And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
When God looks over the earth now, is it still very good, or even good? Our world is troubled by air and water pollution. Many animals are facing loss of habitat and are endangered or extinct. Natural resources such as oil and water are becoming scarcer. People in many parts of the world are facing hunger due to lack of food, while people in other parts of the world are obese due to poor diets lacking natural nutrition.
And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
When God created the world, humans were given a job: to subdue the earth and have dominion over other living things. What exactly do “subdue” and “dominion” mean? Well, going back to the original Hebrew, subdue comes from the word kavash, which means to force someone into a subordinate position, as through a military conquest. Similarly, dominion comes from the Hebrew word radah, whichsignifies the power, control, and authority of one individual or group over another.
It seems obvious that God was granting humans power and control over the Earth. However, does this mean we have the right to do whatever we want to God’s creation, or does it mean we have the responsibility to take care of it? Dominion does not automatically mean harsh treatment of whatever we have control over. Consider these other Bible verses that speak about God’s care of the earth:
You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.
The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
These verses show that God cares for the earth and everything in it. It only follows, then, that when God gave us instructions to subdue and have dominion over the world, we are to be caretakers of this world we live in. So what are some ways we can do this?
Reduce. We are immense consumers. Before you buy something, make sure you really need it. Learn to recognize the difference between “wants” and “needs.” And when you do buy something, look for items with minimal packaging.
Reuse. Look for ways you can use items you already have. Do you need to buy dust rags when you have a box of mismatched socks sitting around? Can you use reusable lunch containers instead of plastic sandwich bags for lunch each day? How about buying reusable water bottles instead of the throw-away kind?
Recycle. If you don’t already recycle paper, cans, and plastic bottles, start! It’s easy, and gratifying to see how much stuff you can keep out of the landfill. The ultimate recycling is to find someone else who can use the items you no longer want. Websites such as www.Freecycle.org and www.Swaptree.com help you find people who can use the items you no longer want.
One last Bible verse:
The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
While God may have given us dominion over the earth, this planet ultimately still belongs to God. Let’s try to take good care of this wonderful creation!
Biography Stacey Schifferdecker is the happy but harried mother of three school-aged children—two boys and a girl. She is also a freelance writer, a Children’s Minister, a PTA volunteer, and a Scout leader. Stacey has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and French and a Master’s degree in English. She has written extensively about parenting and education as well as business, technology, travel, and hobbies.
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by Stacey Schifferdecker