The statement “the earth is the Lord’s” first appears in Exodus 9:29, when Moses is speaking to Pharaoh during the plagues on Egypt. In context, Moses is warning Pharaoh that if he does not let the Israelites go, the plague of hail will come. He tells Pharaoh that he could have avoided the plagues if he had respected God earlier, saying “I know that you still do not fear the Lord God.” Then he states, “the earth is the Lord’s.”
This simple but profound statement – the earth is the Lord’s – conveys a few key truths:
1. God is the creator and owner of everything
The earth belongs to God because He created it. Genesis 1:1 states plainly, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Because God created the earth, it belongs to Him. The Psalmist acknowledges this in Psalm 24:1 – “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” God’s ownership of the earth is eternal and uncontested.
In the Exodus story, Pharaoh had to be reminded of this truth. He was acting as if he had authority over all the land and possessions in Egypt. But Moses confronts him – no, this is God’s earth, and you are subject to Him. God can exercise authority over His creation as He sees fit. Pharaoh was only a steward, not an autonomous ruler.
2. God’s sovereignty over the earth demonstrates His power and glory
That God owns the earth also shows His supreme power, majesty and glory. Again in Psalm 24, David proclaims the greatness of God as creator and owner of the world. He says “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” Only those with clean hands and a pure heart can draw near to this mighty God (Psalm 24:3-4). No one measures up to His standard of holiness.
So God’s sovereignty over the earth should humble us and remind us how great and glorious He is. Any authority we have is delegated by Him. This was an importantperspective for both Pharaoh and the Israelites to grasp.
3. God has authority to act and judge as He pleases
If this is God’s earth, then He has the right to do what He wants with it. In Exodus, this meant sending plagues and judgments on Egypt. Pharaoh did not have the power to stop God’s actions. God told Moses in Exodus 9:16, “For this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” God could judge Pharaoh as a display of His might and glory.
This remains true today as well. As Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” We can take comfort knowing that God has the authority to work on behalf of His people. He also has the sovereign right to judge evil in the world.
4. God calls people to acknowledge Him over the earth
If this is God’s earth, then people everywhere should acknowledge Him as Lord of it. The Israelites were to speak God’s message to Pharaoh, calling him to submit to the true God. Exodus gives a display of God’s supremacy for all to see.
Today, Christians are similarly called to make God’s rule and authority known. Our lives and words should point people to Him. As Psalm 96:1 says, “Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!” God wants all people to know He is Lord of this earth.
5. God’s people can trust Him for provision and protection
For the Israelites, knowing the earth was God’s gave them confidence that He could provide for them. Even though they were slaves in Egypt, God had power over the land and its resources. God would lead them to a land of abundance flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8).
This truth remains a comfort for believers today. Because God owns it all, He can abundantly provide for His people. As Psalm 50:10 states, “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.” We can have assurance that God can protect and sustain us no matter our circumstances.
6. People are called to steward what belongs to God
While God owns everything, He has given mankind stewardship over the earth. After creating it, God told Adam and Eve to reign over the earth and tend it (Genesis 1:28). So while we do not have autonomous ownership, we have been delegated authority to steward God’s creation.
However, God is still the ultimate owner. We will give an account to Him for how we exercise dominion over the world. We should treat the earth and all its resources wisely and responsibly, as God intended. After all, it is His earth that He has shared with us.
7. God has authority over all nations and leaders
Pharaoh saw himself as the most powerful man in the region. But Moses reminds Him – you are under God’s authority, like everyone else. All nations are under God’s sovereign plan. As Daniel 4:17 declares, “The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”
Human government serves at God’s pleasure. No earthly authority can subvert God’s ultimate will. As Romans 13:1 says, “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Even the most powerful rulers must humbly submit to the Lord of heaven and earth.
8. Everything exists to glorify God
Because God made everything for His purposes, the earth is meant to glorify Him. In Isaiah 43:7, God proclaims, “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” And as Psalm 148 says, all creation – the heavens, land, creatures, mountains, trees – should praise the name of the Lord.
The earth is not mankind’s to exploit for selfish gain. Rather, it is God’s, and He intends it to showcase His majesty and greatness. As humans steward creation, we should echo the heavenly praise of God.
9. Jesus Christ has supremacy over all creation
The New Testament affirms God’s ownership of the earth while revealing Jesus Christ as Lord of all creation. John 1:3 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Colossians 1:16-17 echoes this, saying Christ holds all things together and has preeminence in everything.
So while God the Father owns and rules the earth, Jesus His Son actively upholds and sustains creation. As Savior, Jesus has supremacy over every earthly power and authority. His lordship encompasses the entire cosmos.
10. God will renew the earth completely in the end
While God owns the present earth, Scripture also promises He will create a new heaven and earth. 2 Peter 3:13 says this about God’s promise: “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
Revelation 21 then describes the glorious new creation, where God will make His dwelling with restored humanity. All of creation will be reconciled and fulfilled under Christ’s reign (Colossians 1:19-20). In the end, God’s purposes for the earth will be perfectly accomplished.
In summary, the profound truth that “the earth is the Lord’s” highlights God’s supreme authority as Creator, Owner, Sustainer and Redeemer of the world. All creation belongs to Him alone and exists for His glory. This should humble us while giving us confidence that God is sovereignly working out His perfect plan for the earth.