By: Frank L. Hoffman
We live in a world that is basically spiritual, a world in which most people believe in God or gods, or in other forms of spiritual involvement between us and deity. Every major religion believes in some form of perfect state of eternal existence, whether it be heaven or nirvana. As a Jewish-United Methodist pastor, I will approach this understanding from a Judeo-Christian perspective, and in particular look at God's "Original Creation Intent Covenant", and how we broke that covenant with God, which allowed violence and death to enter this world. We will also look at how we continue to break this covenant by promoting violence and death, and the way in which we ease our individual and societal conscience by sanitizing this violence or by excusing it.
Let's begin by looking at Genesis 1 and 2. In these two chapters, we see a perfect state of existence for humans, non-humans, and the environment. There is no violence or death. Plant food is the entire diet for all (Genesis 1:29-30). In Genesis 1, God says that everything He created is "good", and in verse 31 He says that it is "very good".
This "good" and perfect work of God in creating this earth and all it contains was given to us as a free gift if we would only care for it (Genesis 1:26-28). The terms "dominion" and "rule" when read in context mean to manage, protect, and care for the creation in a loving and peaceful manner. The term "subdue" really means to protect from anything or anyone who might bring harm, in essence to subdue evil, should such condition arise. And in this context evil means the misuse of that which God intended for good.
Adam failed to subdue the evil intent of the serpent, and the weakness of Eve and himself, and thus broke the covenant with God. And we continue to break this covenant with God every time we misuse or abuse the good that God created. And every time we do this we give greater power to the forces of evil. But God desires to restore this covenant with us. Even though we live among much evil and suffering and death, we don't have to contribute to it. The Bible points us to a better way of life. We are encouraged to come and reason with God about our sinful condition, that we might change (Isaiah 1:18). Isaiah further paints us a picture of even the animals not killing each other, and that one day in the future, "They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:6-9).
Why would Jesus tell us that we are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48) if such a state were not possible? I believe His message is a commandment for us to press on toward that goal.
Why did Jesus teach us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10), if such were not possible to some extent? If we pray for the perfection of heaven, a place in which there is no longer any death or pain or suffering (Revelation 21:4), then shouldn't we also do our best not to contribute to pain and suffering and death? I believe we should, for such obviously seems to be the will of God and part of His covenant for us. Eden was an example of heaven on earth. It is God's way of showing us His Original Intent, and when He Covenanted with Adam to manage this creation, it was also intended for us, too.
Let's look at an example of a very simple covenant. If our grandmother gives us her best set of china dishware, and tells us to protect it and some day give it to our grandchildren, and we agree, we are entering into a covenant with her. Then one day we become careless and end up breaking one of the plates. In essence, we have broken our covenant; but that doesn't mean that we can then proceed to break all the other china pieces, too. The covenant is still in place to protect the rest of the set, and to pass it on to our grandchildren. We probably should even try to find a replacement piece in an antique shop to complete the set again, so that a complete set can then be passed on to our grandchildren's grandchildren, and so on. This is restoring the covenant that was broken.
But this is not what we are doing upon this earth. We are exploiting the earth and all it contains. We exploit and abuse and cause our fellow humans to suffer and die. We do the same to the animals. We are continuing to break the Original Creation Intent Covenant, and those other covenants (Law, Prophetic, etc.) that were given to us, and those to restore the first one (Law, Prophetic and Heavenly). We try to excuse our actions by saying that God gave us everything to use in any way we choose, when Scripture clearly shows us that the opposite is really true.
We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot by sanitizing violence in our society. It's time we stop these violent and destructive acts and begin to restore God's Original Covenant.