So are all agrarians farmers?

Posted by Rural Missourian on Dec 5th, 2007

I have found that in speaking of some of the “agrarian” things we do here that involve Sam & Sadie, goats, chickens, sorghum making, and the like that I often get the reply, “so are all agrarians farmers?” No, in the strict traditional sense, for farming is but one aspect of a myriad that comprises agrarianism, as the visible end result of all forms of agrarianism is human culture, in its entirety, for good or for evil. However, in the greater sense of mankind’s obligation to serve the Lord, we are all farmers directly or indirectly, as we all are answerable to Him for how we live on earth and by what standard.

This means that even the computer geek—who lives his life in seeming total non-agrarian isolation while working his trade from his plastic cubicle nestled on the top story of concrete skyscraper—is an agrarian. How so? His body is entirely dependent upon eating food produced from land somewhere, whose producers subscribe to some form of agrarianism. Though he may not do anything to produce his food directly, the money he earns that buys his food supports the agrarianism that does produce it and, thus, he has his part for which he is accountable.

The Scriptures make it clear that we are all called to be productive agricoles (husbandmen) of the earth in stewarding it according to the law of the land (loy agrarienne), the law of its Creator, the Lord God Almighty.

Agrarian – adj. 1618, borrowed through Middle French in the phrase loy agrarienne agrarian law, from Latin agrarious of the land, from ager (genitive agri) field, see ACRE ; for suffix see –IAN (Chambers Dictionary of Etymology).

Even man’s physical nature is entirely “of the land,” that is, agrarian, as he is made from the dust of the earth and by the dust of the earth he nourishes it.

Every breathing human lives on the Lord’s earth (Psa. 24:1) and derives his food, clothing, and shelter from its resources, thus, he subscribes to some form of agrarianism, knowingly or unknowingly, whether he ever dirties his hands with soil. Biblical agrarianism is the only kind mandated by the Lord for man is not an amoral being like an animal that he should live by bread alone, but is a moral agent answerable to God, Who commands him to live by every word that proceeds from His mouth. All other forms of agrarianism that use any other standard other than God’s law, though they may appear prosperous for a season, are cursed of God and, thus, unsustainable, as the Scriptures make irrefutably clear.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace (Psa. 37:7-11).

Biblical agrarianism began with man’s calling in the Garden of Eden, Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it (Gen. 2:15). Man was given dominion of the earth (Gen. 1:28) under his Maker to dress (abad – work) and keep (shamar – guard, preserve) it according to His law. Though mankind (through the first Adam its federal head – Rom. 5:12) fell in sin and was cast from the garden, he was still to labor by the sweat of the brow in eating of the ground, though now under a curse. Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life (Gen. 3:17b). After the flood when the Lord once again gave the dominion mandate to mankind through Noah, a righteous man (Gen. 7:1, 9:1-2), the Scriptures state that Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard (Gen. 9:20). David confirms this truth of the seminal calling of man to serve the Lord in exercising dominion over the work of His hands. What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hand; You have put all things under his feet (Psa. 8:4-6).

Under the New Covenant all things have been put under the feet of Jesus Christ the last Adam (1Cor. 15:27, 45-47), the firstborn of the new creation (Rom. 8:29, Gal. 6:15), the King of the rulers of the earth (Rev. 1:4-5) and the Heir for whom the nations and the earth belong (Psa. 2:6-8, Heb. 1:1-4). All peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations are the Lord’s and some come into His Kingdom by His Gospel (Rom. 16:25-27, Rev. 7:9) and others, His enemies, are made His footstool (Heb. 10:12-13). But all are His (Psa. 24:1) and all will bow their knee to Him, some by his grace (Eph. 3:14) and some by His sovereign hand (Phil. 2:9-11). Likewise, the ends of all the earth belong to Lord (not the devil or man, as so many wrongly suppose (Exo. 9:29 & 19:5, Job 41:11, Deu. 10:14, 1 Chr. 29:11, Psa. 24:1, 1 Cor. 10:25-26), for which His people are called to steward in love of Him through obeying all His commandments (John 14:15, 1John 5:3-5), just as Adam was commanded at the beginning. Wherein fallen man could not obey God’s law, being that his depraved nature was contrary to it (Rom. 8: 7-8), the new man in Christ has been empowered to keep it as he walks in the Spirit (Rom. 8:3-4), though not always perfectly, for which he has been given leave to come boldly to his King’s throne of grace to receive forgiveness, mercy, and help (1 John 1:9, Heb. 4:16).

