When I was a child, and before I really knew much about God, my mother taught me to appreciate and care for the natural world. We were never allowed to throw garbage such as candy wrappers, gum, popsicle or lollipop sticks, Kleenex etc. on to the ground.
My love and care for the natural world came from my Mom. It is a lesson that I tried to pass on to my sons and one which I hope they are passing on to their daughters.
It was in the wonder, beauty and majesty of creation that first really spoke me about a glorious Creator. I think that when we are outside enjoying the beauty of creation, my Mom, my husband and myself feel closest to God. Nature is our cathedral.
My husband taught his children to appreciate nature too. His daughter went on to take Environmental studies in college. The three of us love to watch nature programs, go for nature hikes, take nature photos, and talk about nature. These conversations can get quite interesting as my step-daughter is not a Christian and ardently believes in the theory of evolution. My husband is a Christian but he also believes that some aspects of evolution, such as the earth being millions or billions of years old, may be true. I believe what God tells us about creation in His Word.
Another point, about which the three of us have different ideas, is the role of mankind in creation/nature. My step-daughter believes that we are just another species of animal – no better than any other creature. In fact, she often professes to like animals more than people. She gets very upset and angry when she sees the damage that mankind has done to the environment. My husband believes that humans are supposed to be caretakers of nature, not really “users” of nature. (This is ironic as he is a self-proclaimed carnivore! LOL)
The three of us all agree that creation/nature has suffered, and continues to suffer, at the hands of humankind. Where we disagree is what the role of mankind was/is meant to be in regards to nature and the environment. My husband often says that we were made to take care of nature, not to be lord over it. He hates it when someone mentions the term “dominion”; he doesn’t believe that we were created to be “Kings of the Jungle”.
So I decided to look into God’s Word to find out what He has to say about the relationship between two aspects of His Creation – Man and the earth.
The first 25 verses of the Book of Genesis tell the story of God creating the heavens and the earth and all the living things on the earth – and then He created Man.
Gen 1:26 And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them [man] have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creepers creeping on the earth.
Gen 1:27 And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him. He created them male and female.
Gen 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it. And have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the heavens, and all animals that move upon the earth.
It is very clear to see that God created Man to have “dominion” over the earth and all living things.
The term “dominion” used in these verses comes from the Hebrew word “râdâh” and it means to: subjugate; (come to, make to) have dominion, prevail against, reign, (bear, make to) rule, (-r, over), take.
At the time of creation, God gave Man the right to reign and rule over nature. We were indeed made to be “Kings of the Jungle”.
Heb 2:6 But a certain writer has given his witness, saying, What is man, that you keep him in mind? what is the son of man, that you take him into account?
Heb 2:7 You made him a little lower than the angels; you gave him a crown of glory and honour, and made him ruler over all the works of your hands:
Heb 2:8 You put all things under his feet.
God created the earth to be inhabited by humans.
Isa 45:18 For so says Jehovah the Creator of the heavens, He is God, forming the earth and making it; He makes it stand, not creating it empty, but forming it to be inhabited. (the context here is human habitation)
God created the earth for the purposes of mankind – to live, work, and play. Man was created to be at the top of the creation pyramid – to rule over the rest of creation on earth.
Now I firmly believe that with the right to rule comes great responsibility. Mankind was meant to rule over the earth with Godly wisdom, counsel discernment and love. God expected Man to cherish and look after the wonderland that had been given to him.
Unfortunately, when Adam and Eve sinned, not only Man became cursed, but the curse was spread to creation as well. Instead of being able to easily enjoy the abundance of creation, Many had to struggle to provide food, clothing and shelter for themselves.
Gen 3:17,18 And to Adam He [God] said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it! The ground is cursed for your sake. In pain shall you eat of it all the days of your life. It shall also bring forth thorns and thistles to you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.
Man is still trying to live as though he has “dominion over all the earth”, but he is no longer ruling with Godly wisdom, knowledge, counsel or love. Man uses and abuses creation for his own selfish purposes, with little to no thought to the care needed to sustain creation.
As Christians, I believe that we are responsible for looking after the blessings that God has given us in creation.
Luk 12:48 For to whomever much is given, of him much shall be required.
We are supposed to be “faithful and wise servants” of all that God has blessed us with, and that includes nature.
“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads” Henry David Thoreau Walden