It is clear that land is a central issue in biblical faith. We are learning this afresh about the Bible as it is read by communities of liberation that have been denied land they know to be their birthright. We are learning it afresh as Christians and Jews think together in new ways about our common faith.
We are learning, critically, that much of our reading of the Bible has been in the wrong categories which conceal from us the central thrust of the faith. We are learning, positively, that when read with reference to God's promise and gift of land, the Bible has important contact with the central public issues of our world. Attentiveness to the land causes us to hear the faith in new ways and finally to discern God differently as the one who takes and blesses and breaks and gives land as well as bread and wine.
The Bible concerns God's foundational gift of the earth. When translated from Hebrew, the word 'erets means "earth," which belongs only to God and may not be denied God (Leviticus 25:23). That claim is at the heart of creation faith. At the outset of all creation, heaven and earth are called into being by God's speech and exist only to praise and obey God. The Bible has very little interest in heaven, but focuses relentlessly on earth. Earth is God's creature intended for God's purposes of fruitfulness and well-being, so that God may look at the earth and say each evening, "It is good."