Environment: Political Issue Or God’s Issue?

 Introduction

Christianity in North America has not always been seen as a stalwart supporter of issues pertaining to the environment. This is obviously a very general statement, but also a statement that would be very hard to deny at the same time. I would argue that this has little to do with what the Bible says on the subject, and has more to do with an ideological battle between the left and the right. The pollutionindicators of this arm wrestle would be a religiously charged denial of global warming. Global warming at the end of the day may end up being true or false, but even if it is proven false, using the atmosphere as our septic tank is a very awkward position to defend.

To be fair, here are other factors to consider, the environmental movement has been plagued by rogue elements that place the earth above human beings and have hidden behind environmental issues in order to further political motivations like socialism. These people are sometimes coined as “watermelon environmentalists” they appear green on the outside, but are red on the inside.

I don’t think political ideologies or “isms” have a place in Christianity because it’s not just a philosophy, rather it is THE philosophy and the Way.

God’s View of Creation in the Bible

First. The concern of God in relation to His creation is revealed in every step in God’s redemptive process to mankind. Instead of the treescare of creation being attached to political ideologies, the care for creation is attached to redemption. We see this process unfold in the first few chapters of Genesis. God creates the world within a seven-day, three-step parallel structure, and on the sixth day God places people made in the image of God to take care of His creation. Genesis 1: Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” The definition of ruling and subduing is often confused, but the definition is given in Genesis chapter 2. In chapter two, God places Adam into a garden with the responsibility to care for the creation, not being below creation, but in a prime position over it. Genesis 2:15  The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

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.”

The land belonged to God,  Adam and Eve were tenants in the garden, and certain conditions had to be met or they would be removed from the sacred garden. Obedience to God went hand in hand with protecting and caring over God’s creation as representatives bearing his image

Second. The Covenant God made after the flood was made not just with human beings in mind, but with all creation included. Genesis 9:8-11 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Third. In the book of Jonah, God sends Jonah to warn of impending destruction upon the people if they did not turn away from their sin. Jonah was dismayed by the fact the city was not destroyed, but God responded that he was concerned for both the people and animals who resided in the city. Jonah 4:11  And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

Fourth. Psalm 104 is a clear passage indicating God’s love over creation and this is beautifully illustrated in poetic form. Here is a quick excerpt.

10 He sends the springs into the valleys;
They flow among the hills.
11 They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 By them the birds of the heavens have their home;
They sing among the branches.
13 He waters the hills from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.

14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the service of man,
That he may bring forth food from the earth,
15 And wine that makes glad the heart of man,
Oil to make his face shine,
And bread which strengthens man’s heart.
16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
17 Where the birds make their nests;
The stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high hills are for the wild goats;
The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.

The wisdom of Proverbs show the difference of how a righteous person and a wicked person will treat their livestock

Proverbs 12:10 A righteous man regards the life of his animal,
But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Fifth. The prophet Hosea predicted another covenant that would take place in the future, and it included the animals of the earth Hosea 2:18

In that day I will make a covenant for them
With the beasts of the field,
With the birds of the air,
And with the creeping things of the ground.
Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth,
To make them lie down safely.

Six. In the unfolding redemptive plan of God, the removal of people from the presence of God in His garden comes back full circle. God leads the faithful into the land of Canaan. In the same manner as Eden the land belonged to God, and the people were tenants in the land. There were certain conditions that had to be met for them to remain in the land. The Covenant that was set up in the form of a Suzerain treaty-a relationship set up between a weaker vassal and a more powerful overlord. Part of the conditions of living in God’s land was for them to restrict greed.

Exodus 23:10-11  “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.

Leviticus 25:1-7 And the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land—all its produce shall be for food.

The law of God contained conditions directed at regulating human beings greed and the impact on God’s land. In effect forcing them to take their hands off the wheel, foot off the gas pedal, and regulating their impact on Creation-reminding them that the land belonged to God. Greed and self-interest was regulated, it was never tolerable to rape the land for short-term gain and leave nothing for nature, other people or the next generation. These regulations go much further than even most the most staunch environmentalists have ever proposed. While we don’t need to mimic the theocracy of Israel, we need to understand the message and act accordingly.

Seven. In Deuteronomy, God instructs the people to not destroy creations ability to reproduce itself, again limiting short-term gain for long-term blessings.

Deuteronomy 22:6 “If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.

The Law of Moses was a guide, and this would have applied to all sorts of animals and not just birds. Modern hunting regulations are very similar since a female animal is usually protected in the wild.

Eight. When Israel besieged a city, they were not to cut down any fruit bearing tree, and were only allowed to cut down a non bearing tree to build siege tools, they were not allowed to senselessly cut down a tree-and the answer to the question is given in the text “Are you besieging trees or people”

Deuteronomy 20:19-20  When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?[b] 20 However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.

I believe this professor gives the message a much sharper focus on the subject.

 

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