23 Aug 2023

This Is My Father’s World: Hosea, Animals, Salvation

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Christian hope, Contemporary Ethics, Discipleship, Environment, Heaven, Mission, resurrection
Deeply Biblical Theology We Should Sing More Often

A Hymn

This is my Father’s world
And to my listening ears
All nature sings and round me rings
The music of the spheres

This is my Father’s world
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees
Of skies and seas
His hands the wonders rod

This is my Father’s world
The birds their carols raise
The morning light the, lilliy white
Declare their Maker’s praise

This is my Father’s world
He shines in all that’s fare
In rustling grass I hear him pass
He speaks to me everywhere

This is my Father’s world
And to my listening ears
All nature sings and round me rings
The music of the sphere

(Maltbie D. Babcock, 1901)

Creational Astigmatism

Sometimes I read the news online and wonder how much more the world can take from us. By us I mean both humans in general and Evangelical/Restorationist Christians in particular.

I am not negative by nature (I have a Farside type of humor though!), but Human Beings can be incredibly narcissistic. This seems to be at the root of the “original sin.” The world, we tend to think, revolves around us. This flaw in human thinking can be found among us the Evangelical/Restorationist Christians (I am one btw). Humans have a tendency to destroy everything we touch. We think that the only purpose things exist for in this world is to serve us. Most have a Darwinian, Mammon driven, utilitarian ethic.

Other humans exists for our benefit. If he/she does not benefit me then they are worthless in our sight. If a bird, turtle, whale, butterfly, tree or flower is in the way of our comfort and gratification then they are worthless as well.

Evangelical/Restorationists often put a supposed biblical spin on this utlitarian ethic that consumes our world.

This world is not my home,
I’m just passing through

We sing. This world of seven seas and seven continents and all that lies within them has no Spiritual value. So we treat the world like we accuse the rest of the human race of treating each other. We ourselves are to be rescued from this world, this creational existence! Few realize this is Platonic view of “spirituality” that is quite unbiblical. It is, in fact, quite Gnostic, not historic Christianity. There are reasons for our predicament in Evangelical/Restorationist churches.

I had a supposed Bible believing Christian tell me, “I do not care how many women lead, spoke, prophesied. The Old Testament has been nailed to the cross and we are under a better covenant. They are to be in subjection and not usurp men.”

I quote that not to discuss the “role of women” at the moment but to illustrate how little the Hebrew Bible theologically impacts Christian thinking and living. If the Hebrew Bible has ZERO (probably even less) theological influence on this person’s understanding of how another human is treated (women are equal divine image bearers) then it sure will not when it comes to God’s good creation beyond human beings. These two things – humans and the world – are intimately connected in the Hebrew Bible … and but no less in the New Testament.

For Evangelical/Restorationists “sin” is often defined in interesting ways.

No cleavage.
No mini-skirts.
No swimming.
No beer.
No wine.
No rock.
No gay people.
No dancing.

Sin is rarely evaluated in social terms that promote justice and mercy. Faithfulness to God is rarely understood in terms of expending love on what cannot return it (or think it cannot).

Henderson Island three thousand miles from any land mass is one of the most polluted spots on earth.

Servant Kings, Salvation

But humans were created, literally, to be God’s vice regents within the created order. They were created to reflect God’s own intimate love and care for creation back into creation. They were created to be the caretakers of God’s personal property. Humans are kings and queens indeed, but as in ancient Israel, David sat upon the throne only as God’s under king. Humans are created to be servant Kings and Queens on behalf of creation (C. S. Lewis grasped this point with clarity, think Chronicles of Narnia). There is a gracious, symbiotic, relationship between divine image bearers and the non-human created order by divine intent.

Sin, according to the Bible, drastically impacts our world, God’s good creation. The “lack of knowledge of God” according to the Bible is not simply revealed in dancing and bikinis but in how the creation that God loves, suffers. One text from Hosea,

Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites,
because the LORD has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:

There is no faithfulness, no love [Hesed],
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Because of this the land dries up,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea are swept away
(Hosea 4.1-4)

Failure to acknowledge God (i.e. know God in older versions) does not result in only breaking the “Ten Commandments.” Failure to acknowledge God results in the vandalism of God’s good creation. The land drying up, the death of beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the fish of the sea.

The world DIES because HUMANS do not know God. Think about what is happening to our world even as we live in 2023. The world suffers because humans have forgotten the role we play within God’s created order. We have adopted a “survival of the fittest” ethic while decrying Darwinian evolution loudly.

God’s created order dies when humans fail to be what God created them to be. People treat other humans in the same way they do animals, birds, fish … as objects that exist to serve me.

