Ecology: Our Sacred Responsibility
December 18, 2021
On April 10, 1815, Mount Tambora, in Indonesia, blew its stack, sending 4,000 feet of mountain into the atmosphere. That’s an estimated 36 cubic miles of volcanic gas, ash, and assorted debris. (To give you some idea of how much that was, the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 was the worst volcanic event in the recorded history of the United States, but it belched up only 1.4 cubic miles of debris.) The eruption of Mount Tambora killed 92,000 people and stole the summer of 1816. Ten thousand people died immediately from tsunamis (massive waves caused by the blast), lava flows, and debris, and 82,000 more died of starvation and other complications caused by the disaster.
Halfway around the world, in New England, no one gave a thought to a mountain in Indonesia having any effect on them. What they didn’t realize was that all the debris in the atmosphere from the volcano would affect the climate everywhere. Winter was mild, but when spring came, it turned colder. May was cold, with lots of ice and snow. By June, temperatures had gone up, and the planting was done. Most crops would never grow, as temperatures plummeted again and snow fell.
During one snowstorm in June a farmer headed out to check on a flock of sheep. He jokingly told his wife that if he wasn’t back in an hour, she should call the neighbors to start looking for him, because June was a bad month to get buried in the snow. They found him three days later, frozen to death. He’d found the sheep and then gotten disoriented and lost his way.
Although no one died from starvation in Vermont, food was scarce. In Craftsbury, kids were eating birch twigs and beech leaves. Mothers had the hardest time, divvying up what little they had so each child could eat. They often went hungry themselves. But even in the face of such hardship, people shared what they had.
The summer of 1816—known to some as Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death—passed. Winter was normal, and the following summer’s harvest was bountiful. But it proved without a doubt that we are all connected on Planet Earth. From Mount Tambora, in Indonesia, to Mount Mansfield, in Vermont.
Memory Text: “You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:6, NKJV).
Our Beliefs, no. 21, Stewardship: “We are God’s stewards, entrusted by Him with time and opportunities, abilities and possessions, and the blessings of the earth and its resources. We are responsible to Him for their proper use.”
Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 96, 97
Read Luke 16:10.
It’s time to go to the polls. The class election is coming up. Your best friend is running for class president. You love your friend, but you know she won’t do a good job as the president. Running against her is a guy you don’t really like; in fact, you think he’s obnoxious. But you also know he’ll do a great job as president. You just don’t want him to be president. You want your friend to win. How do you vote? If you don’t vote at all, does that make you not responsible for the results of the election? If you vote for the other guy and your friend finds out, what will you say to her?
Read Genesis 1:26-28; Malachi 3:8-12; 2 Corinthians 9:7.
At Creation God put all of the earth into our hands and commanded us to take care of the earth and all that is in it. God also expects us to be faithful in all that we have and all that we do.
What does the word stewardship mean?
How can we be good stewards about how we spend and use money?
How can we be good stewards of our time?
In what ways do you show that you are a good steward of the blessings God has given you?
Read Genesis 1 and answer the following questions.
1. How does God expect you to care for the earth, His creations, and His children?
2. Give examples showing what you can do today to be involved in the care of the God’s creations: Caring for the environment (plants, water, air):
Taking care of God’s creatures (pets, birds, wild animals, their habitats):
Providing for His children (emotionally, physically, spiritually):
Read John 13:34.
The environment, government, humanity: these are big, heavy subjects that grown-ups deal with, right? Yet God expects everyone to care about these things, because in caring about them we care about each other. In our reading today Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (NKJV). If we care about electing good, honest officials to government positions, we are helping people be treated fairly and decently.
If we do what we can to preserve the environment, we are helping to protect it for animals and people in the future. And if we help all the people who suffer from famine and other disasters, we are truly “loving our brother” as Jesus asked us to do.
But none of that happens while we’re sitting on the couch playing video games or watching TV. It happens when we care enough to get involved. That’s how we make a difference. Sure, maybe we can’t do much at first. Doing is one way we learn and grow. Not everything we do right now is meant to produce immediate changes. God realizes that these things take time. That’s why it’s important we don’t drop the ecology ball. We need to pick it up and carry it into the future. A future that honors God and His principles. A future that reaches every human being on earth with the love of God. A future that will carry us into heaven.
Look up the texts and fill in the blanks. You can find the various Bible versions at BibleGateway.com.
A. “ and awe belong to; he establishes order in the of” (Job 25:2, NIV).
B. “You let rule everything your have made. And you put all of it our” (Psalm 8:6, CEV).
C. “The is the and everything in it, the, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and it on the” (Psalm 24:1, 2, NIV).
D. “The of my people have lost their. They no longer seek from the . Therefore, they fail completely, and their are scattered” (Jeremiah 10:21, NLT).
E. “As surely as I live, says the Lord, you abandoned my and left them to be by every. And though you were my, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of and left to” (Ezekiel 34:8, NLT).
F. “He has made you the over all the world and has put even the and under your control. You are the _________ of gold” (Daniel 2:38, NLT).
Read Matthew 25:23.
Review the memory text.
If someone came into your room and trashed it, then left, would you throw up your hands and say, “Well, that’s it. I’ll have to live with a messy room“? Having to clean up someone else’s mess isn’t fair, but life isn’t always fair. Our environment is a mess, the government is in confusion, and humanity will always be suffering somewhere. God does not expect us to solve these problems overnight or by ourselves.
Wisdom and strength are just two of the gifts God will give to anyone who asks. We need both as we make plans to change our world for the better. We need wisdom so that we will know what needs to be done and how we can do it. And we need strength to carry it through. Right now, when you are interested in exploring the bigger, broader world around you, is the perfect time to ask God what you can do to help make our world a better place. And when He returns, we’ll hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!“ (Matthew 25:23, NIV).
Read John 15:12.
Spread a little kindness around. Use the following sheet to record your acts of kindness this week (starting on Sunday). See how simple things can help change the world. Warning: Don’t get caught! This is a secret mission.
Project: Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty
Mission Directive: To practice one act of kindness or beauty of the top secret variety each day this week and report back to HQ (headquarters) with details. Important: This mission is top secret. Under no circumstances should your cover be blown. Record your mission below. (In code or invisible ink, if possible.)
Observations and Field Notes: