Will God Let Polluters Destroy the Earth?
“BY 1984 THE EARTH COULD BE DEAD” read a headline in the London Medical News-Tribune in its issue of March 27, 1970. Alarming, but no more so than similar statements in hundreds of articles published in the past ten years. Certainly people have been repeatedly warned of the grave danger they face from pollution of land, water and air in every part of the civilized earth.
Scientists are aroused, as are legislators and statesmen. But in trying to reverse the ruinous trend, these men run up against a real roadblock—selfishness. People are generally willing enough to cooperate in fighting pollution—provided to do so would not inconvenience their way of life and livelihood. And the industrial and commercial system of this world does not know how to solve the problem without seriously affecting the economy or holding back “progress.”
More serious than the literal pollution is the moral corruption and the defilement of the earth by the bloodshed of warfare, especially in the lands of the nations called “Christian.” (Num. 35:33) And law-enforcement agencies in these nations are forced to admit they are fighting a losing battle against crime and corruption.
Is the problem beyond solution? It appears so, as conditions steadily worsen. But what about the Creator of this earth? Is he unconcerned about its being made into a desolate garbage dump and jungle of crime instead of the paradise garden that he commanded the first human pair to develop? Does he not care about the thousands dying every year because of both the literal and the moral pollution, or care about the danger of extinction hanging over the human race?
We can be assured, indeed, that the Creator does not enjoy what he sees. The earth is his creation and was meant to be a credit to him. When he started the human race he gave them a perfect start. Now, after nearly 6,000 years of ignoring God’s laws, man has almost succeeded in making the earth uninhabitable instead of the joyful place God purposed it to be. Certainly this does not make the Creator happy. Will he do something about it? If so, what? Will he destroy the entire planet, together with those living upon it?
It is unthinkable that Almighty God would do such a thing. It would be a waste of his creative activity, a sign of defeat. Well then, can we, in this time of crisis, know what he purposes to do and can we depend on him to do it? Yes. We can know, not only from what he has promised, but, additionally, from the record of what he has actually done. Let us examine a small-scale illustration recorded and preserved for our faith and assurance today.—Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11.
The time was the seventh century before our Common Era. It had been more than 850 years since God had brought Israel into the Promised Land, driving out the Canaanite inhabitants because of their corruption. Now the descendants of that faithful generation that entered the land had themselves become corrupt in morals, defiling the land by adopting idolatry and unrighteously shedding innocent blood. Even the land itself had deteriorated.
The prophet Ezekiel was in Babylon. But he was used to express God’s displeasure with Israel’s corruption and to tell what God was going to do about it. In doing so, he addressed, not the people, but the “mountains of Israel,” hundreds of miles to the west and south of Ezekiel’s location. Jehovah instructed him:
“Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel and prophesy to them. And you must say, ‘O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah: This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said to the mountains and to the hills, to the stream beds and to the valleys:
“‘“Here I am! I am bringing upon you a sword, and I shall certainly destroy your high places. And your altars must be made desolate and your incense stands must be broken, and I will cause your slain ones to fall before your dungy idols. And I will put the carcasses of the sons of Israel before their dungy idols, and I will scatter your bones all around your altars. In all your dwelling places the very cities will become devastated and the high places themselves will become desolated, in order that they may lie devastated and your altars may lie desolated and be actually broken and your dungy idols may be actually made to cease and your incense stands cut down and your works wiped out. And the slain one will certainly fall in the midst of you, and you will have to know that I am Jehovah.”’”—Ezek. 6:1-7.
The “high places” were places for idolatrous worship to be carried on. By means of their altars, incense stands and dungy idols, the unfaithful Israelites were polluting the mountains, hills, valleys and banks of the stream beds of their God-given possession. Jehovah God had meant for that beautiful land to be sanctified as a place of his clean worship, but after 860 years of occupancy it was desecrated. By turning from the pure worship of God and from following his laws, there was moral corruption. Bloodshed defiled the land.
Actually, their polluted condition all hinged on their bad attitude toward Jehovah. So the only way to cleanse the land was to take drastic action against its defilers, so that those mountains, stream beds and valleys would be clean and the land would, in effect, ‘know that God is Jehovah.’
SPIRITUAL FORNICATION BRINGS THE WORST DEFILEMENT
Bodily fornication is unclean and brings all kinds of woes and sicknesses upon its practicers. But spiritual fornication is worse. It brings about every form of corruption and distress, and eventual judgment from the true God. Spiritual fornication was the outstanding sin of Israel. How was this? Because she was unfaithful to her ‘marriage relationship’ with Jehovah God. God had become a heavenly “Husband” to the nation by reason of the Law covenant that he had established by means of the prophet Moses in 1513 B.C.E.—Jer. 31:31, 32.
But Israel had no appreciation of that relationship. The Law covenant prescribed death as the penalty for adultery. Was spiritual immorality, a worse sin, likewise punishable? Yes. The punishment unfaithful Israel would suffer was described by Jehovah to Ezekiel:
“And when it [the drastic action God would take] occurs I will let you have as a remnant the ones escaping from the sword among the nations, when you get scattered among the lands. And your escaped ones will certainly remember me among the nations to which they will have been taken captive, because I have been broken up at their fornicating heart that has turned aside from me and at their eyes that are going in fornication after their dungy idols; and they will certainly feel a loathing in their faces at the bad things that they have done in all their detestable things. And they will have to know that I am Jehovah; not in vain did I speak about doing to them this calamitous thing.”—Ezek. 6:8-10.