So Brazil has declared war on the Amazon rain forest and is decimating it. Henderson Island, uninhabited by humans and three thousand miles from the nearest land mass, in the middle of the Pacific looks like a city dump because all the garbage that washes up on its shore. Surely Hosea 4 is apropos!

Meanwhile, Christians openly mock any kind of environmental concern. Tree huggars. Environmental Taliban. Whackos. No such thing as climate change. “And Who cares, God is just going to burn it up! If you think it is hot now, just wait!

This is simply the Evangelical/Restorationist version of utlitarianism, a Darwinian social ethic. The ethic is the exact same only the veneer is different. It is rooted in completely unbiblical theology.

But Yahweh promises the covenant people God will save them because God has promised the animals! Oh, we ignore this or do not know it or we declare it to be “figurative.” Or, who cares that is the “Old Testament!” But does not the theology of Hosea reflect God’s own theology? Yahweh speaks through the same prophet Hosea,

““In that day,” declares the Lord,

you will call me ‘my husband’;
you will no longer call me ‘my master.’
I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
no longer will their names be invoked.

In that day I will make a covenant for them
with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the creatures that move along the ground.

Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land,
so that all may lie down in safety.
I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge
the Lord.

In that day I will respond,”
declares the LORD—

I will respond to the skies,
and they will respond to the earth;
and the earth will respond to the grain,
the new wine and the olive oil”

(Hosea 2.16-22)

Salvation for God’s people is guaranteed to them because Yahweh “enters a covenant with the animals.” Here God promises the animals the freedom from suffering and death that they experience because Israel (God’s People!) have no clue who God is or what makes God tick. Life will flow from the land because salvation heals the WHOLE world.

But for any intelligent Christian, the greatest compliment God could ever give to the mud and dirt of planet Earth was when God used that very mud and dirt the flesh for the Word of God – Jesus of Nazareth. The Incarnation is the God given proof that “God so loved the WORLD ...”

A Bible wide study of creation, why God created it; What does God intend to do with it. Creation and Redemption tie the entire canon together from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. I invite you to read Embracing Creation.

The Word was Incarnate in Flesh.
The Word’s Flesh was denied “decay” By God.
The Word was Raised from the dead in the FLESH.
The Word returned to the Father in the FLESH.
The Word will return in the FLESH.

That Flesh, made from the mud and dirt. That Flesh is, present tense, made up of soil God made a promise (covenant) to in Hosea. This world actually belongs to Jesus the King/Messiah. It was created “by him” and “for him” (Col 1.16). God will destroy those “who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11.18).

I am far from a perfect human being (thank you God for grace!). My understanding of God’s word is far from infallible. But it seems to me that if I know who God is then that will transform my behavior towards other human beings and all that God has made. I will love my neighbor as if they are the Lord himself and I will dote over even Leviathan who was created, not for us, but just so God could watch this magnificent creature play in the deep (Read Psalm 104 and Romans 8!). The creation was not made for me. I was created to be God’s servant King within that glorious creation that is redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

There are many aspects of creation that do not focus upon human (again meditate upon Psalm 104 a long time). We need to restore the biblical doctrine of creation which is foundational to the biblical doctrine of redemption/salvation. With it we regain understanding of who we are and what we as humans are called and created to be. My cohorts and I have written more on this core biblical truth in Embracing Creation: God’s Forgotten Mission.

This is my Father’s world …” He loves it.

Further Reading In Links

Psalm 104: For God So Loves the World

Do Not Fear, O Earth, Animals, People: Hope of Cosmic Redemption in Joel’s Liturgy

One Response to “This Is My Father’s World: Hosea, Animals, Salvation”

  1. JT Says:

    Can’t argue with your thesis here, Bobby.
    Perhaps a bit of a broad brush in a point…not necessarily THE “evangelical/restorationist” “version” and/or “ethic”. I’d agree with you more fully had you stated it less emphatically. Some followers of the Messiah, I’m convinced, do try to respect the creation. Many do endeavor to be good stewards of the earth and all that is within it. Many respect the Ten Commandments. All ten of ’em, not just nine.

    He set the seventh day apart from the other six days of the week, the only day of the week for which he did so. The significance of Him setting the seventh day apart from the other days has deep ties and significance to His Creation. That was not coincidental. But most people miss it.

    And God’s command to “Remember the Sabbath” was not a temporary rule just for the Jews which could then be cast into the history waste-basket of the Old Testament that “has been nailed to the Cross”, as too many have been deceived into accepting. And, yes, the Sabbath was made for me.

    I can’t go to Henderson Island and pick up the washed-up trash. But I can refrain from littering (so that my trash doesn’t end up there!). I can take a minute to dispose of someone else’s litter when I come across it.

    You made some swell points here, Bobby. Thanks!
    P.S. Happy belated birthday

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