It seems like these three things don’t have much in common. But, in Psalm 146, we find that they do. Leo Perdue has put it this way:

“In Psalm 146, Yahweh is the God of Jacon, the creator of heaven and earth, and the righteous judge whose justice sustains his people and creation by supporting the poor and the oppressed, liberating prisoners, giving sight to the blind, lifting up those who are bowed down, loving the righteous, protecting the resident aliens, and upholding the widow and the fatherless.

In this portrayal of God as the righteous judge, the poor enjoy divine protection, especially from the ravages of wicked oppressors (Ps. 9:10011, and may call on their creator for deliverance (Ps 34:6). In the wisdom literature, charity to the poor honors their creator and acknowledges the common origins of all humans, regardless of social status (Prov. 14:31; 17:5; 22:2).” From FAMILIES IN ANCIENT ISRAEL, p227.

I find it interesting that Perdue makes the connection between charity to the poor and honoring God as Creator. He makes this statement based upon his understanding of the theology that grows out of the Israelite family structure. Perdue indicates that Israelites were to understand all humanity as a part of the same family, and as such worthy of honor and respect due to the image of God in them. So, in this way caring for the poor honors the Creator.

Additionally, the poor were cared for by a giving of the family’s provisions to the lesser priveledged individual. Where did these provisions come from? Logically from the land that they farmed, but theologicall from the land that God provided, and created. So by carrying out their farming method within their family unit, they were able to honor God by getting the land to function ecologically. Then, the generosity in sharing that provision with others displayed a trust that God would continue to provide, and could be trusted to care for them when they followed his command which really cost them something that they had worked for.

So, we 21st century Christians could hope to honor God with the land that he has given us: physical land, the environment, and provisions too. When we honor God by caring for the poor and oppressed by giving sacrificially, we display a trust that God will continue to provide. We are also respecting our creator. Environmetalism from a Christian viewpoint should include care for the oppressed, perhaps climate refugees.

3 comments on “God as Creator, Environmentalism, and the Poor

  • hey i know that perdue fellow! seriously, great thoughts man. whatever the image of God is, it’s in all people, as is the breath of life from our Creator. i think you’ve articulated well the connection between honoring the needy AND honoring the Lord.

  • How about the climate refugees created by the economic impacts of climate change regulations? I’m assuming taking care of these poor is just as important.

  • I would say that caring for any poor would be the “just” thing to do. I cannot remember the exact location of where scripture says ~ true religion is this: to care for the poor and honor the widows… I’ll do a bibleworks search on it later.

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