This week,a pipeline carrying oil between Eilat and Ashkelon was somehow disconnected during maintenance work, flooding 200 acres of a desert nature reserve in southern Israel with millions of liters of crude oil. It is already being called “one of the worst environmental accidents in Israel’s history.”
This passage of environmental blessing from Isaiah is addressed to those who seek righteousness. Psalm 107:33-34 links environmental blight to wickedness. It is difficult to discern in a specific situation what factors set the stage for blessing or curse and what was merely happenstance. In prayers where I don’t know if sin set the stage, I simply say “If.”
Isaiah 51:1-3 (ESV)
“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.
Look to Abraham your father
and to Sarah who bore you;
for he was but one when I called him,
that I might bless him and multiply him.
For the Lord comforts Zion;
he comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the Lord;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song.
Our Father in heaven,
The earth is Yours, Lord, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. All things were made through Christ, for Christ, and by Christ. All things are sustained by Christ’s powerful word.
Is not Israel holy land, holy earth? If there are spiritual iniquities that set the stage for this defilement, then we humbly ask that You release a spirit of confession and repentance upon the people of this land.
May they seek You, Lord. Stir in them a hunger for Holy Scripture.
Just as You were present with the three Jewish men in the fiery furnace, in deep humility, we ask for Your presence, protection, and provision for
–those engineers, industrialists, and civic leaders who are seeking solutions to the problem
–the clean up crews
–those whose livelihoods are directly impacted by the disaster
–the creatures of the environment and the food chain
Father, it is our heart’s desire that the holy land, the holy earth will be undefiled. Amen.