We have been in a series called The Purpose of God’s People. And today we’re going to talk a little bit about something that I’ve really never had a chance to preach about. And I’m quite excited about communicating this morning. I don’t know about you, but I love watching nature shows. Do you like these?
I love Planet Earth. Planet Earth was my favorite, one of my favorite TV shows ever. The guy with the BBC voice. I think his name is David AppleBomb or something like that. His British sounding sweet voice talking about nature.
I love these documentaries. And in fact, I love him so much that my wife bought me a DVD set, which for our one year wedding anniversary. This is when DVDs were still a thing. We went on Ebay. She went on Ebay.
She bought me a used copy. The outside was all tattered, but inside were those, like, eight discs of Planet Earth, like, $60 or something like that. I was so excited about it. And I sat there and I just watched this British man talk about the nature of this world. He showed me the birds of paradise.
Do you guys remember this? This is just like a regular old bird. And then it becomes this monster. It was amazing. Or he talks about these mountain goats.
You haven’t seen these things. They climb up the sheer face of a cliff and just like, Whoa, I’ll never see these things in real life. This is just amazing. Or the terrifying creatures of the deep. What is that?
And if I encountered that, I would be just very much afraid. The bizarre animals. I love it. I love it so much that now I register or save on Netflix all the different shows. Planet Earth, two.
You can watch Blue Planet, our planet. Our planet 2 Blue Planet 2. They’ve run out of names. I’ve often wondered. And maybe you feel the same way.
But why are we so drawn to creation? I love hiking. I love going in the mountains. Hiking is just torture. And then you get a view.
I love that. We’re about to name our third child, Silas, which means person of the Woods. I don’t know about you, but we have kind of this. We’re drawn to the outdoors and to animals. We pay money to see Lions and Tigers and bears oh my in zoos. We pay money to rent cabins in the Woods. And we go into the beach and we watch the waves break. We go to national parks. We’re drawn to those sites. We want to get into the water and climb the Boulder and enter the cave.
And we want to spot the bird, like perching out in the tree. And we want to touch the Stingray and want to feed the Ducks, even though we know we shouldn’t. This is why is this. Why are we so drawn to the outdoors? Why do we want to be out amongst nothingness?
As I said last week, the Bible begins and it ends with creation. And I believe the reason why we’re so drawn to it the Scriptures have a lot to say. The Scriptures that opens the whole Bible is Genesis chapter one, verse one.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. God created the natural world in the very last vision. The final vision of the whole Bible in Genesis, chapter 21 opens with these words. Then I saw a new heaven and a new Earth. And so in some ways, creation and recreation book end the whole entirety of God’s story.
The story of creation is not a backdrop for the story of Salvation. In fact, the good news of the gospel, the good news. It doesn’t begin with Jesus. Instead, it begins with God saying, I made a good world, a good Earth. Why are we so drawn to creation?
Well, we’re going to talk about that a little bit. So why don’t we do this? Let’s begin at the beginning. If you have a Bible, you could turn to Genesis chapter One.
I did mention that we were going to turn to this passage over and over again in this series. Genesis chapter One, verse 26 is where we’re gonna begin. We’ve been in a series that we’ve been calling the purpose of God’s people. And we’ve been trying to wrap our minds around the idea of what it means to be human, like what is our calling and what is our purpose? What does it mean to be a human being?
What makes us unique, unique from all the other animals and all the other creations? What kind of gets us up in the morning? What’s supposed to, what’s our purpose not only for us as Christian people, but for us as human beings. And we said that we can use two fundamental ideas to kind of begin to fill in the gaps. We said that we can uncover our purpose when we discover what we’re responsible for.
That was week one. And then we talked about it last week that we can also uncover our purpose when we discovered the role we play in God’s story. So okay, what are we responsible for and what’s the role we play in God’s story in God’s redemptive story. And then what are we responsible for? And in Genesis chapter one, verse 26, we begin to unpack this idea of what we are responsible for.
