Man’s Connection to the Land – Part 3

In the opening chapters of the creation account from Genesis, we have been observing God’s special creation and commission of man. Being created from the dust of the ground gave man an inherent connection to the land. Being made in the image of God placed man above the rest of creation as God’s earthly representation and representative. As such, man served as God’s vice-regent over creation, a type of earthly king with a realm and rule. But this reign was not without limitations.

In assigning man his commission, or as we noted what some call the creation mandate or dominion mandate, God provided boundaries. First, as we have already observed, we read of a boundary with regard to the realm of man’s dominion. In Genesis 1:26, God grants man dominion over the three divisions of creation: fish of the sea, birds of the heavens, “livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (see also Genesis 1:28). Next, we see there were limits placed on the food that man was allowed to use for sustenance as he took dominion.

 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

Genesis 1:29

These two passages in Genesis 1 provide the broad, over-arching boundary of man’s commission. Turning to Genesis 2 we see more specific details further delineating these boundaries as God provides us with greater insight into His creation and purposes of man. Whereas our first boundary was with respect to the three divisions of creation, Genesis 2 informs us that man was first placed within the boundary of a garden. God placed man, literally rested him (Hebrew word for put means “to rest”) in this probationary location and gave him the command to, “work it and keep it”, literally guarding it. As we’ve seen elsewhere, this combination of words is also used with respect to priestly activities (Numbers 3:7-8). When we combine this, along with the concept of rest and the structure of the garden with its tripartite division, it isn’t difficult to conclude that man was placed in a temple-garden and given priestly responsibilities as his work was worship before the Lord.

As the account continues, we find God providing additional restrictions in the form of a command with consequences for violating it.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:16-17

The tree of knowledge of good and evil was located in the midst of the garden, along with the tree of life. Access to this inner portion of the garden sanctuary was not restricted to man, but consuming from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was. Doing so would result in death (dying you shall die). It should be pointed out that there was no restriction placed on eating from the tree of life (consider the ramifications if they had eaten from this tree).

In our survey thus far, we have seen the connection from creation that man had with the land. We’ve noted that God created man in His own image and that this carried with it the idea of being God’s representation and representative on earth. With that, we concluded man was acting as vice-regent on earth and was given a reign and realm over which to rule. But this realm came with limitations, as we have seen in this post. There were limits placed on what man was to rule over (fish, birds, livestock and creeping things; earth) and where man was to rule over, at least initially. God placed man in the garden and assigned limitations over what trees/plants he could eat from, forbidding only one, eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Man as a king-priest, in a garden temple, to serve the Lord in guarding and protecting it, with assigned limitations, as worship before God.

In the next post, we will examine whether man can rule within these limitations and what effect this may have on his relationship to the land.

About the author

Christian saved by grace through faith.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: