The theology of ecology part 2 – stewardship and compassion

1. Stewardship

– What is the mandate God gave us?
“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, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
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.”” Gen 1:26–28
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to **work** it and **take care** of it.” Gen 2:15

– How is this meant to be carried out?
– The word ‘work’ or ‘leodah’, can also be translated ‘tend’… or ‘serve’… And the word ‘care’ or ‘lesomrah’ as ‘guard’.
– Similar words are used of the Priesthood in the book of Leviticus. The priesthood were not called to take advantage of the Israelites they were leading.
– The example of the ‘rule’ of Jesus: “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” Lk 22:26

– Caretakers – does not belong to you; on loan
“The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” Ps 24:1
– Plastic in breast milk?
““if my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears, if I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the spirit of its tenants, then let briers come up instead of wheat and stinkweed instead of barley.”” (Job 31:38–40)
– For benefit of all….


2. Compassion for humans and animals
– Sabbath
– For the land, the animals, your workers, yourselves
““For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove. “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.” Ex 23:10–12

– Caring for animals: Treading out the grain, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Deut 25:4
– Faith:
The average Israelite village experienced a shortfall of 15,000,000 cal per year… 60 days of food per family… Although this sort of hungry season is not a surprise to the anthropologist, it certainly helps the modern reader to humanise the experience of our biblical ancestors….I hope you are beginning to realise that when God commands the Israelites not to muzzle his 800 pound working bovine, he is talking to a man who is hungry. And the 5 to 7 pound of grain that an ox would consume over a single day of threshing made a difference. P34-35

– Vulnerable
“Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Is 58:7
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:24
“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.” Is 10:1–2
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.” Lev 23:22



Conclusion
– To say we love God but trash what he made is hypocritical

“I used to think that the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that 30 years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.“ Quote from Gus Speth. P106

“If I were to summarise the message of the old Testament regarding creation care into a single proverb it would be this: the Earth is the Lord’s and all it contains; you may make use of it in your need, but you shall not abuse it in your greed.” 108

“Short-term, desperation management that exhaust current resources in answer to the cry of the urgent was not acceptable in Israel, and it cannot be acceptable to us either.” 109

– Your response?
– How we spend our money has an impact on the environment in general, animals and vulnerable humans.
– Educate yourself on the environment, animal welfare and the human impact of how we use our resources

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

God bless, Malcolm