Agrarianism can best be described as the outworking of the law of a given culture’s God/god into the everyday work of the hearts, minds, and hands of its people upon the land they dwell in sustaining themselves while establishing their progeny’s future. For example, a Christian culture is built upon the law of God, which manifests itself in an agrarianism based upon its people applying it by faith to themselves, their disciplines, and the things they use that have a part in its functioning – family, church, state, commerce, trade, money, education, medicine, science, technology, manufacturing, farming, ranching, logging, mining, etc. The things by which human culture functions are varied and extensive, but they all have one common denominator . . . the land. Not only is farming based upon the land, but all of culture is played out on the land or agri as it is expressed in Latin.

So no matter how far a “technologically sophisticated” culture thinks it has advanced beyond the supposed abysmal existence of former “primitive” agrarian cultures, its whole existence is entirely dependent upon the land and rain. “Man—despite his artistic pretensions, his sophistication, and his many accomplishments—owes his existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains (Anonymous).” This must be thoroughly qualified, however. Man owes his existence to God, alone. He owes his earthly source of food to the six-inch layer of topsoil created by the Lord and the fact that He blesses it with nourishing rains according to His merciful love (Mat. 5:43-45). If the Lord were to withhold the rain long enough, not only would farming cease, but all of society would greatly suffer from it and eventually perish if relief did not come. Therefore, agrarianism involves every one of us and absolutely everything we do. This means that there is a direct connection between our morality (the law and ethics we live by, be it godly or wicked) and sustainable productivity and generational continuity.

This is made very clear by the fact that the ungodly acts of those who disobey God’s law defiles the land upon which they live, which, if not repented of, will bring His wrath in eventually be vomited out of the land. One such violation that brings God’s wrath is sexual perversion, something that is rampant in our nation today, for which the Lord warned His people long ago, lest they be vomited out for doing the same.

Leviticus 18:24-30
24 ‘Do not defile yourselves with any of these things [violations of God’s law]; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.25 ‘For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.26 ‘You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you27 ‘(for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled),28 ‘lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you.29 ‘For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people.30 ‘Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God.’ “

Disobedience also brings disease (Exo. 15:26), famine & drought (Amos 4:6-7), and other “acts of God.”

Whatever we do—no matter how unrelated to “agrarian type things” we think it is—directly affects the land upon which we dwell . . . either in bringing God’s blessing as we obey Him in employing His word to all we put our hearts, minds, and hands to (Deu. 28:1-14), or in bringing the curses of God as we disobey Him (Deu. 28: 15-46). In as much as fallen man continually seeks to circumvent the consequences of his sin like in his futile efforts to develop cures to the diseases that come from his sins, he cannot stop the justice of God, only delay it so that when they do come in their fullness, the results are dire, as history has repeatedly shown. The same can be said for the agrarian practices he employs that destroys the land and its resources. He may think his usurious, debt-based economics will bring peace and prosperity forever, but it is most assuredly an abomination to the Lord, for which He has already begun to bring dire consequences to our nation. Corporate agribusiness may come up with new chemicals, GMO “biologicals,” and products that temporarily thwart the diseases and problems brought on by its earlier meddling in God’s creation, but it will end up creating biological monsters and disasters for which only the mercy of the Lord can stop.

It is of paramount importance for every Christian to know that they are an agrarian by nature and calling, no matter what their career is, even the scholastic pastor that devotes all his time to study and ministry. In fact, the minister of the Word has an even greater responsibility since is he is to teach his flock to fear God and keep His commandments, teaching them to apply the whole of God’s Word to the whole of life in living out the Gospel of the Kingdom – which is none other than biblical, New Covenant agrarianism – which leads to the building of a godly culture. This old grizzled bearded pastor has been down a long, hard road in the school of Christ to which he finally acknowledges his calling as a pastor to lead the flock of his care in repenting and reforming their ways proactively in seeking first the Kingdom of god and His righteousness, as the salt of the earth and light of the world, the pillar and ground of truth. A farmer I am not, as I would not even begin to compare myself with those talented and hard working people who have devoted their whole lives to farming, but an agrarian I am . . . though I must say that I am most thankful to the Lord for having brought me into the life of a biblically agrarian draft mule logger and pasture farmer novice. I do love working with our long eared ballerinas.

It really does make all the difference for us and our children which specific agrarianism we subscribe to, and the only one that God blesses is the one that fears Him by keeping His commandments in employing His word to everything we put our hearts, minds, and hands to. May we all advance the Gospel by the work of our hands by reforming our ways, as the Lord leads and provides.