Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Meaning of Life, All of Creation and Worship

Many believers and Christians today have an underdeveloped knowledge of proper theology and proper biblical concept. It seems that they are guided more by political ideology rather than by sound biblical teaching. When discussing the purpose for the creation and existence of mankind and/or studying the book of Genesis and the creation story people do not seem to have a clear understanding of the purpose for man or of the rest of creation that ties it all together. I have heard the point made many times that God created man to glorify Himself. This is true. Yet if we do not understand or cannot explain fully what that means- we cannot really worship effectively or witness to other people effectively.

If we say to the unbeliever or potential believer, "God just likes to be worshipped," and do not explain more fully, the listener may well go away guffawing because it could be said that what you have just described is a psychotic egomaniac- a God that has created an entire reality just so he can have someone to give him flattery and adulation. The truth is that there is far more to the concept of worship than this. Also, when teaching doesn't cover this point with sound and thorough explanation it sends believers out ill- equipped to answer tough questions from the world.

So what is the purpose of mankind and all life, of all creation and of worship?

There are many verses throughout the Bible that proclaim the purpose for the creation of the cosmos. Simply put, all creation was made to glorify and reveal God. God created the Earth and mankind to reveal himself throughout the universe, to share himself with and through life and to commune with and through mankind and the rest of his creation. God made man special... with a special place and purpose in creation... to tend and take care of his garden and to be holy. Most people that are familiar with Judeo-Christian tradition know the rest of the story... man rebelled. Yet God's original purpose for man and the rest of the cosmos is still intact, in force and has been reconciled by Jesus Christ.

1:18-20 says this:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

1:15-20 says this:

The Supremacy of Christ

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Now let us clarify what worship is. Worship is not meant to be a groveling, flattering experience for man to kiss the feet of a God who needs adulation. Worship has the same purpose that man and all of the rest of creation has- that is to commune with God... to share in God's presence... to participate with God. Worship is as much for man as for God. Worship is a gift from God for man to share in his presence and his glory, to commune and to experience holiness and be joined together in spirit and in truth.

Jesus himself, the King of all Creation (Col. 1:15-20), spoke these words to a Samaritan woman he encountered at a community well:

John 4:23-24

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

Living a life of spirituality that is grounded in truth is worship. Worship is not supposed to be relegated to the few hours a week that we sit in a Church pew. In a sense, all life, all creation, is supposed to exist as worship.

I am always amazed at the resistance and debate that I get when I assert the Christian, people- perhaps even moreso than others, actually do have a role and responibilty to play in the maintenace of the natural world... AKA "the environment". Too many Christians in my view, have made "the environment" something abstract... something that is "out there" separate from themselves and from God and something thus inconsequential to our walk as Christians and our concerns as men. It is true "the environment" is for mankind to be in stewardship over and for us to use. Yet, how are we to "be fruitful and multiply" if we do not acknowledge, understand and accept the full purpose God has charged us with in the Earth? Caring for the Earth and worshipfully observing our purpose ordained by God also enables us to better love our neighbors and maintain public health, to be witnesses for God's purposes and better commune prayerfully with God.

How is it that Christians have allowed themselves to be distracted and deterred from this vital role we are meant to play by terms like "tree hugger"? Would you like to see the Church grow and like to see all those "environmental wackos" out there converted to people using their passions for enlarging the Kingdom of God? Then I think its time for the Church to rediscover this aspect of God's intent for his people and include it as part of a Godly, balanced worldview. We are not talking about becoming environmental activists or engaging in godless naturalism here.

For more on these vital topics also visit these posts:

The Misuse of "Radah" (dominion)

A Biblical View of the Environment

A Christian View of the Environment

The Meaning of Genesis

Why Are We Here?

Project Earth: Preserving the World God Created

Quantum Freewill, the Breath and Spirit of God...

Doing Lunch With The Almighty

Poverty, Pollution and Environmental Racism

Eleven Inherent rules of Corporate Behavior

Is God Green?

Thank You For This Earth

Indigenous Mind


Anonymous said...

Well, the passage from Genesis 2 confirms your contention about our job being to tend & care for the earth.

15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it.”
Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 1997 . Tyndale House: Wheaton, Ill.

God's original job for us, was as caretakers and stewards of Eden. We had a job in tending and fertilizing the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.

It's too bad that we instead just poured RoundUp on the roots of all the trees.

We do know more about the fruit of evil, but, that is not what Adam and Eve were hoping for, I'm sure.

And we know far less about the fruit of life. Too bad indeed.

Scott Starr said...

