Monday, March 19, 2012

#8: God Cares For His Creation


Today we continue our countdown of the top 10 reasons every Christian should care for the environment.

10. The world is good.
9. God blessed His creation.
8. God cares for His creation.

Today’s point consists of three smaller points:

a) God brags about His creation

In Job 39 God asks Job a series of questions out of a whirlwind, with the intention of reminding Job of God’s might power.  Many of these questions center around both wild and domestic animals.  One gets the sense that God believes his power to be evident in creation, and that he is proud of the works of his hand.  Read, for instance:

“Who let the wild donkey go free?
Who untied its ropes?
I gave it the wasteland as its home,
the salt flats as its habitat.
It laughs at the commotion in the town;
it does not hear a driver’s shout.
It ranges the hills for its pasture
and searches for any green thing.

“Will the wild ox consent to serve you?
Will it stay by your manger a night?
Can you hold it to the furrow with a harness?
Will it till the valleys behind you?
Will you rely on it for its great strength?
Will you leave your heavy work to it?
Can you trust it to haul in your grain
and bring it to your threshing floor?... (Job 39:5-12)

God specifically brags about the uselessness of animals to humans.  He likes the haughtiness of the wild donkey; the wild ox displays the glory of God precisely because it is difficult to domesticate.  An ethic of creation care must recognize God’s pride in his creation, apart from any use they have for us.

b) God provides for His creation

Christians tend to have a superiority complex towards the natural world.  The common understanding of the Genesis 1 command to 'rule over' creatures and 'subdue' the earth is that God handed creation over to us to use and abuse as we see fit.  Yet we get glimpses that this cannot be entirely true – God did not hand the world over to us, at least not completely.  He providentially provides for his creation, maintaining his rule above and beyond ours.  Look, for instance, at Job again:

Do you hunt the prey for the lioness 
   and satisfy the hunger of the lions 
   when they crouch in their dens 

   or lie in wait in a thicket? 
   Who provides food for the raven 
   when its young cry out to God 
   and wander about for lack of food? (Job 38:39-41)

Or the Psalms:

He covers the sky with clouds;
            he supplies the earth with rain
            and makes the grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
            and for the young ravens when they call. (Psalm 147:8-9)

He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.

He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for the people to cultivate –
bringing forth food from the earth;
wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.

The trees of the LORD are well watered,
The cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

He made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.
You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.
The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.
Then people go out to their work,
to their labor until evening.

How many are your works, LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number –
living things both large and small.
There the ships go to and fro,
And Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground. (Psalm 104:10-30)

The same Psalm that discusses how God provides food for us humans, also discusses the lion’s dependence on God, and on how God providentially cares for all of his creatures, both ‘large and small’.

c) God is aware of His creation

Matthew 10:29: 'What is the price of two sparrows – one copper coin?  But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.'

This New Testament passage is meant to show just how much God cares for us.  If he knows when a worthless sparrow dies, how much more is he intimately aware of our lives!  But we need to acknowledge the literalness of this passage – God also cares about the worthless sparrow.  In Job 39 God talks about being with the mountain goat when it gives birth, about being aware of their pains in labour.  These are not the words of a God who is ignorant of the natural world.  We could say, along with Jesus, that not a single spider is squashed, nor a herring fished, nor a cow consumed, without our Father knowing.

Why, then, should we care for the environment?  Because the one who asked us to rule over it, cares for it and is intimately aware of what goes on in it.

Image of Lake Louise from


W. Bruce STEWART said...

Excellent Matthew!! Bottom line - God cares!! BLessings!!

Keith Shields said...

Great post. Keep on reminding us!