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Rejected from the Land

We must be as serious as God is.

Law and Creation (7)

“‘You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out. And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they commit all these things, and therefore I abhor them. But I have said to you, “You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples.’” Leviticus 20.22-24

Gifts to be developed
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. He made it. He keeps it. And He determines the purposes and terms of its use.

God has given the gifts of His creation into our hands that we should develop and use them in ways that further justice, righteousness, meekness, fruitfulness, and love. He intends peace and wellbeing for the world (Jer. 29.7), and He will continue to allow us to enjoy the benefits of His creation as long as we adhere to His purposes and pursue policies in line with His will.

But God can revoke our privileges and remove His blessings when it becomes clear that we are not exercising good stewardship over the resources of the creation entrusted to our care. Jesus taught as much in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25.14-30). They who do not use God’s gifts as He intends will forfeit both the gifts and the opportunity to use them for His glory.

Thus, we must not wantonly consume the creation, as we have seen. Nor should we fail to enjoy and use it without giving proper thanks and praise to God. We must not consume its resources on our own lusts but keep in mind the needs of others, of future generations, and of the creation itself. And we must not use God’s good gifts in ways that further wicked practices, which are abominations in His sight.

We may regard such issues as not all that important. But God does.

Revoked privileges
As God showed with the pagan peoples of Canaan, and as He warned His people, He is capable of suddenly, dramatically, and completely revoking privileges with respect to His creation.

The pagans of Canaan had fallen into idolatry and practices so evil that they were not even to be mentioned or discussed among the people of Israel. By their sinful ways they polluted the land—its hills, groves, fields, and bounty. They abused the gifts of God by selfish and idolatrous practices, thus setting themselves up for God’s judgment at the time of Israel’s invasion. The land of Canaan, rich with blessings and bounty, “vomited” the pagans out before the advancing Israelites. God used their example as a warning to His own people, that they should have steward-like regard for the land He was entrusting to their care, that every aspect of creation may realize His purpose of blessing His people and glorifying His Name.

Do we suppose that God has ceased being this kind of God with respect to the resources of His creation? That He no longer “so loves the world” for which He gave His Son, that it matters not to Him whether we care for it as He intends? Or that somehow such attention to what God has made, what He continuously upholds, and what He everywhere uses to bless us and reveal Himself to us—such concern for creation is optional? Not worth our time?

Individuals and communities
Proper use of the environment and its creatures—including the culture by which we define, sustain, and enrich our experience on earth—begins with each one of us and the believing communities where we gather to worship and serve the Lord. We deny the stewardship God has entrusted to us if we fail to think as He does about the creation and to use it as He intends. In this matter of caring for creation, believers and their churches have a unique opportunity to set an example for the rest of society and promote policies in the public sector that are more in line with the requirements of an economics of justice than an economics of material wealth.

Christians must not turn a blind eye to creation and its proper use. We have a stewardship of the environment and all creation, beginning right where we are, but extending as far as God enables us to reach, through whatever vehicles and by whatever means—including public policy—we may be able to employ. In the fear of Him Who owns the earth and everything in it, let us work hard to be good stewards over whatever He has placed in our hands (Ps. 8).

For indeed, as the writer of Hebrews lamented, we do not now see the world and its creatures and culture being made, used, replenished, and shared as God intends (Heb. 2.5-8). But we who look to Jesus for our salvation must also see in Him the key to learning, appreciating, restoring, keeping, using, and renewing all creation and culture in line with God’s expectations and promises (Heb. 2.9). If we see Jesus and are His followers, we will follow Him in all aspects of our calling, including the work of bringing glory to God through the creation, both by our own use of these great gifts and by policies in the public square that honor creation as God intends.

For reflection
1. What might be an example of being “vomited” out of some aspect of creation because of abuse and misuse of it?

2. How confident are you that you are using the creation entrusted to your stewardship as God intends? How could you improve in this?

3. Why is this matter of creation—and culture—so important to our lives as followers of Christ?

Next steps—Preparation: Pray that God will enable you to share His burden of love for the world in new and edifying ways.

T. M. Moore

What is the place of the Law of God in the Christian’s life? Our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, answers this question and shows us again why Jesus taught us that keeping the Law is an indispensable part of our calling in God’s Kingdom. Order your copy of The Ground for Christian Ethics by clicking here. To gain a better understanding of how the Law of God applies in daily life, order a copy of our book, A Kingdom Catechism, by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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