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Ecology

R4E130717 – Ecology by Douglas Jacoby

You can download the full audiobook recording on qobuz or amazon or itunes.

1. What’s ecology?
Ecology is a study of the relationships between organisms and the environments in which they live. The earth comprises many ecosystems, each delicately balanced. Over-farming, air pollution, water pollution, over-hunting and so on can have drastic consequences, such as the extinction of species, severe erosion, and dangerous spikes in greenhouse gases.

2. How do humans relate to nature?
Where do we as humans fit into the scheme of things? Genesis 1-2 (esp. 1:26-27, 2:7) indicate our natural origins (“day six” creation along with the other beasts, made from dirt). Yet there is also a divine origin, and humans are tasked with bearing (or being) the divine image. (This is not “speciesism”!) Thus we are in both worlds. We should be honored to be God’s children, yet humbled by our earthly origins.

3. What duties, or obligations, if any, do humans have toward the natural world?
According to Genesis 1:26,28, 2:15; Psalm 8:6; and many other passages, and in line with extensive Judaeo-Christian reflection on passages such as Luke 16:12, 19:17; 1 Corinthians 4:2 we have a responsibility to care for the creation. That is, ecology is part of spirituality. One clear example of ecological responsibility is the Sabbath principle in agriculture (Exodus 23:10; Leviticus 26:34-35; 2 Chronicles 36:21).

4. What about the Green movement?
This does not work if there is no God, or if, as many New Age thinkers opine, we are only part of nature. For in that case what argument could be made that we shouldn’t trash the planet, kill the weak, commit adultery, and so forth? With biblical monotheism there is a warrant for ecology; without it, such talk turns out to be mere smoke of opinion. Either we are only part of nature (like the other animals, and thus without moral responsibility), or we somehow transcend nature, as Scripture says (and thus are responsible for our ethics — environmental, familial, business, sexual, social, etc). This the Green movement falls for short, for it fails to achieve the insight that this is God’s world. (Psalm 104 powerfully attests to this fact.)

5. But isn’t it all going to burn?
Whether or not the fire of 2 Peter 3:10 is taken literally does not matter, since the Lord tells us to care for his creation (now) and to expect — in some sense we can only dimly grasp — a new creation at the end (2 Peter 3:13). Dismissive attitudes like “Our planet will indefinitely renew itself,” or “All I care about is my standard of living, not whether my company poisons the water,” or “Why does it matter, if everything’s gonna burn?” should not be found among those who fear God and believe his word.

6. What’s the vision?
As believers in the scriptures, we should all embrace the biblical vision of a creation released from its “bondage to decay” (Romans 8:18-22).

7. What should we do?

  • Strive to develop ecological sensitivity.
  • Talk about environmental issues.
  • Recycle.
  • Take ownership of the creation. We are not only stewards; in a sense, we are “gardeners.”
  • Don’t litter — ever.
  • Ask your “green” friends why ecology matters if there’s no God, and explain why ecology follows naturally from the mandate of Genesis 1.
  • Appreciate nature: enjoy the great outdoors, read works in the natural sciences, be awed by the creation.
  • Perhaps take a peek at Rolston’s interesting article.

Clashing Worldviews

R4E130715 – Clashing Worldviews by Douglas Jacoby

You can download the full audiobook recording on qobuz or amazon or itunes.

Joshua 24:14-15 – decision
Judges 6:28-32 – Asherah pole
Judges 9:13—inferior gods
Judges 16:23-30 – Samson & Dagon
1 Samuel 5:2-7 – Dagon exposed
1 Kings 11:1-8 – Solomon
1 Kings 12:26-33 – Jeroboam’s sin
1 Kings 18:27 – inferior gods
1 Kings 22:4-8 – outnumbered – (1 Kings 18:19)
2 Kings 17:7-41 – dangers of syncretism
2 Kings 23:10 – Molech
2 Chronicles 32:19 – religious relativism
Isaiah 44:6-20 – mockery of idolatry
Jeremiah 2:28 – city-gods
Lamentations 2:14 – false prophets
Ezekiel 8:1-18 – sun god, Tammuz
Daniel 2:11 – inferior gods
Daniel 5:4 – affront to God
John 14:6 – one way
John 18:38 – relativism
Acts 4:12 – one name
Acts 14:11-18 – fickleness
Acts 17:16-34 – “unknown god”
Romans 1:21-23 – classic passage
Romans 2:12-16 – saved by conscience?
1 Thessalonians 1:9 – turn at conversion
1 Timothy 2:4 – God wants all to be saved
Revelation 7:9 – universal vision
Note: My comments are primarily based on the ESV.

Decalogue Study by Douglas Jacoby

The lessons on the 10 Commandments are also cumulative. To learn the most, try to listen to them in order. The Decalogue podcasts are shorter than the Psalms lessons, so occasionally you might want to combine days.

Introduction and definitions

  • Decalogue: The ten words
  • Torah: Law or Instruction (from the Hebrew yarah, meaning to guide). This may refer to the first five books of the Bible, or the law(s) found in them.
  • Pentateuch: The five rolls. The term refers to the first five books of the O.T., Genesis-Deuteronomy.
  • Two greatest commandments: Love God with all your heart (Deuteronomy 6:5) and Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). Neither is in the 10 commandments, and yet it has been noted that the first four commandments pertain to love for God, the last six to love for neighbor.
  • The two tablets (Exodus 31:18, 32:15) are two identical copies of the commandments. This is known from covenant customs in this part of the world (2nd millennium BC)
  • The 10 commandments were delivered the first time at Sinai (Horeb) near the beginning of the desert wanderings. It comes out in a new version near the end of this period (see Deuteronomy 5). Moreover, another “ten commandments” may be found in Exodus 34.

Text

  • First commandment
  • Exodus 20:1-3: And God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

Comments:

  • LORD = YHWH (Yahweh). YHWH is the Tetragrammaton (Greek for four-letter [thing]). For more on this, refer to the podcast on The Name of God. YHWH appears about 6800 times in the O.T.
  • Lord = Adonai
  • Our Christian lives are rooted in who God is.
  • We obey God not in order to be saved, but because we have already been redeemed.
  • Obedience is not slavery (although it is a kind of yoke — Matthew 11:28-30; see 1 John 5:3 and Deuteronomy 30:11-20); slavery is being in the world (and of it).

Thought questions

  • Through listening to this lesson, is there anything I learned that was completely new?
  • Do I obey out of fear or duty, or out of appreciation for my salvation?
  • Is there anything more important to me than God?
  • Do others know this to be true of me (family, friends, neighbors…)?