Scriptural Resources for Ecological Stewardship

A science teacher who I work with asked me to compile some Biblical resources on the stewardship of Creation. Since there are few good lists on this topic on the Internet (they usually include sparse Biblical references and LOTS of commentary), I decided to post this. It's kind of a bare-bones, "just the facts ma'am" list of Biblical resources on ecology, along with some prayers from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. I hope you find it useful for sermon or lesson prep.

1. God made the world and cares for it (and not just humans, ALL of it!)

  • Genesis 1 In the first Creation Poem, God says EACH aspect of Creation is Good. Seven times. The number of perfection.
  • Psalms 104:25, 27 Animals, both small and great.. they all wait for Thee to give them their food in due season.
  • Psalms 145.8–10 [8] The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. [9] The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.   [10] All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your faithful shall bless you. 
  • Wisdom 11.24–26 [24] For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made, for you would not have made anything if you had hated it. [25] How would anything have endured if you had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved? [26] You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living. 
  • Matthew 6:26-30 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. And are you not worth much more than they? ...Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin... If God so clothes the grass of the field... will he not much more clothe you?

2. Scriptures which positively state our responsibility as caretakers of God's Created order:

  • Genesis 1.26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have control over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
  • Genesis 2.15–16 [15] The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. [16] And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden;
  • Psalm 8:4-6  What are human beings that you are mindful of them,   mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God,   and crowned them with glory and honor.  You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;   you have put all things under their feet...
  • Deuteronomy 5:14 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. 
  • Deuteronomy 20.19 If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you? 
  • Deuteronomy 22:6-7 If you come on a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs, with the mother sitting on the fledglings or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young.  Let the mother go, taking only the young for yourself, in order that it may go well with you and you may live long. 
  • Deuteronomy 25.4   You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain. 
  • Proverbs 12:10 Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
  • 1 Corinthians 4.1–2 [1] Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. [2] Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 

3. God Teaches Humans through Nature

  • Psalms 19.1–4 [1] The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. [2] Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. [3] There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; [4] yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
  • Job 12:7-10 But ask the animals, and they will teach you; or birds of the air and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you; or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the lord has done this. In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.
  • Romans 1:19-20 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made. So they are without excuse.
  • Wisdom 7 This is too long to copy and paste here, but the book of Wisdom, chapter 7, is a wonderful homage to God at work in Creation and our place within it as explorers of Wisdom. Much of this chapter touches on what we would call scientific inquiry, although done through the lens of Neo-Platonic philosophy.

4. Scriptures which negatively state the consequences of NOT caring for the environment.

  • Numbers 35:33-34 You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the Lord dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.”
  • Isaiah 24.3–6 [3] The earth shall be utterly laid waste and utterly despoiled; for the LORD has spoken this word.   [4] The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. [5] The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. [6] Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled, and few people are left… 
  • Jeremiah 2:7 I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and you made my inheritance detestable.
  • James 5:5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.
  • Revelation 11:18 The time has come for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great - and for destroying those who destroy the earth.

5. God will redeem all things through the resurrection of Christ, including nature itself.

  • Psalms 36.6 You save humans and animals alike, O LORD.
  • Isaiah 65.21–25 [The eschatological vision of Scripture includes plant and animal life] [21] They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit... [23] They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity... [24] Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. [25] The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD. 
  • Colossians 1.15–20 [15] Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; [16] for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible... [20] and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.  
  • Revelation 21.1-4, 22.1-3 [1] Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away... [3] And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; [4] he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away... [1]   Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb [2] through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. [3] Nothing accursed will be found there any more.

6. Ecological and Scientific Prayers from the Book of Common Prayer

For the Conservation of Natural Resources | BCP page 827
Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For stewardship of creation | BCP page 259
O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature: Make us always thankful for your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

For Knowledge of God’s Creation | BCP page 827
Eternal God, you made the universe with all its marvelous order, its atoms, worlds, and galaxies, and the infinite complexity of living creatures: Grant that, as we probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your eternal purpose, through the guidance of Jesus Christ. Amen.

For Joy in God’s Creation | BCP page 814
O heavenly Father, who has filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made. Amen.

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This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.