Tag Archives: Dominion

Blame

Studies in Genesis 3

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12 ESV)

Everyone who reads this Genesis account knows the man is shifting the blame from himself to the woman and then to God. His answer is an obvious “it’s not my fault” response to God’s interrogation. He does admit he ate the fruit. But follow the progression of blame.

“The woman you gave to be with me” tells God He is most at blame. If He had not given the man the woman as an equal then the man would not have rebelled and eaten the forbidden fruit. Does he not remember his owns words after seeing the woman for the first time? He is given dominion over the earth. God presents to him all of the animals and he names them. But none of the animals are a suitable partner for man. None of the animals are equal to man and it was impossible for man to be fruitful and multiple with any of the animals. He needs a she. God gave the female to the male and made them one flesh

Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24).

The man declares the woman “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” when she is presented to him by God. He knows from where the woman came. He knows that all of the animals he has named are male and female and God’s blessing for them is to multiply and fill the earth. Then God proclaims the spiritual condition of the pair, declaring them one, a unit, together making a whole. It is God’s intent that the man and woman be husband and wife and that their relationship be unique, healthy, whole, free from anything which might divide them. They are “one flesh.”

When the man indicates that the “woman you gave to be with me” was the cause and reason for his rebellion he was speaking truth. God did make the woman so the man would not be alone and would fulfill His blessing to “be fruitful and fill the earth and subdue it.” The woman did give the man the fruit she had plucked and eaten so he could also have a bite. But, the man was not forced to eat the fruit by either God or the woman. Even the Deceiver did not force any to eat the fruit. He ate of his own volition. Now, confronted by God while he is hiding, the man points his finger at the woman and says it is her fault while facing God saying it is also His fault.

Not only is the relationship between God and Man broken but also the healthy relationship between the man and woman.

Excuse

Studies in Genesis 3

And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10 ESV)

Adam was terrified. He had a word for what he was feeling. “Afraid.” This is the first time this word is used in Scripture. Afraid means to dread, to revere, to stand in awe, to terrify. It is a legitimate emotion one who has rebelled against God should feel when coming into His presence. We are admonished throughout Scripture to fear God, both as our Creator and our Judge. Adam was afraid because he was coming into the presence of God having just sinned and rebelled against Him.

But Adam gives a different reason for his fear. He declares his fear comes from his nakedness. It is a slightly different word than the one used by God before they rebelled. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25 ESV). Here, naked means bare and describes their state of being. They are not only unclothed before God and each other but they also have nothing to hide. God describes their nakedness within their environment as they “were not ashamed.”  They were secure in their home.

After the fall, when Adam comes into God’s presence he is ashamed. He has something he wants to hide. He has a secret he does not want God to know. He is not bare. He is naked. He does not mention the poor attempt at making an apron, which had probably fallen apart by this time.

Adam withdrew himself from sight because he could not cover himself adequately to feel secure. He was forced into hiding, not by God who wanted him to present himself, but by his own guilt which would not allow him to stand openly before God.

Adam’s explanation of being afraid to stand before God is an excuse meant to divert attention away from the true reason. He knew God well enough to know He is all powerful and all knowing. Still, he offered an excuse to God, a dishonest attempt to make himself less guilty before the One who declares guilt. There is no reason to declare innocence. In his innocent nature, Adam could walk bare before the world and have no fear. His shield and protection was God and he did not know he needed protection from anything. Adam was given dominion over the world. He was God’s authority over the Earth. Nothing on the Earth could challenge his authority. Though inhabiting an earthly creature, the snake, the Deceiver was not of the world, yet was still a creation of God. Adam knew his authority. So, for him to offer an excuse for hiding shows not only his relationship with God was compromised but also his authority over the Earth.

I have heard it said that “an excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” None of Adam’s words are lies. But, his response is still not true. Instead of saying “I ate the fruit you forbade” and “I do not want to face you because I am ashamed,” Adam offered a half truth, “I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10 ESV). Lies are subtle, hidden within partial truth, designed to divert attention. Repentance is not soft but hard, designed to break the resistant will and conform it to God’s will. Adam was afraid and felt remorse because he got caught. Repentance fully faces wrong done while remorse hides behind excuses.

Servant

Studies in Genesis 2

I will make him a helper fit for him.” … But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. (Genesis 2:18, 20 ESV)

There is an implication in the word “help” or “helper” often ignored but for which we must give an account. Man, both male and female, when created by God were given the task of dominion over the earth and all its creatures.  Neither the earth nor the creatures belonged to Man. All belonged to God. It was Man’s task to take care for the earth and its creatures for God. Now, God is fully capable of taking care of everything Himself. He does not need Man to do anything for Him. Yet, God created Man for the express purpose to grow in knowledge of Him. Man grows to know God by serving Him in the fullest capacity of the image of God given Man by doing that for which he was designed.

