Dominion Lost

Genesis 1:28

[28] 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.”

Originally, man was meant to have dominion over the earth.  We are uncomfortable with words like subdue and dominion because it sounds like humans are meant to be oppressive dictators over the rest of creation.

However, Adam was not to be a dictator, but a steward.  He had no authority that had not been given to him.  He could not do whatever he pleased with God’s creation.  With God’s intention in mind, we realize that in the beginning Adam was not called to be a gardener but a protector.  His original call was to defend the creation, his wife, and the honor of God by defeating the serpent.  Instead, he did nothing as the serpent deceived his wife.  Adam did not destroy the serpent but agreed with him and joined forces with him against God, opening the door to sin and death.

After the fall, mankind would still like to believe that we are in charge.  My children are convinced that they are in charge of our house.  No one had to teach them this and it is with great difficulty that we teach them that they are not.  We are born this way.

And that is especially sad because we are not in charge.  We are not in charge of when we are born or when we will die.  We are not in charge of what will happen to us or how exactly our children will turn out.  In fact, we are not even in charge of ourselves.

Romans 7:18b-19

…For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. [19] For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

Man was to have dominion over all creatures and even the earth itself.  Now, we have dominion over nothing.  We are not masters but slaves to our passions and circumstances.  This is bad news, but when we can admit that this is true, the Gospel becomes very good news.

John 8:36

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

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John 21:18-19

[18] “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” [19] (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Loving Jesus and serving His sheep will be costly.  If Peter follows Jesus, he will die a martyr.  We prefer to follow Jesus soaring above the storm, away from the mud, and the mess, and the ugliness of life.  But this is not the way of love.  In 1 Corinthians 4:15, the Apostle Paul says, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers.”  It’s much easier to be a guide, than a father.  It’s much easier to be a Bible teacher than a mentor, a counselor than a parent, or a manager than a shepherd.

Real love does not clock in and clock out.  We know this.  When we get married, we no longer get to do whatever we want.  When we have children, we don’t get to go wherever we want.  Will following Jesus cost us less?

Loving Jesus and serving His sheep is costly, and moreover each of us does not get to choose what cost we will pay.  Jesus does not invite Peter to submit his business plan for approval.  Peter loves Jesus but martyrdom is certainly not his personal plan.  But there is more to life than our personal plans, even our “spiritual” personal plans.

In the end, Peter does follow Jesus and he does lose his life.  Peter preaches the gospel even though it gets him crucified all because he understands that Jesus does not just say “Follow.”  Jesus says, “Follow ME.”

Wherever Peter goes, whatever he endures, Jesus will be there with him.  Peter is willing to die because he knows when he follows Jesus, even in death, he will be near His Savior.

Jesus does not send us out alone.  He is a good shepherd.  Jesus will take care of us.  He will use His staff to beat back the wolves.  He walks with us through the very valley of the shadow of death.

The Storm

The Unpredictable Plant
Eugene Peterson

[4] But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. [5] Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. [6] So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

– Jonah 1:4-6

Storm is the environment in which we either lose our lives or are saved; there is no cool, safe ledge on which to perch as spectators.  There are no bleachers from which to enjoy the lightning and thunder, the waves and breakers of the storm.  We are in it, prophet and people, sailor and saints.  Nothing else matters at this point; it is life or death.  Whatever else has been on the agenda is on it no longer.  There is this single item: salvation – or not.

Money, a powerful element in human autonomy, holds a key place in [this story], Jonah using his excessively large sum of money to purchase passage to Tarshish…But the power of money disappears in the storm.  There is only a single power to deal with now: God – and God’s salvation.

StormThe only thing the sailors found useful to do in the Jonah storm was to lighten the ship, get rid of what they had heretofore assumed was their primary concern: “they threw the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them” (1:5)…As God’s action intensifies, the significance of our human lives…comes into focus as the single point of who we are, not what we have to offer him, not what we can do to help him.

If the storm sets the conditions in which these stories take place, prayer is the essential action.  In the Jonah story, the sailors pray, each crying to his own god (1:5) and then to Yahweh (1:14).  The captain asks Jonah to pray to his god, but Jonah doesn’t do it (1:6).  Jonah will later pray from the fish’s belly, but the salvation has by then already been accomplished…

Trouble, at least extreme trouble, storm-trouble, strips us to the essentials and reveals the basic reality of our lives.  In Jonah it was prayerlessness…The storm revealed Jonah to be a prophet who did not pray.

Genesis 5

[21] When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. [22] Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. [23] Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. [24] Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

– Genesis 5:21-24

Genesis 5 is a genealogy, a family history from Adam to Noah.  Each generation is described as having lived, fathered a child, and died.  When the pattern is broken, the author of Genesis is drawing our attention to something.

6a00d834890c3553ef01b7c6fb216e970bWhen the genealogy gets to Enoch, we find that he “walked with God” and he did not die, but “God took him” (v. 24).  We are not told any details of Enoch’s life, simply that those who walk with God escape death and are taken by the Lord.

Following the fall, generation after generation succumbed to death.  Enoch is only one man, but he escapes death and gives humanity hope that perhaps there is a way out of the endless cycle of death and destruction.

If nothing else, this would be too good to be true.

Genesis 3

[4] But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. [5] For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [6] So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

– Genesis 3:4-6

In verse 5, the serpent tempts the woman with the prospect of being like God.  Yet man and woman are already like God, made in His very image.  What could the serpent mean?

Eve-and-serpent_christianimagesourceIn Genesis 1, God looked at his work after each day and declared that it was good.  Part of being God is determining what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, what is beautiful and what is ugly.

Satan is essentially saying, you can determine for yourself what good and evil is.  And in verse 6, we see that the woman does.  In Genesis 2, the Lord had told the man and the woman that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would lead to death but she sees it as “good for food,” “a delight to the eyes,” and “desired to make one wise.”

We are not “sinners” because we do awful things like Hitler or Pol Pot.  No, we are aiming to be God, to take His place if it were possible.  What else but death can result from the  rejection of the Giver of Life and disobedience to the One who Defines Reality.

But then what else but life can result from pursuing and following that same God?