Deuteronomy 20:19 If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you? 20 You may destroy only the trees that you know do not produce food; you may cut them down for use in building siege works against the town that makes war with you, until it falls.
** Quick reminder – I’m intentionally trying to make these reflections brief for the summer. You might think writing less is easier. It is not. Thanks for hanging with me. **
God the environmentalist! God created the heavens and earth and commanded people to be stewards of creation, so this passage is not terribly surprising.
Why particular mention of trees? Well, God doesn’t steer the people away from using all trees, just the ones that bear fruit for food. Nonetheless, God’s directive makes clear that trees and other treasures of the promised land are intended to be a gift – a gift for which we have respect and gratitude.
I’m no greenie environmentalist per se, but it’s hard not to notice that some of the wonderful gifts in creation are eroding. I was at a reef in Cabo San Lucas a month ago and noted the amount of dead coral. The water is getting too warm. No, it’s not a tree, but it’s precious. Time to take climate change seriously.
Lord teach us to be stewards of the incredible gift you give us in creation. Amen.