Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day: whom are we fighting?

Earth Day XLI (40th anniversary = 41st Earth Day) has been greeted in the media with an interesting historical piece and a collection of observations from various experts to the effect that "things are getting worse", there's "still a lot of work to be done" and that we're "losing the battle".

Rather than revisit issues like global warming/climate change and its effects and discuss what we're fighting, maybe we ought to take a look at whom we're fighting; because I assure you, the enemy in the fight against global warming/climate change and its effects is not greedy businesspeople, recalcitrant governments, or even the guy with the SUV next door. You'd be surprised -- and a little terrified -- to realize Whom we're picking a fight with.

Consider this:
  • But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken (Jonah 1:4)

  • They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;(24) These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. (25) For He commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. (26) They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. (27) They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. (28) Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distresses. (29) He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. (30) Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their desired haven. (Psalm 107:23-30)

  • Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire. (Isaiah 29:6)

  • If I shut up the heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or it I send pestilence among my people .... (2 Chronicles 7:13)

  • And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. (26) And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's bands were loosed. (Acts 16:25-26)

  • And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. (8) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in diverse places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows. (Mark 13:7-8).

It's pretty clear from this that what we often think of as "natural phenomena" -- like storms, earthquakes and volcanos -- are actually sent by God. Sometimes, they're judgment and/or punishment; sometimes, they're a test; sometimes, they're a reminder that He's there and He's in charge.

  • The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell within. (Psalm 24:1)

And as Jesus says, they're also the signs that we should be aware of, preceding His return.

Lately, some scientists have been trying to draw a link between geotechnic activity -- earthquakes and volcanic eruptions -- and global warming/climate change, although even the leading expert in the field admits it's a long stretch.

At any rate, here we are, those who believe the Bible as well as those who don't, getting dragged into this seemingly never-ending battle to turn back these natural phenomena, as if we have some kind of power or control over them. That would add to the list of things that the environmental community would want us to believe are within human power to cause and control.

Approaching the issue from the standpoint that it is within our power to control is a fool's game -- not just because it's futile, but because it's dangerous.

  • For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

That's the "never-ending battle" we fight -- or are supposed to fight. But according to the people warning about global warming/climate change, we're in a never-ending battle against natural phenomena that are apparently sent by God in the first place.

Essentially, we're being dragged into a battle against God. And that's what's dangerous.

Now, lest people think this is an argument for inaction, not in the slightest: we have to be aware of the right action -- as in, the action that God will bless. Jesus never said that when we saw the signs, we were to roll over with our paws in the air and wait for Him to rapture us out of here; He gave us specific instructions -- the Great Commission -- and He warned that there would be a lot of things done to try to turn our attention away from that. Indeed, the Great Commission was given to us not just as marching orders, but so that we'd have a point of focus when the end-times signs manifest.

Yes, we humans are partly responsible for global warming/climate change, and primarily responsible for loss of farmland, air and water pollution, erosion and ozone layer depletion -- no question. But the natural phenomena attributed to global warming/climate change are in the hands of the Lord. We need to stop fighting Him and re-focus on the job at hand.

We are called to be proper stewards of His Creation, but that stewardship only comes from our relationship with God -- it is neither the end nor the means: it is a side-effect of the total relationship. And we need to be aware of God's instructions as to how we are to take care of Creation -- He has that all planned out, too.

Remember the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, hoping to get a different result. After 40 years of Earth Days and at least half a century of concerted, earnest but fruitless effort to stop environmental degradation in various forms, we need a new approach -- something to break us out of this unholy cage match of The Chicken Littles vs. The Deniers. By "fighting" the symptoms of global warming/climate change, we are really fighting against God Himself, trying to subvert His plan. Nothing will stop that plan: and in a case like this, you don't want to be on the wrong side of the ball.

Now, how about some really good news? Take another look at the passage from Psalm 107, there. The mariners cry to the Lord in their trouble and then are quiet, because He hears them and calms the storm and brings them back home. Compare than with Mark 4, where the disciples go out on the Sea of Galilee and the storm comes up. They cry out to God -- Jesus -- "Master! Don't you care that we're perishing?" and He delivers them. He delivers us from the storms -- the actual, as well as the figurative.

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