By taking care of the earth, having “dominion” over it, Man learns about his Creator. Man was not created to demand the earth and its creatures serve him. Man is not designed as a malevolent dictator. That is not what “dominion” means. Some have suggested “dominion” means to rule by treading upon. It is true the word for “dominion” means to tread upon or tread down, as in to dominate. These are all legitimate uses of the word in Scripture. Yet, in Genesis 1, in the context of the creation story, Man, given the image of God, acts and works toward blessing creation, especially all the creatures. To “bless” means to kneel before, as a father kneels before his child, to give a gift even when the child does not know the value of the gift.

Man was created to serve God by serving the earth and all its creatures. No where do we see Man created to be subjugated by other people. Nor do we see the earth and its creatures existing solely to serve Man. The earth and its creatures do serve Man just as Man serves God, but not by force or under compulsion. It is the inherent characteristic of Man, all men, to serve God, and to serve each other. Man was created to serve and to grow in the intimate andc complete knowledge of God.

Our ultimate example must be Christ, not Adam, the first man. When Jesus Christ came He had the morphe of both God and a Servant coming in the likeness of a man.

Though he was in the form (morphe) of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form (morphe) of a servant, being born in the likeness (homoiōma) of men. And being found in human form (schēma), he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-9 ESV)

Jesus had those essential characteristics and qualities which make God God and a servant a servant. He is Man as Adam was before the fall, the perfect servant while completely God.

When God creates a helper for the man it is so the man can serve the helper as the helper serves him, and so both can serve God by serving the creation for which they are responsible. To be and do anything less or other than what they were designed to do and be is inconceivable.

Man Names the Animals

Studies in Genesis 2

Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every kind of bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. (Genesis 2:19-20 ESV)

To name something is to have control over that thing. God has given man dominion over all the living things on the earth. Giving names to them establishes his authority, setting him apart from them.

There are three things we can say about this. First, God knows everything, and probably has names for all things, from the stars and galaxies in the universe to the smallest particles of matter. He names the animals He creates for He has ultimate control and authority. He knows His creation intimately. Still, God tells us He wanted to see what the man would name each animal. Since man is created in the image of God, for intimacy and relationship with Him, it is not a stretch to believe the names God gave and those of the man were similar, if not the same. God wanted to “see what he would call them.”

Secondly, the first man named the animals. This shows intelligence and reasoning ability which far exceeds the creatures named. Man was not simply the authority over the animals. He was different from them. He had the image of God implanted in him. Animals and birds and fish do not have this image. Man is designed as a benevolent authority just as God is a benevolent God. Man’s dominion is to care for and grow that which is under his control. To accomplish this task man must understand the environment in which he lives and over which he has control. God is ultimately in control, but man is His regent.

Finally, the animals did not name themselves nor name man. Animals do not name. This does not mean they do not learn or recognize other animals, man and God. They were not created as equals with man just as man was not created equal to God.  God has a hierarchy of creation. First were plants, trees and herbs. Then fish and birds. Next, animals, creeping things, wild and domesticated. Finally, Man. God is not created so is not part of this order but above all.

Man is still discovering God’s creatures and still names that about which he discovers. These creatures do not need to be living but are often long dead, the evidence of their living embedded in stone. Not only does man name creatures but names things, such as stars and galaxies, land masses, oceans, rivers, streams, hills and mountains, valleys, rises and depressions in the earth. Man names rocks and other elements. Man watches and studies and learns. This is one of the characteristics of the image of God in man.

Ultimately, God’s image in man is so all men can watch and study and learn about Him. Yet, we do not name God, for in the name is the essence of the characteristics and personality of the thing itself. For the man to name the animal means he knew and understood the animal. Those who are known by God will spend eternity learning about God yet will never completely know Him. Naming the animals was part of the training of the man to know God. Learning about God and our world is also part of our training for eternity.

Man’s Home

Studies in Genesis 2

And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. (Genesis 2:8 ESV)

God gave the Man He created in His image a home. Though Man was given dominion over the whole planet there was a specific place that was home.

God set an area apart from the rest of the planet and established, or fixed in place, a garden. “East” or “eastward” suggests God is speaking from a fixed place on the planet and planted the garden toward the rising sun. However, the word translated “East” may also mean in front, or that which is before. Regardless, the garden is in a fixed place, with boundaries, a geography, and a specific purpose.

God names the garden “Eden” which means pleasure or paradise. God gave Man a home. “He put the man whom He formed” in the garden of Eden.

