“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.”Psalm 24:1-3
This month the planet focused its attention on celebrating or perhaps making mention of Earth Day. Fifty years ago several environmental agencies dedicated April 22nd to a global cause, which many of them believe betters our understanding of our planet and how our habits as people may affect our planet.
A Google search on how to better our planet will produce innumerable pages of information and suggestion including but not limited to shutting your faucet off when brushing your teeth. Wash your laundry and run your dishwasher using cold water to save on your light bill and avoid waste. Use a cloth towel instead of paper towels to save on paper. Ride your bike to work or school and leave your car at home. And invest in a bidet to save on bathroom tissue. A timely purchase in light of the current panic buying frenzy.
These efforts are virtuous in the sense that humanity is focused on its responsibility to the planet it lives on. In fact, nowhere in scripture do we find a verse where we are commanded to abuse our surroundings or misuse the land in which we live.
The author of Leviticus reminds the reader about a God-given practice of caring for the land we derive our livelihood and meals from. He states, as per God’s command:
“For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year, there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land.”Leviticus 25:43-5
God gave his people laws by which to honor Him, respect each other and also care for the land they lived on. The dangers of abusing agricultural rules and patterns can ultimately disrupt the natural cycle needed for the land to “heal” so it can produce fruit again. The effects of environmental abuse God wanted the prevent His people from instilling on the land then are the same we can see today if we’re not careful with our land. Overpopulation in small areas, continuous application of fertilizers, reduced agricultural land, continuous application of pesticidal substances will eventually lead to destructive ends. We can see deforestation taking place, soil erosion, soil degradation, reduced food production, flooding, health hazards, death of marine life, and more.
God calls us to be attentive to all things in life. Primarily our vertical relationship with Him, which when in good health leads to healthy relationships with our neighbors. And God always wants us to be watchful of how we care for our land and all that lives on it. Failing to do so can lead to catastrophic natural disasters caused by us alone.
What modern-day environmentalists fail to observe is that the reason why we’re called to care for this beautiful planet we live on is that it belongs to God. Not just this planet but everyone who resides on it belongs to God as well. It is a form of honoring Him when we invest our time in caring for one another and also being responsible, planetary caretakers.
So when we set aside a day to observe the splendor of this breathtaking planet; including the naturally occurring black sand beach of Panulu’u, Hawaii. The white sand dunes of Lencois Maranhenses National Park in the state of Maranhao, Brazil. Bear, moose, and caribou inundated Jasper National Park in the province of Alberta, Canada. The daunting climb to the peak of Mount Everest, Nepal, and the expansive, nearly endless dunes of the Sahara desert. Whether you venture through bucolic fields and pastures of coastal Italy or settle on a cruise liner as it pushes south on the Danube river. It is all for God’s glory.
God has given us the gift of worship and relationship with Him, the gift of relationship and friendship amongst ourselves, and finally the gift of this unbelievably picturesque planet to live on. From every seed found on the surface of Norwegian strawberries to the oldest Quaking Aspen tree found in the state of Utah. God has given all of these things not for us to abuse and misuse but for us to use and enjoy.
Greater joy comes from knowing that one, we have a Creator God who allows us to relish and enjoy His creation. Two, He gives us the knowledge to care for His creation. And three, He partook of this creation when He became a man.
Our God commands us to love Him with all our mind, soul, and body and to love our neighbor as we would love ourselves. Let us continually make benevolent efforts to better cultivate the land God has given us. And let us not become anxious should news reach us of disasters and cataclysmic happenings from earthquakes to hurricanes to tsunamis. We understand that this planet, too, has been affected by sin and is in need of renewal. Paul mentions in Romans:
“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”Romans 8:19-23
Our world, just like our bodies, is subject to death and rot. But thanks be to Jesus who through the resurrection who will not only renew our bodies, transforming the corrupted flesh into uncorrupted beings but also our world.
We are not called to be environmentalists or social extremists but we are called to honor God, love one another, and tend to our lands; our world.
With that in mind, let us not become too attached to the temporal nature we are given for in due time God will give us a better one. A world untouched by sin. Imagine that glorious landscape. “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” – Revelations 22:20-21