The account of Genesis 1 and 2 makes it clear that God planned for humanity to enjoy the beauty, abundance and fruitfulness of creation. In the idyllic setting of the Garden of Eden, the first humans found a rich, fertile place, and humanity was intended to prosper in every sense. God provides an abundance of resources and means for humans to flourish.
As the writer of Genesis states early on in the story about the creation of humans, “God blessed them” (Genesis 1:28). The word “blessing” or “blessed” is a central feature of the biblical story. Part of the blessing of relationship with God is very definitely tangible, in-the-hand stuff. And these material blessings are thoroughly integrated with the other benefits of knowing and loving the Creator.
Later, even in the barrenness of the wilderness, the people of Israel find daily provision from God, in the form of manna (Exodus 16) and water gushing from the rock (Exodus 17). The abundant wealth of God’s creation is discovered further on in the biblical narrative by the people of Israel, when they finally reach the Promised Land. It is a land “flowing with milk and honey,” rich with all the ingredients needed to live according to God’s design. Deuteronomy records the promise made to God’s people in the desert that they would find on earth everything they need to prosper.
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing. (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)
From the beginning, God perfectly provisioned the world for humans to thrive. The good earth yields food when humans exercise their God-given ability to “till it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). God’s intent is that people would not merely subsist, but have good things in abundance. “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). God gives people the capacity to understand the natural world so that we make use of its resources (Genesis 2:20). Human work and ingenuity are more than capable of developing God’s creation to provide abundantly for all people. In partnership with the Creator, we are to make creative use of the resources of the earth, growing and innovating, creating new products, improving on the original. There is more than enough raw material to go around. This is in stark contrast to the principle of scarcity that applies to most goods and materials in post-Eden economics.
At our best, we humans have cooperated with God amazingly well in developing his creation. Whether it be the development of agriculture and horticulture, the harnessing of coal, oil, gas, wind and water for power generation, the creation of parks, gardens and images of beauty, or the design and building of houses, appliances, clothes and modes of transport, all such developments that enrich our lives are expressions of co-creation. The capacity to innovate, produce and develop is part of what it means to be made in God’s image.
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