Earth’s Rescue Near At Hand
STEPHEN M. WOLF, chairman and chief executive officer of United Airlines, said in an editorial: “Whether one is a conservationist or not, it cannot be denied that the specter hovering over endangered wildlife and wilderness casts a shadow on all the earth—and ultimately, threatens the existence of all species, including mankind. As it has been said, ‘We did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.’” He spoke correctly.
He also said in the editorial: “We are the cause. And we are the only solution.” In this he was only half correct. We are the cause; we are not the solution. We are not showing any signs of becoming such. Progress is made, but it is meager considering the damage that is continuing earth wide.
Last year Al Gore wrote Earth in the Balance—Ecology and the Human Spirit. It is a book warning of the growing worldwide environmental crisis, and in it he made this significant statement: “The more deeply I search for the roots of the global environmental crisis, the more I am convinced that it is an outer manifestation of an inner crisis that is, for lack of a better word, spiritual.”
It is indeed a crisis of a spiritual nature. It is a breakdown of the human spirit. It is a willingness to sacrifice the earth’s natural beauty and its resources, the lives of thousands of species of plants and animals, and even the health and the lives of people. Moreover, it is a total disregard for the children and grandchildren who must cope with the ravaged earth that is left behind. It is also an ungrateful and callous disregard for the One who created the earth and designed it as a home for mankind.
Isaiah 45:18 identifies Jehovah as “the Creator of the heavens, He the true God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited.” In the beginning he put man on the earth to care for it: “Jehovah God proceeded to take the man and settle him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15) Although created perfect, Adam abandoned perfection to go his own way. He abandoned his duty to ‘care for the earth.’
That failure continues down to our day, and the present ruining of the earth has become crucial. “The true God made mankind upright, but they themselves have sought out many plans.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29) “They have acted ruinously on their own part; they are not his children, the defect is their own. A generation crooked and twisted!” (Deuteronomy 32:5) However, the earth will continue to be inhabited, but not by a crooked and twisted generation. The psalmist said that in God’s due time, only ‘the righteous will possess it.’—Psalm 37:29.
Jehovah’s Concern for the Earth
When Jehovah completed his creation of the earth, he “saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” He wanted it to stay that way. He had planted a beautiful garden in Eden and had put the man Adam there to care for it. The plants that grew there were not for man’s use alone. God said: “To every wild beast of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens and to everything moving upon the earth in which there is life as a soul I have given all green vegetation for food.”—Genesis 1:30, 31.
When the Mosaic Law was later given to Israel, it made provision for the care of the land. Every seventh year was to be “a sabbath of complete rest for the land.” What grew of itself during that time was to be unharvested but made available to poor people as well as for their domestic animal and for the wild beast that was in their land.—Leviticus 25:4-7.
Jehovah’s concern for the preservation of species was shown by his having pairs of living animals taken into the ark at the time of the Flood of Noah’s day. That concern was also evidenced in the Law covenant. For example, the bull that trod out the grain was not to be muzzled. It had the right to eat some of the grain. A bull and an ass were not to be yoked together to plow. That would be unfair to the smaller, weaker animal. A neighbor’s beast of burden was to be helped if it was in distress, even if its owner was one’s enemy and even if it meant doing some work on the Sabbath. (Exodus 23:4, 5; Deuteronomy 22:1, 2, 10; 25:4; Luke 14:5) The eggs or the young could be taken from a bird’s nest, but not the mother bird. It had to be left to continue the species. And Jesus said that even though the sparrow was of little value, ‘not one of them falls to the ground without God knowing it.’—Matthew 10:29; Deuteronomy 22:6, 7.
The inspired psalmist said: “To Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.” (Psalm 115:16) Jesus said at Matthew 5:5: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” Do you think that this inheritance from Jehovah will be a polluted earth? If you had a beautiful home that you were going to leave to your children, would you allow tenants to remain in it who were damaging the house and grounds? Rather, would you not evict them and make repairs before leaving it to your children?
That is what Jehovah did before he ushered the Israelites into the land that he had promised to them. The Canaanites had by their gross immorality polluted the land, and for that reason Jehovah evicted them. At the same time, he warned the Israelites that if they polluted the land as the Canaanites had done, they also would be evicted. The account is recorded at Leviticus 18:24-28:
“Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things [incest, sodomy, bestiality, bloodguilt], because by all these things the nations whom I am sending out from before you have made themselves unclean. Consequently the land is unclean, and I shall bring punishment for its error upon it, and the land will vomit its inhabitants out. And you yourselves must keep my statutes and my judicial decisions, and you must not do any of all these detestable things, whether a native or an alien resident who is residing as an alien in your midst. For all these detestable things the men of the land who were before you have done, so that the land is unclean. Then the land will not vomit you out for your defiling it the same way as it will certainly vomit the nations out who were before you.”
Israel did, however, pollute the land by committing the same gross immoralities that the Canaanites had committed. True to his word, Jehovah evicted Israel by sending the Babylonians to carry them captive to Babylon. Long before this happened, the warning was given to the Israelites by Jehovah’s prophet Isaiah: “Look! Jehovah is emptying the land and laying it waste, and he has twisted the face of it and scattered its inhabitants. And the very land has been polluted under its inhabitants, for they have bypassed the laws, changed the regulation, broken the indefinitely lasting covenant. That is why the curse itself has eaten up the land, and those inhabiting it are held guilty. That is why the inhabitants of the land have decreased in number, and very few mortal men have remained over.”—Isaiah 24:1, 5, 6.
Ruin for Those Ruining the Earth
Today we are in a similar position. Books, magazines, newspapers, television, videos, and the media generally reflect a society that is sexually depraved, violently brutal, and politically corrupt. Greedy commercial corporations immorally pollute the environment, even sending products banned as hazardous to health in their own affluent nations to the developing countries where no such safeguards are in effect. Christians are warned to avoid such a course:
“This, therefore, I say and bear witness to in the Lord, that you no longer go on walking just as the nations also walk in the unprofitableness of their minds, while they are in darkness mentally, and alienated from the life that belongs to God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the insensibility of their hearts. Having come to be past all moral sense, they gave themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every sort with greediness.”—Ephesians 4:17-19; 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Both the human spirit and the environment are polluted. The earth has its built-in checks and balances for everything. Because of man’s fall into sin, the human conscience, his own built-in check, has become corrupted, leading on to earth’s pollution. Now, only God can check man. Only God can rescue the earth. We have the assurance that he will do so at Revelation 11:18, where Jehovah God promises “to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”