God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”
— Genesis 1:28
In earlier parts of the creation story in Genesis 1, we are told that God looked on his work and “saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:9, 12, 18, 21, 25). God knew that his creation was beautiful and good, and God affirmed that goodness as he created new things.
Then, after God had finished creating everything in this world, including humankind, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
The very goodness of God’s creation is good for us to remember as we hear the command that God gives to the man and woman in Genesis 1.
God told people to be fruitful, and he told them to subdue the earth. We are often tempted to hear this command as a mandate to use the earth in whatever way we might wish.
But God wants us to care for the beautiful earth that he declared to be “very good.” As the story continues, we learn that God placed humankind in the garden “to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). So our calling is to preserve the earth and to tend it well, celebrating the beautiful place God made it to be.
Subduing the earth and ruling over it is something we do with humility and gratitude, giving honor and glory to our creator for the very good place he has given us to live.
Mighty God, we praise you for creating the world to be very good. Give us humility and grace to care for your world and to tend it well, to your honor and glory. Amen.