(Photos by Neil Cullan McKInlay)
Who owns the planet earth? Us, our grandchildren? The birds, animals, and fish? Wee green men from Mars, perhaps? Should we really care? Of course, the proper answer is that God owns all things. However, He has entrusted it into our care. It's part of what's called the Dominion or Cultural Mandate. The basis of our involvement in the Cultural Mandate begins in Genesis:
"Then God said, 'Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He creatd Him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" Genesis 1:26-28.
So, if the Triune God owns the planet earth we are not trying to preserve it for our grandchildren, birds, animals, fish, or wee green men from Mars. We are trying to cultivate it to the glory of God. Therefore Christians are the true earth stewards, commissioned by God.
However, ever since Adam, our one time federal head and covenant representative before God, raided God's orchard and ate the stolen fruit, mankind has not always been the best earth steward. To begin with, it was Adam's wife Eve (at the instigation of the ventriloquist Satan) who plucked that forbidden fruit and gave it to her husband who knowingly ate of it in spite of God.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was to be left alone. "You shall not steal" 8th Commandment. Adam and Eve had the pick of every other fruit tree in the Garden, but they coveted the forbidden fruit. "You shall not covet" 10th Commandment. And thus Adam broke his probation as he broke the Law that God had written on his, Eve's, and our heart by eating stolen goods.
However, the mandate still stands. We are to continue to have dominion over the fish, birds, and every living thing that moves on earth (see eg, Genesis 9:1-7). We are still to be fruitful and multiply. We are still to fill the earth and subdue it. This means that we are to cultivate all things to the glory of God. For even before the Fall (while still on probation), Adam was commissioned to tend and keep the Garden.
Like us, Adam was to, as God says: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it." 4th Commandment.
Notice that the 4th Commandment has as much to do with work as it has rest! Tending (cultivating) and keeping (guarding) things requires us to work. But for whom do we work? Us, our grandchildren? The birds, animals, and fish? Wee green men from Mars? Surely we work for the Triune God.
But notice that the 4th Commandment also tells us to rest the creatures under our dominion for one day every week. And, we are to give rest to our employees male and female, those who lodge with us, and whatever animals do work for us (eg, sheep dogs, guard dogs, cattle and elephants where they're used etc.)
It was the LORD who made the heavens and the earth and everything that is in them. In the Bible even the fields, crops, vineyards etc, get to enjoy yearly sabbaths (see eg, Lev. 25:1-7). There is good news for us, for "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Hebrews 4:9.
What's happening in our own time as the secular humanists are given their fifteen minutes of fame? Who living today hasn't heard of the phrase 24/7? The big shopping malls are now open seven days a week giving no rest for the wicked! They've forgotten the sabbath that was included in the Cultural Mandate.
The Good News is that there is now a new federal head, a new covenant representative before God, the Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus. He is the new replacement Man, the Last Adam (see eg, 1 Cor. 15:45,47). Scripture says that God has given all things to Jesus Christ. Therefore, He now has dominion over creation and is presently busy in the process of progressively subduing it by His Spirit and working through His followers, "For He has put all things under His feet... Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" 1 Corinthians 15:27-28.
We can trust the new Man, the Godman, the new Earth Steward, to be obedient to His Father and to have all creation subdued to the glory of God before the Last Day. Therefore, let us all be good earth stewards in Him!