The Bible on Stewards of the Environment
1st in a series: Is caring for earth scriptural or a made-up myth?
The Bible on Stewards of Environment asks if caring for earth is scriptural. The 1st in a series of Christianity myths (and facts) asks if there is Biblical evidence for preserving earth. Must we respect the land, or provide for earth?
Bible on Stewards of Earth
What does it mean to be a steward of earth?
Stewards of the earth are in charge of taking care of or providing for the earth, but first I'll cite other examples so you get a feel for it. The Bible has several examples of stewards, which I'll explain. It can be used many ways, but some examples are: in charge of the household; in charge of certain property belonging to another; overseers of congregations; one with oversight of business affairs; or a man in charge of workers /employees. You notice the repeated theme of "in charge of" or "overseeing" someone or something?
In fact, the Bible contains an example of stewardship at Matthew 20:8, whereas Jesus provided an illustration of a man in charge of vineyard laborers. God too gave a command at Genesis 2:15 to till the ground (or earth) and keep it, meaning keep it up or take care of it.
Even kings and other persons of wealth or distinction had stewards and the degree of authority given to the stewards of such persons varied. There were times the Bible actually used the word "stewards" and other times the word itself was not used but implied, for those persons were entrusted to others.
God created the earth and everything on it, protected the animals, blessed the plants and every living creature, and also asked us to protect/ guard or care for the earth and that my friends IS stewardship. As humans, we are entrusted to God to care for what he has provided.
Many Christian religions as well as those of the Jewish, Islamic and Buddhist faiths have joined in the fight to green their churches, synagogues, and temples and the environment around them. They are not just preaching about God's green earth, but many have programs for kids, educational seminars, and bicycle programs. Christians believe they should be caretakers or stewards of the earth and each other, and since this webpage is about Christianity, I will focus on that denomination.
Article is original, copyright retained
Below are some green facts taken from the Bible.
Green Facts of the Bible
Old Testament green facts
The Bible contains green facts, but many stop at the 10th commandment, and there were hundreds. For example, many people might point out that there is no 11th commandment "thou shalt not pollute the earth." That would be fact, however there is also no commandment that says, ... thou shalt not smoke cigarettes, but the Bible does say treat your body as a temple. Probably the best scripture on how to take care of earth is listed below, taken from the Old Testament.
Since there is no commandment "thou shalt not pollute", it is also of interesting merit that originally there were more than ten (10) commandments; there were in fact more than 600 initially, as well as about a dozen covenants. This would be found near the beginning of the Old Testament (or properly termed Hebrew scriptures) in the first five books namely Genesis through Deuteronomy. In this section you will find those 600 plus laws as well as obligations involving fellow creatures such as: care for the poor; for widows and orphans; for the handicapped; the treatment towards alien residents, the respect for property, and treatment of animals. Some of the highlights pertaining to this subject are seen below.
I will quote only part of some scriptures for brevity's sake, but will give you the book, chapter, and verse so you can see it for yourself.
On plants and animals:
- let the land produce vegetation (Ge 1:11 & 12)
- let the water teem with living creatures (Ge 1:20 & 21)
- let the land produce living creatures (Ge 1:24 & 25)
- two of every kind in the ark and keep them alive with you - meaning Noah (Ge 6:19-21)
- on birds and sea animals - God "blessed" them and also said increase in number (Ge 1:22)
- God's covenant with Noah, his descendants and every living creature with him - (Ge 9:8 & 9)
- covenant with Noah and all generations to come, and between God and earth (Ge 9:12&13)
Green earth not specific to Mosaic Law only:
In a previous paragraph above, I focused on the laws in the first 5 books of the Bible, which some call the Law Covenant or the Mosaic Law. Although the Law of God to Israel through Moses was not started until Exodus Chapter 20, many of the earlier patriarchal laws were incorporated in the Law given through Moses. Many may argue that the Mosaic Law was abolished when Jesus was impaled, and while that is fact, many of the scriptures above were from the earlier patriarchal laws (prior to Moses) and two of them (below) are from the book of Psalms, not governed by the Mosaic Law.
The 2 examples from Psalms:
- let the seas resound and all that is in it (Ps 96:10-13)
- let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them (Ps 96:10-13)
The fact is that the Bible gives commands on taking care of the earth and the creatures on it (listed above) in both the Law Covenant and elsewhere in the Old Testament. The Bible also addresses the same concerns in the New Testament, which we will see in the next section.
