The Good Earth
“And God said ‘…let the dry land appear.… Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.’ And it was so.… And God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:9–12).
- Genesis 1:9-13
When God evaluates His work of creation (Gen. 1:4), He demonstrates that He alone determines the value of all things. What God calls “good” is good, and we are not permitted to substitute another standard.
In calling His creation good, the Lord not only establishes Himself as the supreme moral authority of the universe, He also gives us insight into the nature of His activities. Though it is only implicit here, other passages of Scripture clearly teach everything God does is good (for example, James 1:16–17). This is no surprise, because the Lord Himself is good (Ps. 34:8; Zech. 9:16–17). Therefore, we see that God does not give us arbitrary moral standards; what He calls “good” is good because it reflects His holy character. God is incapable of evil (James 1:13), and thus the fact that all is not now good is not the result of anything He Himself has done.
The Lord’s good work of creation continued on day three when He made the land (Gen. 1:9), set the boundaries of the seas (v. 10), and caused the earth to bring forth vegetation (v. 11). By describing the creation of the foliage before the sun, which we know is necessary for plant life to survive, Moses reminds us of God’s providential upholding of all things. In our day, we are prone to seek for a mechanical or naturalistic explanation for all events. Most of us, when asked what causes plants to thrive, would rightly explain the processes of photosynthesis and cross-pollination. But these processes are not ultimate causes; they are not the whole story, for it is the Lord who causes the grass to grow (Ps. 104:14). As John Calvin argues, “if therefore we inquire, how it happens that the earth is fruitful … no other cause will be found, but that God has spoken, that is, has issued his eternal decree; and that the earth, and all things proceeding from it, yield obedience to the command of God.”
Finally, that each plant is brought forth “according to its kind” (Gen. 1:12) reinforces the goodness of God. The Lord did not have to provide a wide variety of tastes and colors in the food we eat. This diversity, which we often take for granted, is a good gift from God.
Are you facing a difficult person or circumstance that leads you to question the goodness of God? Perhaps you know someone who severely doubts the Lord’s benevolence? While it is important during difficult times to be honest about what we are facing and why we are facing it, we must never deny the kindness of God. Take some time today to meditate on the Lord’s goodness as revealed in Genesis 1 and remind another believer of His beneficence.
Passages for Further Study
- Ps. 34
- Nah. 1:7
- John 10:11 1
- Tim. 4:4–5
- Heb. 1:1–3a
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