Genes. Chapter one, verse 26 then God said, letting us make mankind in our image in our likeness again, this is the Creator God. This is our first interaction with Him, and he breathed life into us. And he creates us in his own image, the Bible says, and in our likeness so that they the people may rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, over the livestock and over all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground. Verse 27 so God created mankind in his own image in the image of God, he created them male and female. He created them, bless them and said, Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the Earth and subdue it rule over the fish and the sea and the birds and the air sky. I’m sorry. And every living creature that moves along the ground. This is what some have called the cultural mandate.
It’s also the first ever responsibility given to mankind. And it’s easy to overlook this. But we are human beings before we are ever Christians. And we don’t stop being humans because we become Christians. This is the responsibility of human beings.
God gives men and women this calling, and God still holds us accountable for our humanity just as much as our Christianity. As Dr. Michael Whitmer says, the Christian life are from transforming us into super, spiritual, quasi angelic beings. Christianity is actually a quest to recover our humanity. The point of our faith is to draw us back to what it means to be human.
And this is the very first responsibility given to all mankind. The responsibility of our Christianity doesn’t terminate our responsibility of our humanity. Human beings are on a mission, a calling from God from the very beginning. And what’s crazy about this calling is that we are Kings of creation, or we can say Queens of creation. I should probably put that we’re living in whatever.
This is a gender neutral King. It’s an inclusive King. Genesis chapter One, verse 26, verse 28. Again, what are we called to do? Listen to the language, listen to the language.
God bless them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the Earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, and so on. And so forth. The first mention of human beings in the Bible States two things about us, two things that put us that are put so closely together that we can’t actually separate them. One God made us in his image, and two God intended us to extend or to exercise Dominion over His creation. We are to exercise Dominion over His creation as image bearers of God.
So God instructs the human species not only to fill the Earth. He actually gives that same instruction to all the other animals. But he also gives the instructions of subduing and ruling the creation, and that’s a uniquely human attribute. That’s our responsibility. And so let’s unpack what that even means.
Two words here that we have to consider. The first word is kabas, which we’ll talk about in a second and Radda. And both these words are generally used to kind of express this idea of imposing your will on something. These two words are this is the subdue word, and this is the rule word and basically means to impose your will on something. So humans are to impose their will.
That’s one of their purposes on creation that’s intense. And we have to clarify that a little bit. The first word again, this word here the word to subdue probably implies the task of agriculture makes sense right more broadly, to subdue is to use the raw materials of the world to create beautiful things. You are to subdue creation. Use the things that God has made to make the rest of the world awesome or more sustainable or whatever.
We are tasked. We are purpose with the calling from God to make things, to build things, to be industrious and hard working, to pull the order from chaos. And we see this happening every single day. People engineer computers. What are computers but raw materials created to be powerful machines for the benefit of mankind. We see people design microchips and build cities and construct cathedrals. They write songs and create art and start company and develop systems. And as someone who loves to build things and create things, I just love the fact that part of my purpose in life is to create something. One of the first ever tasks of mankind is to build something to discover and then to act upon creation so that something great will be made.
Like you are to take a field that’s barren you’re to till it, you’re to plant some wheat, you’re to divert a river so that it waters the field. And after that happens, then you were to wait until the wheat grows and then you harvest the wheat. You separate it and you clean it. And maybe you’re living in the old days. And so you use a sickle or today you use like a John Deere tractor.
But regardless, you do the same thing. Then you take it all and you Cook it and you clean it and you put it on the table to be food and nutrients for people. That is to subdue. The Earth did not provide wheat just in the raw you made it happen. Here’s a question for you. What are you making with the raw materials of your life?
What are you creating? You have opportunities galore. You have been given so much in life. What are you making out of the raw materials of your life? The skills you have, the talent you have, the resources that you’ve been given.
What are you creating? If you don’t know, you might be missing your purpose. Purpose is found in your responsibility, but it’s also found other things you’re responsible for. But it’s also found in the places that you have raw materials. How are you taking your raw materials and what are you developing them into?