I have often heard it said... even by Christian people that "all of this environmental stuff is mainly a political ploy". For reasons explained in the post(s) I actually challenge this notion at its core. I remember having this conversation with an Uncle of mine. he simply could not understand why anyone should be concerned about the environment because it will just be burned up someday. I explained to him that his own house was destined for destruction and decay as was his own physical body and asked if this was really a good excuse for not taking care of his home or his body.

He simply didn't get it. I went away from the conversation in a funk and grasping for ways to explain the points I was trying to make. I prayed about it. Hours later I was asleep and dreaming. Suddenly, interrupting my dream, a voice dropped in crystal clear and said something that I remember vividly to this very day. This incident is another reason that I am convicted that I am in the right on this issue. This voice said in clear, penetrating, unmistakable clarity, "The sole reason for the creation and existence of mankind is to glorify and reveal and commune with God. The same is true for the rest of creation, the animals, all life great and small, the trees, the rocks, the water... ALL OF IT!"

I sat straight up in bed awakened from my sleep. I was touched. I shed a tear or two. I got on my knees right then and there and prayed thanks for the answer to my prayer. I explained this to my Uncle who then felt certain that I was in fact crazy. In my personal opinion its the other way around.

So you see, this concept of stewardship for our home planet, the very ground of our being, is not just political... its spiritual.

Creation itself bears witness to the glory and nurture and nature of God. The universe itself testifies to God as it contains intelligence, direction and purpose as exemplified in physical growth cycles, birth, youth, maturity and fulfillment. The universe itself testifies to God in that it has moral content... that is to say that there is a right and proper way to live in the universe. It is the task of Godly people to seek that right way to live. Thus, our relationship to the universe is not that its just like some big buffet feast merely for our consumption. Our relationship to it, according to God's purposes as defined in the Bible, is to be that of stewardship. Every link in the food chain, every species and every part of the various ecosystems of earth has a special and specific purpose in maintianing the overall harmony and balance. so why are we humans here? It should be obvious. We are perhaps the only species capable of taking care of all of the other species and systems that God has placed in our trust.

Hence, the mandate to "be fruitful and multiply". We simply can't do that if we live or act irresponsibly with regards to ecology.

Part of loving our neighbors also entails not only enabling godly societies and governments but also healthy environments that have clean air and water.

Scott Starr said...

Too often Christian people let the idea that this Earth will pass away mis-lead them away from their responsibilities as stewards. They forget that as humans we are the only species on this planet that is capable of protecting the whole- and that was our assignment by God in the beginning. They forget that when we harm the earth, the balance of nature- we do violence to ourselves- to other people- because as humans we are dependant on nature, as the very ground of our being, to feed us, to provide clean water and air and a network of life that is cyclical, nuturing and sustaining to the health and well being of ALL life. Thus- it cannot be denied that nature has order, has natural law and therefore has balance, purpose and even a morality about it. Even though science tries to convince us that life is merely some big bio-chemical accident- science simply cannot come up with any explanation for the existence of purpose and/or moral order. The fact that this Earth will soon pass away in no way relieves us of the responsibility of taking care of it until God decides out time is up. Taking the "it doesn't matter anyway" approach to the ecosystem God has gifted us with makes about as much sense as not maintaining the health of your household, your own body or the bodies of your children- because "they are just going to die someday anyways". When we take care of our nest- we take care of everybody else as well as ourselves- is this not a form of loving your neighbor?

Anonymous said...

My consistent caution, to disciples, is that we should not be "advocates for or against issues". When we become an advocate for or against any issue, we are necessarily taking our eyes off of the goal.

As an example: Peter and the other apostles were not wrong for noticing the inclement weather system, which had come over the Sea of Galilee (Mt 14:25-33 & Mk 6:47-52). The problem came from focusing on the issue/problem and not focusing on Jesus Christ.

Notice that in St. Mark's account of the water walking storm chasers, he links this same error of focus with the "issue/problem" of not having enough bread and Jesus’ ability to overcome such a serious & real issue/problem.

Yes, we must be good stewards.
Yes, we must not be focused on eco-protection.

These two statements appear to be paradoxes, unless we understand that individual issues are not to be our focus, regardless of how noble and real the issues may be.

Don't forget, many disciples may have heard a voice, which spoke to them just as convincingly about abortion, homosexual marriage, etc. etc.

Anytime I see or hear someone say, ‘I know I am right on this issue, because God told me so’; I compare their perceptions of God’s proclamations, to what Jesus said in the gospels. If there is a disparity I take note.

This is similar to the issue of right-wing and left-wing disciple criticism, of which I have recently addressed to you. These are “issues” that are not wrong per se, and yet, it appears to me, that they’ve become more than just a little bit “off balance” (“fair and balanced” post notwithstanding, but I hope you see my point.)

Do you recall the When Faith Meets Politics class? These issues were all discussed there.