We do not know where Eden is. Many assume it is in Mesopotamia. People have tried to locate and discover the boundaries of the ancient paradise of the first Man, Adam. If we look at these words from the point of view of the Hebrews led out of Egypt by Moses, the author of Genesis, then Eden is a place of safety, peace and rest, where all their needs are met and no one is over them but God. To the East of Egypt and Israel lays a vast desert. Beyond the desert was a place of fertile soil and abundance. It is also the place from which Abraham came. Moses, trained in the courts of Pharaoh, would know this.

God’s garden is not a safe place in the sense we think of as safe, though there was no danger. Man was given dominion over creation. Adam was in control. He was not created in a dangerous place where anything could harm him. Without the knowledge of danger is there an emotion of feeling safe? Yet, he was at peace with God and the world in which he was placed. None of the animals fled from him. He was told what he could eat and was surrounded with an abundance of food.

Was the rest of the world dangerous, outside of and surrounding the garden of Eden? Probably not. Though Eden is described as a paradise it is not the only beautiful place of peace and abundance. God covered the Earth with plants, herbs and trees. He filled the sky with birds and the waters with fish and other creatures. He created the land animals and Man to rule over them all. For the first two people our Earth is huge. And the whole Earth was at peace.

God did not contain them in a garden. He gave them a home. And He told them, like He blessed all living things, to be fruitful and multiple and fill the Earth. “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28 ESV). Eventually, I assume without knowing for sure, the whole Earth would have been the garden of Eden.

The Simplicity of the Obvious

Studies in Genesis 1

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28 ESV)

Man is similar yet different than all else God has created. Man is like all other life created on Earth. Yet, Man is not like all other life on Earth.

God uses three words to describe physical humanity. Adam means Man and is used as the proper name for the first man, Adam. A masculine noun, adam means ruddy, which means red and implies a creature which is mostly hairless, having exposed skin. Adam means human and is used 393 times in the Hebrew Scripture. In Genesis, Adam, the first human, is the representative of all humans.

God then delineates between male and female. Zakkar is the male of the species (either human or animal), a masculine noun, and neqebah is the female of the species (either human or animal), a feminine noun. So, Man is the human race, both male and female. Male is used 82 times throughout the Hebrew Scripture. Female is used 18 times in the Hebrew Scripture, one time in Jeremiah 31:22 and the rest in the Pentateuch. Many other nouns are used to describe people’s gender. In Genesis chapter one these are the only nouns used.

God identifies animals according to their species and makes each species a male and a female so they can “be fruitful and multiply” and fill the earth. This is the blessing of God for the animals of the earth. Every animal from the sea creatures and birds of the air to Man are blessed with the ability to procreate. Actually, every living thing is given the blessing of procreation. In the physical universe, on the physical planet called Earth, every living thing can reproduce. On Earth, and by extension throughout creation, procreation demands the species be male and female.

God is neither male nor female. In the Genesis story God never identifies as either male or female. He is God. Even though the grammar and syntax of the Hebrew language classifies Elohem as a masculine noun He is not male. God identifies Man with Himself, not He with Man.

God separates out Man from all of the rest of creation. Man is the same stuff as all the animals, with similar physical characteristics. But Man is different in his given authority over all other created things on the Earth because of the image of God.

Authority

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

Dominion does not mean ownership. God created all things, which means God is the owner of all things created. This includes Man. Though created in His image, no person created has absolute, autonomous ownership of themselves. Ignoring God and acting like He is not there will not dissolve the connection any has with their Creator.

God tells us what it is over which people have dominion, control, responsibility and privilege. His list follows the days of creation, beginning with the sea creatures and the birds of the air. He then states in verse 26 that people have dominion over the “livestock” and every “creeping things” which includes reptiles and snakes. God repeats His direction of authority given people in verse 28 when He includes everything that lives. It is not that God forgot to include all living creatures then remembered in His next declaration. His second declaration of authority given people is an affirmation, a statement for us that tells us He is not going to change His mind. It is a sure thing. Throughout Scripture God will make a statement two or three times telling us His mind and will are set.

People are given authority over the Earth as God’s physical representative. With His image we speak and act and judge for Him. This does not mean He is not present, distant or completely absent. He is everywhere. This does mean when we speak and act based upon the moral standard embedded in the image of God we uphold and reinforce His purpose and intent. God views our speech, acts and moral decisions as if He Himself was speaking and acting based on His moral attributes and will uphold and stand by our speech, acts and moral decisions.

Again, I do not want people to misunderstand. Those given the image of God are given all they need to fulfill His purpose by functioning as He designed. There is no thought of rebellion built into the image of God. His eternal knowledge of the coming rebellion, knowing sin will happen, does not change God’s purpose and intent for people, nor their place in God’s created order. Sin affects how people relate to God and to Creation but does not change God.

All God is doing in these verses happens in eternity but before sin and rebellion in the space-time universe. Sin and rebellion change Man’s position and authority before God. We are seeing Man the way God intended.