The second word, so the first word is to subdue. The second word is to rule or to rule over. This is actually more of a distinctive thing. And for human beings, it’s a more distinctive quality for human beings and for any other creature. Because Beavers build things, they take the raw material of wood and build dams and honeybees build hives.
But they don’t rule. Men and women, humans rule. And this word in this word, God is passing on to the human hands and basically he’s delegating us as Kings and as rulers. We then become interm Kings of creation or as second Corinthians talked about ambassadors for Christ.
We are Kings, interim Kings of creation. And so the question then becomes, okay, if I’m a King of creation, if I’m supposed to rule in the image of God, if I’m supposed to be an image bearer or an ambassador or an interim King, then what’s the quality of my kingship? How am I supposed to rule? Right. I need to then think about what type of King God is if I’m supposed to be the King like God, you got it. So if I’m going to exercise authority, I got to figure out how he exercises authority. So how does God rule? Well, in Psalms chapter 145, we get a great picture of the description of God’s ruling of all things. And then we can translate that into the way we rule creation.
So Psalm 145 says this, I will exalt you my God, and my King. Is the Psalmist going, look, this is not just God, but he’s also King. And I’m gonna explain to you what his kingship looks like. I will praise your name forever and ever for every day I will praise you and extol your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise. His greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another. They tell of your mighty acts. They speak of your glorious splendor of Your Majesty. And I will meditate on your wonderful works. So why does one generation commend your deeds?
Well, well, here’s why. Sorry. Go back. They tell of the power. So God rules in power of your awesome works.
What type of King is God? He’s a powerful King and I will proclaim your great deed. So he’s powerful and he’s great. They celebrate your abundant goodness, power, great goodness, and joyful singing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. I’ve heard this somewhere else. I don’t really remember where the Lord is good to all. He has compassion on all he’s made. All your works praise you, Lord. Your faithful people extol you.
They tell of your glory of your Kingdom and speak of your might. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. Okay, so we get a sense here. And then the last line says this says the Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.
So what characterizes God’s kingship? Wisdom, power, goodness, Grace, compassion, faithfulness, generosity, provisions, justice and love. So we got a picture on the type of King God is. And so of course, then the same qualities should be seen in the way we exercise dominance or Dominion over what God has entrusted us with. So we’re given the mission of ruling creation. But we have to model the character and the values of the God who set us to rule creation.
So for us then to rule the fish of the sea and the birds in the sky and every living creature and everything on the land and all of creation itself. How are we supposed to rule creation? Oh with wisdom, with power, with goodness, with Grace, with compassion, with faithfulness, with generosity, with provisions, with protection, with justice and with love. Love the ground, protect the tree, have compassion on the whale, show justice to the mountain, give generously to the sea. And I don’t know about you, but this is kind of intense to me, and it’s also very confusing.
But the more I study it, the more I’m convinced I have really personally missed the Mark here. I want to tell you who I am before I dive into do I continue on what we’re talking about? I am not the guy who recycles. Like I’ve never been that person. I’m not the guy who goes on the beach and cleans up the thing. I’m not the guy who thinks about I’m not the guy who thinks about any of this stuff.
I love going to natural parks and looking up at the sky. But then I wonder where the trash can? You get what I’m saying? That’s the type of person I am. But the more I study this, the more I’m convinced man, I think I’ve missed the Mark. Because the Christian motivation to care for the natural world is clear in Scripture. Yet in our culture today environmental issues have become so highly politicized and so that the motivation feels more political than religious. This is particularly true with things like climate change and conservation. In fact, studies have shown that the more like left leaning you are politically, the more you care about creation. And kind of where you fall in the political spectrum speaks to whether or not you’d think about recycling or whatever. And so let me just be really clear about this. What we’re talking about today has nothing to do with politics.
At the Broward Church, we seek to follow Jesus, not a political party. And of course, there are a lot of political implications and the discussion about creation, but I do not advocate for a political ideology, and I’m not even calling us like, all I’m trying to do is call us to the biblical standard of the care for creation because it’s what the scriptures say is our first job. If we cannot be entrusted with creation, God may not trust us with his Kingdom. That’s sort of where we’re going.
