Aug 7 2013

How Then Shall We Rule?

rainbow and fallsWhile flying across country yesterday for a photo trip I had a chance to do some reading.  One of the books I read from was When Heaven and Nature Sing by Edward R. Brown. In the part I read he addressed a biblical passage I have struggled with a bit, Psalm 8:6-8.  In this passage the Psalmist says concerning humans, “Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou has put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas.”  In previous entries I have discussed the meaning of the word “dominion” in Genesis 1 and indicated that this implied caring for the earth instead of ruling over it. Does Psalm 8 contradict what I’ve said?

Destruction Falls 526Brown tackles that question in his book. He say that before we conclude that humans have ultimate power over Creation we need to remember how Psalm 8 both begins and ends. Verse 1 says “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens.”  The last verse of the psalm echoes verse one: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”  Brown calls these the “Divine Bookends.”  He says whatever is said in the middle of the psalm must be bracketed by these words. He believes that they “affirm God’s control and sovereignty over us, his people” and that “our authority over God’s creation begins and ends with God’s authority over us.”  That certainly makes sense.  I believe it was Ernest T. Campbell who once preached a sermon on this subject and concluded that we may be “over nature” but that we always remain “under God.”  We are responsible to Him for how we rule over the rest of Creation.

plants 564Brown explores the ramifications of this.  He says, “The actions, purposes and goals we pursue in our management of God’s creation must reflect God’s purposes for us.  We should be pursuing God’s goals for creation and we can best do that by looking at the goals God has as he cares for us.  It’s like a creation-wide version of the golden rule:  Not just that we should ‘do unto others as we want them to do unto us’ but that we should care for all of creation as God cares for us.”  He goes on to write, “God’s care for us is in every case almost the opposite of how we act toward creation. God gives; we take.  God seeks our best. Those God cares for blossom and flourish under his care.  We, by contrast, seek from creation what is best for ourselves.  Creation withers and dies under our hands.”

elk 327There can be no denying that the Bible teaches that God has given humans a special role to play in His Creation but in the end God must determine how we fulfill that special role, not us.  It should be our goal to rule the earth as God would.  That means that in relating to the earth, as in all of our other relationships and actions, we ought to pause and ask “What would God (or Jesus) do?” before doing something.  Do you think things would be different today if all of God’s children had done that through history?  I do.

–Chuck

(I am blessed to be in western Washington this week with R120’s Michael Boone.  All of the images shown here were taken today.)