I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
As human beings we have learned to cope. We can dissociate ourselves from the nasty things; the cruel men and women, the serial killers, terrorism, the images of violence and horror that bombard us daily from the media. We can croon along to Louis Armstrong’s signature song of a wonderful world and disregard, if only for a few minutes, the obvious evidence that our world is far from wonderful.
But now and then, the consequences of our behaviour force us out of our complacent cocoon. Can we adjust to a warmer planet? Where will we put all these refugees? What sort of world will our children inherit? Will nuclear war really happen and could humanity survive it? And perhaps, most importantly of all, how did we get to this point?
This last question can be addressed in two possible ways; the first using the widely accepted explanation that our world and the life upon it is a product of natural forces operating over an unimaginable span of time and hence a wonderful freak of nature. Or the second explanation that our world is the workmanship of a purposeful and deeply intelligent being who, for convenience sake, we will call God.
If you are firmly of the former persuasion, then the rest of this article will be of little use to you. But maybe you are so impressed by the wonder of the world that you cannot assign it to the working of random chance. Perhaps you see design in those trees and flowers, those myriad living creatures that swarm in almost every square inch of the earth’s surface. You feel this is too wonderful to be an accident.
If this is your conclusion you might, in all fairness, ask; ‘if God made the world, has He failed? Surely this is not what He intended?’
Louis’ song gives us a helping hand: The colours of the rainbow so pretty in the sky…
This takes us back to a time recorded in the Bible when the world was in a very similar state. Here is how the pre-flood world is described in Genesis;
The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. Gen 6v5-6 (NIV)
The solution was drastic;
So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” Gen 6v7 (NIV)
But Noah and his family pleased God so He instructed them how they should be saved from judgement. A huge boat was built and it floated over the colossal floods that wiped out the rest of mankind.
When Noah and his family emerged from the Ark they stepped out onto a world that was washed clean of much the same unpleasant things we are experiencing now. They looked up and saw that God had placed a sign in the sky:
I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Gen 9v13 (NIV)
The rainbow, ‘so pretty in the sky,’ is a reminder that God will not destroy the earth again. It is, by extension a promise that He will not allow human beings to do so either.
The Bible is not always an easy book to read. It takes time and perseverance, but it is God’s way of communicating His ultimate objective to mankind. Around us the chaos and suffering might lead us to conclude that God has lost control. The truth is that we are experiencing the final consequences of human thinking. To Bible readers it is clear that we are unfit for purpose and we need divine assistance.
The way this help has been given is through God’s Son of whom we read:
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour.
But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. Colossians 1:22 (NIV)
To conclude, mankind has taken the sparkle off this wonderful world. Long ago God told us that we would do so because we do not have the wisdom to care for Planet Earth. But the evil and cruel things we take for granted will be scrubbed away when Jesus Christ returns to save mankind from his own foolishness.
Few things in life are truly free. But the hope of the gospel is. And if you respond to this message, one day you might be able to look at a renewed world, truly beautiful and murmur the closing lines of the song to yourself:
Yes, I think to myself what a wonderful world.