So, there are a tonne of scriptures that I want to get to but let's start in the beginning. It's all fine and good to talk about caring for creation but this topic gets so convoluted so quickly that before we get too far we need to make sure we're anchored in the right spot.
We start with the creation of the heavens and the earth. God created, and step-by-step He called everything He made "good."
[What does that say to us about how we should interact with His creation?]
Now, normally we attribute God's final statement about creation, "very good," to His creation of humanity but, strictly speaking, that's not quite accurate. Genesis 1:31 (ESV) "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (my emphasis).
It is the whole of creation that God is so pleased with.
[So again I ask: What does that say to us about how we should interact with His creation?]
I would also like to draw to your attention that in Gen. 1:30 it says that all of the animal world "...has the breath of life...". It is not just humanity that God breathed His breath of life into. So, while animals are not Image Bearers we do share the life giving breath of God with them. [And on top of this we need to remember that in both Greek and Hebrew the word for "breath/wind" is the same word as "spirit." ... in fact, in the LXX it doesn't even say "breath/spirit"; it says SOUL]
This explains Solomon's words in Ecclesiastes 3:19 (ESV) "For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity." (also see: Gen. 7:15)
And, of course, we see in Genesis 1 & 2 that mankind live in complete unity with the plant and animal world. Adam & Eve, as bearers of the Divine Image, rule over creation and creation submits to their rule.
[In what way should we "rule/have dominion" over creation? What does it look like to rule over creation in a Godly way?]
It is only with the Fall of mankind that this unity with the created world falls apart. With the curses (3:14-22) we see the division between humanity and both the animal world and the plant world (and obviously the division between man-God; man-man... that's a given). Mankind is cast-out from the Garden and the holistic unity of God's "very good" creation is broken.
But does this mean that God's mandate that Mankind rule over all of creation is done with?
Absolutely not! The same language that God used with Adam & Eve is used when God makes a Covenant with Noah after the flood: "be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 9:1, 7), all animals are "given into your hands" (9:2). (also check out: Gen. 7:3; 8:1)
The part that really strikes me about the Noahic Covenant is that God doesn't just make the covenant with Noah; He also makes it with animals.
Now you're all going to think that I'm really off my rocker!
Well, read it for yourself:
Genesis 9:12 (ESV) "And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations..." (my emphasis; also check out 9:15, 16).
A covenant "for all future generations" that includes God, Mankind, and the animals.
Genesis 9:13 (ESV) "I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth."
God makes a covenant with the earth.
So, what do you think?
In posts that will come soon we'll move into the Mosaic Law and the rest of the scriptures so let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Putting aside our preconceived notions of what "environmentalism" means in our contemporary world what do you think these passages (and any others from GENESIS that you might think of) say to us about how God relates to nature and how we need to relate to nature?