Anti-abortion, pro-choice, environmental awareness, tax parity, redistribution of resources, immigration reform, pro-immigration, English only, bilingual education, welfare reform, welfare for the poor; Any and all of this issues can be noble causes, despite what our individual conceptions are, however, if these issues/problems become passions, they will necessarily displace Jesus and His example of agapē.

I believe you understand my passion for Jesus’ portrait of the Holy Father’s agapē.
Nevertheless, I see deep passion for 'noble issues', which in a proper context would indeed demonstrate agapē.

Conversely, when out-of-balance [distinctive from “fair and balanced” more akin to koyaanisqutsi], these issues will obscure Jesus’ portrait of the Holy Spirit’s agapē for the Holy Father & the Holy Father’s agapē for the being He created in His image.

You may continue to wax passionately for your rightness, with respect to issues you love, but I too, may continue to encourage you to keep focus on One who walks on water, provides bread, and chases storms.

Peace and God bless,

Scott Starr said...

I don't think you understand as yet what this post is about. Ultimately it is about Jesus and about agape love and not about eco-politics or misplaced passion. The caveats are given more than once that this is a matter of proper biblical perspective. I don't know how to explain it any better or how people miss this teaching. Only God can bring understanding. The Bible tells me so.

Scott Starr said...

I understand the counterpoints and caveats that have been made and yet I insist that these matters are of an important spiritual nature and spiritual teaching. I justify moving beyond the elementary teachings about the nature of Christs love and goodness in the light of the following verses:

Hebrews 5 (Amplified):

11Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish [even [f]slothful in achieving spiritual insight].

12For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God's Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food.

13For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]!

14But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.

Hebrews 6

1THEREFORE LET us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God,

2With teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.]

3If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advanced teaching].


1. Hebrews 5:6 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
2. Hebrews 5:7 G. Abbott-Smith, Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament.
3. Hebrews 5:7 Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.
4. Hebrews 5:10 Alexander Souter, Pocket Lexicon.
5. Hebrews 5:10 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
6. Hebrews 5:11 G. Abbott-Smith, Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament.

Cross references:

1. Hebrews 5:5 : Ps 2:7
2. Hebrews 5:6 : Ps 110:4
3. Hebrews 5:9 : Isa 45:17
4. Hebrews 5:10 : Ps 110:4

4:46 PM

Scott Starr said...

Psalm 148
1 PRAISE THE Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights!

2 Praise Him, all His angels, praise Him, all His hosts!

3 Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you stars of light!

4 Praise Him, you highest heavens and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created.

6 He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away [He fixed their bounds which cannot be passed over].

7 Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps!

8 You lightning, hail, fog, and frost, you stormy wind fulfilling His orders!

9 Mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars!

10 Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers and judges of the earth!

12 Both young men and maidens, old men and children!

13 Let them praise and exalt the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted and supreme! His glory and majesty are above earth and heaven!

14 He has lifted up a horn for His people [giving them power, prosperity, dignity, and preeminence], a song of praise for all His godly ones, for the people of Israel, who are near to Him. Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

Anonymous said...

You are probably correct, that I am confused about the point.

However, you may be equally confused about my point.

Just as you feel passionate about environmental issues, many Christians have dogmatic views about the abortion issue/problem. And again like you, they support their views equally passionately by citing scriptures.

This should give you pause about passing judgment on the blindness of disciples who disagree with your passion about environmental issues, because you have accurately made the case to me, that the “righteous-wing party” effectively plays the abortion issue for political hey.

Yet, you above state categorically, that the environmental issue/problem is not a political wedge.

I have often heard it said... even by Christian people that "all of this environmental stuff is mainly a political ploy". For reasons explained in the post(s) I actually challenge this notion at its core.

But, it is just as real of a ploy as "pro-life" or the other morality issues.

I hope to be clear on what I am saying.
Abortion is a moral tragedy.
Environmental attacks & indifference is a moral tragedy.

However, God did not send disciples out into the world to make the dying world more moral.

Yes, disciples are to be moral. But, advocating for morality still leaves the dead world in their grave cloths.

I may never understand your point. But, I will continue to read and write, in hopes of a purer communication.
God bless,

Scott Starr said...

To understand the point I am working with here- do a serious word study on the Hebrew terms Ruach and Nephesh.

