THE BIBLE is the Word of God. It is a library of 66 canonised books used by Christians for worship. The Bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. It has been observed that “those who do not know about the Bible cannot know the Bible.” And those who do not know the Bible criticise it ignorantly. But ignorant critics of the Bible are destroyed by their own ignorance.
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, states that, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1: 1). God created the heavens and the earth ex nihilo. This means the earth or land belongs to God. He is the owner, but He gave it to man for his possession, dwelling, management and survival. “The heavens are the LORD’S heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man,” (Psalm 115: 16).
But the Bible reveals that God formed man from the ground (Genesis 2:7). This is the body of man. Yes, the body of man is dust and was formed from the ground. The ground, here, refers to the earth. Students of the Bible know that man is a spirit being; he has a soul and lives in a body. In other words, man is both physical and spiritual. Man’s body is corporeal, but his spiritual part is incorporeal.
In a sub-topic of his work entitled, “The Old Testament Theology”, Emmanuel Twumasi-Ankrah, a lecturer at the Theology Department of the Christian Service University College (CSUC) in Kumasi writes that the Old Testament “shows how closely knit man (adam) is to the land (adamah)…man is from the adamah (ground) and to the ground man will return.”
Undoubtedly, there is a divine connection between man and the land or earth. Man depends on the earth for almost everything for his survival. Thus, without the land man cannot exist. Man needs the land for his habitation, provision of food, water, air and other physiological needs.
God foreknew how significant the land would be for the survival of man; that was why He created it. And when God established what it is described as the Suzerain-Vassal covenant with the congregation of Israel, He promised them good land flowing with milk and honey. Twumasi-Ankrah posits that “the issue of land is central in the covenant” God had with Israel.
He quotes J.H. Wright as having stated that “the land becomes the focus of constant struggle between the forces of dispossession, greed, exploitation and land –grabbing on the other hand and the protest of the prophets on the other. Reacting to Wright’s observation, Twumasi-Ankrah writes, “It is interesting to note that this unfortunate situation occurs in Africa, especially in Ghana on daily basis.”
Now, one thing we must understand as a people and more importantly as Christians is that God did not give us the earth to live on and do whatever we like with it. In the Suzerian-Vassal treaty or relationship, the Suzerian (powerful king), in this case, God, expects the Vassal (the weak one), in this case, man, to remain faithful and loyal to His commands.
And clearly, we know that there are copious passages of Scripture concerning how God commands man to manage the land in order to serve its divine purpose. It is written in Numbers 35:33-34, “You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.”
You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the LORD dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.” And in Isaiah 24:5, the Bible says, “the earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.”
Similarly, in Jeremiah 2:7, God said by the mouth of Jeremiah, the prophet, “And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.”
The passages of Scripture given above, point to the undeniable fact that God is the sole owner of the earth. In fact, all the lands which kings, monarchs, governments and chiefs boast of owning actually belong to God. Men and women who have acquired parcels of land ought to understand that they are mere stewards of God’s precious resource and that on the day of reckoning they will be required to give accounts of their stewardship.
As the supreme owner of the earth, God warns men never to pollute the land He has graciously given them. Humans must be responsible and should respect the laws of God concerning proper land management. He warns against polluting it by shedding blood on it, defecating on it, littering it with garbage.
The Bible is silent on the galamsey activities which take place in various parts of the world particularly in Ghana. But there is no doubt that included in God’s condemnation of land pollution is this seemingly insurmountable galamsey menace which has become an albatross on successive governments over the years.
By James Quansah