Bill Lockwood: The Earth is the Lord’s
The Earth is the Lord’s & the Fullness Thereof- “Landmarks were regarded as sacred among other nations besides Israel. Romans, for example, enacted the death penalty against those who removed them. “
by Bill Lockwood
Tucked away in an unexpected passage dealing with “meat sacrificed to idols” the inspired apostle Paul underscored the fact that the earth was created by God, and for man. The natural conclusions that flow from his short statement are as profound as they are apropos to the current cultural scene in America.
First, the Context. At issue in 1 Corinthians 10:23ff is whether or not a Christian living in Corinth may purchase meat from an open-air marketplace, called in the first-century a “Makellon,” and consume it—with the possibility that that meat may have been butchered by a pagan priest and offered to an idol. Answering that question in the affirmative, the apostle of God then gives the reason for it: “for the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”
This quotation Paul takes from Psalm 24:1 and means simply that all the food and provision with which the earth has been filled has been filled by God for man’s usage. “The fruit and products of the earth were designed by God, the Great Proprietor, to the use and subsistence of mankind …” (Matthew Henry, 2263).
Second, the Context of the Creation. In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth God specifically stated that mankind, who was created “in His image” (Gen. 1:26) was to “have dominion over” the earth and its products and to “subdue” it (Gen. 1:28). These phrases speak clearly of God’s intention for the created earth and the environment—that mankind is to manage it. “The dominion of man, the God-like king, only begins with his natural realm, …extended by cultural conquest over all the creation kingdoms …The subordination of both animal and plant kingdoms to man’s royal service …” (Eerdman’s Bible Commentary, 83).
It is from this premise of dominion that the concept of Private Property flows. Biblical truth assumes that since man “has dominion over” the earth, men have also the right to own property. “Thou shalt not steal” is built on this framework. So also is the familiar Old Testament law forbidding one from “removing his neighbor’s landmark” (Deut. 19:14).
Landmarks, or boundary markers in the OT, designated one’s private property and were considered “sacred.” To “move” the markers was to “steal” property. Thus, a curse was placed upon those who “removed them” just the same as a curse was pronounced upon one who cursed his father or perverted the rights of orphans and widows (Hos. 5:10; Prov. 22:28; 23:10). Landmarks were regarded as sacred among other nations besides Israel. Romans, for example, enacted the death penalty against those who removed them. Private property rights rest on man’s dominion.
Third, the Context of America. Ancient paganism and its modern Green version, represented by many in the environmental movement, disavow that the earth was created by the One God for man’s usage. Therefore, instead of “subduing” the earth pagans “worship” it. Imagining that the world is a personification of a goddess ancient pagans consider the earth “sacred” and celebrated its seasonal cycles with religious observances. The modern counterpart of ancient paganism is represented in part by The Millenium Institute which presses for “Sustainable Development.” This doctrine demands that mankind submits to global management in which the products of the earth are rationed.
Man is denounced as the problem with this new philosophy. One prominent globalist told Gerald Barney, the author of Global 2000 for the Jimmy Carter Administration, that “Christianity is the menace of the earth.” The Clinton Administration championed Al Gore who began his crusade for a New Earth Ethic with publication of Earth in the Balance in which he sought to re-write the Bible’s account of Genesis. Not only man, but all of nature was created “in God’s image” was the manner in which he argued with Moses.
From the Pagan Federation International website we are informed that earth must be “venerated.” The very first paganistic principle echoed there is that we all have a “love and kinship with nature” which is defined as “reverence for the life force and its ever-renewing cycles of life and death.” The earth itself therefore is “sacred” and the natural year is marked by festivals “which offer access to different divinities according to their affinity with different times of the year.” This “new earth ethic” in which man is described as the plague, is actually thousands of years old. It is rooted in ancient paganism.