Man’s Connection to the Land – Part 2

As we have already seen, man was created by God with a unique relationship to the land. Made in the image and likeness of God, man was formed from the dust of the ground. God then breathed into him the breath of life. Now, we want to explore more about this link between man and ground by looking at the implications of this connection with the land.

Returning to our passage from Genesis 1, upon the intra-Trinitarian declaration to make man in their image, God said, “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 1:26b) After creating man from the dust of the ground, both male and female, “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

Here we have what some have called the creation or dominion mandate. It contains two primary parts, subdue and dominion, and they are applied to the three divisions of creation, namely the earth, sea, and heavens. Man, created in the image of God, was endowed as God’s vice-regent, a kind of representative king on earth. While all things were (and are) under the command and rule of God, He gave man the authority to reign, as it were, over His creation. This kingship was intrinsic to being created in the image of God. Not only did man have an innate connection to the land, but now having come from the land, man was to rule the earth as well as what God had filled the earth with.

In the verses above, man is given a realm and a reign, signified by the two directives of the original creation mandate with the verbs subdue and dominion. Further defining these terms will help us understand the nature of the commission being communicated to man. First, we note that subdue means to bring under control and carries with it the idea of treading on. It would be the application of “reigning”. In context it is connected with the blessing, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”. Part of man’s responsibility to bring the earth under his subjection was related to his responsibility to procreate, thereby expanding the royal family throughout the kingdom. In other words, in reigning over the creation that God had given him, man was to create a family dynasty and in doing so would bring all of creation into subjugation. This helps us to better understand one aspect of woman being created as “help” for man.

Next, we turn to the call for man to take dominion, which has overlapping meaning with subdue. Here, dominion is over a defined realm. This realm, as we have seen, had three divisions each related to birds, fish, and animals respectively. In exercising his rule over the realm that he had been given, man was to bring the animal kingdom into subjection. This has been referred to as domestication. Man begins this domestication and dominion of the animals in Genesis 2:19-20 as God brings him the animals to name. Man was not only given dominion over those things in which there was breath, but man was also to bring the earth itself into subjugation, no doubt a reference to harnessing the materials, energy, and resources that the earth had to offer.

Created in the image of God from the dust of the ground, man was set apart as God’s vice-regent to rule and reign over the realm God had given him. With this commission or mandate that God had given, there were also limitations and violating these limitations would have grave consequences as we will see next time.

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Christian saved by grace through faith.

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