If you have been stuck in your home and watching the news like me you are probably well aware that COVID-19 is a serious problem. It is overwhelming many countries and as of today (April 22nd, 2020) we have not found a cure. Most infected countries have the majority of their population indoors and most international travel has been halted. In the midst of all of this, an odd silver lining of good news has come out of everyone being quarantined: there has been a massive decrease in pollution. This has led some to begin pondering a worldview called antinatalism. which leads people to ask the question, “Is Earth better off without us?”.
I think it is fair to say that humans are at the top of the food chain and that in that position we have devastated a lot of our planet. Humans have killed off many species, polluted most of our oceans, and done a lot of harm to our planet as a whole. Which makes the question of whether Earth is better without our not outrageous to the secular mind. But what about someone who believes in the Christian God? Does God care about the abuse of the Earth? Yes! He created it and made mankind in His image so that we could steward the Earth. This means that one of Mankind’s main reasons for being is to look over and create within nature all to the Glory of God. I have written elsewhere that in the Garden of Eden we were given the keys to the divine sandbox. We were living at peace with animals and the rest of nature ruling over it all under Gods supervision. Then mankind fell into sin and the whole universe became infected. As Christians, we believe that the infection of sin is the cause for all disease, famine, drought, floods, and similar things. Though God sovereignly works over and through all of these things, it is clear this world is broken and that humans are mostly the culprit.
So what is God doing about all of this? Does he have a plan? Yes, God has a plan for the restoration of the Earth and his plan is perfect in wisdom, goodness, and truth as God is perfectly all of those things in His very nature. So what is His plan? God plans to restore all things and make all things new when He returns. I would argue that God’s plan can be summarized in three points: Law, Cross, and Redemption. This is a three-fold and general approach to this topic which one could probably do a thesis paper on. For all of our sanities, I will keep my approach much simpler. I will also be writing this post with the assumption that Christianity is true. Because if Christianity is true then we can find hope in God’s plans. If you do not believe in God, this is not an attempt to show you evidence for Him, but instead to show you what His plan is written out to be.
God has always made the protection of animals crucial in the Bible. The first 5 books of the Bible are what Jews and Christians call “Torah”. Christians are not under the biblical laws found in the Mosaic covenant of the Torah because these were laws that were given to Israel to rule them well in their time and place in history. Although we do not carry out the laws they do still reflect God’s love for us, his desire for justice, and of course His glory. God’s glory is about Him getting praised by all of creation, and all of creation is most satisfied in praising him. We praise him when we act in a way that reflects his nature and honors His law. With that said let’s look at some examples.
In Numbers 35:33-34, we see God telling his people to not pollute their land with war because that goes against what he created them for. War can be very destructive to ones land. Whether it’s the abuse of natural resources or just the carnage of a battlefield, conflicting armies truly damage the planet. This is not to say that the Bible rejects all war. That is not the topic of today, but it is more so focused on avoiding needless war and the destruction it brings.
Elsewhere, in Exodus 23:10-12 shows us that God desires for animals to rest and for the poor to be taken care of. So he told the Israelites to not work the fields of the Promised Land every 7 years. This reflects the the Sabbath which is a commandment where God told his people to rest on the 7th day of every week. This Sabbath rest included foreigners, servants, and animals. Then in Deuteronomy 25:4, God tells his people to not prevent animals from eating as they work the fields because the animal deserves to be fed for its work. Furthermore, we see in Psalm 148 that all of creation is told to praise God, and we should because he is loving, caring, and worthy of our praise. All creation was created to praise God, so all creation has value and is worthy of protection.
Today, and throughout history it doesn’t quite seem like people got the memo on taking care of the Earth. Of course people like to rule the Earth, but they seem to have no interest in stewarding it in kindness. This is due to our sinful nature that has ravaged mankind since Adam and Eve fell. Sin infect us all and bible tells us that the wages of sin is death. The way to atone from this death is the shedding of innocent blood to absolve us from the wages of our sin. Jesus became the payment for our sin when Gods justice, judgment, and mercy met at the cross, (Romans 6:23, Hebrews 9:22). Before Jesus, animals were initially sacrificed to God as per their what Torah required. The Torah demanded these animal sacrifices as an act of sorrowful repentance they and were not intended to be ultimate payments for sin nor to be a way in which Isrealites could try to buy-off God’s wrath. They were intended to be deterrents because animals were costly and valuable in Levitical times.
But sin festered in Israel. God’s Law was rejected and abuse grew more and more rampant. The nation of Israel gave their sacrifices thinking they could cover up their sins. Isaiah 1:1-17 shows us that God desires His people to be repentant and to seek to live justly with one another as an act of service of how He loves. The people sinned against God and each other, and we see in verse 11 that the prophet Isaiah told them that God was not satisfied with their sacrifices.
God demands justice, and in Isaiah 11:1-11, the prophet tells the Israelites that one day justice and judgment will come from a descendant of King David in order to bring peace to the Earth. This person is known in Hebrew as the Messiah (or in Greek “The Christ”). This Messiah is thought by many to be the suffering servant who Isaiah foretold in Isaiah 53. Jesus fulfilled these prophecies and more prophecies from the Hebrew bible. Jesus came from the line of King David and, though he was blameless, he was killed on a cross to take all judgement for sin to bring justice for anyone who would call on his name. He rose from the grave with all authority and told His disciples to tell all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). In calling upon Jesus as Lord and savior one receives a new heart from God and his Holy Spirit that helps you have a relationship with God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 3:18, Colossians 2:13-15)
Isaiah 11:1-11, Hosea 2:14-23 points us to Revelation 21:1-5 where we see God’s beautiful plan to restore and redeem Earth. Before reading anymore of this, read those verses to get a full picture of the hope there is for our world. While mankind tears apart this world and everything within it, Revelation 21:1-5 paints this image of the New Earth where all is restored in a way that makes the believer cry out and ask God to return quickly. But this New Earth is not simply a better version of our planet. It is instead God’s Kingdom coming to Earth so that God may rule a perfect world after his final judgment purges it of all evil.
In the beginning God cared about his creation, and when mankind fell into sin, he made a covenant with them to protect the rest of creation. He has always had a plan to restore mankind. His plan always involved God the Son coming to Earth as flesh, dying our earned deaths, and ultimately saving us from our own destruction, and from us destroying others. Turning to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is trusting that the God of all creation has a perfect plan for this world. It gives us the everlasting hope that one day, death will die and we will be with God forever. We are invited to one day partake in the sandbox once again under the loving supervision of our Heavenly Father.
Today, live as a wise and good steward over the Earth and realize that neglect and abuse of the earth is an affront to God’s good creation. Remember, COVID-19 will one day pass away, and furthermore one day all sickness, hurting, disease, and death will be no more. Rejoice in these truths, and remember that Mankind should act the best they can towards nature and do all they can for this dying world. Currently we can seem to be a disease to the Earth but the true disease is our sin, and when that is finally put to death, we will be benevolent rulers under Gods authority, tending to the land to his glory and our own joy.
Grace and Peace