The Land of Wandering
by: Steven Bouma-Prediger
The biblical story of homelessness gets worse. No longer responding to the call to serve and protect the creational home (Gen. 2:15), Cain murders Abel and in so doing refuses to be his brother’s keeper. Thus Cain is cursed and destined to be a fugitive and wanderer on the earth. He is doomed to the land of Nod (Hebrew for the “land of wandering”). A perpetual nomad. Always homeless.
The story has gone from a call to stewardly homemaking (Gen. 1–2) to the reality of disruptive homebreaking (Gen. 3). From a vision of home’s harmony to one of family violence (Gen. 4). From a fruitful garden to an imposing tower of imperial aspirations (Gen. 11). The biblical story moves from home to homelessness.
Yet even here we catch a glimpse of God’s grace. The narrative is not complete. God is working to move the story from homelessness to homecoming. God fashions garments of skin (Gen. 3:21) for the now fallen humans. God installs a flaming sword to keep them from eating from the tree of life (Gen. 3:24) lest their alienation become unchangeable and eternal. God puts a mark on Cain to protect him (Gen. 4:15). Even in these difficult circumstances God works to move the story from homelessness to homecoming.