Consider also the message of a large portion of the Psalms (like Ps 136;104). These reveal that part of reverence and regard for God includes recognition of his majesty as expressed in nature. Such regard is part of holiness, worship and communion with God. We are to love and obey God, love righteousness and hate evil as in disharmony, destruction, chaos and discord. Because God (and Christ in God) is Creator of nature and the director of human history, He controls nature and historical events. Free human sinners may thwart or work against His purposes for creation for the time being, but His ultimate goal for creation and His purpose of redemption shall be achieved. The will of God shall be done on earth, in history, as it is done in Heaven. The Lord's ultimate goal for his creation is an age of peace, the realization of the kingdom of God on earth
(Ps 46:8-11). To say God is sovereign King of the universe means that HE cannot be controlled or manipulated by man. He hears our laments and complaints but remains free to act how and when He chooses. He saves from destruction and dispenses justice. God's sovereignty extends over the whole of creation and all the nations (Ps 22:27-28). His kingdom, across all generations, is everlasting. People do not discover God. He reveals himself to them. God pours out his spirit in all of creation and nature. It is to be respected in this light. This respect is part of a worshipful attitude towards God and necessary to any human efforts at the holiness God desires from us. To even attempt holiness we are to put our spirit, our mind, our purposes in accord with God's intents and purposes and designs. We are to love goodness and godliness and hate even the appearance of evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

13 All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God's providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man.

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good or evil.

Scott Starr said...

Regarding this:

"Anytime I see or hear someone say, ‘I know I am right on this issue, because God told me so’; I compare their perceptions of God’s proclamations, to what Jesus said in the gospels. If there is a disparity I take note."

I will assume it is a reference to my tale about the message I claim to have had where a voice interrupted my sleep after praying for an answer. I did not necessarily say that "God told me" anything. And yet I do believe the message was recieved in Spirit. I do not believe that there is a disparity between my tale and anything that Jesus said. In fact, as laid out in the comment just prior to this one... I believe the message I relayed can be supported by the entirety of scripture. I feel no real need to defend the idea that I may recieve input in the way I described. I believe such things are a result of faith and are expressed by the Holy Spirit. consider this:

Hebrews 11:29-40 (Amplified Bible)

29 [Urged on] by faith the people crossed the Red Sea as [though] on dry land, but when the Egyptians tried to do the same thing they were swallowed up [by the sea].(A)

30 Because of faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encompassed for seven days [by the Israelites].(B)

31 [Prompted] by faith Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed along with those who refused to believe and obey, because she had received the spies in peace [without enmity].(C)

32 And what shall I say further? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,(D)

33 Who by [the help of] faith subdued kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promised blessings, closed the mouths of lions,(E)

34 Extinguished the power of raging fire, escaped the devourings of the sword, out of frailty and weakness won strength and became stalwart, even mighty and resistless in battle, routing alien hosts.(F)

35 [Some] women received again their dead by a resurrection. Others were tortured [a]to death with clubs, refusing to accept release [offered on the terms of denying their faith], so that they might be resurrected to a better life. [I Kings 17:17-24; II Kings 4:25-37.]

36 Others had to suffer the trial of mocking and scourging and even chains and imprisonment.

37 They were stoned to death; they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith]; they were sawn asunder; they were slaughtered by the sword; [while they were alive] they had to go about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated--

38 [Men] of whom the world was not worthy--roaming over the desolate places and the mountains, and [living] in caves and caverns and holes of the earth.

39 And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised,

40 Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].


1. Hebrews 11:35 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.

Cross references:

1. Hebrews 11:29 : Exod 14:21-31
2. Hebrews 11:30 : Josh 6:12-21
3. Hebrews 11:31 : Josh 2:1-21; 6:22-25
4. Hebrews 11:32 : Judg 4:1-5, 31; 6:1-8, 35; 11:1-12, 15; 13:1-16, 31; I Sam 1-30; II Sam 1-24; I Kings 1-2; Acts 3:24
5. Hebrews 11:33 : Dan 6
6. Hebrews 11:34 : Dan 3

I assume you know that these questions and challenges do not trouble me in the least. In fact I welcome them because they make me dig deeper. They make me seek the right words and seek better communication in explaining something that I truly wish to communicate. Iron sharpens iron. just earlier I was at a loss for how I could explain this any better. Now I believe I have. I am finding it hard to comprehend that you have read all the material and links I have provided in the original post. I have explained my position using some of my own words but also a large amount of scripture. I do not believe I have fallen prey to any of the pitfalls that accompany these "Noble causes". Instead, I have, at least in my own understanding, provided a strong, scriptural basis for what I have said and also inserted caveats about "political ploys" or unbridled passion concerning these matters.

As always, I am prepared to be wrong if anyone can dismantle my exegesis.

Scott Starr said...

One point that you made that I did not cover was the statement that disciples were not sent into the world to make it more moral. Perhaps not... but disciples were dispatched to go and be righteous, making themselves more moral and to be representatives of God and examples of his will on earth. Ultimately, this was covered by:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

13 All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God's providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man.

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good or evil.

