A huge animal recently appeared in the news on 18 March 2019. A whale was found dead in Philippines, despite earlier attempts by local authorities and fishermen to draw it back to the sea when it was found stranded in shallow waters. It was later discovered that the dehydrated whale had died of starvation because it had 40kg of plastic in its stomach, which made it impossible for the whale to eat or drink.
How do we, as Christians, view such news?
The Bible tells us that God created the world (Gen 1) and that the world belongs to Him. Till today, He provides and cares for His creation (Ps 104:10-14, Lk 12:6). The Bible also tells us that after creating mankind, “the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it (“abad” in Hebrew) and keep it (“shamar” in Hebrew).” (Gen 2:15)
“Shamar” generally has the sense of protecting, watching closely, and guarding (see “keep” in Num 6:4), while “abad” has the sense of serving (Gen 29:18) and cultivating (Gen 4:12). Interestingly, this same pair of words appeared again in Numbers 3:7-8, describing the duties of the Levites: the Levites are to “keep guard” (“shamar”) over the needs of the priesthood and the furnishings of the tent of meeting, as they “minister” (“abad”) or do the work at the tabernacle. If this is so, then Genesis 2:15 is saying that God gave us the responsibility to steward, protect and watch over His “good” creation.
Sadly, in another news article published a few days earlier, on 15 March 2019, scientists have estimated that the world population of less than 8 billion people produces around 300 billion kilograms of plastic waste annually, and half of them were used only once (i.e. single-use plastic). In 2017 alone, Singapore produced around 815 million kilograms of plastic waste with a population of around 5 million. Since plastic is not biodegradable, this plastic waste has simply ended up in slums and dumpsites overseas, in the bellies of sea creatures, or disintegrated into micro-plastic and winding up in fishes and crustaceans that we later consume.
In light of Genesis 2:15, will you join me in making baby steps as Guardians of The Earth by reducing our use of single-use plastic? Let us be good stewards of this earth that God has created. Let us learn from our Saviour Jesus Christ, who sacrificed His comfort and convenience for the salvation of mere creatures like us. Let us resist the temptation to prioritize our convenience over the wellbeing of those under our care. Let us work hard to care for one another, and for the “good” earth that God has created.
Mrs. Grace Gan