-a Biblical perspective on the environment and human choice
If I were to give you a dollar for every time the Bible teaches that the environmental conditions of a land are directly related to the either the righteousness or unrighteousness of the inhabitants of the land, you would fare pretty well. It’s a dominant theme in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. And yet, western societies and cultures reject such teaching as superstitious nonsense.
Examples of this theme abound, so much so that they are too numerous to recount. I’ve compiled a list of scripture references below (*) that can be further studied, while giving here only one or two typical examples:
He turns rivers into a wilderness, and the water springs into dry ground;
A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.—Psalm 107:33, 34
And so as not to despair, the wonderful thing is that it works both ways; as the land can be cursed because of unrighteousness, it can be blessed because of righteousness:
And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your corn, and your wine, and your oil.
And I will send grass in your fields for your cattle, that you may eat and be full.—Deuteronomy 11:13-15
People are taught that environmental conditions, inclusive of: draught, flooding, crop failure, insect infestations, blight, famine, destructive weather, etc., are purely natural phenomena, that happen by time and chance; that they are coincidental, accidental, freaks-of-nature occurrences, or whatever the reason given or belief held. This in turn leads to further mistaken conclusions that nothing can be done to prevent such things, that people are therefore hapless victims and that God; if there is a God, must be some kind of a heartless, unmoved monster to allow it.
And while it’s true that not every environmental catastrophe or calamity suggests that God is either punishing or displeased with those to whom it befalls; God knows it’s usually the poorest of the poor that bear the brunt of such things, it’s equally true that He at least allows such things as part of life’s testing and purifying process. It must be remembered also that scripture reveals that there are unseen spiritual forces, both good and bad, in conflict with each other, the outcome of which, affects the physical creation.
From a Biblical perspective then, since calamity is permitted, whether it is efficacious or not, much depends on how we handle and react to it. As has been said, “Life, under the frowning face it often wears, has a wholly gracious relation to us.”
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather hold the advantage of a perspective on life that gives rhyme and reason to environmental catastrophes, not by way of providing some sort of spiritual painkiller, for the pain incurred, but by way of taking into account human choice as an important factor in the condition of the ‘worldscape’. If there exists the very real scenarios of environmental devastation, calamity, and cataclysm with their resultant hopelessness, despair and even death, their equally exists the very real possibilities of good fortune, abundance, contentment, and life.
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, says the Lord of hosts.
God, the Creator seems more than willing to aid and assist us; it appears from scripture that He just needs our cooperation, and our individual and collective choices are the greatest part of the cooperation. The ball seems to be in our court. We hold our own welfare in our hands through our choices.
*[Amos 4:7-10; Psalm 107:33,34; Psalm 105:16,32-35; Hosea 4:1-3; Jeremiah 12:4,11; Jeremiah 22:10; Job 37:12,13; 2 Samuel 21:1,14; 1 Kings 8:35-39; Ezekiel 14:13; Ezekiel 34:26,27; Leviticus 20:22; Joel 1:12; 2 Chronicles15:5,6; Deuteronomy 11:13-17; Haggai 2:17]
Sorry, it’s not about black carbon it’s about black sin
“The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.”
“The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
“Therefore has the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left”
The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.
The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.–Isaiah 24:4,5, 6,19
I know my little commentary here on this passage from the book of Isaiah won’t be very popular but I felt I had to try to fit it in anyway while I’m on the subject. It sounds to me like global warming, along with a host of other current environmental concerns, could fit quite neatly the picture expressed in this passage. I’d say black carbon may be the surface condition we are dealing with but black sin the root; the cumulative effects of a sin-sickened world.
The condition of the earth is pretty wobbly right now, on pretty shaky foundations, and getting more so all the time. This short passage of scripture gives a very specific list of the various conditions which have the earth and the reasons thereof. It is described here as: defiled, devoured in curse, utterly broken down, moved exceedingly, heavy with transgression, reeling to and fro. Our ‘worldscape’ appears, like a diseased-riddled patient, to be suffering the penalty of some fatal sickness that’s eating it from within while manifesting its corruption throughout the body.
It used to be that anyone preaching an end-of-the-world message was labeled a soothsayer, a crazy doomsayer, and was habitually stereotyped by the little cartoon bible-character parading through the modern city streets with his placard: Repent or Perish. Such antics would draw such a chuckle from the unbelieving world, as if that wasn’t the funniest, most ridiculous thing they’d ever seen in their secure world. But suddenly it’s not so funny anymore; world environmental conditions themselves are testifying that something’s up, something has to give, and we are all left scrambling for solutions, for answers.
Mini studies from Through the Bible in 52 Weeks