Bible Readings : Psalm 65 & Isaiah 65:17-25
As we come towards the end of the Season of Creation we have this gem of a reading [Psalm 65] which is read around the world this weekend.
The psalmist begins the psalm by praising God, who forgives our transgressions. The evidence of that is seen not just through God’s creation of us, but the creation of the natural world around us – the words the psalmist uses for the natural world is your Holy Temple.
Further, the psalmist talks about not just God’s wonderful creation but that God continually cares for the land and enriches it and waters it [verse 9ff].
This is a salient reminder that God’s creation, just like us, has intrinsic worth – value in its very being. We too, as God’s creation, are cared for by the father in his creation and car for our sustaining world and the redemptive grace of his son and the empowering and gifting of the Holy Spirit. The underlying message is this – ‘God creates no rubbish’ and ‘we are made in the image of God’.
The stewardship of our world – his Holy Temple and the care of our body – also described by the apostle Paul as a ‘holy temple’ are the ultimate ways to honour God.
As God has made each of us unique, he has made Planet Earth unique also.
This we see in Isaiah 65 – the second reading for today. I am sure many of you will hear the echoing of this reading in one at the end of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation [chapter 21].
John the Revelator, 700 years later, says the day is coming when there will be no more death or crying, mourning or pain for the old order of things will pass away. John speaks about God as the ‘alpha’ and ‘omega’ – the beginning and the end – the provider who offers the inheritance of new life to us, if we overcome.
But John, also mentions that God is creating a new Heaven and a new earth.
In chapter 65 of Isaiah also God is credited with saying ‘Behold I will create new heavens and a new earth.’ We know now about stars that sit many light years beyond us. Astronomers and scientists and physicists are discovering new galaxies all the time and the endless potential for more and more to exist.
Interestingly, we haven’t found another planet like our own and we have, to date, found no concrete evidence of life on other planets.
Surely this adds to our understanding of not just the worth but also the uniqueness of our planet earth.
Maybe the Old Testament gives us other clues as to why there is a ‘finiteness’ for a number when it comes to talk of ‘new’ earth’ and ‘infiniteness’ when it comes to talk about ‘new’ heavens.
In the book of Job, the faithful follower of God, loses all his wealth – his land, livestock and even his seven sons and three daughters.
He remains faithful and ultimately God blesses him with double of the lost possessions.
But when it comes to children – he simply returns to the status quo and has seven sons and three daughters. The soul like the earth is a unique thing and the soul’s intrinsic worth means that it is not a thing to be multiplied but rather regenerated or renewed or revitalised.
Yes, earth is the only one we’ve got, but because it is gifted by God to us, we have a serious task to steward this one ‘til the time when God creates ‘a’ new earth.
Isaiah 65 tells us what stewardship of this earth might look like.
From verse 21 we read that producers and consumers will be one and the same.
Where we build we shall dwell, what we plant we will eat. It goes on to speak of communities – families – working together in a sense of harmony and co-operation.
‘They will neither harm nor destroy’ we read in verse 25, gives us a sense that reconciliation in our world will occur when we act to reconcile ourselves with each other and the world God has gifted to us and which he continues to nurture.
Jesus warns us about the looming future crisis of the wealth and the signs of global warming, species extinction and human greed that we see but often ignore, when he says in Luke 12:54-56 –
54 He said to the crowd: ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, “It’s going to rain,” and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, “It’s going to be hot,” and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
Let’s do our part big or small, for God’s gifts to us for it is not an ‘add-on’ to our faith but embedded in it and testified to it – throughout the scriptures.