Billy Graham thoughts on creation surmises the biblical position really well, I know it’s small, but just bear with me.
We should be concerned. Why should we be concerned about the environment. It isn’t just because of the dangers we face from pollution, climate change or other environmental problems. Although these are serious for Christians listen to this. The issue is much deeper.
We know that God created the world and it belongs to him, not us. Because of this, we are only stewards or trustees of God’s creation, and we aren’t too abuse or neglect it. The Bible says the Earth is the Lords and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. Psalm 24, verse one, when we fail to see the world as God’s creation, we will end up abusing it. Selfishness and greed take over and we end up not caring about the environment or the problems we’re creating for the future generations. As disciples here today, we need to understand that these are fundamental biblical issues and they speak to our purpose because they are the first thing we’re ever entrusted with.
How we’re supposed to feel about creation really comes from God’s word. So here’s a quick review. Humans dominance over the rest of creation is to be exercise is an exercise of kingship that’s supposed to reflect God’s own kingship. The image of God is not licensed to arrogantly abuse, but it’s a pattern to commit ourselves to a humble reflection of the characteristics of God in leadership. We are supposed to take what God has given us, make things beautiful, but at the same time, we’re supposed to protect the things that God has put under our control.
Got it? Yeah, we’re good together. Now, let’s take this a step further. Because not only are we just kind of stewards of it, we’re also servants of creation. This blew my mind. Genesis chapter two, verse 15, the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and to take care of it.
Here’s two more verbs that describe the mission of human beings. God took the human creatures and put them into the garden with the task. What’s the task? Work and take care of the ground. The first word is abad translated here to serve.
I’m sorry translated here to work, but it actually means to serve. So although most translators read this word to work or to till or to cultivate or to reap or something like that, the essential core of this word is to serve something. And the reason we know that is because throughout the Bible it’s used to serve. Here’s a quick example in the book of Exodus. Remember when Moses was trying to free the people from Israel?
Sorry free the people from Egypt. He kept on talking to pharoah, hey, let my people go so that they can go serve the Lord. This is the same word. Serve serve the Lord. So Moses wasn’t telling pharoah that the people of Israel were going to work the Lord.
That wouldn’t make any sense. Or till the Lord or cultivate the Lord. This word means to serve that’s what it means. We are serving servants of the land. Humans are servant leaders of creation.
The next word Samar or Samar. It means to keep something safe, to be on guard, to protect, to watch over. This is the verb used for the rest of the Old Testament and keeping the law, protecting the law, taking care of the law, watching over, keeping guard of it like protecting it. So here’s a quick review. Humans are put into God’s creation to serve it and to look after it.
Which means that the point of ruling the Earth is for the benefit of the Earth, not our own. This is a crazy concept. We serve the land, not for ourselves, but for the benefits of the Earth. And again, just to be clear, I don’t even understand what this means, but ruling and serving is humanity’s first mission on Earth. And God has never repealed this mandate.
And you know, at the end of this, I’m going to give you some practicals to chew on. But for now, let’s just kind of keep this train growing Kings of creation purposed to build, to create, to show the character of God in our leadership and also be servant leaders of creation. So with that responsibility kind of out of the way, then the next logical question is, why? What’s the motivation here? Why did God even tell us to do this? Why does it matter that we care for creation here’s where I just love.
This is where this whole idea gets pretty amazing to me. Here’s a quick thesis. You already follow me here. The goal of creation. The goal of the creation is to glorify God, right?
Our protection is needed to ensure God continues to be glorified through it. This is the why of what this command is about. Here’s another way of putting this. We are protecting worshipers. Stay with me.
The creation exists for the praise and the glory of its creator. Right? We see that throughout the whole Bible, we humans, being creatures or creations ourselves help make sure that that continues forever. As the Westminster Confession of Faith says, Man’s chief end is to glorify God. Our chief end is to, meaning our main point in life is to glorify God. But we aren’t the only people with that chief End. In fact, the glorification of God is something we share with every single created thing. Humans are to glorify God. But so are birds and landscapes and seas and mountains and the Earth and wind and fire and trees and beasts and cattles and stars and galaxies and sea creatures and those mountain goats and birds of paradise.
