Colossians 1:15-16: “Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers– all things have been created through him and for him.”
I think it is so awesome that Earth Day and Good Friday fall on the same day! Some people might not like this idea because they believe that the “environmentalists” are worshipping “Mother Earth” while the “Christians” are celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe the two meanings of this day can be merged together. We don’t need to see these two celebrations on the same day as contrary to each other.
I teach environmental education to people of all ages for a living. I wish we could call it “creation education.” The word environment takes out the notion that the Earth was created by a creator. Many of my coworkers are scientists who don’t believe in God. I believe God created Earth; it speaks without words of His attributes; it praises His name and reveals His glory; it is made for His pleasure; and everything on it has been made for man to use and enjoy, and entrusted into his care while he is upon it. I believe we are called to be good stewards of His creation. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” Genesis 2:15. (Also see Genesis 1:26, 29-31.) Some Christians call this concept “creation care.”
The Bible says in Matthew 24:35 that someday the Earth will pass away. I think some Christians use this as an excuse not to be too concerned about creation. While this scripture holds true, it is our responsibility as Christians to ensure we are doing all we can to care for Earth, so it will be around for future generations. Matthew 24:36 indicates that we do not know when Jesus is coming back to Earth. This being said, it is our responsibility to live like there will be many more generations to come that will need to use the Earth’s resources. God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food” Genesis 1:29-30.
It would be selfish for us to live our lives not thinking about how we as consumers are impacting God’s creation in some way, for good or bad. “Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” Ezekiel 34:17-18; see also Luke 3:11. God made the Earth for people to use and enjoy responsibly. I don’t think God would be pleased with us for destroying that which He created and called good.
I believe some Christians think that those who put an emphasis on caring for God’s creation means they care less for people. Extreme environmentalism indicates people should put a cap on the number of children two people create as a means of population control. By controlling the number of people on Earth, we can better control Earth’s resources, and these resources can be sustained and better managed for a longer period of time. I think this is completely contrary to God’s Word. Genesis 1:28 says, “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” Psalms 1:27:3-5 also says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” I had a guest pastor at my church once tell the congregation that ever “quiver” has a different number of “arrows” in it. I think God wants us to continue to populate the Earth in a responsible manner that considers the well being of each newly created life. People should also responsibly consume the resources they need to live out their days here on Earth.
Caring for people doesn’t just mean caring whether there are more of them. It also means caring for the people who are already on this Earth. The Bible says that if God cares for even the birds, He surely cares that much more for people, who are made in His image (Matthew 6:26-29; 1:26). We should have this same view. Jesus once said, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:13-14). People are the most important creation made by God, and God expects us to care for one another. We are made in His image, we have a conscience, spirit and soul within us, and when we become Christians we are even sealed with the Holy Spirit. When we die this sealing will be an indication that we are children of God who can enter into His eternal kingdom where our souls will be eternally at rest in all the fullness of Gods glory! This makes us unique in all of God’s creation! We are the only thing in all of creation with eternal life, whether we choose to spend it in heaven with our Maker or separated from God in eternal darkness or damnation.
God never intended for His creation to be separated from Him for all eternity. Hell was created for Satan and the other fallen angels. These angels are created beings who seem to have lost sight that they were created and not equal or above God. Lucifer was one of the coolest created beings ever made, having been designed to perfectly reflect God’s glory in every way possible. Unfortunately, it got to his head and thus he became the devil we know today. He is the prince of this world and the ruler of darkness. He relentlessly seeks to destroy and bring people into his fallen world. He will drag anyone he can into the pit of hell with him. Here there will be the weeping and gnashing of teeth. All that talk of “fire and brimstone” is very real whether we choose to believe in it or not. Our picture of the horrors of hell will never even be a close comparison to how awful a place it is in reality. Again, it was never designed for humans.
