Sunday, January 21, 2018

Biblical Principles of Conservation

A tenant of the Christian faith is that Jesus will return to earth to usher in the next age, where the earth in its current state will be destroyed an re-created as a new earth. A well-known text in both Christian theology and popular culture is Revelation 21:1, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”

Some Christians believe that because of the end of the world is near, there is no need for conservation. It is permissible, in their minds, to rob the earth of natural resources without any thought to the preservation the environment for future generations.

However, this paradigm is not supported by the Bible. I believe the Bible lays out a clear case for why we need to conserve resources, even if the world ends soon. Below are four principles which advocate for an environmentally friendly, conservation approach to taking care of our home, the earth.

Principle 1: The Earth is the Lord’s

Numerous texts state the true ownership of the earth: it belongs to God.

  • Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord's, with its fullness; the world, and those who dwell therein.
  • Colossians 1:16-17 For by him all things were created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things are held together.
  • Leviticus 25:23 The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and live as foreigners with me.

Principle 2: We are God’s Stewards/Caretakers

Logical follows that if the earth and everything in it belongs to God, our position is to care for what has been entrusted to us.
  • Genesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.
  • Genesis 1:26 God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
  • Jeremiah 2:7 I brought you into a plentiful land, to eat its fruit and its goodness; but when you entered, you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.

Principle 3: Learn From Nature

Several verses specifically call on us to learn from nature. How can we learn from the natural world if it is destroyed?
  • Job 12:7-10 But ask the animals, now, and they shall teach you; the birds of the sky, and they shall tell you. Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach you. The fish of the sea shall declare to you. Who doesn't know that in all these, the Lord's hand has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?
  • 1 Chronicles 16:33 Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
  • Matthew 6:26, 28 See the birds of the sky, that they don't sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you of much more value than they? Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don't toil, neither do they spin.

Principle 4: Use Only What You Need

Perhaps a more controversial principle, do not use resources to excess. In the mid nineteenth century, the buffalo was almost hunted to extinction in the United States. Thousand of pelts were shipped to the eastern, more industrialized part of the United States for use as belts in machinery, clothes, and decoration.
  • Numbers 35:33-34 So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land. No atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, but by the blood of him who shed it. You shall not defile the land which you inhabit, in the middle of which I dwell; for I, the Lord, dwell in the middle of the children of Israel.
  • Ezekiel 34:18 Does it seem a small thing to you to have fed on the good pasture, but you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture? and to have drunk of the clear waters, but you must foul the residue with your feet?
  • Deuteronomy 20:19 When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; for you may eat of them. You shall not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged by you?

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