That’s what we see in today’s passage. God never intended for Eden to remain a garden. He commissioned human beings to “rule” over it. To “fill the earth and subdue it.” To work the garden and turn it into something far more.
There’s a beautiful detail in the second chapter of Scripture that helps make this clear. Genesis 2:10-12 says, “Now a river flows from Eden to water the orchard, and from there it divides into four headstreams. The name of the first is Pishon; it runs through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is pure; pearls and lapis lazuli are also there).”
We all know what gold and pearls are, but for those of us who are not geologists, what in the world are “lapis lazuli?” Google it and you’ll see that it’s a beautiful precious stone.
Hang on a minute: gold, pearls, and precious stones. Where have we seen that before? In the opposite bookend of Scripture—the second to last chapter of Revelation where John describes the New Jerusalem as having streets of gold, gates made of pearls, and walls “decorated with every kind of precious stone” (see Revelation 21:18-21).
You see it, right? This is God’s poetic way of telling us that the command to “fill the earth” was the command to turn the Garden into a “Garden City.” In the words of John Mark Comer, “creation was a project, not a product.” And of course, we see this reaffirmed powerfully when Jesus spent the majority of his adulthood not preaching, but working as a carpenter to “fill the earth” with tables and chairs.
What does all of this mean for you and me today? It means that if our work is good work—if it helps cultivate a world where creation and creatures flourish as God intended—then we are free from needing to justify our jobs. We work and create and rule and fill and subdue simply because it’s what God made us to do. It’s who we are as his image-bearers. And that is enough.
So go and do the God-ordained “filling” of this earth with freedom and joy today!
P.S. Want the kids in your life to get these truths early in life? Pick up a copy of The Creator in You today!
P.P.S. Want a version of today’s devotional that you can read with your kids? Check out the children’s version of this series on YouVersion’s Bible App!