Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Subdue the Earth?

"And God blessed them and said unto 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 air and over every living thing that moves on the face of the earth."
~Genesis 1:28

Jasmine posted a wonderful entry on her blog, "The Environment" and along those lines I had a thought to share. I was reading a book on theology recently when I came across this comment, "(during the time of the Noahic covenant). . . The command to subdue the earth (cf. Gen.1:28, 9:1) is no longer present; that was forfeited through sin." The word 'subdue' means: 1) to conquer and bring into subjection. . . 3)to bring under cultivation. Some synonyms for subdue are:

Keep that in mind as we continue.

Another word used along side subdue in Gen. 1:28 is dominion. Dominion means, 1)domain (i.e. a sphere of influence or activity) 2)supreme authority. Synonyms for dominion are:

Now then, according to the author of the theology book I was reading we (mankind) no longer are commanded by God to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it as His representatives. I think he draws this conclusion based on the fact that when God is talking with Noah after the flood, He commands Noah to 'fill the earth' but does not reaffirm the task to subdue or exercise dominion. Does this really mean that we have forfeited the responsibility and priviledge of being representative caretakers of the earth?

I don't think so. Psalm 8:3-8 clarifies this:

"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than the angles,
and You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas."
So, why did God not reiterate His command to subdue and have dominion? I think it was because it was understood that is was a command already given to mankind and God had not given any reason for man to think that it was no longer his duty.
This task of taking dominion and subduing is truly an awesome one! Think of all that we have learned in the process of harnessing some of the forces of creation: electricity, nuclear power, medicine, gardens, air conditioning, paper, pens and ink. . . Science is a facinating study of creation and ways that we are and can exercise our dominion for the glory of God and the good of mankind! We cannot be wasteful of this creation if we truly understand that we derive the responsibility/authority to care for creation from God and if we opperate in a true fear of Him.
And yet, I love that in the midst of all we have learned and all we can do, God is still ultimately soveriegn over His creation. Think of the wonder and terror of hurricanes and tsunamis, volcanoes and ice storms and think of the wonder of the One who can calm a storm (Matt. 8:26-27) and cares for His children (Matt. 6:25-34). Think of the blessing of being redeemed and loved by the God of Creation!

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