November 13, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines XXXIV: Environmentalism & Stewardship

God's Resources, Human Stewardship

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. Genesis 2:15

We and the Earth are the Lord’s

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

God is deeply concerned with His creation and this is shown in many passages of Scripture. In Matthew 6:25-30 the Bible shows that God feeds the birds and clothes the fields. We see it is by His power that creation holds together or exists as mentioned in Colossians 1:16-17. Because God is so intimately concerned with His creation He promises to restore it in a New Heavens and New Earth. As such, everything Christianity hopes for in the eschaton or end times is wrapped up in the future condition of the earth. I am not a tree hugger or hippie type that worships trees and cries when an old forest oak gets get down but wholesale destruction for greed or power is obscene, unacceptable and unbiblical. All of this is to bring glory to God. Destroying the earth is not glorifying God, it is lightly regarding God’s creation in a form of disrespect and quite frankly, it’s blasphemous. Common sense tells us to properly manage our resources to maintain a sustainable yield.

How do you suppose God views your use of natural resources and your due diligence in taking care of His creation?

You must keep my decrees and my laws.... And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you." Leviticus 18:26, 28

God cared enough about the land and humans that He mandated certain forms of agriculture in the Law. The land is to even get a Sabbath of rest, just like humans. This shouldn't be surprising as the land is essentially an organism too. To be exact...and ecosystem.

"The land itself must observe a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and garner their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the Lord.... The land is to have a year of rest." Leviticus 25:2-5; Exodus 23:10-11

As stated before, God gives man stewardship over the land that he maintains but in reality it is His.

"The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land." Leviticus 25:23-24

If man obeys he will be blessed (rewarded) for a job well done.

"If you follow my statutes and keep my commandments and observe them faithfully, I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit." Leviticus 26:3-4

Apparently, the Lord was concerned with pollution also as noted in Numbers 35. Although I believe the following passage was talking more about defilement through spiritual things, avoidance of physical contaminants most likely applies too because it fits the pattern of Scripture.

"You shall not pollute the land in which you live...You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites." Numbers 35:33-34

So how should I feel about environmentalists, developers, animal rights activists, vegetarians, factory farms, etc.? The activists have taken a good principle and often politicized it to their own ends. They sometimes do good things but many are panentheistic and believe in Gaia or Mother Earth not the God of the Bible. Many believe that God resides and permeates the creation and to destroy it is to destroy God. Good intentions, poor motives and even more lackluster theology or a total lack thereof. As for the animal factories and wholesale slaughterhouses of the Midwest…I must admit they make me wince. To me there just seems as if there could be a better way to feed the masses. Mechanized and sometimes inhumane slaughter (when process or protocol fails) is abhorrent. The other thing that is disheartening was the nearly indiscriminate use of nuclear weapons in the US Southwest and South Pacific during the 40’s through the 60’s. The radioactive contaminants are still plaguing us to this day. The other issue I must mention is the strip mining or open-pit mining that obliterates entire zip codes of land into tiered “benches”. Although the companies that run them are charged with returning the land back normal…this doesn’t often happen. The truth is that if there were no government regulations, faceless mega-corporations would not be held accountable and we would have large open-pit mines littering the countryside and billions or trillions of gallons of oil floating in our seas and oceans.

Jesus Has All Dominion and Authority

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14

This earth is God’s just as we are God’s. We always have been too. We often hear that the world is Mother Earth’s, a figment of someone’s imagination. We pay tribute to an imaginary goddess when the complexity of the Creation and its beauty was clearly mentioned and brought to light in the Bible and attributed to God…and clearly predate these superhuman fabrications. Genesis clearly predates the known goddesses with its authoring which more than likely is written in 14th century before Christ, long before many of the cultures and religions gave birth to the idea of a goddess like Gaia of ancient Greek religion. Any “mother” figures predating the Bible cannot be substantiated as the known religious figures have no matching known religions to attach to the figurines and statuettes to. These figurines appear to be nothing more than art or toys. The immediate knee jerk argument of the post-paleolithic figurines is that Egyptian culture formed semitic culture therefore the Hebrew belief systems are a copycat of the Egyptians but even precursory perusal of the Bible shows that Egyptians are the descendants of Ham, son of Noah.

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