Love God, Love your Neighbor, Care for Creation
The Human Vocation according to the Bible
1. We have mistakenly read the Bible:
3. We are only pilgrims in this life:
4. Now read out of our context of concern for creation
2. Humans belong to the earth.
“ . . . a stream would rise from the earth” . . .Then the Lord God formed a human (adam) from the dust of the ground (adamah) and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the human became a living being.” . . . “out of the ground the lord God made to grow every tree.” (Genesis 2:4-9).
3. Creation was not formed for human beings alone.
“God saw everything that God had made, and indeed it was good.” (Genesis 1:1-31).
After the third day (plants and trees). After the fourth day (Sun and moon). After the fifth day and sixth days (animals of the air, sea, and land). Finally and God saw everything that God had made . . .”
4. God wants all creatures to thrive.
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” (1:22; compare after the flood 8:17). “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” (1:28). God gave to humans “every tree with seed in its fruit” for food. To the animals and birds God gave “every green plant for food.” (1:29-30).
5. Hence, God loves creatures for their own sake.
“O Lord! How manifold are your works. In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. These all look to you to give them food in due season.” (Psalm 104:10-30).
6. Human beings were created at the end so that they could take care of the garden earth God had created, indeed so that they serve and preserve it.
“Have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over the cattle and wild animals of the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth (Genesis 1:26).
“The Lord God took the human and put him in the garden of Eden to serve it and to preserve it.” (Genesis 2:15).
7. We see the same responsibility for creation in the Noah story, when Noah was commanded to rescue all the creatures from extinction by flood.
“As for me I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendents after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you . . . “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creatures.” (Genesis 9:12; see also Hosea 2:18).
8. We also see the human responsibility to care for creation in the Sabbath laws of the land of Israel
But in the seventh year there shall be a complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for the Lord.” (Leviticus 25:4)
9. All of life is sacramental.
“The whole earth is filled with God’s glory.”
10. Like humans, all creation is called to praise God.
“Worship the lord in holy splendor: tremble before him all the earth. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice. And let them say among the nations, “the Lord is king.” Let the sea roar and all that fills it; Let the field exalt and everything in it. Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the lord” (I Chronicles 16:29-34; Psalm 148).
“Let all creation praise the Lord.”
11. The biblical books of wisdom show us that humans learn from creation:
“But ask the animals and they will teach you; the birds of the air and they will tell you. Ask the plants of the earth and they will teach you. Ask the fish of the sea and they will declare to you. Who among all these does no know that the hand of the lord has created this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being. (Job 12:7-10).
12. Human justice is related to justice toward the earth.
“I brought you into a land to eat its fruits and its good things, but when you entered you defiled the land and made my heritage an abomination. “ Jeremiah 2:7). “The earth dries up and withers. The world languishes and withers. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants, for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the land.” (Is 24:4-7; compare Joel 2:2-20.).
13. The kingdom of God restores all creation.
“The kingdom of God has arrived.” (Mk 1:14). “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” Mt 6:10). “And he was with the wild animals; the angels were serving him.” (Mk 1:13)
14. Jesus died for all creation.
“For in him all the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth of in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:19-20).
15. All creation is groaning.
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God . . . We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now and not only the creation but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, groan inwardly as we await the adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:19-23).
16. The Book of Revelation portrays the most amazing experience of the unity of all creation:
“I heard the whole creation, everything in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea, say, ‘Blessing and honor and glory and might be to our God who sits upon the throne and the lamb, forever and ever.’” (Revelation 5:13).
17. The Bible calls us to a vocation of care for creation.
“The ecological teaching of the Bible is inescapable. God made the world because god wanted it made. God thinks the world is good and God loves it. It is God’s world; God has never relinquished title to it. God has never revoked the conditions . . . that oblige us to care for it. If God loves the world, then how might any person of faith be excused for not loving it or caring for it? If God loves the world, then how might any person of faith be . . . justified in destroying it?” Wendell Berry, What are People For?