The meaning of 'covenant'
One theological category which holds together many of these factors, and which provides a Christian perspective on these moral and spiritual dimensions is "covenant".
A covenant is a relationship based on a promise. The story of the Hebrew Bible is of covenants made between God and people - Abraham the patriarch, Moses the law-giver and prophet, David the king. In each God promises himself to be the peoples' God; in each there are commitments made by the people to live in responsive obedience to God. The heart of the relationships is faithful, steadfast love. In the New Testament, the promises made to Abraham, through Moses, about David all come to their focus in Jesus of Nazareth, who creates a new community through what he calls "the new covenant in my blood".
In both Testaments the people of God have the privilege and responsibility of responding to God's love and living out the life of God's character. The prophets of the Old Testament remind them of God's character: justice (Amos), faithful love (Hosea), universal compassion (Jonah), all of these held together and symbolised by God's servant (Isaiah). Micah summarises it in this way:
"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6.8).
The covenant of peace
Behind these covenants with people is a deeper and more wide-ranging covenant which is described by Isaiah in terms of a "covenant of peace". This is a covenant God makes with the whole of the created order. Isaiah (54. 9- 10) refers back to the story of Noah and the Flood (Gen. 9). There God speaks of ‘the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations.'
It is saying that all creatures receive their life from the hand of God, and that there is an interdependence between humanity and the rest of the created order. We humans need proper engagement with the natural order for our mutual wellbeing. The human covenants which we make with one another, which are intended to reflect God's covenant with his people, are all in the context of a covenant of God's commitment to the earth. The rainbow is described as a sign of "the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." (Gen 9.16). As climate change brings more floods, we need to recall that rainbow.
Covenant is the inner meaning of creation
Covenant, then, is the inner meaning of creation. At creation's heart is, so to speak, the personal commitment of God to the wellbeing of God's earth. Creation is not just "Nature" - which was wrongly thought of as ‘the world out there which we are free to use and exploit at our pleasure'. There have sadly been times when Christian people have (wrongly) taken as a charter for exploitation the words of the psalmist "You have given them dominion over the works of your hands", (Ps. 8:6), without remembering the context of humble reverence and wonder earlier in that psalm, that human dignity finds its value in being God's gift, and without remembering that humanity is "crowned" with the kingly function, commissioned to him by God, of caring for "the works of God's hands".
The true king, another psalm reminds us, is committed to the cause of the poor and saves the needy from oppression. (Ps 72).As climate change mostly affects the poor and needy of the world, the obligation to care grows on the nations which have enough.