Yesterday evening I found upon my return home from work that I had received a card from one of my young friends at church. As the message itself asked a question, I figured it would be worthwhile to give it an answer, and as the answer requires more paper than a card and I dislike handwriting a great deal, I chatted with the correspondent’s mother online and told her that I would respond to the message and that she could share it with her daughter if she so wished. Here is the letter, unedited except to preserve anonymity:
I wish I can see you and hug you. all this time. I miss your miny lessons. Also I have a queshtun. Why did God want to make the earth?
If one wants to find out why, according to the Bible, God created the earth, the best place to look is the beginning part of Genesis. Genesis 1:1 begins rather abruptly with the statement that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. We are not given any context as to when this occurred or the reason behind it. The best clue we are given is in the course of Genesis 1 as it moves forward through the seven days of Creation and the order of what is provided. We start with light and darkness in the first day, and then the atmosphere being separated from the waters in the second day, plants of various kinds on the third day, the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day, water creatures on the fifth day, and land creatures and finally men and women on the sixth day, after which there was a Sabbath rest on the Seventh Day.
It is what God says when he creates mankind that gives us a hint to understanding the purpose for the creation of the earth and the placement of mankind in it. Genesis 1:26-31 tells us the following: “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
This short passage gives us several purposes for earth as far as mankind is concerned. As mankind is the pinnacle (or peak) of God’s creation on this earth, God’s purposes for earth are to be fulfilled by mankind. Let us look at what this passage tells mankind to do. First, God commands the man and woman he created (Genesis 2 and 3 refer to them as Adam and Eve and give a lot more details about them) to have a lot of children. Some people call this command to have children to fill the earth the “dominion mandate,” but for our purposes it only matters that God commanded Adam and Eve and through them humanity at large to have children to populate the earth. This commandment was so important that it was repeated after the flood in Genesis 9:7, which in poetic form commands Noah (and through him the rest of humanity: “And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply in it.” Throughout the entire Bible one of the patterns we see repeated over and over again is God directly intervening in the lives of his believers to delay their childbearing so as to create in them a great longing for a child that would cause them to reach out to Him in prayer so that he would, belatedly, answer their longings for children. This concern for God wanting to create a family through the children of people is so important of a matter that later in the Bible, in Malachi 2:15, God expresses his desire for humanity to marry and have children as one of the reasons why he hates divorce, by saying: “But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring.” God created men and women as separate beings having the remnant of His Spirit and being drawn to come together as one so that they could bear godly offspring, train them up in His ways, so that His family could grow generation after generation. Admittedly, some of humanity (like myself) have not done a very good job at this.
Beyond that, though, there are other purposes that are hinted at in this passage as well. We are told that mankind is to subdue the earth and bring it under our rule. That is something that humanity has done, although we have not always done a very good job with the power we have over the earth. One of the ways that we grow in wisdom and knowledge and understanding is to wrestle with the world around us and learn to discipline ourselves as well as be good stewards of the earth that we have been given to rule. It is not that the earth belongs to us–it belongs to God-but that we have been placed over it the way that your family might give you a plot of land to use as a garden where you learn to grow crops and water and take care of plants, or might give you a pet to take care of. That is what is being talked about here. Mankind was given the earth as a place where he could learn how to work out the way that life works and learn lessons on how to take care of what was around him, in the hope that one day he could be given bigger and better things to rule. We are not given a lot of details about this, but the Bible does tell us in Matthew 25:21 and 23 that he (or she) who is faithful in few things will be faithful in many things. We learn the basics before we learn harder things, and handle small jobs before we are given big ones. Earth as a whole, therefore, is like a playpen or a sandbox for young beings to learn how to deal with each other and handle life and the problems of existence before being freed to explore and handle bigger responsibilities. Hopefully this helps to answer your question, and that your mom can explain some of the big words that I have used in my answer.