The Bible and climate
Published 10:27 pm Friday, September 20, 2019
By Myrtle V. Thompson
While working on Sunday school lessons from Genesis, I spent time searching what the Bible has to say about the climate of planet earth at the time of creation.
I then did a Google check to see what today’s students as young as 17 are thinking. There were dozens of issues connected to climate and climate control, with enough predictions to leave us terror stricken if they are to be believed.
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I do agree with one tenet. We are seriously trashing our planet, the beautiful place God created and told us to care for.
I enjoy knowing what was written in the past, so I turned to some old encyclopedias to research “climate.” Winston’s Cumulative Encyclopedia, 1918 volume, had a two-column article with facts about climate variations in different parts of the world, in particular the effect of rain, moisture and winds and the iso-thermal lines drawn on a map or chart that show these variations. The last comment was interesting: “Geology teaches that vast changes have taken place in most if not all of the countries, the causes of which are not fully understood.”
The 1974 Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia had a map. The first sentence read “Climate, term as employed, as including not merely the conditions of a country or place with regard to temperature and precipitation but also its meteorological conditions generally…Climate may be influenced by prevailing winds or ocean currents…”
My next source was biblical. What was the climate like when earth was created? The Genesis 1 account says there was a Creator, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. That Creator was God. Genesis 1:2 says “the world was without form and void,” in chaos and darkness until the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. The waters above were separated from the waters beneath and earth was formed.
The details are scant. I used the five Ws of literature study, Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. The writers who deal with the subject are as many as the interpretations. God created the world but Who is God? The Bible writer of Hebrews says Jesus is the exact representation of God and “He who comes to God must believe that He is and rewards them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6.) That is where we have to exercise faith, something we do every day.
When? “In the beginning…” another unknown quantity, but probably about 6 millennia ago. Where? Earth, a planet, one among many. Billions of stars, millions of galaxies, innumerable universes, one very visible sun and a moon and with all of this a human made in God’s image, unlike anything else, a perfect creation, placed on planet earth and told to care for it.
How? God spoke and the world came into being. That was it. The “big bang” may have been when God said “Let there be light” and the “light switch” did not hesitate or ask a question. The light covered the existing chaos and darkness. As an added blessing, God turned the light into day and night.
My search continued with an interesting encounter Job had. This man had an enviable reputation, but his three accusatory “friends” were relentless in their ridicule. In chapter 19:23-35, Job cries out, “Oh that my words were written, inscribed in a book…with an iron stylus and lead, … engraved in the rock forever…As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives and at the last He will take His stand on the earth…” Thankfully, Job’s words were written. The Bible has the record. His faith was firmly rooted in the Creator God; his words have eternal significance.
Job has had questions, but God does not answer Job’s questions. He doesn’t have to. He is the Creator God. He is the Questioner. In chapters 38-42:6 He uses His creative actions and questions about climate issues to show Job His greatness and power.
Job no longer complains. He listens, then replies, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear but now my eye sees Thee. Therefore I retract and I repent.”
God created a perfect world. Job’s encounter with God should be a lesson to remind us Who is in control. We can’t take over God’s role but we can do our part. Repentance would be a good beginning. We can make small changes in our everyday lifestyle while caring for God’s creation.
Myrtle V. Thompson, 91, is a retired missionary, Bible teacher and writer. Contact her at email@example.com.