But what about the biblical teaching on taking measures to safeguard and treasure the earth? In Genesis humanity is created to ‘rule’ over the animals and creatures of the earth:
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
There has been much misunderstanding about the Hebrew radar meaning rule or have dominion over. Some have misinterpreted this, deducing that we humans have the right to misuse and exploit the earth and its treasures for our own gain. This is unbiblical and wrong. The word radar calls us humans to contribute to the work of tending and gardening our planet. We are invited to actively partner with God in taking the world forward in how we look after the environment and cause nature to flourish.
In the Ancient Near East only kings were deemed important enough to be quasi god-like. Everyone else existed as slaves to serve the King, who was considered almost divine. Genesis refutes this view and uses kingly royal language to describe all humans – we get to exercise kingly privilege over the earth on God’s behalf.
Another word from Genesis 2 that expands on our calling to safeguard the environment is abard, which means to cultivate or to draw out potential from the raw materials around us, for the flourishing of the local and global world.
We need to use our prayers of confession to realign ourselves with God’s call to treat the world justly. Then after prayerful consideration, we need to choose what to do individually and as a church to bless our environment. Let’s get praying and see what God is inspiring us to do!