“Earth is polluted by its very own people, who have broken its laws, disrupted its order, violated the sacred and eternal covenant. Therefore a curse, like a cancer, ravages the earth (Isaiah 24:6 The Message).”
Those driving through neighborhoods in Houston currently cannot help but see the piles of debris heaped up in front of so many homes. Although Hurricane Harvey made landfall more than a month ago the toxic aftermath remains and complete removal will not likely occur until early next year. To expedite the process the State of Texas has established more than 100 disposal sites but even these are proving to be a grave concern. (1) While the contaminated materials are collected from some homeowner’s properties they are deposited in these new and existing landfills and posing health concerns to other residents.
Worse still, there is evidence for citizens of Crosby that there are frightening environmental hazards in the wake of the Arkema chemical plant fire. This blaze occurred due to complications from Harvey’s floodwaters knocking out generators vital to keeping noxious substances cool. (2) Many in Crosby and those near these landfills fear that their land is defiled and not fit to live in anymore.
God has a similar view that when men have polluted a place that land is no longer fit to be inhabited. Bruce Waltke writes; “The ecology of the earth is partly dependent on human morality.” (3) Clearly, the first example of this occurred when Adam and Eve violated God’s command by sinning and were banished from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23-24). Soon after, when Cain murdered his brother Abel, God told him that his brother’s “blood cries out to Me from the ground (Genesis 4:10-12)” and as punishment Cain was a vagabond.
In due time the entire earth was so corrupted by sin that God determined to give it an epic scrubbing that completely destroyed all of the polluters of the land (Genesis 7:17-24). Afterwards the Bible demonstrates that God views sin in its manifold expressions to be a hazardous material that defiles a land. God’s people were to be especially aware of this principle as He dwelt among them. Murder of their brothers was a contaminant to the land. “So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it (Numbers 35:33).” God warned that sexual sins also despoil a territory (Leviticus 18:27, Ezekiel 33:26) as well as idolatry (Jeremiah 3:9).
Judah had so poisoned her country that Jehovah banished them from the Promised Land, sent them to Babylon, and demonstrated to them, in stark terms, how utterly filthy they had become in His sight (Ezekiel 4:12-13, 36:17). God had commanded the Israelites not to farm or work the land for one year out of every seven (Leviticus 25:1-7). There is no evidence they ever complied to give the land a sabbath but during their captivity in Babylon the Lord gave rest to the land for a full 70 years (2 Chronicles 36:21). Even that place of their exile, Babylon, was so contaminated by sin that in due course God ensured that no man would ever dwell there again (Isaiah 13:20, Jeremiah 51:37). Sin transforms a nation into a toxic wasteland in God’s eyes.
Gehenna was a place where many horrible sins were performed prior to Judah’s period of captivity. Upon their return to the Promised Land, Gehenna became the city landfill where garbage was continually burning. Spiritually, it is the place where those who are tainted with the pollutions of the world will spend eternity (Matthew 10:28). But God offers a cleansing agent so that each one of us can escape the pollution of this world (2 Peter 2:20), the blood of His Son (Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 1:19). Just as God once washed over the corrupted world with water so must we be (1 Peter 3:20-21) because no polluter can enter God’s heavenly country (Revelation 21:7-8).
“Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21).”
- Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2001, p.95