And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” Genesis 1:28a
God, in this verse, echoed a command he’d already given to the birds of the air and fish of the sea. So, is this God simply commanding people to have babies?
After the flood, only eight people survived and as they exited the ark, God repeats the command, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Again, is this just a command to populate the planet?
Before we can fully answer this, we need to see God’s purpose in creation.
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and midst, stormy wind fulfilling the word! Mountains and hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above the earth and heaven. Psalm 148:3-13
God’s creation was to magnify his glory and character. It would praise him and glorify his name, and God loved it and said ‘It was good.’
So, when God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, he was just telling them to have babies. BECAUSE they were blameless and holy. They walked and talked with God in harmony and unity. If they had never sinned, their children would have automatically worshiped and enjoyed God as well.
But they disobeyed the Lord.
Now having children just brought sinners into the world. People that were separated from Himself and having no desire to serve Him. (Psalm 14 & Romans 3:10-18) Sin became so grotesque and violent, God destroyed the whole world with a flood. HIs grace was still evident and his plan unchanged as he saved Noah and his family. He repeats his command, “Be fruitful and multiply.” But God wasn’t interested in them simply making babies for each child would be born as a self-worshipper.
Sin had to be dealt with. Death, the consequence for iniquity, had to be paid. God chose to create Israel from whom the Savior of the world would be born. Through this nation, blessing for the nations could be restored. (Genesis 12:3) They were to be a light for the nations, that God’s salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)
And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply.” Genesis 35:10-11a
Jesus, the Messiah, comes. God Himself in flesh. He lives without sin but dies sin’s death on the cross. The God-Man raises from the grave defeating sin and death once and for all. Through his sacrifice and believing in Christ, sinners now have an opportunity to be born again, recreated to be how God initially intended. Holy and blameless, able to enjoy a relationship with their Creator.
Because God’s intentions hadn’t changed from Eden.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23
Each redeemed life, now able to do what they were created to do. And to each saved person (the church) he gives a command.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20a
These disciples were to bear fruit (John 15:16 & Galatians 5:22) and as more disciples were made, the church multiplied. (Acts 2:47, 6:7)
God never desired just a populated planet, but a world of worshipers. Genesis 1:28, because of sin, is replaced by the Great Commission. No longer can we create worshipers from mere procreation. But we must evangelize and disciple a fallen and depraved world. And that’s something everybody can do; male and female, old and young, married and single.