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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!

  1. Humans and Animals


    1. Read Genesis 1:26-28. What is the relationship of humans to animals? (We rule over them. The animals are not our equals.)


      1. God rules over us. Would we like God to rule over us in the same way we rule over animals?


    2. 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.)


    3. 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.)


      1. What additional change is there in the relationship between humans and animals? (Humans can now eat animals for food - which likely accounts for the dread!)


    4. 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.)


      1. 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.)


    5. Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15. What does this text tell us about animals? (That they also get to rest on the Sabbath.)


      1. What does that teach us about God's attitude towards animals?


      2. 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 them.)


    6. 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 blessed.)


  2. Humans and Plants


    1. 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 plants?


    2. 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.)


    3. 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.")


    4. 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 plants.)


  3. Humans and the Environment


    1. 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!


      1. Is God talking about animals here? (No. I think He is referring to the spiritual leaders (shepherds) and people (flock) of Israel.)


        1. Does that mean this text has no lesson for us and animals? (I think there is a secondary lesson that applies to animals.)


    2. 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.)


      1. 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, "no.")


    3. 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.)


      1. 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.)


    4. 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.)


    5. 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.)


      1. 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.)


        1. 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.)


  4. Environmental Worship


    1. 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?


      1. 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 creation.)


      2. 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 God.)


    2. Read Deuteronomy 4:15-19. What does this teach us about worshiping nature? (It is prohibited.)


      1. 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.)


    3. 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 instructions?


  5. 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.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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