Scott Starr said...

So, a reason "Church", is unfulfilling to many people and "Church", is in some ways unattractive to the world is because modern theology is missing some key elements. This matter we have been discussing is one of those key elements. People will never know the comprehensive and complete fulfillment of God until they fully put themselves in accord with His intentions for them. The root of all that is wrong with the world comes from being disconected from God's purpose for us as spiritual beings. Books are written, movies made, all art and expression screams out seeking the answer to the questions of who are we, why are we here,what are we supposed to be doing? Christians, as God's people, are supposed to well understand these questions and their answers. We are to love God, follow his original intent and design for us and shun even the appearance of evil, living as well as we are able above reproach. This includes the matters under discussion.

Go back to the scriptural citation in Hebrews 5 and 6 and consider its proper context. Its pretty clear that we are not only to dwell on mooning over Jesus and his love and kingship. We are to work diligently to understand what that kingship or priesthood means for life on earth and translate it into proper attitude and action. The passages in Hebrews say much about the perfect, high priesthood of christ. What then is he high priest over? Answer: Heaven and Earth and humanity. If we are to live under the reign of that priesthood, attempting to be righteous, holy ambassadors of the cosmic King, the Priest- does that not say something about how we live upon this planet and among men?

If men were to comprehend, realize and internalize these things- then the struggles of keeping the faith would be far less daunting.

Scott Starr said...

Psalm 104
1 BLESS (AFFECTIONATELY, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great! You are clothed with honor and majesty--

2 [You are the One] Who covers Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain or a tent,

3 Who lays the beams of the upper room of His abode in the waters [above the firmament], Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind,

4 Who makes winds His messengers, flames of fire His ministers.(A)

5 You laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be moved forever.(B)

6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.(C)

7 At Your rebuke they fled; at the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.

8 The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place which You appointed for them.

9 You have set a boundary [for the waters] which they may not pass over, that they turn not again to deluge the earth.

10 He sends forth springs into the valleys; their waters run among the mountains.

11 They give drink to every [wild] beast of the field; the wild asses quench their thirst there.

12 Beside them the birds of the heavens have their nests; they sing among the branches.(D)

13 He waters the mountains from His upper rooms; the earth is satisfied and abounds with the fruit of His works.

14 He causes vegetation to grow for the cattle, and all that the earth produces for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food out of the earth--

15 And wine that gladdens the heart of man, to make his face shine more than oil, and bread to support, refresh, and strengthen man's heart.

16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly and are filled with sap, the cedars of Lebanon which He has planted,

17 Where the birds make their nests; as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

18 The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the conies and badgers.

19 [The Lord] appointed the moon for the seasons; the sun knows [the exact time of] its setting.

20 You [O Lord] make darkness and it becomes night, in which creeps forth every wild beast of the forest.

21 The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God.

22 When the sun arises, they withdraw themselves and lie down in their dens.

23 Man goes forth to his work and remains at his task until evening.

24 O Lord, how many and varied are Your works! In wisdom have You made them all; the earth is full of Your riches and Your creatures.

25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, in which are swarms of innumerable creeping things, creatures both small and great.

26 There go the ships of the sea, and Leviathan (the sea monster), which You have formed to sport in it.

27 These all wait and are dependent upon You, that You may give them their food in due season.

28 When You give it to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, and they are filled with good things.

29 When You hide Your face, they are troubled and dismayed; when You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

30 When You send forth Your Spirit and give them breath, they are created, and You replenish the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works--

32 Who looks on the earth, and it quakes and trembles, Who touches the mountains, and they smoke!

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have any being.

34 May my meditation be sweet to Him; as for me, I will rejoice in the Lord.

35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

Cross references:

1. Psalm 104:4 : Heb 1:7
2. Psalm 104:5 : Job 38:4, 6
3. Psalm 104:6 : Gen 1:2; II Pet 3:5
4. Psalm 104:12 : Matt 13:32

Scott Starr said...

Laying aside all this high end philosophy and theology. The point I am seeking to make is simple in the most practical of terms. It really comes down to a matter of respect and gratitude. When we humans, especially believers, operate with a sense of entitlement and selfishness like spoiled children running afoul on the master's property- we cannot enjoy a fully realized or empowered prayer life. Gratitude for every breath, every drink of water and every bite of food is the basis for what I am saying. Revisit the post "Doing Lunch With the Almighty" for more on this.

Anonymous said...

I think I understand your point.
Christians should be seekers of order, i.e. clean water, clean air, clean earth, clean heavens.

When I see someone pouring motor oil into a creek or when I see someone dropping fast food trash out of their windows, I will, as a general rule, see this individual as a non-believer. I doubt that I am the only disciple who would have this same "gut reaction" to this type of boorish behavior.