We are blessed to have a God who loves His creation enough to humble Himself, leave His heavenly throne, come down to Earth in the form of a human being, and allow His very creation to destroy his physical body in a death meant for the worst of all criminals! His purpose was to become the sacrificial lamb led to the slaughter for the sins of all mankind–His own creation! The Creator died for His creation so they could inherit the kingdom of God for all eternity! Through His death we have been redeemed and become His adopted children. Jesus rose again three days after His death and eventually went back to heaven and His throne. If we choose to believe in what He has done for us, we will one day meet our Creator as our souls leave our physical bodies and receive new spiritual bodies that will be more wonderful than we can imagine.
I think it is pretty cool to dwell on how the Creator made creation and died for His own creation. And while he was on the cross, God orchestrated several events to occur using the rest of His creation. They point to the darkness and separation we experience as humans when we live a life apart from God. One sermon I read http://www.christianinconnect.com/jstardea.htm describes very well what happened in creation when Jesus died. I have pulled out several excerpts from this link below. I hope they will paint a picture in your mind of how God manipulated His creation in such a way as to indicate that something amazing was happening to its Creator.
“Having followed Jesus along the Way of Sorrows and outside the city gates of Jerusalem, we walk up to Calvary, which means The Place of the Skull. There we behold Jesus’ hands and feet nailed to his cross. The soldiers lift up his cross and leave him hanging on it between the sky above and the earth beneath, like a criminal being executed for a capital crime. He had committed no crime, however. His only offense had been telling the chief priests, Pharisees and scribes the truth, that he was the Son of God. For this they wanted him executed. Pilate, the governor, tried to release him. When the chief priests and Pharisees, however, threatened Pilate’s political career with an appeal to Caesar, to please them he condemned the innocent Jesus to death by crucifixion.
“It is now noon, the sixth hour after the dawning of the new day. We are startled, amazed, then frightened as we behold the light of the sun fading until darkness covers the whole land. This cannot be an eclipse of the sun, for this strange darkness is occurring at a time in the month when there is a full moon. The moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun and cannot possibly block the sun’s light. This darkness at high noon is so startling that people in far away places like Egypt, Greece, Rome, even China, record this amazing event in their ancient antiquities. God is placing his hand over the sun to enshroud in darkness the suffering and death of his own Son, Jesus, who hangs on the cross.
“About the ninth hour Jesus cries out loudly, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani;’ this means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Being ‘the sinner’ who was guilty of every sin ever committed, during these three hours of darkness God has forsaken him. What a startling turn of events! It surpasses our understanding. The Father and the Son are one and the same God. Jesus had acknowledged this: ‘I and the Father are one.’ How, then, can the Father forsake his Son? We do not know. We can only believe that he did.
“This darkness testifies to the Father’s having forsaken his Son. It demonstrates the Father has withdrawn the light of his glory, mercy, and blessings from Jesus to abandon him to his dark wrath and punishment.
“We have seen some startling things here on Calvary. Among them we have seen in this darkness a startling glimpse of what hell is like. Jesus repeatedly referred to hell, the place where God punishes the wicked for their sins, as the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For three hours we have seen Jesus enshrouded in this darkness, in which God punished him for being the wicked person who was guilty of the sins of the world. Jesus was made to suffer in this darkness the punishment for sin outside Jerusalem, the city of God. Likewise, in the outer darkness of hell the damned are tormented for their sins outside the heavenly city of God. As God had forsaken Jesus to his wrath and punishment against sin, so in hell God forsakes the damned to his wrath and punishment against their sins.
“God himself is light. In him there is no darkness at all. He has no part with the darkness of sin and unbelief, which is the devil’s domain. In this darkness where God had forsaken Jesus, Jesus was separated from God’s glorious light, mercy, and blessings. Likewise, the damned in hell are forever separated from God’s glorious light, mercy, and blessings. They are left to agonize and weep in the darkness of God’s wrath and punishment against their sins. There they angrily gnash their teeth in frustration over never being released from their torment.
“All these startling sights that occurred during these dark hours happened for our benefit, to teach us important lessons. If Jesus, the Son of God, who was without sin himself, was forsaken by God to suffer such wrath and punishment for sins he did not commit, how much worse will the punishment be for those who are guilty sinners? If these things happened to Jesus, the green tree, what will happen to us who are dry, dead wood?
