view to adopt is: If we love our Father in Heaven we will respect and care for Mother Earth. This is the source of many blessings, however the opposite will brings the earth’s curse upon those who disrespect her.
DOES MAN NEED TO RESPECT CREATION AND LIVE IN HARMONY WITH HER?
Animists believe that Man is not apart from and above other creatures but forms part of a community of beings, which includes everything that occupies the same space as he does. Man, therefore must fit in harmoniously with creation.
In opposition to this view, Western culture based upon the Bible’s creation story believes that man is the master over creation, free to manipulate and exploit it for man’s advancement. Christianity teaches that man received a cultural mandate (Genesis 1:28) to subdue and rule over God’s creation. This is expressed in Psalm 8 where it says that God “made man a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” God, it says “made man ruler over the works of his hands and put everything under his feet,” vs. 5-6. Does this mean that man can do whatever he pleases? Does this mean that the earth and its resources are nothing more than raw materials to be manipulated and exploited by man? Does man own the earth or does man belong to the earth?
Many Christians believe that since the world is doomed to be destroyed at the end of time, it really doesn’t matter if pollution and global warming destroy the planet. What does the bible say? Is man supposed to respect and nurture creation? Should he try to live in harmony with it, or is it doomed to be destroyed? First of all, while many view man as free to exploit the earth, others view man’s role as more of a caretaker and protector. This view is reflected in Genesis 2:15 where it says that “the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Such a role would exclude anything that would destroy eco-systems or habitats that sustain life. Each time habitats are destroyed plants and animals that depend upon that particular eco-system are also destroyed! It is also important to note that the caretaker view sounds like what farmers do. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were simple farmers who interacted with creation for its continued growth and well being. Modern society based upon consumer capitalism, industrialization and mass production views creation as a commodity to be exploited for maintaining a lifestyle that is hostile to the environment. We view the earth as belonging to man, whereas indigenous people view themselves as belonging to the earth and therefore responsible for maintaining the delicate balance that exists.
Furthermore when man respects the cycles, the seasons and the times; rest and renewal occur in creation. This is the biblical view. Every seventh year was a Sabbath for the farmland; it was to lay fallow, not to be worked. After seven Sabbaths (7 X 7) of years, the fiftieth year was a Jubilee year for farmers. Land bought or sold was returned to the clan which cared for it, which meant the land itself could not be bought and sold, only the crops which were produced on it, Leviticus 25:1-4, 8-16. This also means that certain tribes were meant to exercise stewardship over certain parcels of land. As a result of obedience in keeping Sabbath rests for the land and respecting custodian privileges, God would “send rain in its season, and the ground would yield its crops and the trees of the fields their fruit … Israel would eat all the food she wanted and live safety in the land,” Lev. 26:3-5. It is inferred that the Babylonian Exile occurred because Israel did not give the land its Sabbath rests. Because she disrespected the land she was conquered and enslaved! The exile lasted 490 years; seven years for each year Israel deprived the land of its Sabbath rests. 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 says while they were in Babylon “the land enjoyed its Sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord.” The bottom line is: If man lives in harmony with the earth as its caretaker, the land and God will be good to man, but if man breaks the balance of nature, man and creation will suffer decay and bondage. In spite of man’s actions, God himself has a covenant with all living creatures (Gen. 9:12-17) to sustain and renew life. Our hope, therefore, is renewal not destruction!
In the biblical vision of paradise restored, man ceases his destructiveness and returns to being a caretaker of creation: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore,” Isaiah 2:4. Just as man will be at peace with his fellow man, so the animal kingdoms will also be at peace: “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like an ox, but dust will be the serpents food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” Isaiah 65:25. The serpents’ punishment of dust for food (Gen. 3:14) will continue in eternity as a means of keeping him humble for causing first man and first woman to fall! Furthermore, to act as if we are the Masters and manipulators of creation is to be like the serpent: Those who lift themselves up will be brought down low to the earth! Therefore we should respect creation and care for it because we are dependent upon it for our own prosperity.
DOES CREATION HAVE A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH
Many Animists believe that the Spirit that created all things is a great mystery, which is to be honored above all, and by all creatures. Is this what the Bible teaches? Do the creatures of this world have a relationship with God or do they lack this capacity? Previously we said that creation is portrayed as having human characteristics: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” The hope is that “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God,” Romans 8:19-21. Eager expectation and freedom are human aspirations and realities that imply relationship. Creation is eagerly waiting for the glorious freedom of the children of God to be revealed so that it can be liberated from its bondage to decay.
Mankind is the offending spirit: Man’s sin needs to be propitiated so that God’s favor can be renewed towards man! Therefore Animism is correct when it says that the spirit that has been offended needs to be propitiated and appeased before healing and balance can be restored. In the scripture above, Man’s sin has negative effects on the entire creation, which is now waiting for man’s redemption! Our salvation will be creations’ salvation! In other words, when man gets his act together creation will be liberated from decay and death. While man’s offensive lifestyle hurts creation and the human race, God is the one who has been offended the most by our sin. God’s demands for justice must be met before His displeasure, wrath and curse can be turned away. Once these are turned away (propitiated and appeased) He will be favorably inclined towards us resulting in reconciliation, forgiveness, and ultimately global harmony. When we return, like prodigal sons to the Father, we will once again be caretakers of creation. This will mark creation’s liberation from man’s abusiveness. This, reconciliation and liberation is the heart and soul of the Good News of Jesus.
Man obviously has a relationship with the Creator but does the rest of Creation have one and if it does how is it suppose to relate to the Creator?
Yes, creation does have a relationship to the Creator! In Genesis chapter 9 after the Great Flood, God says to Noah “I now establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with … every living creature on earth … Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood to destroy the earth,” vs. 9-11.
A covenant is a bond or an agreement that forms the basis of a relationship. God establishes this covenant or relationship with all creatures! The sign of the covenant is the Rainbow, v. 13. and it’s an “everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth,” v. 16.
How are all creatures in this covenant supposed to relate to God? Psalm 148 gives us the answer:
“Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the heavens,
Praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, …you waters above the skies.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths.
Lightening and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all Cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and maidens, old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”