Man’s Relationship with the Earth
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.” Genesis 1:29-30
This was not about a command for a vegetarian vs. a carnivorous lifestyle. God did not say, “Eating meat is bad, so eat vegetables, fruit, & grain.” There was no prohibition against eating meat because such was simply not necessary. The plants and fruits had all of the nutrients both man and beast needed to sustain life.
The significance of the text was not the diet, but to illustrate that: 1) God Himself was the Provider of nourishment for His creation; and 2) All God had just created was in harmony with each other.
God made supernatural provision for man and the animals in terms of sustenance. Neither had to work to produce it, but God ensured that the earth provided for it (Genesis 2:5-6, 9; Matthew 6:25-29). Man surely had work to do from the Lord, but he was not “working for food”. From the beast, to the fowl, to man…all were given herbs, plants, and fruits to eat.
All creatures were in harmonious relationship with each other. Man had nothing to fear from the animals and the animals had nothing to fear from man. Although animals are not man’s equal, they are alive in the sense that blood flows through them as it does through us (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11-14; Deuteronomy 12:23). God’s provision of food reinforces that there was no need to take the life of another, there was no need for the shedding of blood; there was no need for death.
We know that God’s instruction to eat herbs & fruit had nothing to do with there being something sinful about eating meat. Believing that there is anything impure or unclean in eating meat is described in the Scriptures as a position of “weak” faith (Romans 14:2-3, 14-15). Such is also said to be one of the doctrines of devils spoken in the last days (I Timothy 4:1-3). What God has declared clean for consumption may be received from Him with thanksgiving (Acts 10:10-16; I Corinthians 10:30-31; I Timothy 4:4-5). One is not more or less spiritual to eat meat, but let all be done as a matter of faith (Mark 7:15-19; Romans 14:22-23).
After the flood, God instructed man to eat meat in the same way that he had previously given man “every green herb” (Genesis 9:3-4). Man was given by God “every moving thing” for meat. Yet, notice the condition of creation at that time.
“And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.” Genesis 9:2
Now it becomes clear that there was an absence of harmony in the earth. The animals – over whom man had been originally appointed caretaker – had now been delivered into the hands of man…in fear. What a change between the original relationship between man and beast! Previously, man was to be an ambassador for God, taking care of all living things in God’s stead, reflecting His love. Now the animals were being handed over to the jurisdiction of fallen man and fear would be the basis of that dominion. If the “beasts” are now afraid of man, then what had man become (Daniel 4:16; Psalm 49:12, 20; 73:22)?
“I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.” Ecclesiastes 3:18
Fear was a consequence of the fall. Man’s first reaction to God after sin was fear (Genesis 3:10). It is only natural then that those over whom man had dominion would now fear him as sin spread like a cancer to affect and pervert all of creation. The introduction and escalation of sin affected more than man. It affected the very way in which all living things related to each other. The harmony which had once existed between man and animal was now gone because of sin.
God is not bringing man back to some spiritualized ideal of vegetarianism. He will however bring all of His creation back in harmony with one another, as it was in the beginning. Such cannot be realized in human effort or works. You can try to live in harmony with a lion if you want, but it will likely devour you. It is a “wild” animal. There is only one thing that can reverse the curse of sin and that is God taking His rightful place as the ruler of all. We are told that the harmony referenced initially will be restored during the Millennial Reign of Christ (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:17-25). Yet, there would still seem to be meat available even at that time.
“And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” Isaiah 25:6
Even should the “fat things full of marrow” merely be symbolic, it still references the choicest meats as representing the good things reserved for those who serve the Lord (I Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12). The presence or absence of meat for consumption is not the issue at all.
Remember, the Kingdom of God is not about meat nor drink, but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17). This was the condition upon which man existed with the rest of creation initially, and this is what God will restore in the end.
In the beginning, man’s relationship with the earth was one where he exercised dominion over it while at the same time existing in harmony with it.