Choosing the Creation Over the Creator|
The creation of God is good in every way. We know this because the Bible’s account of God’s creation in Genesis 1 states seven times that God considered His creation to be good. Moreover, the Bible tells us why God’s creation is good – it is good because every part of it serves its God-given purpose. The heavenly bodies give their light, the land and sea support all plant and animal life, and man has dominion over it all just as God intended (see Psalm 104). God has blessed us with a beautiful, temporal home, and we must all agree that it is good.
However, Satan has a way of using even the beauty of God’s creation as an opportunity for evil. For example, consider how the serpent (Satan – Rev. 12:9) used the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God created in goodness (Gen. 2:9), to provoke the lusts of Eve and tempt her to sin. Notice Genesis 3:6 – “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” With this event came the advent of man’s troubles, and it all began with an improper desire toward an object of God’s good creation.
Throughout the ages, the natural world has often been the subject of man’s misplaced affection. The apostle Paul described the error of pagan men, saying that they “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Rom. 1:23), and “they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” (Rom. 1:25). Such corrupted creature-worship has existed from the ancient Egyptians, who deified dozens of animals, to the modern Hindus, who revere the sacred cow. Not only have God’s creatures been made objects of worship, but also trees have been given an important place in pagan religions. In the ancient Near East, the ground beneath oak trees, which were considered to be sacred, and lush gardens were common places for abominable pagan practices (Isa. 1:29; 57:5; 65:3; 66:17). Green, luxuriant trees were almost always necessary complements to the altars and high places of pagan idol worship (notice what was done “under every green tree” in Deut. 12:2; 2Ki. 16:4; 17:10; 2Chron. 28:4; Jer. 2:20; 3:6, 13; Ezek. 6:13; 17:24; 20:47). It seems that the pagans beheld the beauty of nature and foolishly chose to love the creation rather than the Creator.
Today, we see this same phenomenon of misplaced affection in some of the modern trends. One such trend is radical environmentalism. Certainly, it is our responsibility to practice conservation and good stewardship over God’s creation, but proponents of radical environmentalism go far beyond this. They advocate social, cultural, and political doctrines that attempt to reorganize the order that God assigned to his creation. They revere “Mother Nature” almost as a god. Some places have even been designated as nature sanctuaries, which literally means that they are nature “holy places.” Similarly, animal rights advocates revere creatures and seek to elevate them to an equal level with mankind or even higher. We see this manifested in the laws of the land (compare the penalty for animal abuse versus the penalty for assault or the lack of penalty for abortion). Of course, no one should abuse animals (Prov. 12:10), but God’s order of man’s dominion must be respected (Gen. 1:26-28; 9:3; Luke 12:7). Belief in Darwinian evolution is a major factor in these misplaced affections, for this false theory suggests that nature is its own creator. The effect of all of this is that reverence for God’s creation is increasing, while reverence for the Creator Himself is decreasing.
This may seem farfetched to some, but these kinds of tendencies combined with the modern state of morality in the culture may quickly lead to a renewal of ancient paganism. It is not difficult to imagine an increasingly godless culture embracing the worship of nature, and in some ways it is already happening. There are even some so-called Christians who mistakenly believe that closeness to God is found in nature, whereas the Scripture declares that God is found only through Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Eph. 2:11-22). It is a purely pagan idea that God is found in the forests, mountains, lakes, streams, etc., and yet this idea has become widely accepted in our modern world.
May God-centered people resist this call to paganism by respecting the original intent of the Creator for His creation. Remember that “the earth is the LORD’s and all it contains” (Ps. 24:1), so His will for the earth must be obeyed. Certainly, we should see God’s glorious creation and appreciate His wonderful power and wisdom, and we should honor our Creator by being good stewards of His creation, but we must not go beyond His will and disrespect His divine order. Man’s first job was to cultivate the earth for his own sustenance (Gen. 2:15-16), but the creation was never to be an object of worship. Therefore, let us properly direct our worship toward our Creator through the spiritual means that He has designated, and let us regard the creation as the beautiful, good, and temporary home that God made for us.
Stacey E. Durham
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