Is God and Environmentalist?
Brother Lawrence Damien Cos
On Saturday April 22 we will be celebrating Earth Day here in the USA. That got me to thinking about what God might think of Earth Day? What would God think of our handling of the earth? Would he or she care? Many believe that it doesnâ€™t matter what we do to the earth as God will be making a new heaven and earth at some point in the future anyway so go ahead and exploit it for maximum profit for the greedy and the upper echelons of society. They would deny climate change is really happening despite much evidence to the contrary and want to go on despoiling the environment so the rich can get richer while all the rest get exploited quite often for the benefit of the few. However is that a Christian attitude or is there something else which reflects the true feelings of God on this issue? If the latter then what is Godâ€™s views on the environment and are part as Christians in it all? I would like to look at those questions as we think and pray about Earth Day and what if any part we should play in the celebration of it. Before we start I need to state the views I will express here are my own and are presented here as food for thought as we prepare for Earth Day tomorrow.
Man Given Dominion Over The Earth
1. Then God said, â€śLet Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[a] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.â€ť (Genesis 1:26)
In the very first chapter of Genesis the last thing God does is make humans and then give them dominion over the earth. In this case dominion means to rule over, prevail over and subjugate. For what purpose was this to happen? Was God giving us the earth for us to do with whatever we wanted or did God have something else in mind? It is my belief that while God gave humans dominion over the earth it was not so in order for us to use or misuse/mistreat at any cost or for any reason. While we have succeeded in destroying many areas of our planet and I believe the earth must groan under the weight of our ravaging and pillaging of it that was not Godâ€™s intent from the beginning.
Man Put In Garden to Take Care of It
2. â€śThen the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)
Godâ€™s intent for man was to tend and watch over the Garden of Eden. In the original the word for is abad. It carries the connotation of working as a servant or slave for a master. Thus God did not give the earth to humans to do with whatever they wanted. Instead God retains ownership of the earth and humans are simply his servants to carry out his will here on earth. Humans were to also guard, protect, and cultivate the garden. To cultivate means to prepare the soil for planting and gardening. Thus they would plow, hoe , till , dig and farm. In doing this God made humans stewards of the earth and he will demand one day an accounting of good stewards we were of what he gave us. Jesus alludes to this in a couple of his parables where the master requires a reckoning from his servants on the work they have done and punishes those were not good honest stewards of what he gave them to take care of in his behalf, I believe thus far we have not been good stewards of what God has given us.
Donâ€™t Pollute the Land
3. â€śSo you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.â€ť (Numbers 35:33)
In context is speaking about establishing cities of refuge where anyone who had accidentally killed someone could flee to and take refuge there from any family member seeking revenge. That was to assure no innocent blood got shed. Giving it a broader interpretation I believe God clearly commands Israel not to pollute or do anything that would defile the land God gave them. To apply that to us today I too we like Israel should not be polluting what God has given us. I believe this verse makes the case for good stewardship.
4. A righteous man regards the life of his animal,
But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. (Proverbs 12:10)
God says a righteous man will have regard for the life of his animal. He will make sure it well taken care of and will not allow it to be abused or to suffer. God shows the type of compassion for animals when in Jonah God gives as one of the reasons for sparing Nineveh was because of the animals there, (Jonah 4:11)
In the Bible we find Laws such as â€śDo not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grainâ€ť (Duet 25:4) and as Jesus asked â€śWhich one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it outâ€ť (Matt 12:11)? Godâ€™s compassion and love for His creatures is evident throughout the Bible like in Exodus 23:4 where even â€śIf you meet your enemyâ€™s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to himâ€ť and â€śIf you see your fellow Israeliteâ€™s ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to its ownerâ€ť (Duet 22:1) yet we find mother cats abandoned in the middle of winter, pregnant dogs dumped in the middle of scorching summers of 100 degrees left alone. What cruelty there is among the animal kingdom and the blood is on the hands of many. Humans too have hunted many animals to the point of extinction and other are close to that state if we donâ€™t do something about it now.
Take Care of What God Gives
5. Whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit;
So he who waits on his master will be honored. (Proverbs 27:18)
This shows us if we want to eat we have to or watch over our trees and crops so they will produce. This I see as a double proverb in the sense that the one who tends or takes care of the fig tree will probably tend after other things and by doing so, he is guarding his masterâ€™s possessions. We might not be able to tend the world but we can tend our own little corner of it and do what we can where we live. We can recycle pus the table scraps and old food on the compost pile and so on.
The Earth Belongs to God
6. The earth is the LORDâ€™s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.(Psalm 24:1)
This is a reminder that this is not our earth because the title holder is God and He will hold us responsible for how we care for it. As we read in Revelation 11:18, those who abuse and destroy the earth will not go unpunished and knowing that the earth is not really ours, we should treat the earth with the respect of knowing it is Godâ€™s own possession and not ours but He was still willing to share with us to use for our own good.
â€śThe nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earthâ€ť (Revelation 11:18)
This I believe shows that God will not leave those unpunished who destroy the earth. This is because those who do so are only interested in using and abusing the earth to make a profit and make themselves rich but oh at what cost? We all are responsible for how we choose to live our lives and if we throw trash out of the car, we leave trash in campsites or pour out toxic wastes in the ground.
In conclusion I believe God and Jesus both are environmentalists. God commands us to keep and care for the earth but Godâ€™s edict to have dominion over the earth doesnâ€™t mean to have complete domination and exploitation of it but sadly, this is what has happened; we continue to rape the land, denude the forests, strip-mine the hills, burn through the resources, and gut the earth. This is the only place that we have and if we chose to abuse it, it will be a choice we will live to regret.
As I mentioned at the start the views are my own presented as food for thought for us to consider. If like me you believe our environment and planet are in danger then can be a call to action to come up with ways to stop it from causing further damage that has already been done and begin the repairing and restoring of that which has been damaged or lost. Hope this helps you and you consider Earth Day. Any comments or thoughts or ideas welcomed
Brother Lawrence Damien Cos