Everything exists to praise God. All of creation exists to worship and extol and to honor their Creator. So when we protect them, we’re protecting the praise of God. You know how we would fight like there was a law in the books that was dropped tomorrow that said no one is allowed to worship God again in a public setting, all of us would fight right. We would like March on Washington.
We would go to war. We would say, no, no way. Every man is supposed to be able to worship God as they please. No, we would fight for the right for people to worship. You know that, like all of us have that inside of us.
The obvious connection. The obvious connection is that when we protect God’s creation, we are protecting their rights to worship their Creator. Remember what the Scriptures say when Jesus is like, hey, if you don’t worship, what does he say? He’s like, don’t worry. If you don’t praise who’s going to cry out?
The rocks will cry out. He’s like, okay, I don’t even need humans to praise me. I get praised by the rocks and we’re like, how do you get praised by the rocks? God’s like, I’m not going to tell you, but I’m praised by then. Our obligation is to protect the praise of man.
We feel that and by extension, the connection again is obvious. God is showing us that the world is a place of worship and the creation are the worshippers. And so we should be protecting their ability to praise their Creator. Indeed, the Bible affirms this idea and summons every bit of creation to worship him. Psalm 148 just read this passage.
It’s so beautiful. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens. Praise him in the heights above. Praise him all his Angels.
Praise him all he heavenly hosts. Praise him who should praise him, son and moon. Praise him all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord for at his command they were created.
And he established them forever and ever. He issued a decree that will never pass away. What’s the decree? Oh, they’re all going to praise Him. Praise the Lord from the Earth.
You great sea creatures and all the oceans, depths, lightning and hail, snow and cloud, stormy winds, the stormy winds praise God that do his bidding. The mountains and the Hills, fruit trees and Cedars, wild animals in all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, Kings of the Earth in all nations, you Princes and all your rules of the Earth, young men and women, old men and children. And then Psalm 150 verse 6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Now you may be puzzled. How does a fruit tree praise God? How does the Hills? How do the Hills praise God? How does a grassland worship their God?
The answer? I have no idea. And neither do you. But there’s a lot of things you don’t understand that you still have a conviction on. There’s a lot of things you cannot comprehend.
And just because you can’t understand, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t obey it. And just because you feel like, well, does that make me an environmentalist that doesn’t mean it’s not biblical and see, we can’t put ourselves into the mind of an animal. How does how does a gopher praise God? Because I can’t understand it. Then I’ll kill every gopher.
You know, we can’t do that. We also can’t put our minds, our brain into the being of a tree. How does a tree praise God? I have no idea, but we also can’t put ourselves into the mind of God who gets praise from those things. And so we understand how God we can’t understand how God relates to non human creations.
But the Bible tells that he does tells us he does, and that he receives praise and glory for them all day long. We may not be able to understand how creation praises its maker, but just because we cannot explain how the creation, both in articulate praise and articulate praise just because we can’t understand how they receive it doesn’t mean God doesn’t receive praise from it. And we know this because it’s affirmed in the Scriptures over and over and over again. So when we care for creation, we are protecting and serving it and helping it meet its purpose of giving glory to its creator.
Conversely, of course, when we don’t care about creation, when we participate in the destruction of it, when we waste creation, when we don’t subdue it to make things beautiful, we just subdue it for our own selfish gain on our attitudes are flippant towards it we are reducing even further creations ability to give glory to its maker. You know, creation is not just a backdrop for the story of people’s lives. We are purposed with protecting it. It’s the first ever responsibility of mankind, the first one you’re responsible for it. It’s part of what it means to be human and is part of your purpose in life.
And so I have two takeaways for you. Before we get there let me just briefly summarize when God created the Earth, he created human beings in his own image with the express mission of ruling creation and caring for it, a task modeled for us by the kingship of God himself. The human mission that human mission has never been rescinded. As we participate in the task of ruling creation and subduing it. We are protecting and participating in the creations praise of God Almighty.
