The ends for which God created the world are, some general, and others special and subordinate.
1. The chief and ultimate end for which all things were created, especially angels and men, is the glory and praise of God. “The Lord has made all things for Himself.” “Bless the Lord, all His works.” “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things.” (Proverbs 16:4; Psalm 103:22; Romans 11:36)
2. The manifestation, knowledge, and contemplation of the divine wisdom, power and goodness displayed in the creation of things. For, if God would be praised, it was necessary that He should create rational intelligences, capable of knowing Him; and that, knowing Him, they might praise and honor Him. It was, also, necessary that He should create things destitute of reason, that they might furnish matter for praise. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handy works.” (Psalm 19:1)
3. The government of the world. God created the world, that He might by His providence always govern, rule, and preserve it, and so continually show forth His wonderful works, which He has performed from the beginning of the world, and which He now performs, or will hereafter perform; but especially that He might govern the church, composed of angels and men. This end is subservient to the second. “Lift up your eyes on high and behold who has created these things.” (Isaiah 40:26)
4. That He might gather to Himself, from the human race, an everlasting church, which might know and praise Him as the Creator.
5. That all things might contribute to the happiness, comfort, and salvation of men, and especially the elect, and that they might be to them, each in its own particular sphere, as ministers and instruments through which God may be praised by them, while bestowing His blessings upon them. “Subdue the earth, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” “You made him to have dominion over the works of Your hand; You have put all things under his feet.” “Whether the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours.” (Genesis 1:28: Psalm 8:6; 1 Corinthians 3:22) God, therefore, created man, for Himself; and all other things for man, that they might serve him, and through him might serve God. Hence, when we make creatures occupy the place which belongs to God, we thrust ourselves out of the place which God has assigned unto us.
The use of the doctrine of the creation of the world is: 1. That all the glory thereof may be attributed to God, and that His wisdom, power, and goodness, may be known and acknowledged from the works of creation. 2. That we may withdraw our confidence from all created things, and place our trust in God alone, the author and giver of salvation.
Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary On The Heidelberg Catechism, p. 146