“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; The world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the floods.”
Psalm 24:1-2 KJV
The first Earth Day was celebrated on the 100th anniversary of the birthday of the Russian Communist leader, Vladimir Lenin. Whether this was planned or a coincidence is unclear, but many associate Earth Day with left-wing politics.
According to Wikipedia, Earth Day was first proposed in 1969 at a UNESCO conference in San Francisco by peace activist, John McConnell. He wanted it to be on the first day of Spring, March 21, 1970. A month later, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed an environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970, making him the founder of Earth Day.
Many people, who are unaware of the leftist beginnings of Earth Day, become emotional when it comes to ecological issues and treat environmentalism as a quasi-religion. Clear thinking is important on this topic, however, and it’s important that we have a Biblical worldview of the earth and mankind’s relation to it. A brief overview of some of what the Bible says on this topic might be helpful.
In Genesis 1:1, we learn that, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” It took God six days, and on the seventh day He rested. God saw that his creation was good. He put Adam in charge of dressing and keeping (tending and cultivating) the garden.
In Genesis 3, we read about the serpent and the sin of Adam and Eve. This event is called The Fall. The curse of sin came upon the human race, as well as all of creation.
In Genesis 6 and 7, we read about how God sent a universal flood upon the earth as judgment upon mankind for the widespread violence and wickedness. Noah built an ark, and he and his family were the only eight survivors of the Flood.
In Genesis 9:1, God blessed Noah and his sons, and told them to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish (fill) the earth.” God established the Noahic Covenant, which dealt with man’s relationship to earth and nature, and it also set up human government.
“And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”
Genesis 9:2-3 KJV
In Genesis 11, mankind united to rebel against God and built the Tower of Babel. God confounded their language and scattered the people over all the earth. Then in Genesis 12, we read of the call of Abram, and the story of the nation of Israel begins.
In Psalm 8, David tells us that God made man “a little lower than the angels”, made him “to have dominion over the works of thy hands”, and “has put all things under his feet.” So it’s clear from this passage that God has put man in charge of the earth. The Lord owns it, and man is the steward of His creation.
Of course in the New Testament, we have the Good News of the Gospel, in which Jesus Christ redeems us from sin by his sacrificial death upon the cross and his resurrection from the dead three days later. This has implications for creation, too, as we’ll see in the book of Romans.
In fact, the book of Romans has much to say about the topic of creation. In Romans 1, the Apostle Paul talks about the witness of creation to mankind. He discusses how the invisible things of God, His eternal power and divine nature, are clearly seen from the creation. He speaks of how men failed to give glory and thanks to God, and became vain in their imaginations, with their foolish hearts becoming darkened. Man descended into idolatry and began to worship and serve the “creature more than the Creator.”
In Romans 8, Paul talks about how the creation was made subject to vanity but waits for the manifestation of the sons of God when it will “be delivered from the bondage of corruption into glorious liberty of the children of God.”
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”
Romans 8:22 KJV
Then in 2 Peter 3, the Apostle Peter tells us that the earth will be destroyed a second time (the first being the Flood) with fire–“the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” This is the real global warming.
“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
2 Peter 3:13 KJV
Finally, in Revelation 21, the Apostle John also tells us, like Peter, that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. So the effects of the Fall will be reversed as God redeems and restores mankind, as well as creation.
“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”
So what can we conclude from these passages, and how does all of this relate to Earth Day? First, God is the Creator. He made the earth as well mankind. He alone deserves our worship. Second, God has given man dominion over His creation. We are to be responsible in our stewardship of creation. We shouldn’t pollute it, waste natural resources, or do unnecessary harm to it. Third, we need to recognize that sin has marred creation, and it is not in the condition which God originally intended. Fourth, we need to remember that this earth is temporary. It will eventually be destroyed. And that is the fundamental problem with Earth Day. It encourages us to put our hope in temporary things and neglects to mention the Creator. Our hope should be in God, not in things which are passing away. A new heaven and earth await believers in Jesus Christ. So as Christians, we look forward to when Christ returns to reign over the earth. Our focus is not on Earth Day, but on the Day of the Lord.
Outstanding essay. Bob shares your ideas with me.
Thank you for the kinds words.
A helpful article depicting a crucial contrast of the importance our world.