By Lance Landall
New forces began to operate throughout nature when man sinned.
Approximately two thousand years later, the earth passed through another crisis. Again man’s actions brought it on. A global geological catastrophe, the Flood of Noah’s time upset the whole balance of nature. Besides the effects of the Flood, God permitted a major change in animal behaviour (Gen 9:2).
By the time of the early Christian church, the physical world had so altered that the Apostle Paul, looking forward to Christ’s second coming, could write “that the creation itself will be set free from it’s bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom 8:21,22).
The Bible provides ample evidence that nature is involved in a process of decay, both before and after the unimaginable destruction caused by the Flood of Noah’s day. Christ, in His parable comparing the impact of the gospel on people’s minds, explained the existence of the unconverted in the church through the symbolism of the tares or weeds among the wheat. When asked where the tares came from, He said, “An enemy has done this.” (Matt 13:28).
His answer is also symbolic of the origin of thorns, thistles, poisonous plants and animals, and the carnage and evil one sees throughout nature. Frustrated by his failure to gain control of the universe, Satan is systematically destroying God’s creation on earth.
Having once been an especially honoured angel in heaven, he has intelligence far beyond that possessed by human scientists. And he has had the entire earth to use as an experimental laboratory to explore the most complex biological processes. Studying the plants, he learned how to manipulate the DNA of the cells to mutate a leaf bud into a thorn. Delving into biochemistry, he discovered how to replace a single atom in a molecule and turn a harmless substance in the leaf or root of a plant into a deadly poison. Under his direction some organisms began to degenerate into intestinal parasites.
Bacteria started secreting new waste products that cause disease. Man can breed dogs with savage dispositions. Satan turned much of nature into a reign of tooth and claw. Man cannot charge God with the cruelty he finds in nature. When Adam sinned, he forfeited his rulership of the earth, a position Satan claimed.
God let Satan demonstrate how he would manage a world. But God did not let him have absolute control. If Satan’s activities threatened man’s survival too much, God counterbalances it. Should the insect population, for example, grow too great, birds or other natural enemies multiply until they check the population explosion. God endowed plants and animals with the ability to develop immunity to new diseases and to adapt to new living conditions.
Travellers going through some of the tropical valleys of Southern Mexico will find hundreds of cacti thrusting up among the dense vegetation. Most people associate cacti with deserts. But cacti also live in tropical well-watered regions. They have the ability to tolerate drier conditions. Should the rainfall decrease, the other plants would die off, leaving only the cacti.
God foresaw that sin and Satan’s activities would produce new types of environments. He created in organisms the capacity to adjust and survive, protecting mankind and keeping nature’s destruction to a minimum.
The Christian, as he views nature, can see both great beauty and great ugliness. Behind the physical world he can perceive God, who created a perfect world and now works to protect it from sin’s further destruction.
But even more important, he looks forward to a time when the earth will be purged of decay and be restored perfect again.