The biblical evidence suggests that the glory of God is the reason why God created everything, including the earth. In his work “A Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World,” Jonathan Edwards puts it like this: “It appears reasonable to suppose, that it was God’s last end, that there might be a glorious and abundant emanation of his infinite fullness of good ad extra, or without himself; and that the disposition to communicate himself, or diffuse his own FULLNESS, was what moved him to create the world” (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol 1, Banner of Truth, 2005, Chapter I, Section II).
On this subject, Proverbs 16:4 simply says, “The LORD has made all for Himself” (KJV).
In addition, multiple times in Scripture we find this statement from God: “I am the first and I am the last (Isaiah 44:6; cf. Isaiah 41:4; 48:12; Revelation 1:8, 17; 2:8; 22:13). While it’s common for Christians to acknowledge that God is “first” in that He is the originator of all things, it’s rare to hear talk of His being the “last” as to why and for whom everything was created. On this point, Edwards says God “is the first, efficient cause and fountain, from whence all things originate; so, he is the last, final cause for which they are made; the final term to which they all tend in their ultimate issue” (op cit, Chapter II, Section I).
Other verses that support God’s glory being the reason He created the world include the following:
• “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
• “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
• “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10).
Two other points are worth noting. First, some have asserted that God created the world because He wanted or needed a people to love. However, this overlooks the fact that God is a perfect being and therefore lacks nothing. He has no “needs.” Edwards agrees and says, “It is evident, by both Scripture and reason, that God is infinitely, eternally, unchangeably, and independently glorious and happy: that he cannot be profited by, or receive anything from, the creature” (op cit, Chapter I, Section I).
Second, some complain that the idea that God created the world for His glory makes Him seem selfish and vain. However, this objection fails to see that, while God lacks nothing and needs nothing in the creation of the world, His creation profits from His glory in many ways. Edwards asserts that it is through God’s exhibiting His awesome attributes through creation that humanity possesses knowledge of God and a reason to rejoice in Him: “We see how, not only the creature’s seeing and knowing God’s excellence, but also supremely esteeming and loving him, belongs to the communication of God’s fullness. And the communication of God’s joy and happiness consists chiefly in communicating to the creature that happiness and joy which consists in rejoicing in God, and in his glorious excellency; for in such joy God’s own happiness does principally consist. . . . In the creature’s knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in, and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged; his fullness is received and returned” (op cit, Chapter II, Section VII).