Bible study: The two books

Environmental sustainability

Many early scientists were Christians and through their science investigated and learned about God’s creation. They talked about God’s revelation in the form of two books, the book of God’s works (his creation) and the book of God’s Word (as found in the Bible). We can see the same idea in the structure of Psalm 19, written by King David about 1,000 years before Christ. The first six verses speak of God’s works in creation while the following three verses (6-9) speak about God’s Word in the Bible.

Read Psalm 19:1-6

As a shepherd boy, David must have spent many hours looking up at the sky and becoming familiar with the stars, moon and planets.

  • How would we try to describe creation?
  • Reflect on the different ways in which David tries to describe the wonder of God’s creation. How do they make us feel?

Read Psalm 19:7-11

Here David draws a clear parallel between God’s physical laws controlling creation and God’s moral laws regulating human behaviour and relationships.

  • Are these words and descriptions you would use to describe God’s moral laws?
  • How do they help you to reflect on the value of God’s moral laws?

David had only a small fragment of God’s Word in the books of Moses. Today we have the whole Bible and, in particular, Jesus – the perfect image of God. But we live in a world where God is generally ignored, the Bible is largely unknown, God’s rules are often not followed and many people do what they like.

Putting both God’s books together (his creation and his Word) has big implications for the way we care for creation. From science we learn that human activities are causing rapid and damaging climate change. The poorer nations will bear the greater proportion of this damage and the much higher frequency and intensity of extremes such as floods and droughts.

As Christians, we should care for the whole of God’s creation. Urgent action is needed so that some of the worst damage of climate change can be avoided.

  • Jesus is the one ‘through whom all things were made’ (Colossians 1:15-20). How does that make us feel as we consider the scope of God’s creation?
  • Discuss three ways in which we can take action to care for the environment.
  • Discuss three ways in which we could help raise awareness of climate change.

Read Psalm 19:12-14

These final three verses encourage us to apply God’s word to our personal actions, words and thoughts. David prays very beautifully for God’s help with obedience, so he can live out God’s revelation as presented in both his books. It is a prayer that we can regularly make our own.

Sir John Houghton is a Director of the John Ray Initiative (www.jri.org.uk) that connects environment, science and Christianity. His previous positions include Chief Executive, Meteorological Office, and Co-Chair, Scientific Assessment Working Group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.