Those escaping the sword of execution in the land of Judah were but a remnant of the fornicators. Most of Jerusalem’s population died from famine, pestilence and the sword. The rest were led away into slavish captivity from those mountains and valleys they had defiled. Their false gods could not save them from Jehovah’s judgment. By hard experience in the distant lands of their captors they learned that He did not speak to them in vain when he repeatedly warned them of the dire consequences of forsaking his worship.
CHRISTENDOM, THE WORST POLLUTER
Christendom has never been recognized by Jehovah as belonging to him, but she has made that claim. (Compare Matthew 7:22, 23.) She has advertised herself as being the representative of the God of the Bible and as being the repository of Bible truth. She claims to stand, as Israel did, in a wifely relationship to God, professing to be in covenant relationship with him through the new covenant, with Christ as its Mediator.
But Christendom has practiced spiritual fornication by making alliances with the political, military and commercial elements of this world, and has carried on within her borders things worse than ancient Israel did. She has polluted the mountains, hills, valleys and stream beds by her adoption of pagan religious practices and items of religious worship.
Actually, who can distinguish between the motivations and actions of the so-called Christian nations and the pagan ones? In fact, Christendom, though she may be richer materially than most of the pagan nations, has problems, moral and otherwise, greater in number and complexity than the pagans.
Christendom, therefore, is wrongly occupying any standing as Christian. But God holds her to her claim, nevertheless, and he will punish her according to the way that she has detestably violated that claim. She must be removed from such a professed standing and name. When Jehovah deprives her of such name by destroying her, any adherents who escape execution at her destruction will have no prospect of a future free life. They will be taken over and brought under the control of the secular elements of this world, just as Israel was brought under captivity and control of the militaristic Babylonians.
GOD FAITHFUL TO ALL TERMS OF A COVENANT
Christendom will have to learn, as did ancient Israel, that God is a covenant keeper. They will have to know he is Jehovah. Israel could not treat the covenant with Jehovah as a mere scrap of paper. A covenant with God cannot be torn in pieces and canceled by the unfaithful party to the covenant at any time that he likes! God is faithful, rewarding and blessing the covenant keeper. (Heb. 11:6) And he is just as faithful in punishing the covenant breaker according to the punishments specified in the covenant. (Deut. 7:9, 10) Otherwise he would be undependable. Jehovah emphasized this fact when he went on to say to his prophet Ezekiel:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Clap your hands and stamp with your foot, and say: “Alas!” on account of all the bad detestable things of the house of Israel, because by the sword, by the famine and by the pestilence they will fall. As for the one far away, by the pestilence he will die; and as for the one that is nearby, by the sword he will fall; and as for the one that has been left remaining and that has been safeguarded, by the famine he will die, and I will bring to its finish my rage against them. And you people will have to know that I am Jehovah, when their slain ones come to be in the midst of their dungy idols, all around their altars, upon every high hill, on all the tops of the mountains and under every luxuriant tree and under every branchy big tree, the place where they have offered a restful odor to all their dungy idols. And I will stretch out my hand against them and make the land a desolate waste, even a desolation worse than the wilderness toward Diblah, in all their dwelling places. And they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”’—Ezek. 6:11-14.
By this experience the rebellious ones would find out that he is indeed the Purposer and the Keeper of his covenant, living up to all its terms. He would not leave any doubt that it was he, Jehovah, who was taking action.
As Israel’s conqueror, King Nebuchadnezzar, led the remnant of survivors of Jerusalem and Judah away toward Babylon as captives, what a desolation they left behind! “Worse than the wilderness toward Diblah,” said Jehovah, evidently referring to the gravelly, unbroken plain of the Syrian Desert that lies to the south and southeast of Riblah. (See Revised Standard Version.) For seventy years the land would not be inhabited by man or domestic animal, until God considered it cleansed and rested up from its pollution.—Jer. 25:11, 12; 2 Chron. 36:21.
A CLEANSED EARTH
Consequently, in our day God the Creator will show his concern for his creation by destroying all who share in polluting and ruining it, both inside and outside of Christendom. At this time when complete ruination seems unavoidable, Jehovah’s appointed time is very near to “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Rev. 11:18) With the polluters gone, the way will be clear for reconstruction in the manner that the Creator designs and directs.
Will there, then, be any survivors to enjoy a cleansed and beautified earth? Yes, for in ancient Jerusalem’s destruction there were those who had kept covenant faithfully with God. They were preserved from death when the city fell. In exile they were able to raise offspring, some of whom returned in 537 B.C.E. to restore true worship. These found peace and freedom from pollution in the formerly corrupted land.
Likewise in Christendom, and in some of the other nations, there are persons who are grieved by the pollution, particularly moral and spiritual, that they see all around them. What can these do? This: Get away quickly from all moral and spiritual filth, learn of God’s laws and respect his creation. Find the proper way of approach to Him and what faithfulness to him requires. This can be done only by gaining a true understanding of Jehovah’s Word the Holy Bible.
Then, though a person’s health may be adversely affected by the present pollution of air, water and land, spiritually he can remain clean and can receive God’s favor and protection when He desolates polluters. And what a prospect, to look forward to breathing clean air, drinking pure water, eating clean food and enjoying cleanness of living when the earth is brought to the state that the Creator originally purposed for it!—Rev. 7:15-17; 21:1-4.