You shall not pollute the land in which you live (Nu 35:33a)
God cares about the earth he made. It's his planet after all. When he created man in the garden he gave them a commission of care for and rule over the earth. As Christians we are instructed to pray that God's will will done on earth as it is in heaven - for the earth to become like the pattern of heaven. God is opposed to pollution.
I've never liked dispensationalism [understatement!], especially the pessimistic escatology that says that everything is going to get worse in the end times, the church will barely survive, and Jesus will come to destroy everything and start again. In such a world view there is no incentive to preserve the environment, or even pick up your litter, because it's all going to be destroyed anyway! In my understanding the Kingdom is already coming, not just something that is yet to come, and the new creation is already breaking through like the first shoots of spring. It is in eager expectation that creation waits for its redemption - it is not cowering waiting for destruction. The wars and famines and trials that we see are described in the scriptures as birth pains not death throws! I understand the new heavens and the new earth in the same way as I understand that I am already a new creation. It is to do with the transforming power of Christ's death and resurrection, not to do with my literal physical disintegration and reconstruction. In this world view, everything we do to make the earth more like heaven is achieving the eternal plan of God for which man was created in the first place - I like that!
But before everyone thinks I have become a green activist, let me quote the whole verse in context:
You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the Lord dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.” (Nu 35:33-34)
The real issue is not environmental, but spiritual. And the reason God is opposed to pollution is not because he is a signed up member of the Green Party, but because it is God's intention to make his habitation amongst us. It is not just the ancient land of Israel that was intended to be a dwelling for God, but he desires to live inside each one of us.
The most serious pollution in the world today is not the litter in the streets or the carbon-dioxide in the air, but the sin in human hearts. It is this "blood-guilt" that pollutes the land and our souls prevents the close fellowship with God that we were intended for. It is not just murder that is the problem either, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Even to be angry against our brother is like the sin of murder.
The only solution to this problem is the blood of the polluter — the wages of sin is death. We are all under a death sentence because of the pollution we have caused. The only solution is redemption by blood. There was only one hope for the man who had shed blood, he could take refuge in a designated city until the death of the high priest. Upon the high priest's death, his sins would be forgotten and he could walk free.
This is just what happened when Jesus died on the cross on our behalf. He died in our place. His blood payed the price of redemption for all who have the pollution of sin in their hearts, and as our high priest his death allows all who have taken refuge in him to walk free, pardoned from all guilt with a fresh start — all pollution gone. It was not just the pollution in humanity that his blood cleanses, but the pollution in the land too. In fact we are told that even the heavenlies themselves were cleansed by his blood. On his brow, the crown of thorns, as he took not only the curse of our sins, but the curse on creation itself. With the pollution dealt with, God's original and eternal plan can go on - to make earth a place where God dwells amongst his people just as in heaven.
As important as environmental issues are, there is a solution for this polluted world, and it's not a "green" solution.... it's crimson!
...and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Heb 12:24)
Thank you Jesus for your shed blood! The blood that payed the price for me, and deals with the pollution in my heart so that I can walk with God and he can live in me!