Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
I have yet again started to read the Bible from the beginning. This is something that I have done a couple of times, and after all the extra-biblical learning I have done, I felt it was time to do so again. For me, there is nothing as refreshing to the soul as the reading of scripture. The scriptures soften my heart and give me perspective. Each time, I walk away anew with a heart and mind focused on God.
I will share my thoughts and questions as I read here on the site. Although I know that I will not have all the answers, I hope that what I write might encourage and inspire others to seek the Lord for further understanding. He is the source of all understanding and wisdom.
A Purpose in Creation
As I read through Genesis chapter 1, I was struck by the care and order by which God created the universe. He could have easily created everything in the blink of an eye. Yet, rather than do that, creation is recorded as being a methodical event. God created the world in an orderly fashion. As a result, this suggests that God is himself orderly. He is not chaotic and random; he has a plan and a purpose in all he does.
Life sometimes feel like an endless series of random events, particularly when tragedy occurs. However, I think this first chapter of Genesis reminds us that, though life appears random at times, God is doing something. We don’t always understand what he his doing, but I believe we can trust him in his doings.
A Purpose for Man
Interestingly, in his creation, God gave a purpose to humanity. In this chapter, God gives five commands: “‘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'” (ESV, Genesis 1:28). I know that most people don’t interpret this as five different commands, so let me explain why I do.
The command to be fruitful is often coupled with the command to multiply as an imperative to reproduce. I do not think this interpretation is incorrect. However, with the revelation of the New Testament, I believe we can understand this command to mean even more.
God desires us to be fruitful, to bear the fruit of the Spirit, and so this command was given at the start. In Galatians, we learn that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (ESV, Galatians 5:22-23). These are the qualities that God desires for his created people to possess.
The command to multiply demonstrates God’s desires for his creation to grow and increase in number. Procreation has always been an intended part of the human experience. However, there is more to it than base physiological reproduction. In chapter 2, we will see a connection between the union of males and females, which produces offspring, and the union between Christ and the Church.
Fill the earth
The command to fill the earth demonstrates the purpose for which God created the earth, to be filled by people. God has an everlasting love for his people, so he created a world for them. Additionally, this command shows the extent to which humanity was to multiple. God intended for people to multiply and fill the entire earth.
Subdue the earth
Though the world was freshly created in Genesis 1, God created the earth in such a way so as to need tending. He did not have to create the world this way. Because he did, the command to subdue the earth demonstrates that God has always planned for people to participate in his work. We will see this command become much more burdensome of people because of the curse in Genesis chapter 3.
With the revelation of the New Testament, the commands to multiply, to fill the earth, and to subdue it take on additional meaning. Jesus commands his disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (ESV, Matthew 28:19-20). As Christians, we are to multiply the faith and fill and subdue the earth with it.
However, this was never meant to be a violent act for the Christian, as it so often has been in history. It must be done in peace and love. As we saw in Galatians, violence has no home among the fruits of the Spirit. Violent judgement, condemnation, and revenge belong to God and God alone. Only he is capable of exercising them rightly and justly. As we continue our study of the Bible, we will see many occasions where God does so, using both followers and non-followers as his instruments of justice. But as Christians, we are called by God to live differently. Because of the Spirit in us, we longer have a part in God’s active wrath.
Have dominion over the animals
I see the command to have dominion over the animals as giving people the opportunity of being faithful stewards over God’s creation. Humanity was to have the opportunity to reflect the character of God in their relationship with the animals under their care. However, we will see God revoke this privilege in Genesis 9 as a consequence of humanity’s sinfulness. Animals will become food for us. Though we ought to still exhibit the character of God in our treatment of animals, the initial relationship has been destroyed. There is no sin or guilt in the eating of animals.
God had a purpose for creation, and he has planned work for his creation to do. We are called to do the work of the Lord in faithful service onto him. Life was never meant to be lived apart from him. Seek him so that you might have life abundant and eternal.
May the Lord instruct us in his ways so that we might faithfully complete the work that he has laid before us to do.