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An earthy perspective

"But ask the animals, and they will instruct you; ask the birds of the air, and they will tell you. Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." Job 12. 7-10

Tucked away in the Book of Job is the intriguing suggestion that, for a better perspective on life, we should consult our fellow creatures - or even the earth upon which we all depend! On what more appropriate occasion could such novel advice come than World Environment Day? And even if the language barrier might intervene between us and the animals, birds, fish and soil, it should still prove instructive to imagine their perspective: What might they say to us about our stewardship of creation? What are their feelings towards the land, the air, the seas, rivers and lochs we all share?

If that sounds fanciful, then why are Job's words in the Bible at all? "All scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction" (2 Timothy 3. 16) we often quote to each other. So, what is Job 12. 1-7 teaching us, on this World Environment Day - and every day?

I fear to say too much, lest I interfere with your prayerful reflection, which promises to be more worthwhile than any shards of wisdom likely to fall from my lips. So let me confine myself to imploring that we take God's instruction though Job seriously and do what he asks. If it is indeed true that all of these creatures appreciate that their very life's breath is a gift of God, I wonder what fresh insights might accrue to us mere humans from consulting them?...

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