Introduction: This week our study is about nature. Ecology
is a popular theme these days. Christians are sometimes
criticized for having too little concern about the
environment because they know ( Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter
3:10) this world is going to burn and God is going to give
us an earth made new.

How, then, should we relate to nature? Is the environmental
issue a campaign without a Biblical basis? Let’s explore
the Bible and find out what it has to say!


    1. When our first house was built, I was anxious that
      the builders preserve as many trees on the lot as
      possible. Later, as I observed other developments,
      I saw it was common for developers to cut down
      every tree in sight, build the new homes and then
      plant new trees!

      1. What sense does this make? Anyone here know
        about building? Does this practice make any
        common sense?

      2. What kind of issue is this? A practical or
        moral issue?

    2. Our lesson (Tuesday) suggests that the Bible
      “hints” that we should not “abuse” nature by
      cutting down trees (or at least not cut too many
      trees.) It asks us to read Deuteronomy 20:19-20.
      Let’s read that text.

      1. When the text asks “Are the trees of the field
        people that you should besiege them,” what
        point is God making? (You don’t have a gripe
        with the trees!)

        1. Is this a practical or moral point?

          1. Why? (“Practical” seems to be the
            correct answer. Not all trees are
            protected in this text and a
            practical and not moral rational for
            the command is given.)

        2. If you said, “practical,” and you were
          wrong, would there be any “downside” to
          being wrong? (Absolutely, you would be
          sinning if you engaged in this activity.)

        3. If you said, “moral,” and you were wrong,
          would there be any “downside” to being
          wrong? (Let’s read another text:
          Deuteronomy 4:2.)

          1. Does God tell us that it is sin to
            call something a moral issue when it
            is not?

    3. Do you know if Jesus had a theology of trees? What
      was it? Let’s look at Mark 11:12-14.

      1. Was the lack of fruit the tree’s fault? (It
        says it was not the right season for fruit.)

      2. What was Jesus attitude towards this tree?

      3. Let’s read on. Mark 11:20-21.

        1. Does this disqualify Jesus from being
          called a “tree-hugger?”

      4. Let’s read on: Mark 11:22-23. Also read
        another account of this in Matthew 21:21.

        1. What do you have to say now? Jesus not
          only is talking about His disciples
          killing trees, He is talking about them
          throwing mountains around? Is Jesus a
          regular environmental terrorist?

        2. What is Jesus’ point in these verses? Does
          it have anything to do with nature? (The
          “punch line” is Mark 11:24. Read. Jesus
          “point” is that we should have faith in
          God. Such faith overcomes any natural

          1. What, if anything, should we conclude
            about nature from this story? (Nature
            is surely secondary to teaching the
            disciples a lesson about faith. Jesus
            could not reasonably be called a
            “tree-hugger.” In both the Old
            Testament and the New Testament,
            comments on trees show that they are
            intended to serve the needs of
            mankind-and not the other way

    4. Our discussion so far seems to deprive nature (at
      least trees) of any value independent of aiding
      mankind. Let’s read a text our lesson suggests
      should change our mind. Read Revelation 11:18.

      1. What are the criteria for being saved in this

      2. What are the criteria for being destroyed?

        1. Is the lack of concern for the environment
          a basis for being lost? (Vines tells us
          that the Greek word translated “destroyed”
          means “corrupted.” Thus, this could be
          read “corrupted the earth.” This, however,
          has certain logical problems because this
          same word is used twice and it would not
          make sense to say “corrupt those who
          corrupt the earth.” Adam Clarke’s
          Commentary on this text says it refers to
          “authors, fomenters, and encouragers of
          bloody wars.” The SDA Bible Commentary on
          this text says it refers to those “who
          have destroyed the earth – physically, and
          also spiritually.” Barnes’ Notes suggests
          this refers to those who have “spread
          desolation over the earth and who have
          persecuted the righteous.”)


    1. We have all read or heard someone talking about
      “Mother Nature” or speak of sinning against “Mother
      Earth.” Do you see any danger in this?

      1. If “no,” tell me why?

      2. If “yes,” tell me why?

    2. Let’s read Romans 1:20. Does this verse suggest an
      important reason for preserving nature? (Yes. We
      learn of God’s nature from His creation.)

    3. Let’s continue. Read Romans 1:21-25. Where did
      these people go wrong? What is their sin?

      1. Do you see a parallel lesson in this text with
        the lesson to be drawn from the withered fig
        tree? (There is a hierarchy and a balance.
        Nature is the servant of God for advancing His
        divine purpose. It is not a substitute for

      2. Verse 24 tells us that God gave these people
        over to sexual impurity because of their
        attitude towards nature.

        1. How does this make any sense?

        2. What relationship do you see between cause
          and effect? (If you miss the hierarchy, if
          you miss that God, not nature, is the
          standard, then you open yourself up to all
          sorts of sin and corrupt thinking.)

    1. Let’s read Mark 6:31-32, Luke 5:16 and Luke 6:12.
      What do these verses suggest, if anything, about
      worship and the environment?

      1. Would your closet do just as well?

      2. Read Psalms 23:1-3. Is this simply an analogy
        for shepherds or is this a statement about how
        being out in the environment can advance
        worship? (These verses suggest what is
        reinforced by experience, that being in nature
        can bring us closer to God. On the other
        hand, you have probably been in nature a time
        or two where the biting, stinging, sucking
        things did not help bring you closer to God.)


    1. Late in life, one of my father’s hobbies was wood
      carving. He carved a large unicorn for us. I would
      not consider defacing that unicorn in any way.

      1. Why do you think I have that attitude?

      2. Is that the attitude that God expects us to
        have of His creation?

      3. Let’s look at a text. Read Psalms 33:6-9. How
        does the Bible reveal that God created nature?
        (He spoke.)

        1. Does this increase or decrease the value
          of nature?

        1. Is this an “easy come, easy go” situation?

        2. If my dad simply spoke the unicorn into
          existence, would I value it less?

        3. Does this “speaking” stuff reinforce the
          idea that God is way above His creation?
          (We do not see Him struggling to put it

    1. Read Luke 12:5-6. What is the context of these

      1. What does this tell us about the extent of
        God’s concern and awareness of His creation?

      2. Since we have seen Jesus’ relative unconcern
        about trees, do you think God distinguishes
        between plants and animals?

      3. Do you see a parallel between this text and
        the story about Jesus destroying the fig tree?
        (Yes! These texts are identical in one very
        important way: in both, nature is used as a
        lesson to increase faith in God.)

    2. Friend, we need to avoid the extremes on both sides
      of the ecology issue. God created nature both for
      our benefit and to help lead us to Him. Because
      God created nature and because it is a gift, we
      should be careful of it. On the other hand, nature
      is clearly here to serve mankind and not the other
      way around. Any attempt to deify nature or to raise
      its importance about that of mankind is contrary to
      the teachings of the Bible.