PERSPECTIVE

GOD'S STEWARDS OF THE EARTH

When God created the first humans, He gave them three responsibilities that relate to care for the earth (Gen. 1:28, NKJV). The first of these was to fill the earth. The second was to

subdue (kabash,

to subdue) the earth, and the third was to have dominion (radah, to rule) over

the other creatures. Adam was placed in Eden in order to tend (abad, serve) and keep (shamar, to observe) it

(Gen. 2:15). These commands show that God is interested in the proper care and

treatment of our world and its creatures.



Our care for the environment is motivated by the knowledge that the God we love and serve intentionally created this marvellous world, with all its beauty and diversity, and that He values it. We regard the creation as a blessing, but not sacred. We see it as blemished, but not evil."

The

First Rule

Notice that the

commands to care for the environment were given before any command regarding

the payment of tithes and offerings, observing the Sabbath, or caring for our

health. Perhaps this is because we will not be able to do any of the other

things if we do not care for our environment. After all, our ability to earn

income, rest, worship, and care for our health all require a healthy

environment.



Humans have pretty

much filled the earth. With a population of some seven billion people, it is

increasingly difficult to find attractive, healthful living spaces for

additional people. Part of this is because we have not wisely pursued the other

responsibilities given us at creation: to subdue, have dominion over, as well

as to tend and keep the garden.



The commands to

“subdue” and “have dominion” have the connotation of kingship. Humans are

appointed to rule the world. The tools that enable us to do that are

incorporated into the image of God, given to us at the creation. The image of

God has many facets, which include such abilities as a sense of right and

wrong, the ability to think creatively, to plan ahead, and to work in

cooperation to accomplish complex objectives. These features enable us to rule

the other creatures and manage the environment wisely.



Rulership

and Responsibility

Wise management of

the environment often requires a balancing of competing interests and a

responsible prioritization of goals. As good rulers, we must consider the needs

of all parties that use the environment, including the other living organisms.

The terms “subdue” and “dominion” signify rulership and responsibility. They do

not provide a license for brutality and abuse. Humans are to rule the other

creatures with authority and compassion, both of which are divine attributes.

We who are created in God’s image are charged with managing the world as rulers

appointed by the Creator. If we act as good rulers, we shall receive the reward

granted to good managers. If we act as bad rulers, ruling with greed,

intimidation and violence, we shall receive the condemnation that bad rulers

deserve.



Our care for the

environment is motivated by the knowledge that the God we love and serve

intentionally created this marvellous world, with all its beauty and diversity,

and that He values it. We regard the creation as a blessing, but not sacred. We

see it as blemished, but not evil. We recognize that the presence of sin in the

world means that we have to deal with situations that would not exist in a

perfect world, and we must sometimes use our judgment to choose among

alternatives of which none are ideal. Nevertheless, we strive to reduce

suffering, among all creatures. We preserve diversity, even when doing so may

cause us inconvenience. We value a simple lifestyle that reduces consumption

and waste, even though we may do without some of the luxuries available to us. We

do this, not out of fear or greed of reward, but from a sense of gratitude to

the Creator who made us in His image and commissioned us to manage the world as

He would.

Black Rhinoceros

Fast Facts: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/black-rhinoceros/

Type: Mammal

Diet: Herbivore

Size: Head and body, 11 to 13.75 ft (3.4 to

4.2 m); tail, 20 to 27.5 in (50 to 70 cm)

Weight: 3,168 to 7,920 lbs (1,440 - 3,600 kg)

Protection status: Endangered

Jim Gibson
Dr. L. James (Jim) Gibson is Director of

the Geoscience Research Institute in Loma Linda, California. He is co-editor,

with Steven Dunbar and Humberto Rasi, of the book, Entrusted: Christians and Environmental Care. For

more information about the Geoscience Research Institute, visit: www.grisda.org

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