Sunday, March 04, 2012

Top 10 Reasons Every Christian Should Care for the Environment - # 9: God blessed His creation

We continue our countdown of the top 10 reasons every Christian should be taking care of this planet, in preparation for Earth hour at 8:30 pm on March 31. 

10. The world is good
9. God blessed His creation

We Christians have made a great deal of Genesis 1:28: ‘God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

In this passage God bestows on us humans a blessing, or what the Hebrews would have called a barak, a blessing which has historically caused Christians to question certain forms of birth control, to delight in large families, and to take seriously the command of 'rule over'.  Blessings in the Bible are important things.  It is a barak which God gave to Abraham and Isaac, a blessing that promised numerous descendants to a childless man in his old age.  These descendants were in turn to be a barak to all nations, a blessing that motivated Paul’s desire to bring the Gospel message to non-Jews.

All of the characters in the Bible, all of the stories told, all of the songs composed, all of the lives lived, are founded on a barak.

A story is told in Genesis 27 of a father who wished to bless his eldest child.  This blessing was part of the birthright of the firstborn son; it was a sacred moment, in which the earthly father echoed the will of the heavenly Father.  This father had twins, but Esau was born first.  By right the blessing was his.  But the father, Isaac, was getting old and his eyesight was poor.  The younger brother, Jacob, took advantage of Isaac's weakness, and through deceit acquired the blessing that did not belong to him.  When Esau came for his blessing, Isaac had no blessing to give.  It had been spoken; it was Jacob's now.  A barak is not mere words.  It is not simply wishful thinking.  A barak is a promise that, once made, cannot be undone.

There is a reason, then, that we pay a great deal of attention to the blessing of Genesis 1:28.  Yet this is not the first barak in the Bible.

Genesis 1:22 reads, ‘God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”

We again have a barak, with similar wording (be fruitful and increase in number), but this barak is not for humans.  This particular barak was given to the inhabitants of the air and water.

God was blessing his creation.

This was a blessing apart from human activity.  Our blessing to ‘rule over’ had not yet been decreed.  This barak has precedence over the barak bestowed to humans.

A barak is not mere words.  It is not simply wishful thinking.  A barak is a promise that, once made, cannot be undone.

And so we must ask ourselves, are our actions supporting or working against the blessing of God?  When the cod stocks collapsed, had we violated a divine barak?  When we hunted the passenger pigeons to extinction, was God’s promise made void?

It would seem that we have considerable power, to bring about or destroy the promise of God.  Every Christian should take care of this planet, because it has been blessed, and such a blessing is something we need to take seriously.

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