Recently, as I was using my remote to bounce between cable news channels, I paused to listen to a panel discussion about global warming, carbon emissions, and regulations…with a healthy bit of politics thrown in. The moderator freely admitted to the panel he was terrified about the future of the earth, it may be too late to reverse the damage that has been done, and environmental Armageddon seemed to be right around the corner. The group he had assembled for this discussion were all like-minded in their concerns, and they discussed how, by severe regulation and human ingenuity, we might pull the earth from the brink of ecological disaster.
While I think that much of the conversation was driven by fear and hyperbole, I do share many of their concerns about the industrial excesses of the past, the headlong rush into more and more production at the expense of the environment, and a general cultural lack of concern over the proper care of the earth God has given us to steward. Obviously, as is true with just about any issue that is hotly debated, balance is necessary and the truth is somewhere in the middle. And it’s not my purpose in this short piece to delve into the topic deeply (if you would like a great starting point, however, in exploring the “Creation Care” movement, I can recommend the Wonder of Creation web site).
Earth Day, the holiday that prompted the panel’s conversation, has been commemorated each year since 1970. I can remember very clearly those first Earth Days in the early 70’s, particularly because our high school became involved in local efforts to clean up several areas around our small town in order to do our part. Each year Earth Day provides an occasion to become involved in local, national, and world conservation efforts as well as opportunities for reflection, discussion, and debate about the fate of this planet we love.
Many times in history, especially in the past century, cultural concerns over the demise of the earth have reached a crescendo. Global wars, nuclear proliferation, epidemics, and environmental worries have shared the spotlight as citizens of the world have wrung their hands over perceptions about our doomed fate. But each time the crisis has been averted, and life goes on as normal…until the next panic. Who is responsible for saving us each time? Should the individual or joint intelligence of humans get the credit, or does God intervene behind the scenes, perhaps working through men and women of faith who are actively praying and working on His behalf?
I believe scripture provides the answer in many places, but we will look at one for the purposes of this discussion. John the apostle, as he records in the book of Revelation, was afforded an opportunity to view “mission control,” God’s throne room. Here’s what he saw:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
(Revelation 7:9-10 ESV)
“Salvation belongs to our God” is the refrain that rings true from eternity past to eternity future. As David declares in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” People of faith would do well to remember these truths as we pray without ceasing and work “as unto the Lord” each and every day of our lives. During times of crisis, fear, disaster, sickness, and war our God reigns. When peace like a river floods our soul, our God reigns. Whether you are scared, bored, thrilled, or filled with bliss our God reigns.
When the history of the present heaven and earth is swallowed up by the revealing of a new heaven and earth, we the redeemed will be celebrating forever and ever the truth that salvation belongs to our God through the finished work of the Lamb, our savior Jesus Christ!