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Rhys Humphreys

Nature: Earth’s Glimpse

What does perfection look like? In an attempt to solve this puzzling enigma, we have, throughout history, created a plethora of words in a plethora of languages. For example, the Greeks use τελειότητα, the Arabs say حد الكمال, and the Hebrews, וִֹכְלָה. Words though, are still nothing more than lines on a page at the end of the day. While these can all relate to being complete and finished, these definitions are just that, more words to help us imagine what perfection might look like. We have, however, been given a tangible and physical model to help us comprehend just a small fraction of the immense perfection that God ingrained within our world. Ingraining which, most visibly, can be seen in the beauty of our Earth.

In the earliest pages of The Bible, we see an image of Earth in its most pure and guiltless form: The Garden of Eden. The Garden symbolizes creation as it was intended: peaceful, not that it was without conflict, but that it was a whole and complete system, an idea known in Hebrew as shalom. This term, shalom, encompasses the symbiosis in which nature exists and by which it sustains itself and its environment. Looking into the complex web of nature, we see a model of what Solomon refers to in the book of Ecclesiastes when he says there’s “A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up” (Ecc 3:3, NASB). Animals and plants, despite killing and tearing down, do not sin as humans do. They have not and cannot sin, for their circle of life is shalom itself. In that sense, nature becomes a window into Eden now and today, a pure and guiltless state of being. We can look at the nature around us and catch a glimpse into the life that we rejected for ourselves, foreshadowing also the life yet to come.

Alongside nature’s rightful place in Eden, we as humans were not only granted the opportunity, but were explicitly created, with the purpose of stewarding unto creation in the garden. “God blessed them,” says Genesis 1:28, “and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (NASB). Humanity itself was set apart in this passage, much in the same way that Abram was set apart in Genesis 12, much in the same way that Israel was set apart in Exodus 19. For this reason we must, as the law of Moses says, “‘…be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy’” (Lv 19:2, NASB). Holiness is being set apart, created and called for a specific reason, to serve a special purpose, which, for Israel, was to be a blessing to all the Earth. “‘Israel is My son,’” says The LORD, “‘My firstborn’” (Ex 4:22, NASB). Serving as a connection between generations, firstborns in jewish culture are meant to show and distill the values of The Father, so that through them, The Father may be known. This image though, of a bridge between The Father and the children, strongly resembles the previously mentioned

picture.

Hence, we find ourselves with two closely related devices: firstborns bridging God to people, and nature bridging Eden to the Earth we know today. Then came Jesus, completely shattering this idea by existing as entirely human and entirely God at the same time. But even in Emmanuel’s death, God came to be with us, through us, in the Holy Spirit. In that moment, every one of us were each individually called to be a bridge to God, bringing to Earth His coming kingdom with every breath. In order to “cultivate it and keep it”, man was placed into Eden, building and expanding the garden until it covered all creation (Gen 2:15, NASB). We then must heed that same command to cultivate and keep creation until Eden is restored, complete only when our world once again exists in shalom. Is this not the great mission of christians, who believe, as the Apostle’s Creed says, “in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting”?

Yea, the everlasting resurrection of the body can have no physical home save our own. Therefore, while we are set apart from the creation in which we live, we are obligated to become the caretakers and cultivators of the Earth, expanding the glimpse of new creation presented by nature, until all else is eclipsed. This is our sacred privilege of serving the LORD most high, and we cannot, honoring that privilege, permit the Earth, and the resurrection with it, to pass by squandered. “‘Consider it,’” as it is said in Judges 19, “‘take counsel and speak up!’” (Jdg 19:30,

NASB).