My guess is that even your uncle, if he saw someone behaving in such a fashion, would think: 'that person must not be a Christian.'

Being a disciple must make a difference in ones view of personal responsibility. This issue will simply carry over to almost every aspect of our behavior.

Do you remember when we went to Granite City? Phillip told us about a fellow who had had his radio turned up very loudly, playing obscene gangsta rap, while children and ladies were around.

This fellow was fouling the environment in the same manner as the guy pouring motor oil in the creek. Perhaps the motor oil is more difficult to clean up, but that assessment is only made with carnal eyes, a more spiritual attuned ear might hear how these physical sounds of hate, exploitation and violence affects the whole, of God's created order and beauty.

So, while the Church would not support obscene gangsta rap, even if the "righteous-wing party" told us to.
Neither should we support obscene chemical gangsta c-rap, even when the "righteous-wingers" tell us to.

And furthermore, we should have a spiritually mature (Hebrews 5-6)and discerning eye and ear, so that we can recognize when gangsta environmental c-rap is being broadcast onto the earth.

Is this a fair interpretation of the point?

p.s. I have more that I would like to bring to bear on this discussion, but I am afraid that I have already manipulated too many electrons for this electronic media posting. I suspect also, that I may be perceived as an electron guzzling, cyberspace, polluter.

Scott Starr said...

I would say that what you have drawn a fair analogy. I would contend that thee is yet a little more to the concept though. To get to the crux of the concept I believe one must understand the terms Ruach and Nephesh as I have suggested. Ruach is the Spirit of God- the omnipresent presence of God's life giving energy and force which is at work throughout all creation. When we act irresponsibly, unethically, selfishly, destructively or disrespectfully we not only do harm to ourselves by working against balance but we directly insult the ever present Spirit of God and his holiness and sovereign reign. I will attach a workup on this term Ruach. For the moment consider these questions;

Who is God of this world?

Who is God of all creation, earth and all matter that it contains?

What is the difference between the concept of "the world" and the definition of all creation and earth?

Who is sovereign over the world and the systems that damage and pollute

Who is the sovereign over the earth ?

Now this:

The word ruach occurs 389 times in the Hebrew Old Testament

In the A.V. it is rendered spirit in 237 passages (and no other word is rendered spirit except neshamah, "breath", in Job 26:4 and Prov. 20:27. ). In the remaining 152 places it is translated in 22 different ways, which are to be carefully distinguished.

[In the R.V. ruach is rendered spirit 224 times, and in the remaining 165 passages is rendered in many different ways.]

The meaning of the word is to be deduced only from its usage. The one root idea running through all the passages is invisible force. As this force may be exerted in varying forms, and may be manifested in divers ways, so various renderings are necessitated, corresponding thereto.

Ruach, in whatever sense it is used, always represents that which is invisible except by its manifestations. These are seen both externally to man, as well as internally within man.

As coming from God, it is the invisible origin of life. All apart from this is death. It comes from God, and returns to God (Ecc. 3:19, 20). Hence, ruach is used of :

I.--God, as being invisible. "The Spirit of Jehovah" is Jehovah Himself, in His manifestation of invisible power.
2Sam. 23:2. Ps. 139:7 ( = Thee). Is. 40:13.

II.--The Holy Spirit:
2Sam. 23:2. 1Kings 18:12; 22:24. 2Kings 2:16. 2Chron. 18:23. Neh. 9:20, 30. Job 26:13; 33:4. Isa. 40:13; 48:16; 59:19, 21; 61:1; 63:10, 1-4. Ezek. 3:12, 14 (1st); 8:3; 11:1, 24; 37:1; 43:5. Mic. 2:7; 3:8. Zech. 4:6; 6:8; 7:12. Mal. 2:15.

III.--Invisible Divine Power Manifesting Itself
In creation. Gen. 1:2.
In giving life. Ezek. 37:14.
In executing judgment--
"blast." Ex. 15:8. Isa. 37:7.
"breath." 2Sam. 22:16. 2Kings 19:7. Job 4:9; 15:30. Ps. 18:15; 33:6. Isa. 11:4; 30:28.
"spirit." Isa. 4:4; 28:6; 34:16; 40:7.