“The eternal salvation from hell that Jesus’ suffering obtained for all was certified by the miracles that accompanied his sacrificial death for sin. Now Jesus, again calling out in a loud voice, lets go of his spirit. Then behold, the curtain of the temple is torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth quakes, and the rocks split, and the tombs are opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep are raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, they go into the holy city and appear to many people.
“Through this Word we behold from Calvary more startling events. When Jesus gives up his life as the atoning sacrifice for sin, the curtain in the temple is torn in two from top to bottom. That curtain in the temple sealed off the Most Holy Place, the place where God’s presence dwelt. That curtain kept sinners from coming into his presence, for the wicked cannot dwell with God. That curtain was huge, between 60 to 80 feet wide, 20 to 30 feet high, and as thick as a man’s hand. As soon as Jesus gave his innocent life to pay for the sins of the world, God tore that curtain in two. Jesus’ death removed the barrier of sin that had stood between God and sinners. Their sins no longer separated them from God. Jesus’ death reconciled them to God and restored them to God’s favor. Through Jesus’ death they can come into God’s presence to dwell with him. Through Jesus’ death they have access to God.
“As soon as Jesus dies an earthquake startles us. It shakes the earth and splits rocks. This earthquake is a demonstration of the almighty power of God, as it was on Mount Sinai. This earthquake also declares the judgment of God has come, as a gigantic earthquake will announce the judgment of God has come on the last day. In connection with Jesus’ death, God shakes the earth and splits the rocks with an earthquake, for his judgment has been rendered upon the sins of the world. Punishment for sin has been exacted. Divine justice has been satisfied.
“When Jesus dies for the sins of the world, tombs break open. The bodies of many holy people who had died are raised to life. These Old Testament people were holy ones and saints through their faith in the Christ, for whom they had waited to redeem and save them. Jesus’ death paid for their sins, which was the cause of their deaths. Their sins having been paid for, God breaks open their tombs, raises them to life and glorifies them, as a sign of what is to come for all who believe in Jesus. God certifies Jesus’ death has paid for sins and has purchased eternal life.
“These miraculous signs that accompany Jesus’ death certify Jesus’ sacrificial death for our sins. These divine miracles certify that we now have access to God through Jesus’ death for our sins. We may now come into the presence of God to dwell with him as his redeemed people. Judgment on our sins has been rendered. God’s justice has been satisfied. Our sins have been forgiven. We will not perish in the judgment to come but will be raised from the dead to eternal life.
“Through this Word we have beheld many startling things in connection with Jesus’ death. Having beheld them, faith will lead us to conclude what the centurion who crucified Jesus concluded: ‘Truly, he was the Son of God!’ Amen.”
Praise God for the death and resurrection of our Creator and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! We thank God for creating each and every one of us and embrace the hope that has been set before us. Hopefully, you have personally accepted the amazing work done on the cross and have come to accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life and Savior of the world. Once you allow Him to live in your heart, He will completely transform your life, so you can live righteously in the pursuit of holiness seeking after God’s pleasing and perfect will. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” 2 Corinthians 5:17-20. Isn’t that awesome? We are called as Christians to help carry our God’s work here on Earth as His ambassadors!
I hope you have a deep love and appreciation for all of God’s creation, especially other people. May you share the sacrifice and love of God and the hope that is within you. You have been given a joy that surpasses fleeting happiness and pleasure. Peace that defies understanding in the midst of all circumstances. A guarantee of what to expect beyond this life here on Earth. You have been given access to your Creator and the ability to form an amazing relationship with Him and to know and understand the depths of His love for you!
Pray with me: “Dear God, thank you for creating me and this beautiful world I am blessed and privileged to enjoy. Please help me to be a good steward over this Earth. I know I am a sinner saved by grace. I thank you that I never have to earn my way into heaven. I thank you for your love and mercy and sacrifice on my behalf. I look forward to the day when I will meet you, my Creator, in heaven. Please help me to share the hope that is within me to all of the people you place in life. I pray you will give me opportunities to share my faith in you, and I will grasp hold of them when they come my way. Please help me to live righteously for you each and every day. Amen.”