Orthodox Ecology: The Lord’s Earth and the fullnes thereof


Every epoch carries its own burden and presents new issues to a man. This epoch, however, raises concern: how to preserve the nature, God’s creation, from ourselves, and our bare lives in it?

It is not a rare sight and no wonder that on the streets of global metropolises we see people wearing masks or cloth over mouth. People fall and suffocate because they have no air. When passing by European and American forests, the lungs of surrounding cities, one can see the sad scenes of seared leaves, yellowed before they turn green. Instead of mild rains of heaven, we are showered by acid and toxic rains. Where a drop of such rain falls, grass is not growing, leaf no longer greens. Almost every day we hear of various disasters. Floods there, torrents of mud yonder, earthquakes here, and avalanches there. Everywhere are voices of human tragedy and death. Everything turned on man and waged a war against him.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth; (Gen. 1: 1), and God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Gen. 1: 31) “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen. 1: 27-28) As things are, it seems that the creation rebelled against its lord and denied him its love and devotion.

How come?
Because of the man’s sin. Not only because of his sins of greed and voracity but for every other sin with which a man disgraces and pollutes God’s creation.

The moment when man denied a Lord the God, his Creator, his love and obedience, the very time God’s creation had also denied him its obedience. “Cursed is the ground for thy sake;” (Gen. 3: 17) God condemned Adam and punished him: “in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life”.
The man did not awaken in front of his nakedness and returned to God, but continued his tragic waywardness. The first offspring of Adam, Cain, deepened the abyss of sin and was first to shed hot blood of his innocent brother to earth. Consequently, Lord the God deepens his curse; from the creation, the earth, it is transferred to Cain: “And now art thou cursed from the earth.” And because of the wickedness of man, (Gen. 4: 11-12) “For all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth (Gen. 6: 12), “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Gen.  6: 11) “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at his heart”. (Gen. 6: 6)
Therefore, at some point, he obliterates everything: he leaves only a just Noah, and all that Noah took with him. After all, the Lord wants to re-establish the man as master of His creation, and renews His blessing on Noah and his sons, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. “Into your hand are they delivered.” (Gen.  9: 2) It did not help. It did not take long and man again slipped into sin.

By sinning, man pulled the veil over his eyes and mind and hastened to forget that the Lord gave the earth to the children of men (Ps. 115: 16) to serve and that all earth still belongs to the Lord, (Ex. 19:  5) “and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein”. (Ps. 24: 1)

This tragic misunderstanding of a man is present even today. Once the man was too hasty and unreasonable; today he is plainly evil. Mortal worm became arrogant towards his Creator, swelled to the point of blowing up, and everything restricts him. Everyone is annoying, and God the most. Man, intent to completely cast out Lord the God from the face of the earth so that he finally takes control of the earth. So people meet, theorize and plan and make some arrangements. They say, there are too many people on earth, “unnecessary ruminants” – let’s create wars and uprisings, let vermin slaughter and obliterate themselves. They convene conferences and invest a lot of money in preventing people to be born and multiply and fill the earth. Everything is too small and restricted for them. They are hungry to never get enough; bread is always few to share it with others. They don’t see that “the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord”. (Ps. 33: 5) They put toxins in soil that is then forced to constantly give fruits even if afterwards this harvest is tossed in the dark ocean. They inflate fruits and vegetables with various toxins so now even worm would not smell an apple anymore. No mercy, profit above all. The Lord requires the earth to rest too (Lev. 25: 3-5) but they don’t care. Like God the Creator did not know what he was doing; they would know better.

And the earth groans under the burden of sinful man, sways and stumbles like a drunken man (Is. 24: 10) and can not bear the weight of sin and the poison on her extradited. So it shakes, bursts, and rises up to the sinners and the ungodly. (Job, 20: 27)
Together with earth, a sinful man is shaking, stumbling and wandering. He has long ceased to understand the signs and to recognize in creation its Creator. How he can’t see that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. (Ps. 19: 1) God instructs him to ask the beasts, to teach him or fowls of the air, to tell him. (Job, 12: 12)

Dazed, sinful man, intent at God, needs a warning that God is the creator of heaven and earth, and the only Lord of them, and that He gave him His creation to serve, to the extent that he himself is loyal and obedient. “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. ” (Lev. 26: 3-5) And if you do not do so – says the Lord – “I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. ” (Lev. 26: 32)

In order to stop the war of God’s creation against man, so that he finds a way out of dead end in which he strayed, the only answer is the obedience of man, and surrender to his God. He has to stop with his sinful boasting, and in his humility to kneel down before God and acknowledge His Lordship over all his creation. This is the only way God can reconcile man with beings and himself, and again bring him back a nature in its original beauty.