The Coming Restoration—Environmental Renovation

The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them

Say the word, “environmentalism,” and you stir up a mix of emotions in people. Some immediately think of global warming or climate change. They shudder with fear that earth has only twelve years left before it’s destroyed (unless, of course, government steps in). Others believe we should be concerned about the environment and do what we can to conserve it but they don’t worry about it. Nature will take care of itself. Then there are others who are like the proverbial ostrich with his head in the sand: They would rather not face up to the situation, hoping that if they ignore it, it will all go away. But, the reality is, that’s not so easy anymore.

ENVIRONMENTAL WORRIES ON THE RISE

It appears that the environment is more and more on the minds of Americans these days. Pew Research Center has found that since the economy is now doing much better, Americans are not worried as much about it as they are the environment. The report titled, “As Economic Concerns Recede Environmental Protection Rises on the Public’s Policy Agenda,” (dated, Feb. 13, 2020), says,

“Reflecting a strong U.S. economy, Americans’ policy priorities have changed in recent years. The public now places less priority on economic and job concerns than it did just a few years ago. At the same time, environmental protection and global climate change are rising on the public’s agenda for the president and Congress.”

In January 8-13, 2020, Pew Research Center conducted a survey on cellphones and landlines among 1,504 U.S. adults. They were asked what they thought should be the top priority for the president and Congress such as the economy and the environment and, in the last 6 years, climate change. The percentage of those who say the economy should be the top priority was 67% while it was 64% concerning the environment. In 2002, it was 71% regarding the economy and only 44% for the environment. And ever since the survey was taken in 2014, the survey shows the priority for climate change went from about 35% to 52%.

In summary, Pew Research Center found that…

+For the first time, environmental protection rivals the economy among the public’s top policy priorities.
+There are wide partisan gaps on climate change, environment, guns and stronger military.
+Environment rises as priority but partisan gap persists.
+Environment is a top priority for younger adults.
https://www.people-press.org/2020/02/13/as-economic-concerns-recede-environmental-protection-rises-on-the-publics-policy-agenda/

THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT

I share this information because it illustrates what’s on the minds of many Americans in regard to our environment and the future of our planet. Many, especially the younger generation, are in a frenzy over it. They fear that humanity is heading for a disaster from which they’ll never recover—that global warming (an aspect of climate change) is going to destroy earth’s atmosphere due to a greenhouse effect because of the increase of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants, as the Oxford Dictionary defines it.

In recent years, environmentalists have gone far beyond recycling, preventing pollution, and being responsible conservationists. Certain activist groups have taken more extreme measures to draw attention to their fears—non-violent confrontations, lawsuits, lobbying, staging demonstrations, and even committing criminal acts such as destructive of property.

One can see how so many emotions can be stirred when environmentalism has become such a debated topic among educators, scientists, politicians, the media, religious leaders, as well as those involved in the movement. Young people are especially reminded that their future depends upon what happens to their environment, via climate change, global warming, and so forth. “Going green” is now on a lot of minds, both young and old.

Now, we can all agree that it is important that everyone should do their part in keeping the environment clean and safe. Who would want to live on a dirty, diseased, damaged planet, anyway? Indeed, God appointed mankind to take care of it: (Genesis 1:24-31). But there are those who go further to use environmentalism as a movement for their own political, financial, or social interests.

Agitating people into frantic fear that humanity has only a few years left before global warming destroys earth is often a tactic to which some resort. In the last forty years we were told the environment can’t get any worse. Not much time is left—maybe twenty or thirty years. The due date came but nothing happened. Still more due dates have come and gone. We’re still here. This reminds me of a joke told by Comedian Jay Leno:

“According to a new U.N. report, the global warming outlook is much worse than originally predicted. Which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy the planet.”

SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE WORRIED?

