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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Did God Command Humanity to Exploit Nature?

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Don Stewart
The following command of God to humanity has been a source of controversy for many people.

God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. Then God said, I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground - everything that has the breath of life in it - I give every green plant for food. And it was so (Genesis 1:28-30).

Humanity was the crown of God's creation. After God had finished creating everything else He made man and woman. He then gave them authority over all of His creation.

Does God's dominion mandate encourage humanity to do what they want to do with our planet? Many blame the current ecological problems that earth has on the Christian and their view toward nature. However the exploitation of nature is not something that the Bible encourages.

God Is The Owner

The Bible makes it clear that God owns the natural world.

The earth is the LORDS, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it (Psalm 24:1).

Humanity has been given the stewardship over God's creation, we are looking after it for His sake. However, ultimately it is owned by Him.

Big Difference Between Human Beings And The World

The reason humanity has been given dominion over God's creation is because we have been made in God's image - unlike the animal kingdom or the rest of God's creation. The Bible does not teach that humans are on the same level as the animal kingdom, or the physical world that God has made. Only human beings has been made in the image of God, only we are responsible for taking care of God's created order. Human beings have been made for eternity, the animals and the heavens and earth are here only temporarily.

Take Care Of God's Creation

The Bible says that God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to take care of it.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15).

Nature Has Value

Though nature is not equated with humanity, it is nevertheless important. For the believer, nature has real value. It is the realm in which God has placed humanity over. The command in Genesis to have dominion over nature makes humanity responsible for the proper upkeep of God's creation.


Those who would blame Christians for exploiting nature do not have a proper understanding of the various roles that humanity, the animal kingdom, and nature have in God's eternal program. Only we have been made for eternity-animals and the created order will perish. However, God is the ultimate owner of the natural world and He has delegated that responsibility to us. We are the ones charged with the proper upkeep of God's creation. Therefore the Bible encourages us to properly take care of that which belongs to God.

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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.