A Biblical view of ecology in a world of decay…

Dear Pastor Charles: I am writing regarding the protection of endangered plant and animal species. There are some who say we’ve gone too far to protect these species from extinction, and some who say we haven’t gone far enough. I believe the Bible says God instructed man to rule over all the earth. My question is: How shall man rule regarding endangered species? If man allows a species to become extinct has he done wrong in God’s eyes? Thank you. Curious.

Dear Curious:

    Thank you for the great question. In order to answer it we will need to examine the Scripture you are referring to in which God granted to Adam the dominion over His creation. Genesis 1:28, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” It is good to keep in mind that God had just completed His creation and saw that everything He had made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
 
    God granted to Adam great power and authority over the earth to accomplish what was required of him. It is important to remember that God granted this authority before the fall of man. Prior to the fall, Adam was in close relationship with God as they walked together in the Garden of Eden. Adam’s vision was not yet clouded by sin so he possessed a superior intellect as a result. Adam was far more than a glorified gardener. God intended for him to be the ruler and caretaker over all of creation as he was created in the very image of God. This “dominion” denotes authority in the strongest sense. Therefore, Adam was to be the ruler over the entire earth with only God as his superior.
 
    What a responsibility that would have been for Adam. Never forget that when God calls someone to perform a task, He always grants the power to complete it. Only a little side note, way back when I was considering full time ministry, I had a family to support, a business to run and employees who were counting on me for their lively hood. I somehow knew that God was calling me but I couldn’t quite understand how those obligations would be met. I sure couldn’t do it on my own without letting a bunch of good people down. I was consulting with one of my spiritual mentors at the time about it and he put it to me this way; “If God places the order, He will write the check to pay for it.” That made a lot of sense to me back then and those words still prove to be true even today.

    If only Adam and Eve would not have succumbed to the temptation of Satan they would still be ruling the earth today. So, as a result of the fall, Adam and Eve lost their clothing of glory, along with their innocence, which led them to realized that they were naked. You know the story, God had to kill an animal and use it’s skin in order to provide for them. Sin was, and still is, a bloody business. At that time, Adam lost the power to completely control his environment resulting from his loss of fellowship with God. He was now subject to physical death as a result of his spiritual death.

    What a sad loss that was for all future generations, including you and I. Before Adam and Eve sinned, they were completely provided for. There was no death and no need for the killing of animals for food. In fact, all of God’s created order were vegetarians. Genesis 1:29-30, “Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.” 
 
    My how much we lost when sin and death came into the world. So, now we struggle to manage God’s created order without the God given wisdom and power that is required to do it. The sin that so easily besets us clouds our vision just as it did Adam after the fall. Yet, we are still responsible to God for the protection of the environment. It is the age old story of having responsibility without having authority. We lost that authority because of sin and it cannot be regained on this side of glory.
 
    Fortunately, God foresaw this problem and provided for our reinstatement under the dominion of a second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:19, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man {Adam} the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man {Jesus Christ} the many will be made righteous.”  Today, we can be made righteous in the eyes of God through faith in Jesus, but the restoration of nature to it’s original condition will not happen until He physically returns to assume dominion over the entire earth. The first Adam once had it and he lost it. The Second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, will restore it. Then and only then will the lion be able to lay down with the lamb. Then and only then will there finally be peace on earth. Then and only then will there be a restored and perfect environment in which there will never again be an endangered species of plant or animal.
 
    So, my curious friend, it is important for mankind to protect the resources that God has provided. It is also equally important for the highest order of creation to protect the lower orders. However, we must keep things in a proper perspective. The Bible tells us in 2 Peter 3:10-13, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”  We should take care of the resources that God has provided for this old earth because she is our only means of physical existence, but set your heart upon the new heaven and new earth that God will one day provide.

    You asked that if man allows extinction of a species, has he done wrong in the eyes of God? May I kindly say to you that sin is wrong in the eyes of God and the extinction of a species is the result. The species I am referring to is mankind, you and me brother. That leaves only one viable option and that is to choose life through faith in Jesus Christ. Set your desires upon Him for Jesus truly is the only hope for the world today.

    Thank you once again for the great question. My prayer for you is that God bless and keep you as you look forward to His coming. I pray that He will come soon.

                                                               God Bless,
                                                                 Pastor Charles…

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