Archive for April 22nd, 2020

God’s Earth Day

Image may contain: sky, mountain, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature, possible text that says '"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." Genesis 8: 22 imaflip cum'

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers. Psalm 24: 1-2

50 years ago today was the first Earth Day. I was a junior in high school and promoted the first Earth Day. The goal was and still as conservation of our natural resources and to stop polluting the water and sky. At my encouragement my Mom stopped buying laundry detergent with phosphates. We can see what can happen when the Lord is excised from His earth. I still believe in conservation but conservation of the earth has devolved into pagan worship of the earth: see this recent article in TeenVogue. As if earth is our Mother but the earth is not our mother. God is our Creator and Father, not the earth. As G. K. Chesterton wrote:

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate. This gives to the typically Christian pleasure in this earth a strange touch of lightness that is almost frivolity. Nature was a solemn mother to the worshipers of Isis and Cybele. Nature was a solemn mother to Wordsworth or to Emerson. But Nature is not solemn to Francis of Assisi or to George Herbert. To St. Francis, Nature is a sister, and even a younger sister: a little, dancing sister, to be laughed at as well as loved.”

The mere pursuit of health always leads to something unhealthy. Physical nature must not be made the direct object of obedience; it must be enjoyed, not worshiped. Stars and mountains must not be taken seriously. If they are, we end where the pagan nature worship ended. Because the earth is kind, we can imitate all her cruelties. Because sexuality is sane, we can all go mad about sexuality. Mere optimism had reached its insane and appropriate termination. The theory that everything was good had become an orgy of everything that was bad.

We even think we could destroy the earth. Yes, we theoretically can but the Lord won’t let that happen, as the Genesis text in the meme above attests. Neither can we do with the earth only according to our whims and we can see the results of that as well: pollution. The Lord will bring all creation to an end in His time and with that Day, He will judge the living and the dead and bring in the new creation in Christ. Our role is as caretakers. But once the Lord is removed from the picture, we become lords and the Teenvogue article linked above is just one example of where we have landed: sheer paganism and an orgiastic society. This is what happens when the Lord is not acknowledged. We can see this in the Old Testament and today.

James Luther Mays has this cogent commentary on Psalm 24: 1:

The declaration concerns everything in the world and everyone who lives in it. Because the inhabitants of the world depend on it for existence, they are included in the ownership of the LORD. The LORD owns the world, says the confession, because it is his work. His work is described as a founding and establishing on seas and rivers. The description is creation language that speaks of the world as the product of an ordering power who provides stable and reliable existence out of formless and unstable chaos…

The declaration that the LORD is owner is an intentional denial that anyone else is. In Israel’s culture the denial was directed against any deity, such as Marduk, for whom similar claims of sovereign possession were made in Babylon. It relativized the claims of human rulers and entrepreneurs whose ownership of parts of the world always tended to absolutize itself…What the confession excludes in the modern world must be made clear by the congregation who profess it. It excludes any scientism that takes the world to be merely the result of inexplicable and purposeless causes. It raises questions about every tendency of human beings to absolutize ownership. To whom do we think practically and operationally the world belongs? To a roster of nations? To the state? To corporations? To whoever has money to get title to pieces of it? The confession qualifies every conceivable answer to such questions (emphasis added).

And I add fanatical environmentalists.

Remember the purpose of the Lord’s earth is not our worship of it, but to sustain our bodily life, also part of the Lord’s creation. So, enjoy the Lord’s good creation. Break the quarantine and go outside. Plant a flower even if where you are, buying the seed is illegal! See what the Lord has done and rejoice in His creation and take care of creation as Adam was called to do so.

Let us pray…

Almighty God, You bless the earth to make it fruitful, bringing forth in abundance whatever is needed for the support of our lives. Prosper the work of farmers and all those who labor to bring food to our table. Grant them seasonable weather that they may gather in the fruits of the earth in abundance and proclaim Your goodness with thanksgiving; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.


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