Heal Our Land ~ Dr. Ngul Khan Pau
My comfort zone was disturbed as I listened to a theologian linking the ecological disaster to the sinful nature of mankind. It took me a while to process my thought about the connection of land, the environment and human being. I am very comfortable to explain about the consequence of Adam’s disobedience which brought sufferings and death, yet it is not easy to see the relationship. In fact, global warming, the green house effect and other related environmental disruptions are connected to the utilization and exploitation of man. The ecological balance and equilibrium is interrupted wherever man went ahead in wanton greed and without care. The earth suffers and bleeds as a result of sin and sinful ways of living. In Genesis 3:1-19, we have seen how Satan used subtle and slick ways to get the attention of Adam and Eve and led them to their downward fall with sin.
The Lord pronounced his judgment in response to Adam and Eve’s disobedience, “Cursed is the ground because of you” (Gen 3: 17). We can trace in the scripture how this curse had an immediate impact as the Lord said, “You will have to work hard for your food. In pain you will eat its food all the days of your life. The ground will produce thorns and weeds for you. And you will eat the plants of the field. You will sweat and work hard for your food. Later you will return to the ground because you were taken from it” (Vs. 17b-19a).
There are four primary reasons why the land needs healing. It becomes defiled and subjected to curse through the followings:
1. By the spilling of blood: When Cain murdered his brother Abel, the Lord summoned him and said, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood is on the ground. That blood is like a voice that tells me what happened. And now you will be cursed in your work with the ground. It is the same ground where your brother’s blood fell. Your hands killed him” (Gen. 4:8-11). Similarly, the Lord spoke through Moses saying, “Don’t let murder spoil your land. There is only one way to remove the sin of killing an innocent person. The murderer must be put to death. I am the Lord. I live among the Israelites. I live in the land with you. So do not spoil it with murder” (Numbers 35:33 – 34). The holy God lamented through His servant the Psalmist saying that His people have made the land unholy by their sinful and willful actions. When they yielded in unholy alliance with other nations and worshiped their idols, they have done even unthinkable deeds to their children. “They worshiped other nations’ idols. And they were trapped by them. They even killed their sons and daughters as sacrifices to demons. They killed innocent people. They killed their own sons and daughters as sacrifices to the idols of Canaan. So the land was made unholy by their blood” (Ps. 106:36-38).
2. By Breaking the Covenant: All through the scripture, the Lord has been acknowledging Himself as a “Covenant keeping God.” The very personhood of God is the embodiment of truth (John 14:6). He initiated a covenant with Abraham and faithfully made what He has promised to come to pass. The Lord has shown Himself that He will ever stand committed and faithful to what He promised, for “He is a God who does not lie” (Titus 1:2). Yet, man always failed to live up to the covenant, trespassing against the very commitment he has made. The result is the defilement of the land. The prophet Isaiah prophesied about such failure stating, “The earth will be completely empty. The wealth will all be taken. This will happen because the Lord commanded it. The earth will dry up and die. The world will grow weak and die. The great leaders in this land will become weak. The people of the earth have ruined it. They do not follow God’s teachings. They do not obey God’s laws. They break their covenant with God that was to last forever” (Isaiah 24:3-5).
3. By living an immoral life: We live in a sex saturated society where sensual things are taken to be the “in-things” today. The “live-in” practice of the West is here in the metropolitan cities of India. Even in the remote corners of North East India we see a trend of adapting to the “easy lifestyle”, and the old traditional values swiftly eroding away. The “gay community” may not be seen openly and yet we know the existence of such sinful practices. We’ve seen the breaking down of marriage vows and children who are left without proper parental care and upbringing. The Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their uncontrolled immoral living (Gen 19:23-29). The prophet Jeremiah vehemently stated the curse of the land because of their wayward living, “So the Lord could no longer bear it, because of the evil of your doings and because of the abominations which you have committed. Therefore your land is a desolation, an astonishment, a curse, and without an inhabitant, as it is this day” (Jer 44:22). Further, the Lord instructed Moses concerning the forbidden sexual practices by saying:
“No man is to have sexual relations with another man; God hates that. No man or woman is to have sexual relations with an animal; that perversion makes you ritually unclean. Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these acts, for that is how the pagans made themselves unclean, those pagans who lived in the land before you and whom the Lord is driving out so that you can go in. Their actions made the land unclean, so the Lord is punishing the land and making it reject the people who lived there. They did all these disgusting things and made the land unclean, you must not do them. All of you, whether Israelites or foreigners living with you, must keep the Lord’s laws and commands, and then the land will not reject you, as it rejected the pagans who lived before you. You know that whoever does any of these disgusting things will no longer be considered one of God’s people” (Lev 18:22-29, TEV)
4. Because of Idolatry: The first and supreme commandment of the Lord says, “You must not have any other god except Me” (Ex 20:3). The instruction to love Him and Him alone is repeatedly mentioned by His people, “Listen, people of Israel! The Lord is our God. He is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength,” (Deu 6: 4 –5). Yet, Israel disobeyed God and turned themselves to worship idols. The Lord declared that because of such evil deed, they’ve polluted the land (Jer 16:18). They were inviting divine judgment upon themselves, “So I poured out my anger against them. I did it because of the murders they did in the land. And I did it because they made the land unclean with their idols,” (Ez 36:18).
The Lord has provided in the person of Jesus Christ the cure for the curse of the land. That is vividly portraited in Isaac Watt’s beautiful song, “Joy to the World.” The curse through Adam’s disobedience is taken away in the obedience of the Second Adam. His coming has brought not only healing to mankind, but also the whole ecological world.
Joy to the World, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Repentance, seeking of God’s face and returning to God is the condition for such healing. For the Lord God says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and I will heal their land,” (II Chr 7:14).
(Published at Baptist News, Magazine October-December, 2004)
Dr.J.M. Ngul Khan Pau