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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 8: Creation Care *
Introduction: What is "Creation Care?" I shower daily, brush my
teeth twice a day, floss, eat and exercise. Is that the sum of
creation care? If you say that is too narrow a look at creation, I
will tell you that I mow my lawn when needed and trim the bushes
around my house. If you say that is "still too narrow," why is that
true? If all took care of their own stuff, then creation would be
cared for, right? These days the cutting edge of environmentalism is
not so much about the relatively uncontroversial matter of everyone
taking care of their own stuff, it is about the relative importance
of humans in the greater world. Are we entitled to be "selfish"
when it comes to the rest of the creation? Let's dive into our
Bibles and find out what God has to say about the subject!
- Humans and Animals
- Read Genesis 1:26-28. What is the relationship of humans
to animals? (We rule over them. The animals are not our
- God rules over us. Would we like God to rule over us
in the same way we rule over animals?
- Read Genesis 2:19-20. Animals were formed out of the
ground like Adam, but are they suitable helpers for him?
(Adam named the animals, but no animal was considered a
suitable helper for him. Again, this shows that animals
are not the equal of humans. Claims that humans should be
considered just like any other "animal" is not Biblical.)
- Read Genesis 9:1-3. Does this suggest a change in the
relationship between humans and animals? (It seems that
animals now fear and dread humans.)
- What additional change is there in the relationship
between humans and animals? (Humans can now eat
animals for food - which likely accounts for the
- Read Genesis 9:4-6. What happens if an animal kills a
human? (God allows humans to kill animals, but not the
reverse. This gives us an important insight into the
proper relationship between humans and animals.)
- What, exactly, should be this relationship? (Humans
alone are made in the "image of God," therefore they
are more important than animals. Humans can use
animals to improve human life.)
- Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15. What does this text tell us
about animals? (That they also get to rest on the
- What does that teach us about God's attitude towards
- What does it suggest should be our attitude towards
animals? (It suggests that we have an obligation of
fair-dealing towards animals. Even though they are
not our equal, and we may eat them and use them, we
have no right to be cruel to animals or to abuse
- Read Proverbs 27:23-27 and Ephesians 5:28. What selfish
reasons do we have for caring for animals? (I threw in
the Ephesians text because it helps us to understand the
relationship. If you love your spouse, you will be
blessed. If you care for your animals, you will be
- Humans and Plants
- In the first chapter of Genesis ( Genesis 1:29), humans
are told that they may eat plants for food. Read Matthew
21:18-19. What is our obligation to the trees and other
- Read Matthew 21:20-22. Is Jesus teaching us that we
should punish plants that do not serve us properly?
(Jesus draws a spiritual lesson from this, making me
think that the spiritual lesson is the primary point.)
- Read Genesis 2:15. What was God's original plan with
regard to humans and the Garden of Eden? (We would "work
it" and "keep it.")
- What kind of overall lesson about humans and plants would
you draw from the texts we have studied so far? (There is
a hierarchy, and humans are more important than plants.
Humans can eat plants and use them to draw lessons.
However, humans have at least some obligation to care for
- Humans and the Environment
- So far we have learned that God has set up a hierarchy
between humans, animals and plants. Animals and plants
are here to serve humans, they are not our equals. But,
this does not completely answer the question about what
God requires of us regarding His creation. Let's explore
that now. Read Ezekiel 34:2-4. Does this "only take care
of themselves" sound like the introduction where I said I
brush my teeth!
- Is God talking about animals here? (No. I think He
is referring to the spiritual leaders (shepherds)
and people (flock) of Israel.)
- Does that mean this text has no lesson for us
and animals? (I think there is a secondary
lesson that applies to animals.)
- Read Psalms 104:25-30. Who is being addressed here,
humans? (No. If you look at the entire chapter, this is a
reference to God. God does these things.)
- Does that mean this text has no lesson for us and
animals? (If God cares for animals, is it
appropriate for us to abuse them? Logic says,
- Read Isaiah 11:6-9 and Isaiah 65:25. Who needs the care
here? (This tells us that in heaven, animals will not be
a threat to humans - or to more vulnerable animals.)
- If at least some animals are a threat to humans, why
do we find these dangerous animals in heaven?
(Clearly, God desires that animals be in heaven -
even formerly dangerous animals. He has a love and
concern for them which suggests that we, too, should
have a love and concern for animals.)
- Read Hosea 4:1-2. What charge does God bring against the
people? (They do not acknowledge God, they are not
faithful to God, and they show no love.)
- Read Hosea 4:3. What is the result of the lack of love
and the selfishness of the people? (The land and the
animals are dying.)
- How do you understand this? Does God punish the
land and animals for the sins of the people? Or,
are the people causing these problems through their
sins? (Verse 3 starts out, "because of this." That
connects the suffering of the land and animals to
the sins of the people. If you read the entire
chapter - Hosea 4 - it sounds like God is merely
describing the situation, and saying that punishment
will come if they do not change. Thus, it seems more
likely that the people have caused the problem with
the land and animals.)
- If I'm right, what is the significance of God
mentioning what is happening to the land and
animals? (God cares about it. Just as God
describes the other sins in this chapter, so He
describes this sin. Although humans have the
right to rule and use the land for their own
benefit, we should not allow our selfishness to
injure the land or destroy the environment in
which the animals live.)
- Environmental Worship
- Read Deuteronomy 5:8-9. We have learned what God teaches
us about the relationship between humans, animals, plants
and the land. What if we decide that animals are at least
as important, if not more important, than humans?
- Is this is a form of animal worship? (If God orders
our relationship with the rest of the creation, to
violate His order could be a form of worship of the
- Can you think of an example of this? (There are many
people today who are against killing animals and
cutting down trees, but are strongly in favor of
abortion. This completely reverses God's order.
These people are worshiping something other than
- Read Deuteronomy 4:15-19. What does this teach us about
worshiping nature? (It is prohibited.)
- What does the last line of verse 19 mean, "things
the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations
under the heavens." This tells us that nature is to
be used for our benefit, not worshiped.)
- Friend, are your views of the environment consistent with
the teachings of the Bible? Are you off the road on one
side or the other? By that I mean do you selfishly
disregard what God has given you to rule? Or, are you
wrongly worshiping what God has told you to rule and not
worship? Will you decide today to be faithful to God's
- Next week: The Bible and History.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.