IV.--Invisible "Power from on High," Manifesting itself as Divine Power in giving spiritual gifts . Spoken of as coming upon, clothing, falling on, and being poured out. Rendered "Spirit", but should be "spirit".
Gen. 41:38. Ex. 28:3; 31:3; 35:31. Num. 11:17, 25, 26, 29; 24:2; 27:8. Deut. 34:9. Judg. 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14. 1Sam. 10:6, 10; 11:6; 16:13, 14; 19:20, 23. 2Kings 2:9, 15. 1Chron. 12:18; 28:12. 2Chron. 15:1; 20:14; 24:20. Ps. 51:11, 12; 143:10. Prov. 1:23. Isa. 11:2.; 30:1; 32:15; 42:1, 5; 44:3; 59:21; 61:1; 63:11. Ezek. 2:2; 3:24; 11:5, 19; 36:27; 39:29. Dan. 4:8, 9 18; 5:11, 12, 14. Joel 2:28, 29. Hag. 2:5. Zech. 12:10.

V. The Invisible part of Man (Psychological). Given by God at man's formation at birth, and returning to God at his death.
"Breath." Gen. 6:17; 7:15, 22. Job 9:18; 12:10; 17:1. Ps. 104:29; 135:17; 146:4. Ecc. 3:19. Jer. 10:14; 51:17. Lam. 4:20. Ezek. 37:5, 6, 8, 9, 10. Hab. 2:19. Zech. 12:1.
"spirit." Gen. 6:3. Num. 16:22; 27:16. Job 27:3; 34:14. Ps. 31:5; 104:30. Ecc. 3:21; 8:8; 11:5; 12:7. Isa. 42:5.
"Wind." Ezek. 37:9.

VI.--The Invisible Characteristics of Man; manifesting themselves in states of mind and feeling (by the Fig. Metonymy. ).
"Mind." Gen. 26:35. Prov. 29:11. Ezek. 11:5; 20:32. Dan. 5:20. Hab. 1:11.
"Breath." Job 19:17 ( = manner).
"Courage." Josh. 2:11.
"Anger." Judg. 8:3.
"Blast." Isa. 25:4.
"Spirit." Gen. 41:8; 45:27. Ex. 6:9; 35:21. Num. 5:14, 30; 14:24. Josh. 5:1. Judg. 15:19. 1Sam. 1:15; 30:12. 1Kings 10:5; 21:5. 1Chron. 5:26. 2Chron. 9:4; 21:16; 36:22. Ezra 1:1, 5. Job 6:4; 7:11; 10:12; 15:13; 20:3; 21:4; 32:8, 18. Ps. 32:2; 34:18; 51:10, 11, 12, 17; 76:12; 78:8; 142:3; 143:4, 7. Prov. 11:13; 14:29; 15:4, 13; 16:2, 18, 19, 32; 17:22, 27; 18:14; 25:28; 29:23. Ecc. 1:14, 17; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 6:9; 7:8, 9; 10:4. Isa. 19:3, 14; 26:9; 29:10, 24; 33:11; 38:16; 54:6; 57:15, 16; 61:3; 65:14; 66:2. Jer. 51:11. Ezek. 13:3. Dan. 7:15. Hos. 4:12; 5:4. Mic. 2:11 (by Hendiadys, for a false of lying spirit).

VII.--Invisible Spirit-Beings.
"Angels." Ps. 104:4.
"Cherubim." Ezek 1:12, 20, 21; 10:17.
Neutral spirit-beings. Job 4:15. Isa. 31:3.
Evil angels. Judg. 9:23. 1Sam. 16:14, 15, 16, 23; 18:10; 19:9. 1Kings 22:21, 22, 23. 2Chron. 18:20, 21, 22. Zech. 13:2.

IX.--The Invisible Manifestations of the Atmosphere.
Temperature. Gen. 3:8 ("cool").
"Wind" or "winds" in every place where the words "wind" or "winds" occur.
"Whirlwind." Ezek. 1:4.
"Windy." Ps. 55:8.
"Spirits." Zech. 6:5.
"Air." Job 41:16.
"Tempest." Ps. 11:6.
"Blast." Ex. 15:8. 2Kings 19:7. Isa. 25:4; 37:7.
"Quarters" (of the four winds). 1Chron. 9:24.
"Side" or "sides" (of the four winds). Jer. 52:23. Ezek. 42:16, 17, 18, 19, 20.

Scott Starr said...

One of the biggest points I wish to make is a challenge to a lot of "Christian" teaching that is out there right now on this subject.

I was reminded of this as I drove this morning by a radio broadcast sermon. The sermon by John MacArthur which was otherwise a good one basically dismissed the whole subject of earth and our proper relationship to it in one swoop as "the false religion of environmentalism". I will assert again that the proper, Biblical perspective on the issue of environment is key. If we have proper biblical perspective- there is no room for "the false religion of environmentalism". It is true that when any "ism" or any thing displaces God at the center of life- then it is idolatry. Environmentalism, militarism, democratism, republicanism, anti-abortionism, atheism, communism, humanism, etc. etc. are all then on equal terms when they displace the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and the rules that of conduct that they have set forth as the apex and focus of all existence. I contend that simply dismissing the whole subject of man's relationship to creation with blanket labels like "the false religion of environmentalism" is a false and possibly even heretical teaching as much as humanism or any other "ism". I have laid out a pretty simple and yet complex case on this.

