Our world is in distress. We have experienced unprecedented life-threatening high temperatures in the 100’s for days on end. Droughts, fires and floods have resulted in unparalleled destruction and loss of lives. Rivers, lakes and streams and oceans as well as lands and the air are all polluted. We see a degradation of the food chain from overuse of antibiotics and chemicals. This past year has brought a plague of deaths from a new virus and the flagrant rash of ‘recreational’ drug use. Nations don’t know how to manage the onslaught of millions of refugees all over the globe fleeing drought devastated lands, tyrannical leaders and uncontrolled crime. This is our world in the 21st century.
Isaiah 24:4 The earth is mourning, withering,
the earth is pinning, withering,
the heavens are pining away with the earth.
The earth is defiled under its inhabitants’ feet,
for they have transgressed the law,
violated the precept,
broken the everlasting covenant.
So a curse consumes the earth
And its inhabitants suffer the penalty.
Those are words prophesized by Isaiah over three thousand years ago . . . and it tells of our world today. Isaiah describes it as God’s wrath. Each age describes reality in the terms that are available to their understanding. The ancients believed God directly controlled everything. Their idea of God was that of a harsh, demanding and controlling Deity—much in line with the rulers of the times. So in prophesying a world disaster he attributed it as being the curse of God punishing humanity.
God’s covenant to man was to shepherd the earth. We were given control.
Jesus introduced a new view of God, as the God of Love who desires and awaits mankind to choose ‘the good’. Jesus did not demand and command, rather he demonstrated love with stories of kindness and lessons like the beatitudes, and he left it to his followers to choose to accept or reject. In Deuteronomy, God’s words are reported as “I have set before you, life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live.” Not a command or demand, but a choice.
As religions grew, particularly Judaism and Christianity, they were structured more in line with the Old Testament God of wrath and control. The New Testament view of God, is of a God of love as demonstrated by Jesus. Religions do not clearly convey the difference.
Since the mid-20th century there has been a decline in religious participation as science showed us another side of existence and it seemed less likely that God was controlling what was happening on earth. Many came to think that meant there wasn’t a God. Materialism and consumerism grew, and God was left out of the equation. That was the mistake! It’s not that God isn’t, it that God gave humanity a directive, “I lay before you life and death, choose life.” God watches and waits for humanity to choose ‘the good’ that leads to life.
In today’s world most people recognize that God is not controlling our actions. Humans were given consciousness and free will. That means we are expected to see, think and choose the course of action. Unfortunately we have not chosen to follow the laws laid out at the beginning of time ‘to shepherd the earth’, which means we were to guard and protect it; instead we have chosen to exploit it for selfish ends. We have been directed to ‘love one another’; instead we divide into camps of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and fight each other. We are instructed to share and to care for the poor and needy, instead we accumulate for ourselves—and the world became lop-sided with one percent of the extremely wealthy holding as much wealth as the poorer half of the world.
The climate crisis is not ‘God’s wrath’ punishing us; it is the result of the careless abandoning of principles and laws of justice inherent in ‘choosing life’. In the process we have broken God’s covenant to shepherd the earth. It is not God’s wrath we are facing. It is the result of our own choices; we have chosen for death—and we, the inhabitants, are suffering the penalty.
We still have time to choose the other option. But that requires us to recognize our One World and work together to save it from those selfish choices we have made that got us to this point.