God is the consummate landowner. Having formed it with his hands, God was there first to stake his claim to the whole earth. And he did. But apparently God didn’t want to farm it by himself. He decided to let humans work his land. Down through history, God has had an interesting array of sharecroppers.
First, there were Adam and Eve. They did well naming the farm animals and tending the garden, but they failed to recognize the prerogative of the garden owner to draw boundary lines. They seized the forbidden fruit in an attempted garden takeover. They were expelled.
Then there was Israel. In Isaiah 5, we read about her sharecropping experience. God provided the start-up for the vineyard venture. “He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it.” But when harvest time came, God got cheated. He expected choice grapes, and they gave him sour ones. He expected justice and got a crop of violence (v. 1-7). He expelled them, too.