The point should also be made that I am in no way asserting that the sin of environmental disregard and destruction is a greater sin than say that of murder or drunkenness. I am asserting that it is a sin on equal terms with other sin. It goes against God and our fellow man.

Taking the entire subject of ecology and labeling it as godless and as "the false religion of environmentalism" without qualifying it makes about as much sense to me as taking the subject of sex and calling it godless and labeling it as "the false religion of sexism" without qualification.

Just as sex has its purpose and its place in God's design- so does man's relationship to the "environment". Moving outside the proper place and perspective of God's design for sex is a sin as is doing the same with regards to environment. There are distinctions and they must be acknowledged and understood.

Scott Starr said...

Here is an interesting thing I found when I was doing a research for this subject. I was looking for the Hebrew meanings of the words usually translated as "subdue" and "dominion" as they are used in Genesis 1:28. I plan on researching this further- but this take on things moves me one step closer to thinking that these terms "subdue" and "dominion" have been misused since they were translated from Hebrew into the imperial languages of Western societies. Check it out:

A Taste of Eco-Torah, from COEJL
Synagogue projects with COEJL involve Torah (learning), Avodah (service/prayer), and Gemilut Hasadim (loving acts). Ecology, a “new issue,” is also our oldest one. Here, Torah inspires service & action.

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start … when God created the heavens and the Earth, in Genesis 1. Few texts are as well-known and influential – or as controversial – as the verses in which God gives humanity “dominion” over the Earth, whatever that means. Read on, and decide for yourself…

1. “And God said ‘let us [?!] make humanity in our image, after our likeness, and let it rule (v’yirdu) over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the sky’… And God blessed the humans, saying: ‘be fruitful and multiply, and fill the Earth and subdue it (v’kivshuha), and rule (urdu) over the fish of the sea….” (Genesis 1:26, 1:28)

Discuss, perhaps in hevruta (traditional one-on-one study): What do these difficult verbs resh-dalet-hey (rule/subdue) and kaf-vet-shin (dominate/conquer) mean to us today? How do we think they been interpreted over the years? Are we at all responsible to Creation in this model, and if so, how?

A COEJL interpretation: We must understand these words in a way that's faithful to their biblical usage, and at the same time points us toward ecological sanity today.

The tradition helps us do this--
First, conditionality: the classical midrash Bereshit Rabbah, quoted by the master 11th-Century Torah commentator Rashi, makes a pun between the parallel Hebrew roots for "rule/subdue" and "stumble/fall". As it appears in Gen. 1:26 without vowels (which were only added to the Torah in the middle ages), the word could go either way. Their comment is simple: "If humanity merits, it will rule (yirdu); if humanity does not merit, it will fall (yeradu), and the animals will rule over it."

Our dominion, then, is conditional on exercising it wisely, not a permanent condition with no strings attached.

Second, context: the very next verses (29-30) specify vegetarianism! Even without the contemporary implications of this diet, verses 29-30 temper "dominion" so it doesn’t include taking the life of even one animal for even a defensible reason (like lunch), much less making hundreds of species extinct every day, as we are doing now. Dominion is so limited, then, that it becomes “sound stewardship”.

And finally, it’s descriptive, not prescriptive: Maimonides wrote (in his 12th-Century Guide to the Perplexed 3:13) -- "do not think that this verse (Gen. 1:28) comes to tell us how we should behave; rather it simply gives information as to the nature with which the Holy Blessed One has stamped each human".

In other words: God made our DNA mostly the same as that of other mammals, but the little differences (opposable thumb & well-developed cranium, mostly) suggest that we will by our very nature change the face of the Earth -- now, we need to figure out how to do that well, which is why this teaching comes in the very first chapter of the very first book of our sacred tradition.

2. “And God looked at all that God had created, and behold! – it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)
God calls most of Creation ‘good,’ but is silent about humanity. Only at the end of Creation, when God surveys the rich totality of which humans are one special but still small part, does God call the whole thing “very good.” How do our lives reflect – or subvert – the idea that Creation is very good?

3. God “placed the human in the Garden of Eden l’ovdah ul’shomrah, to serve and protect it.” (Gen. 2:15)
We’re here to serve / work / till, and protect / guard / tend, the land. This mission, laid out for the first humans in the first ecosystem, only says we shouldn’t let it get worse on our watch. How’re we doin’?
Together, We Can Do Better!
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Scott Starr said...

Hmmmm. Talking to myself is getting very old.