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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The Image of God

Genesis 1:26a

[26] Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…

Man and woman are made in the image and likeness of God.  When our children look like us we are proud.  We may feel differently if a pigeon or a ferret resemble us, yet despite the infinite distance between us, God chooses to make man in His own image.

No other creature is made in the image of God.  Lions are regal and powerful, but they are not made in God’s image.  Eagles are majestic and graceful, but they are not made in God’s image.  Angels never grow old and have a glory that causes people who see them to bow, but even they are not made in the image of God.  There is a special value to humanity.

Everyone does not agree on this point.  PETA President Ingrid Newkirk once said, “When it comes to feelings like hunger, pain, and joy, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.”  I’d imagine her intention was to increase the value of animals, but a statement like this instead ends up devaluing human beings.

In Genesis 9:6, God says “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”  The value of human life is directly related to the fact that man is created in God’s image.  When we believe humans have no special dignity – that we are simply a mass of cells or an accident of evolution – human life means very little.

And we see the fruit of this.  In our world, more than a million children are victims of sex-trafficking every year.  The leading cause of death in America is not heart disease, but abortion.  In America alone, one million children are killed in the womb every year.

A little boy or little girl is not a pig or a rat, but the crowning achievement of God’s creation.  When one person repents, all of heaven rejoices.  The value of human life and the human soul is immeasurable, for all people are made in the very image of God.

Created

Genesis 1:26-27

[26] Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. 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.”

[27] So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

There are many, diverse opinions on the true nature of the human race.  Depending on who you ask, we are either godlike beings who will bring in a utopian society or we are like locusts or a virus, selfishly destroying everything.

This passage says we are neither.  Men and women were made by God, not creators but created.  Men and women are made in the image of God, not a virus but privileged above all other creatures.

Creation

Unlocking the Bible: Creation (Genesis 1)
Colin Smith

Imagine nothing. It’s almost impossible. But before the creation there was nothing, except God. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

In schools, we challenge our children’s creativity by giving them materials to work with: ‘See what you can do with this,’ we say. But there were no materials for God to work with in shaping the universe. He created all that exists out of nothing, and He sustains the universe by His own power.

Take a fresh look at what God has created today. Look at the sky; it proclaims the work of God’s hands. Listen to the birds; they testify to God’s gentle care. Every snowflake bears witness to His majesty. Every sunrise speaks of His faithfulness.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard, (Psalm 19:1-3).

Link: Complete Blog Post

Good Guys and Bad Guys

Why Johnny Can’t Preach
T. David Gordon

Many people love to live in their imagined and self-made world of good guys and bad guys, to be reminded that there are good people and bad people and that they are screen-shot-2013-06-19-at-11-10-56-pmamong the good.

What’s wrong with our culture and every culture, and all human culture since Genesis 3, is that all of us (not some of us) in Adam have revolted against the reign of God, and that each of us (not some of us) prefers his own will to the will of God.  Worse, we are utterly incapable, in and of ourselves, of changing.  The government cannot change us or rescue us from our revolt; education cannot enlighten our darkened minds; not even the church can deliver us from our darkened understanding that considers our own way better than God’s way; and surely coercive human governments cannot cure souls.  Only the God-man, the last Adam, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice and present intercession at the right hand of God, can rescue any of us from our revolt.

Genesis 22

[1] After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” [2] He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” [3] So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. [4] On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. [5] Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” [6] And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. [7] And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” [8] Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. 

– Genesis 22:1-8

The Lord instructs Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Isaac was miraculously born to Abraham when he was 100 years old. He is very much the son whom Abraham loves. Yet Abraham obediently takes his son to Mount Moriah and prepares to sacrifice him there.

juan_de_valdes_leal_-_the_sacrifice_of_isaac_-_wga24224But why?  Is Abraham just resigned to the fact that he has to obey God since He’s God? Abraham is aware that Isaac is a gift directly from the Lord. Perhaps, he reminds himself of Job’s words: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21b).

I believe Abraham is not driven by resignation, but by hope. Prior to Isaac’s birth, the following exchange between Abraham and God took place in Genesis 17:18-19:

[18] And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” [19] God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.

Abraham remembers the promise of God. He knows that God can be trusted. Abraham does not know how God can establish a covenant with Isaac if he is dead.  Abraham does not know how God can establish an everlasting covenant with Isaac’s offspring if Isaac passes away before he even has any offspring.  But Abraham knows that God is not a liar and He will do what He says.  Perhaps God will raise Isaac from the dead.  Perhaps God will provide a sacrificial lamb.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how God does it, but He is certain to fulfill every word.

Genesis 21

[1] The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. [2] And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. [3] Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. [4] And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. [5] Abraham was a hundred years old when his isaac3son Isaac was born to him. [6] And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” [7] And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

– Genesis 21:1-7

In Genesis 18, the Lord promised Abraham that Sarah would bear him a son. At 89 years old, Sarah found the whole idea ridiculous and laughed to herself. In remembrance of this incident, Abraham and Sarah name their miraculous child, