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The following Scripture was mentioned in a friend s blog, and it caused me to take a closer look at it. In Genesis 1:28, God spoke to Adam and Eve, whom he had just created.
28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Upon studying this passage, I discovered that I have misunderstood part of it. For years I always mentally linked replenish the earth and subdue it: I thought the phrase meant to subdue and use the resources of the earth, and then replenish what you have taken from it. I saw it as a command to be a good steward of our environment.
In order for this to make sense, the words subdue and replenish probably should be reversed. It is more logical to first subdue the earth, and then replenish it, not the other way around. Also, the first definition for replenish is to fill and the second one is to fill again . So my understanding would also necessitate using the secondary definition instead of the primary one. So, my take on this passage was wrong.
I now understand that in this context replenish means to fill, not fill again. Replenish is linked with the first part of the sentence. Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, . In order words, Adam and Eve should have many children that would eventually fill the earth with people. God wasn t telling Adam to go out and cut down trees, but make sure you replant some saplings. The lesson to me had absolutely nothing to do with recycling my wife s water bottles.
Now this doesn t mean that I am now going to go around and throw trash all over the place. I still feel we should be good to the environment, even if it is not discussed in the first chapter of Genesis. But it does show how important it is to truly try to understand what we read in the Bible. A simple misunderstanding like mine can last years or a lifetime. We must be diligent in our Bible study, and do our best to comprehend what we read. By all means, let us make sure we know what we are talking about when we speak to others.
My mistake, I feel, was a relatively small one. I don t think it caused any harm, at least I hope not. The lessons I learned, however, were large ones. First, the Bible contains the words of God. Nothing is more important than that. When I read it, I must make sure I am giving it 100% of my concentration and brain power. Second, never close my mind to the ideas and interpretations of others. I certainly don t know everything. If we disagree on something, maybe they are wrong, but there is an equal chance that I am the one who has got it all mixed up.