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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « Oblivious to the Dying: A Dream from 3/25/10 | A Lesson from the Post Office »
    Thursday
    Aug052010

    True Conservation: Does the Bible Promote "Green" Living?

    It may surprise some to know that the Bible actually has a lot to say about the Earth, animals, plants, and the overall environment.

     

    In addition to the obvious first passages in Genesis, recounting how God made the Earth and everything in it, the Bible, especially the Old Testament is full of praises about the beauty of the Earth, the magnificence of the animals both domestic and wild, and the wonder of plants for food, shelter, and beauty.

     

    Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and the Song of Solomon are just a few of the books in the Bible that describe in wonderful poetic verses, the glory of the Earth and of God who made it.

     

    In Genesis God gives people the task of caring for and cultivating the Earth, with the understanding that God is still and always will be ultimately in control. The books of the Law list in painstaking detail how to best care for people and cultivated land.

     

    For example, Leviticus 25:1-7 says that the land should have a “Sabbath” or rest every seventh year for the whole year (Now we know why; so the land can replenish the lost nutrients from growing crops).

    Genesis 1:26 - Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'

     

    Leviticus 25:23-24 - The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.


    Revelation 11:18 - The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great — and for destroying those who destroy the earth.

     

    Why then, in our modern days of growing environmental awareness, does it seem as if the world is facing one natural disaster after another, and the Earth continues to degenerate? The Bible has the answer. 

    Hosea 4:1-4 --"There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste ...away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying." 

     

    Jeremiah 9:12-13 -- Why has the land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one can cross? The LORD said, "It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.


    Zechariah 4:4-13 -- Then the word of the LORD Almighty came to me: "Ask all the people of the land and the priests, 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? Are these not the words the LORD proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?'

     And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'  "But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry.

     " 'When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,' says the LORD Almighty. 'I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land was left so desolate behind them that no one could come or go. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.' (empahsis mine)

     

    Does it sound unoriginal and cliché to say that our current environmental problems are all because of sin? Nevertheless, this is the Bible’s stand. The addendum to this statement is that I do not believe every natural disaster is inherently due to sin.

     

    The book of Job describes a series of personal disasters (several being of the “natural variety”) against one man, but puts the emphasis on his righteous behavior throughout his harrowing ordeal (but that’s another story).

     

    However, the Bible does make it clear that an entire land can and will become desolate because of the communal sins of the people living there. The land suffers outwardly because of the desolation inside humans’ hearts, minds, and souls.

     

    Yet, God’s ultimate purpose is not to destroy to satiate a bloodlust. The goal behind such complete destruction is to bring judgment, but also to show rebellious people who is actually in charge. Every person knows that nature is beyond their control, but it is a fact forgotten in prosperous times.

     

    As the ever-loving Father, God cares if we choose to disobey and disregard Him. In order to capture the attention of people, God resorts to drastic measures.

     

    Does God act this way because He is a control-freak, desperate for worship and attention? Would a parent’s dramatic actions following the deliberate disobedience of their small child crossing the street seem unreasonable?

     

    God created us, He loves us, and despite our pride informing us otherwise, He knows what is best for us and He desires that for us. He also made the Earth and everything in it, and He alone knows exactly how it works. Not only is it foolish, but also dangerous to believe that we know more about ourselves (or anything else for that matter) than God.

    Jeremiah 2:7 - I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.  

     

    Psalm 107:33-34 -- He turned rivers into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, and fruitful land into a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there.

     

    Deut. 29:19, 22-27 --When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, "I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way." This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry…Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the LORD has afflicted it.

    The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in fierce anger. All the nations will ask: "Why has the LORD done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?"

    And the answer will be: "It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them.

    *See also Isaiah 24; Isaiah 42 (especially 14-15); Jeremiah 44:21-23; Ezekiel 4:16-17


    The good news to all this though, is that God is merciful and loving enough to transform wastelands back into almost-Edens if and when the people turn back to God by obeying and loving Him alone (Isaiah 51:3).

    Isiah 43:19 -- See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.


    Isaiah 41:18-20 -- I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.


    Leviticus 26:3-40, although long, pretty much says it all.

     " 'If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.

    " 'I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove savage beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country. You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.

     " 'I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.

     " 'But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.

     " 'If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of the land yield their fruit." 'If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve. I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted.

     " 'If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over. And I will bring the sword upon you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands. When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied.

     " 'If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings. 

    I will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.

     " 'As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them. They will stumble over one another as though fleeing from the sword, even though no one is pursuing them.

    So you will not be able to stand before your enemies. You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their fathers' sins they will waste away.

     " 'But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers—their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.

    For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them.

    I am the LORD their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD.' "

     

    Though it may sound arrogant, the truly best conservation method is to live righteously, obeying God's laws, trusting Him in everything, and giving up our pride to love (not just venerate) the Creator of everything who loved us first and will always love us best.

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