Scriptural References on Creation Care
There is a strong scriptural precedent for engaging faith communities in care of creation. Below are samples of several scriptural passages from Hebrew and Christian Scriptures that you may find useful in developing sermons and liturgies to incorporate environmental stewardship into your worship.
God has commanded us to care for creation.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15)
The idea of “dominion” is best expressed as “stewardship”.
Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ (Genesis 1:26)
God created an interdependent world.
God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:29-31)
We ought to respect creation since it is God’s.
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)
Creation is an object of God’s redemption and in some sense ought to receive the preaching of the gospel.
And [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)
Our survival depends on the natural world, which in turn depends on God.
He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate-bringing forth food from the earth.” (Psalm 104:10-14)
If we do not follow God’s commandments, ecological consequences can result; there is a connection between the moral world and the natural world.
The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:4-5; see also 2 Chronicles 6:26-27, 7:13-14)
It is unethical for us to use more than our fair share of the world’s resources; a heavy “ecological footprint” is contrary to God’s covenant with his people.
Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:17-18; see also Luke 3:11)
Jesus’ call to care for the poor includes care of natural resources for all the people of the earth.
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (Luke 14:13-14)
We have the responsibility to care for the earth as a heritage for our children and children’s children.
The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ (Exodus 34:6-7)
The beauty of the earth is necessary for people to live fully.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)
A substantial change in our common lifestyle will have significant positive effect on the environment.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)
Our understanding of the natural world and its interrelatedness is far from complete.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7)
Our covenantal responsibilities include the preservation of species.
But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. (Genesis 6:18-19)
God has a significant relationship with animals and earth separate from his relationship with humans.
God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:12-15)
The fate of creation is bound up with the fate of humanity. Both wait in hope for redemption.
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:19-23)
Creation itself has a role in praising God.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed. Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. (Psalm 148:1, 3-6, 9-10, 13)
Thanksgiving Scriptural Texts
Genesis l:l-28-Creation Story
Genesis 9:8-17-God’s Covenant with Noah and All Creation
Psalm 8-The Majesty of God
Psalm 65- Thanksgiving for God’s Blessings
Psalm 104-Praise of God the Creator
Psalm 146- Trust in God Alone
Psalm 147-Zion’s Grateful Praise to Her Bountiful Lord
Psalm 148-Hymn of All Creation to the Almighty Creator
John l:l-5-In the Beginning Was the Word
Revelation 21:14-New Heavens and New Earth