Article is original, copyright retained
Best Bible Eco Scripture
The best scripture on greening earth is in Leviticus, which is eco conscience on the redemption of land.
At Leviticus 25:23 & 24, God states, ... the land is mine, and you (we) are mere tenants who must provide for the redemption of the land. Another Bible version uses the phrase " ... alien residents and settlers from my standpoint" (seen above) and also "... you should grant to the land the right of buying back." So if we must provide or take care of the land then WE ARE caretakers or we are supposed to be, and that leads us back to the beginning as stewards of the earth.
See the picture below from the book of Leviticus , and then in the next text section, you can read about the violators of green earth and some scriptures from the New Testament.
Earth's Care and Violators
Bible mentions earth's care and violators of it
Although we have a Biblical responsibility to be Earth's caretakers, that does not mean people have been responsible in doing so. When people, even as far back as Biblical times did not provide for the earth, God did in fact take notice and here are some scriptures that reference that.
Old Testament on nature and violaters of it:
- God provided clear water, and people muddied the rest (Ez 34:17 & 18)
- God provided fertile land, and humans defiled it (Jer 2:7)
- transgressed the laws, violated statutes, and broke covenant; a curse consumes earth, and its people must bear their guilt (Is 24:4-6)
New Testament explains how earth is ruined by greed:
- guard against every form of greed; also abundance of possessions does not consist of life (Lu 12:15, 23 & 34)
- treasure is where your heart is (Mt 6:21)
- destroying those who destroy the earth, (or some Bibles say bring ruin to those ruining earth) (Rev 11:18)
The one in Revelation (above) is a biggie, and the one prior to that in Matthew is also interesting. Take note again of Matthew, which says treasure is where your heart is. Hhmm think about that a moment. CEO's and CFO's of big oil and gas companies may or may not have their heart in oil or gas, but they do have their heart in profit. They also may or may not go to church, but even if they believe in God and say they love God, one can love what is good, but still not hate the bad enough to stop one's bad behavior or actions.
I really do not see how big oil and gas companies do any of these things. Did God give the Ok or command TO pollute the Gulf waters? Although there is no specific command "not to pollute the earth" there is certainly no permissiveness to do so either. The Bible instructs us to take care of the earth and how violators will be punished. Big businesses ax the Bible with hydrofracking, which is a perfect example of how greed and pollution go hand in hand.
Conclusion and Related Reading
FACT: yes - there are scriptures for caretakers of the earth; and yes that is stewardship. FACT: yes - green earth is Biblical and not hype. Sorry folks this one's real. Since we are on the subject of The Bible and environment, it is also interesting to note that ancient civilizations knew how to recycle, reuse, and reduce, and they knew it before we did. To read about the history of go green, see the link to the article I've provided below.
Article original, Copyright retained
For more info on this subject, see related reading on the History of Go green and Waste and Recycling in Ancient Civilizations - Recycling is milleniums old.
Green Resources for Church
- Interfaith Power & Light – A Religious Response to Global Warming
A Religious Response to Global Warming with programs, speakers links, and reduction resources.
- GreenFaith Leadership Programs
Interfaith Partners for the Environment
- Center for Biblical Stewardship | Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Promoting, educating, and preserving Biblical stewardship
- Creation Care study program for students
A Christian environmental study abroad program
- Restoring Eden home page
Christians for Environmental Stewardship
- Ecology resources in faith based groups - links for many denominations
List of international para religious organizations taking care of creation
- Educational materials for children on Bible and Ecology
Mission projects and toolkits on ecology and creation care for children
Ted Turner Regrets Quote
Ted Turner once remarked that Christianity was "a religion for losers" but now regrets that remark. After realizing how some churches were involved in fighting malaria in Africa, he changed his opinion, and he too is a go-green advocate.
Disclaimer on Advertising
I do not sponsor, endorse or have any stock in the companies promoted on this page.
Although my other webpages (we call them hubs here) have products that I would feel comfortable recommending, I do not feel comfortable doing so here for I do not feel religion should be run as a business. Some ads will still appear but none that I have personally chosen. It's a personal choice. Thanks for your understanding.
© 2010 GetFactsnotHype