August 28, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Isaiah 24:5 (NIV)
The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant.
Through the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, the Lord says that the earth has been defiled because people have broken their everlasting covenant with God. One part of that covenant is to care for the earth (Genesis 2:15). When we fail to do this, the earth suffers, and so do we. But God is in the restoration business. We look forward with hope to the renewal of earth and heaven.
When God created the earth, he entrusted it to human beings, to tend it and use it for good (Genesis 2:15). But when the first humans sinned, the earth itself suffered the consequences (Genesis 3:17-19). The human relationship with creation wasn’t severed completely, but it was broken. The earth became a source of pain for people, even as their sin led to the suffering of the earth itself.
When we look at the state of our world today, we see evidence of human sin everywhere. It might be in a park filled with litter, or a bay filled with sewage, or a sky filled with deadly haze. Often the fires that devastate California, where I live, are started by people being selfish and irresponsible. We see in real-time the reality of Isaiah 24:5, which in the NIV reads, “The earth is defiled by its people.” The Hebrew verb translated here as “defiled” is often rendered as “polluted” (chanef).
Yet, in Isaiah 24:5, Isaiah doesn’t attribute the pollution of the world to industry or chemicals. Rather, the defiling of the earth is a result of human disobedience. “The earth is defiled… [because people] have disobeyed the laws… and broken the everlasting covenant.” One aspect of that covenant was to care for the world God created, an aspect we have frequently broken. Remember, God created human beings both to work the earth and to “take care” of it (the Hebrew of Genesis 2:15 means “watch over, preserve, protect”).
So, the world is polluted, both physically and morally, because of our sin. That’s the bad news. The good news is that God isn’t through with us and with the world. In Romans 8, we learn that creation has been groaning as if in labor pains. But the time will come when creation will be renewed along with human beings. Glory is coming when God makes all things right. Earth and heaven will be made new. That is our hope as Christians.
In the meanwhile, our hope for the future empowers us to live even now in a way that honors God. Though we know we can’t completely heal the earth, we try nevertheless to take care of God’s creation. As stewards of the earth and in faithfulness to the Creator, we seek wise and judicious use of the earth and its resources. This isn’t a matter of partisan affiliation or political correctness. Rather, it’s part of our covenant relationship with the God who created all things good and entrusted his creation to our care.
In what ways have you experienced the brokenness and suffering of the earth?
How do you see yourself as a steward of God’s creation?
Are there things you could change in your work or your personal life to be a more faithful steward of the earth? If so, why not do (or not do) one of those things?
Gracious God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, how sad it is to see how our sin has corrupted your wonderful creation. Yet how good to know that you haven’t given up on the earth . . . or on us, either.
Thank you for your commitment to the renewal of all things. And thank you for choosing to use us in this process. Help us, dear Lord, to be faithful stewards of your creation. May we care for this world and help it to be fruitful. Show us what this means in our daily lives, whether we’re at home or at work. May our concern for the earth be far more than a fad. Instead, may it reflect our love for you and your creation. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: People Fall into Sin in Work (Genesis 3:1-24)
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.