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Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion

Animals, Religion and the Environment
The Bible’s Teachings on Protecting Animals and Nature
by Lewis Regenstein

Part 9: God's Love for Nature

Throughout the Book of Genesis, God looks with special favor on "the swarms of living creatures" He created, blessing them, commanding them to "be fruitful and multiply," and repeatedly characterizing their creation as "good."

Some Biblical scholars see significance in the fact that God pronounced each thing He created – the whales, birds, cattle, "everything that creepeth upon the ground," and the other "beasts of the earth – as "good" in itself (Genesis 1:21, 25). But when the Creation was combined and united, the Lord declared it "very good" (Genesis 1:31), perhaps because He had achieved His will of creating a universe of harmony, or a balanced ecosystem as we would call it today.

The theme of God's concern for His Creation is eloquently summed up by Psalm 104, which praises the Lord for His greatness in providing for all of His creatures. It notes how dependent we all are on the ecological system that God has established, proclaiming: “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.”

This Psalm goes on to describe how the Lord delights in His works and "renewest the face of the earth" with His spirit, which is in every living creature.

In the Book of Deuteronomy (8:7-9), Moses describes the Promised Land as an ecological paradise, noting its rich and beautiful environment and its "fountains and depths that spring out of the valleys and hills." Moses stresses to the Israelites the sanctity of the land: “A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year” (Deuteronomy 11:11-12).

God's love of the land for its own sake, not just as a servant for humans, is demonstrated when the Lord speaks to Job from the whirlwind telling him how He does ... cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is: on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; to satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth (Job 12:7-11).

A primary thesis of Job is that humans must live in harmony with nature and seek to learn from its wise and mysterious ways: “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee; or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee” (Job 12:7-11).

Go on to Part 10: Human-Stewardship Responsibilities
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