapter 1 verses 13/14).