January 15th, 2021

Burdened nature groans

By Submitted Article on July 25, 2020.

Creation speaks

Last of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

Gold and diamonds are carefully guarded because precious things incite covetous minds.

Our precious planet is also threatened. As God proceeded with creation, he reiterated that his handiwork was excellent. Satan stained it with sin. Then God cursed his own good creation, and it sprouted thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:17-18). Humanity made it worse.

Since then, creation groans under the burden of the curse, looking forward to the day of redemption (Rom. 8:18-22).

For millennia, humans lived from hunting, gathering and subsistence farming. With the Industrial Revolution, machines enabled mass production of food.

Highways and city sprawl have covered valuable wild and cultivated land. Most countries have eradicated much of their natural forests and grasslands for farming. Amazon and Borneo jungles are uprooted at alarming rate, creating farmland for their growing populations.

The habitat for wildlife is shrinking all the time. Many species are threatened or have become extinct. Some species, like birds, foxes, racoons, monkeys and leopards, have adapted to live near humans. Others hang on in national parks.

Oceans, lakes and rivers are being polluted with plastics and chemicals like never before. Garbage dumps are overfilled. Continuous replacement of appliances, gadgets and cars create large “graveyards” for obsolete machines. Abandoned military and industrial sites leave rusting machines. Air quality suffers as a result of the gases pumped out by vehicles, factories and power plants.

Growing world population exacerbates the conditions mentioned above. More of everything is produced and more thrown out after a few years. More water, food, clothes and homes are needed – pushing resources to the brink. Fish stocks are depleted.

To produce millions of animals for consumption, food production for these animals threatens food production for humans. Over the centuries, wars erupted in competition for valuable resources; it will happen again.

In nature, many animals undertake seasonal migrations to find food, giving depleted fields a chance to recover. Likewise, humans migrate from poor and overpopulated regions to those who offer better opportunities. However, the capacity of developed countries to absorb immigrants has limits.

Humanity is fighting the negative processes mentioned, but it is not enough. We will destroy our habitat, and that of wildlife, if we do not do more. We must not get war-weary in fighting for our planet – it is the only one we have.

We can never restore the present Earth to the original glory it had before the fall into sin. However, we should do our utmost to preserve the many good and beautiful things that still exist. We should review our task as custodians continuously.

Believers can look forward to the New Earth promised in God’s word. Plants, animals and humans will live in peace and plenty (Is. 11:6-9, Rev. 21:1-7, 22:1-5).

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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