Contemplating Creation for Earth Day
From the first words of both the Old and New Testaments, we receive our very first instruction from God, namely that He is the One Who made all things.
It was God who created the heavens and the Earth, He who ordained the pecking order of creation, placing man at the top, and that what He made He declared “very good”. It is clear that God wants us to understand fully that He has ordained the order of the universe purposefully and carefully, designing it especially for man.
We see this also in the book of Job, the oldest book of the bible.
Job 12:7-10 But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.
Job 37: 5-7 No doubt about it, but God reveals wonders, and does great deeds that we cannot understand. When He says to the snow, "Fall on the earth," or tells the rain to pour down in torrents, He brings all men's strivings to a standstill so that each must acknowledge His hand at work.
Job 39:4-7 Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its size; do you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it? Into what were its pedestals sunk, and who laid the cornerstone, while the morning stars sang in chorus and all the sons of God [angels] shouted for joy?
But why is this so important?
Creation is God’s way of revealing Himself, His nature, the part of Himself that is knowable, to us. Just as the personality of every artist is somewhat revealed through his work, God is knowable by contemplating that which He creates! If this is altered, so is our perception of God; and God is Truth.
Wisdom 13:5 For by the greatness of the beauty, and of the creature, the creator of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby.
Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Why We Must Learn to be Still and Know that He is God
Just as God rested on the seventh day and declared that we should do the same, we are given instruction that the work done by the earth in providing for our needs should also be respected, and that the Earth should be cared for by allowing it to rest in the same way.
Leviticus 25: 1-4 The LORD then spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.
Who among us sees that this is carried out today?
In a document called, If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation, Pope Benedict XVI writes,
“Everything that exists belongs to God, who has entrusted it to man, albeit not for his arbitrary use. Once man, instead of acting as God’s co-worker, sets himself up in place of God, he ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him. Man thus has a duty to exercise responsible stewardship over creation, to care for it and to cultivate it.”
Since it is clear that our environment was made for us, it is our right and our joy to make use of all it contains, but with that gift, comes the responsibility to properly sustain that gift and care for it all. We must not act wantonly and destructively or take the bounty of the Earth for granted, but rather assume responsible and nurturing habits toward our environment because once it is destroyed we will have changed the balance of the environment that was specifically designed for us forever. How can it then be restored? It is surely not our responsibility to re-create nature. It was God Who designed it, made it, and declared it to be " perfect": that is, without fault, complete, lacking nothing. The created can never "out-create" the Creator. Such an attempt would clearly prove dangerous. There are some in society today, however, who believe that natural creation could and should be improved upon by genetic alteration, hybridization, artificial reproduction, or cloning. They are not content with what is bestowed upon them by God in nature, but desire something bigger and better, more marketable or desirable, so they take it upon themselves to create something "new and improved". They call this good science, yet it suggests that God’s version is somehow inadequate.
The most prominent example might be found in agricultural practices, when the seemingly perfect external packaging of a shiny, red apple lures us toward something that is internally vile. When farmers are not content to share the bounty of God with other creatures, but would rather expand the value and volume of their harvests by spraying poisons on their fields, the large and beautiful produce sells well at the market, but the price is ultimately paid by the unsuspecting consumer population. They believe they are consuming nourishment, yet they consume a lie. Those who purchase and eat the beautiful, yet tainted, produce are poisoned slowly over time by these same chemicals, and will ultimately experience the neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases that we see exploding through the first-world population today.
In desiring to place man in his proper place as guardian and protector of the Earth, it is also necessary to keep the pendulum from swinging too far in the other direction.
In Genesis we clearly see that God appointed us to care for the Earth, but not to place it above the welfare of man, as an object worthy of worship, itself. A society in which God is not considered, or is even despised, can easily promote a false god in the form of excessive environmentalism. In the encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Blessed Pope John Paul II reminds us of this.
Once all reference to God has been removed, it is not surprising that the meaning of everything else becomes profoundly distorted. Nature itself, from being "mater" (mother), is now reduced to being "matter", and is subjected to every kind of manipulation. This is the direction in which a certain technical and scientific way of thinking, prevalent in present-day culture, appears to be leading when it rejects the very idea that there is a truth of creation which must be acknowledged, or a plan of God for life which must be respected. Something similar happens when concern about the consequences of such a "freedom without law" leads some people to the opposite position of a "law without freedom", as for example in ideologies which consider it unlawful to interfere in any way with nature, practically "divinizing" it. Again, this is a misunderstanding of nature's dependence on the plan of the Creator.
Some branches of society today come dangerously close to this mentality. They go so far as to promote the doctrine that man should elect to stop procreating all together, forfeiting his own existence so that the planet (an inanimate object…with no soul…no image and likeness of God…)
How ironic it is that the image of God is now seen as a threat to the existence of the planet, the very same planet which was designed specifically by God to sustain His image!
Scripture warned us that just such a thing could happen. We see these warnings in the book of Isaiah when the Lord speaks of the end times.
Isaiah 5:8-17 Woe to you who join house to house, who connect field with field, till no room remains, and you are left to dwell alone in the midst of the land! In my hearing the Lord of hosts has sworn: Many houses shall be in ruins, large ones and fine, with no one to live in them. Ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one liquid measure, and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah. Lambs shall graze there at pasture, and kids shall eat in the ruins of the rich.
Isaiah 24:4-5 The earth mourns and fades, the world languishes and fades; both heaven and earth languish. The earth is polluted because of its inhabitants, who have transgressed laws, violated statutes, broken the ancient covenant.
Isaiah 45:18 The designer and maker of the earth who established it, not creating it to a waste, but designing it to be lived in.
And from Romans:
Romans 12:5 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever.
While God expects us to assume an attitude of loving and careful stewardship of the Earth, we must never worship it in place of Him. We must never make another human suffer in the name of environmentalism for to place things in proper order is to imitate God. We must pray for the ability to recognize the hand of the Author of creation in every aspect of his dominion at all times.
We must pray for contentedness, thankfulness, and joy in receiving His gifts.
We must pray for the willingness to work at practicing good stewardship of the bounty provided for us and to be an example to those who are weak in faith. Have a Happy and Blessed Earth Day!