That’s what we’re talking about here. And I wish I could dive in more. And there’s so much more I could talk about. I wish I could explain Colossians chapter One. In Colossians chapter One God talks about how Jesus’s blood redeems the creation.
He actually sets it up in a way where he goes, he talks about creation first. It’s pretty amazing. And I wish I could talk about Noah when the story of Noah God gives a Covenant to Noah, and the Covenant is not only for mankind but for every creature on the ground. I wish I could talk about that.
I wish I could spend a lot of time going through the countless Psalms. One of my favorite ones is the one that says a righteous person. Maybe it’s a proverb proverbs chapter twelve I think, a righteous person cares for his animals. I wish I could talk about all these different verses and speak of the nature of the praise of God for all these different things.
Talk about how the grass praises the Father, but we’re winding down here and I can’t do any more. So one more verse. Romans Chapter Eight The creation was subject to frustration. Remember, God made a good creation, and then sin entered the world. And in that when the sin entered the world, there was frustration in creation, it was not by its own choice.
The creation didn’t sin, but by the will of the one who subjected it in hopes that the creation itself will be liberated. This sounds like what you would talk about for a Christian man, but it’s what God talked about for creation. Creation is being liberated from a bondage to decay and brought into the freedom in the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the spirit grown inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
Notice what this passage is doing. He’s talking about the redemption of human beings and the redemption of creation. And there is not a big distinctive difference. The difference he’s going to creation groans and so do you.
The creation needs redemption. And so do you. What’s amazing is that our good God and the plan that he has is to redeem not only men from their sin, but the creation who has been destroyed by man’s sin. So what do we do about this specifically? I don’t know.
Like, should you recycle? Probably. Should you buy a Tesla? I don’t think so. What should you do about this?
Well, here are some things to think about. First off, I hope that a brief kind of theological survey helps you understand the justification that Christians should care about creation. But here’s the idea. Christians should seek to live in the planet in a way that honors the one who created it. If you made something awesome and then someone took it and destroyed it, you would be very angry with that person.
God created everything. Are men destroying it day by day? If they are, I wonder what the anger of God towards man looks like because of the destruction of his creation. Yes, we should use the raw materials to create awesome things as part of our purpose in life. But we should also avoid being wasteful.
And here’s something you can take away. Joe Stern said this in our staff meeting. I thought it was perfect. Every natural thing I see is my responsibility. You walk outside and you see some grass it’s your responsibility. You see a tree. That’s your responsibility. You see a mountain. That’s your responsibility to make sure it’s cared for, how you care for it? I don’t know, but it’s your responsibility to figure it out. Why? Because they’re worshipers, too. Here’s the last little challenge. And as I’m saying it, I want to invite the band to come up on stage.
Our love for conservation needs to catch up with our love for consuming. We love consuming. But our love for conservation, for caring and not being wasteful needs to catch up. However many things you order on Amazon should be equal to the way you think about taking care of the world you live in. Your love for consuming should be reduced if it needs to so that you can love conservation more.
But more likely, your love for the conservation of what we’ve been given should catch up with your love for consuming. And we’ve asked the question, what should you do with your life? What should you do? And we figure out kind of our own unique skill sets and abilities and all that thing. But some of the purposes of man are universal.
And this is one of them. You need to care for the creation that God has made, because that is the first responsibility of mankind. We’re going to sing a song, and then afterwards, we’ll pray for Communion. The song we’re going to sing is my favorite song that speaks about this concept of honoring, creation and the worship of creation and our worship that connects with it. We’re going to sing a song called So Will I.
I I love the very first line. God of creation, God of creation. And as you’re even thinking about those three words, God of creation, just remember, as you’re thinking about the trees, the trees out there in the mountains and the Rivers and the oceans and the streams and the canals, even that we’ve built and all this kind of natural world that’s around us. And we think about all of that. Just remember that it’s actually God is the God of that creation, not you.
You’re a trustee. You’re an ambassador. Let’s care for it because we’re supposed to.