Last week I was on the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) Summit 21 virtual meeting. It was so refreshing to be in a conversation with people who care about protecting the earth. Because the “green” issue has been so politicized, it often feels like it is in opposition to the equally politicized religious voter. It was nice to “be with” a group of people who did not care about political identity, they simply cared about caring for God’s creation.
So, let’s talk about creation care and what the Bible says about our responsibilities to the earth. Where should we begin, why the beginning of course. Genesis 2 doesn’t just tell us that all things were created by God, it also tells us that God formed the first person from the dust of the earth and gave the breath of life. We are a part of the earth and it is part of us. God also gave us our first job in the Garden of Eden. We were tasked with working it and taking care of it. I’ll say that louder for those in the back AND TAKE CARE OF IT. Taking care of the earth is one of God’s commands to us.
In light of that, there should not be a doubt that the earth and all its creatures are a gift to us. Our care of it is tied to our duty to loving God and loving our neighbors. Even if those neighbors have not been born yet. We, humans, tend to think in terms of only a few other generations at a time. We think of our parents and grandparents and we think of children and grandchildren, but God thinks of generations to the thousands and more. The entire Old Testament shares promises God has made for perpetual generations (Gen 9:12), He is to be remembered to all generations (Ex 3:15), God commanded our ancestors to teach children, so that the next generation and the children not yet born will know Him (Ps 78). I think it’s clear that we are to preserve what has been given to us, tangible and intangible, for the next generation.
God even laid out for us a blueprint on caring for the land. Exodus 23 tells us to let the land rest in the seventh year for poor people to eat from, but also for animals to eat. In modern terms, we let the land go fallow and the animals would fertilize the land for us by grazing on it. Leviticus 25 repeats to us that land and animals are to rest in the seventh year. It says we are to live off what grows naturally and guaranteed a bumper crop in the 6th year to help us prepare for the seventh. We have a garden at my house. Every year we plant it, tend it, and gather from it. Our garden has had its up and downs. Last spring, we were so busy that the garden did not get planted or tended. That summer we had some of the best produce of any season. I don’t remember how many years we have been planting that garden, but I can say with certainty that we will not plant it in 2027.
Why would God spend so much energy creating the land and animals if they weren’t to last all future generations? He made sure we had plenty of instructions on caring for it in both the Old and New Testaments for a reason. I have had plenty of conversations with people who honestly believe that the environment is not important because an uninhabitable earth means God will come back sooner. That blows my mind. I’m pretty sure that we cannot make or trick God into coming back sooner than intended. We are talking about a God who was silent for 400 years between the Old and New Testaments. He let the Israelites stay enslaved for 430 years. What makes anyone think that God would not allow us to suffer through years and years of barely livable earth. In Mark 13:32, Jesus told us that even he doesn’t know the hour when he returns. So, there is no guarantee that making the earth unlivable for humans will bring about the return of Jesus. This is not one of those things that wouldn’t hurt by asking. It’s definitely not something I want to test. Deut 6:16, Mat 4:7, and Luke 4:13 tells us not to put God to the test. It seems to me that destroying God’s creation to see if he returns falls in the category of test.
Thankfully, many Christians and non-Christians I know believe that saving the earth is paramount. The biggest problem we need to overcome is the apathetic crowd who want to save the earth as long as it’s convenient. This is not an issue that should be partisan. This is a human issue and it’s up to us to let our representatives in all levels of government that creation care is important to all of us.