From a Christian viewpoint, I submit if more would believe the Bible then their fears would subside. For they would have a clearer understanding on what the future holds than what any so called “expert” has to say about the environment issue. For example, God’s Word gives us the reassurance that this planet will always be here and thus humanity cannot destroy it nor the environment in which we exist:

+Psalm 78:69 “And He built His sanctuary like the heights, like the earth which He has founded forever.” (New American Standard Bible, NASB)

+Psalm 104:5 “He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter [move out of place] forever and ever.” (NASB)

+Ecclesiastes 1:4 “A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.” (NASB)

+Isaiah 45:18 “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), ‘I am the Lord, and there is none else.’” (NASB)

GOD’S PLAN FOR EARTH’S ENVIRONMENT

God’s plan for this planet and its environment is that it will abide forever in spite of the fact that due to human sin, the earth was cursed (Genesis 3:8-24). Sin is actually the original pollutant to our environment. At one time, the earth and its environment was a paradise—pure and perfect beauty, order, and harmony in all of God’s creation. But when Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating of the forbidden tree, they and all of God’s creation were cursed—the soil, the trees, the plants, and every living thing in existence. Death and destruction resulted. And so it is to this day.

But God’s plan for this planet and its existence hasn’t changed. In order for God to restore this planet to its original perfection, sin has to be dwelt with and the curse removed. God sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, so that through him, there will be no more curse, and then all of God’s creation will be restored. And it’s God’s plan that with Christ in mind, the earth will be cleansed of sin with fire.

The Scriptures indicate that God will bring destruction by fire on the earth. Within the context that earth will abide forever, this does not mean God will remove the planet by burning it up and then replace it with new one. Rather, it means he will purge and purify it thoroughly with fire to remove sin’s impurities from the earth. For example,

+Isaiah 65:17 “For behold I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” (NASB)

+2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (NASB)

+Revelation 21:5 “And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’” (NASB) Note that this does not say, “I create all new things,” but “…all things new,” indicating that the earth will be restored not replaced with another earth.

Dr. Alva G. Huffer stated,

“The presence of sin is sin’s evidence in environment. When Christ returns to earth, He will save believers from the presence of sin. All evidence of sin eventually will be removed, and this planet will be transformed into a perfect paradise.”  (Systematic Theology)

When Jesus comes (signified by “the day of the Lord”), he will enter his 1,000-year period of restoration (also known as the Millennium; Revelation 20:1-6). And he will save the world from threat of human destruction due to sin. This includes transforming the environment and restoring earth to its original Edenic condition according to the following Scriptures:

+Ezekiel 36:35 “They will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.’” (NASB)

+Romans 8:19-21 “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (NASB)

During the renovation period when Christ rules as King, Earth’s environment will be restored to its fertility and beauty. For example,

+Isaiah 35:1, 2, 7 “The wilderness and the desert will be glad, and the Arabah [desert] will rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God…. The scorched land will become a pool and the thirsty ground springs of water; In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, grass becomes reeds and rushes.” (NASB)

+Isaiah 55:13 “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, and it will be a memorial to the Lord, for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.” (NASB)

+Amos 9:13-14 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved. Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit.” (NASB)

Finally, when Jesus completes his reign and turns it all over to God (1 Corinthians 15:23-28), the curse of sin shall be removed forever, and paradise on earth will be totally restored:

+Revelation 22:3 “And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his bond-servants shall serve him.” (NASB)

Whether you consider yourself an environmentalist or not, it’s only natural that you will not want to miss being in Christ’s Kingdom for anything in this world. Just think of it: perfectly clear streams of water, no pollution in the air, land, or sea, and the environment completely purified and transformed into eternal beauty and splendor. It makes us want to be ready all the more for that wonderful time by giving our lives over to Jesus now, making him our Lord and Savior. Only those who accept Christ and are converted to him have that hope.

In our next post, we will examine, “The Coming Restoration—The Renovation of Peace.”

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Enjoy this video vignette from Isaiah 35, “Streams in the Desert”: http://youtu.be/fWiKNmGw5r8

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