Consider similar questions: Why should we care about our bodies since they are all going to die anyway? Or why care for our homes or business establishments since they will all eventually be demolished? Careful consideration of these questions should make it easier for us to draw the conclusion that biblical prophecy about the future must not be used to excuse present carelessness. This kind of attitude has often been expressed in the claim that “some believers are so heavenly minded they’re of no earthly good.”
The Bible passage that tells us of the “elements” of the earth burning “with fervent heat” 2 Peter 3:10-13) is not easy to understand nor is its chronology clear. Many Old Testament passages speak about the permanence of the creation (Psalm 104:5; 148; 78:69; Ecclesiastes 1:4); both Old and New Testament Scriptures tell of a future time of restoration and reconciliation when the earth will return to the peaceable kingdom much like that of the Garden of Eden (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25; Micah 4:1-4; Acts 3:18-21; Romans 8:18-25; Colossians 1:19-20; Revelation 22:1-3). Certainly that is a yet-to-be era on this earth, and one we should eagerly anticipate. If what Peter was predicting is a total remaking of the planet, it would have to come after the restoration—which would seem to make such destruction unnecessary.
Regardless, Francis Schaeffer reminded us in his book Pollution and the Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology that “on the basis of the fact that there is going to be total redemption in the future, not only of man, but also of all creation, the Christian who believes the Bible should be the one who — with God’s help and in the power of the Holy Spirit — is treating nature now in the direction of the way nature will be then. [Our healing work] will not now be perfect, but it must be substantial, or we have missed our calling” (pp. 68-69. Tyndale House, 1970)
The major problem with basing our present attitude toward the earth on an uncertain chronology of the future is that we fail to remember the very clear mandates of the past. Caring for creation is a matter of obedience. It is our God-given responsibility to care. We understand this from Genesis 2:15. “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it” 1 (NLT). We are to be “good earth-keepers.”
- The two Hebrew words in Genesis 2:15 used in reference to caring for the creation are rendered in the King James Version as “dress” and “keep.” In modern English, these words have lost the rich meanings known in the days of King James. In Hebrew they are “abad” and “shamar.” The definitions of these words according to James Strong’s concordance include the following understandings: abad = to work, to serve, to till, to keep in bondage, to be husbandman over; shamar = to hedge about, to guard, to protect, to attend to, to be circumspect, to take, to mark, look narrowly upon, to observe, to preserve, to regard, to reserve, to save, to wait for, to watch over (as a watchman). “Shamar” is used in the familiar Aaronic blessing: Numbers 6:24 “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (KJV). Adam was apparently expected to care for the earth as the Lord cares for it and for us. Back To Article