COMMITMENT

THE SPIRIT OF SACRIFICE AND COMMITMENT

Seventh-day Adventists believe the earth, including the nonliving environment, has special status because it is divinely created. The entrance of sin negatively affects

the earth (Gen 3:14-19). Paul reminds us that as a result of sin the “whole

creation”—which would include the earth, the water, the air, animals and the

entire material world—is “groaning” (Rom 8:22). At the same time, Scripture presents an impressive doctrine

of life. The first four days of creation God describes as “good.” On the fifth day the Creator pronounces

a blessing on the new creatures of the air and water, commanding them, as He

will land animals and humans on day six, to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen.

1:22). This implies divine valuation of all life.



On the fifth day the Creator pronounces a blessing on the new creatures of the air and water, commanding them, as He will land animals and humans on day six, to “be fruitful and multiply”

Gen. 1:22

Later, Noah is told by God to take his family and animals into the ark

to keep them alive during a global catastrophe (Gen. 7:3). The turning point in

the flood narrative comes in Genesis 8:1 where we are told, “But God remembered

Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark.”

After the flood, the animals are explicitly included in God’s covenant. Four times God links Noah with all the

creatures in this covenant (Gen. 9:9-10, 12, 15, 17). Later He announces a

similar covenant through Hosea (Hos. 2: 18-20), and exhorts Israel that one of

the dire consequences of their gross sinfulness will be severe harm to the

ecosystems (Hos. 4:1-3).



Respect for animals is found in the Pentateuch where it is pointed out

that both animals and humans were created with the “breath of life” (Gen. 1:20,

24; 2:7, 19); God blessed them all (Gen. 1:22, 28) and both humans and animals

were given a violence-free diet (Gen. 1:29-30). In Job we find a magnificent

4-chapter address (Job 38-41) urging Job to contemplate several wild creatures.

In Numbers 22:21-23 a heavenly being which Balaam does not at first see,

criticizes Balaam’s harshness toward his donkey. The book of Jonah ends with

God’s great mercy, which includes the animals along with wicked Ninevites,

underscoring how the animal kingdom is included in God’s tender regard. Many other examples of God’s care for

the earth can be found in the Old Testament.

This same “theology of life” is found in the New Testament. Jesus’ own

affection for animals is demonstrated repeatedly with mention made that even

the lowliest creatures are loved by God: “Are not five sparrows sold for two

pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God” (Luke 12:6). And the

Architect of two lavish Old Testament sanctuaries marvels at the astonishing

beauty of the flowers He created:

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor

spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed

like one of these” (Matt. 6:28-29). Moreover, Jesus restores health to crippled

limbs and damaged bodies as a “preview” of the perfect world He promises where

sin, sickness and death will be removed.

In the final book of Scripture, the twenty-four elders cry out against

those who have wrecked havoc on creation, recognizing that judgment has come

for “those who destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:18). The Apocalypse concludes with

resplendent restoration, for redemption involves the renewal of the original

creation including the material world. Salvation is never described as escaping

from the earth, but rather reclaiming it. Throughout Scripture we are never

allowed to forget the profound value of this world.



A

Christian Response

All

this suggests that authentic Christian faith must include creation care. Since

God is the Creator and Sustainer of this world, and we are created in His

image, we are to be His image-bearers. Surely this includes loving concern for

all of God’s creation. There is more to good stewardship than returning tithe!

Jo Ann Davidson
Dr. Jo Ann Davidson teaches in the

Andrews University Theological Seminary–the first woman to teach in the

Theology department. She earned her Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Trinity

Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL) in 2000. Articles she has written

have appeared in the Adventist Review, Signs of the Times, and the Journal of the Adventist Theological

Society. She has also authored the books Jonah: The Inside

Story (Review and Herald), Toward a Theology of

Beauty: A Biblical Perspective (University Press of America), and Glimpses of Our God (Pacific Press).

'+element.CommentMessage+'