by Maurice Hamel
"When I shut up the heavens so there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people" - 2 Chron. 7:14
Many of us have taken the time to read God's promises, still few if any of us apply those promises to our thinking about the condition of world around us. As we listen to the warnings about environmental degradation and what the world may be like in the future, the fearfulness they are expressing can be contagious. Many people are worried that God has left us on our own with the responsibility to protect the whole world. In their eyes, either God does not exist, became a spectator once he created the world, or is powerless to respond to our pleas for help.
Knowing that we have a tendency to be anxious, God has assured us of his continued care: "be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' " (Heb. 13:5-6) "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed". (Isaiah 54:10)
What do we have to be fearful about? The Bible provides us with the assurance that we are not forgotten and God is in total control. All is going according to plan.
We are exhorted: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6-7)
Why do we have no peace in the face of the physical decay of the planet around us? It is because we do not present our requests to God with thanksgiving. Do we believe that there is a place in God's heart for the creation which he has placed under our care? Then, if we are serious about wanting to protect the environment, it is necessary to follow the prerequisites God has given us in the Scriptures for his restoring health to the land. Our actions and our prayers to God need to be consistent with what he has directed us to be doing as the stewards of his creation: "When I shut up the heavens so there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people ... will humble themselves and pray ... and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear ... and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chron. 7:14)
This promise of healing was not simply given in an eternal sense. It is for today. The Bible tells us that the defiling of our land has come as a result of our own failure to yield "good fruit." (Jer. 4:26) If we are anxious about the health and future of our world, this passage tells us that there are three things God expects us to do. We need to acknowledge our arrogance toward God, (humble ourselves). We need to become dependent on God rather than our own abilities, (pray). And we need to change our behavior so that we are in submission to the commands that God has given us, (turn from our wicked ways).
To do this we need to learn what the Word of God says about the world we live on. It is important to correct the misconceptions that we have about what God has said about his creation.
Now if we have an assurance that God has not lost control of the situation, we must also remember that there is a difference between putting aside our fearfulness and neglecting our responsibility. When we see something that is not right, but is beyond our control, our responsibility as stewards is to express our concern to the one who is in control. We are not to ignore the problem as someone else's job. The thing to do is to pray as though we actually believe that the God who created the world is able to intervene in his creation. Prayer shows our faith in God and our dependence upon him. People tend to pray when they have no other options, once they have determined that they cannot do something under their own strength and understanding. (Doesn't that sound a lot like the ecological problems that we are experiencing?)
But all these things are promised in the context of "if my people who are called by my name". The Bible says that God's instructions concerning the steps necessary to heal the land, can only be put to use by those God recognizes as his own. As Jesus put it, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice." (Luke 8:21) Therefore, if you are truly concerned about the environment and want to do something to help, the first thing that you need to do is to get yourself right with the God of the Bible. Only then will you have the right to ask God to heal our land, as he promised he would.
© Maurice Hamel
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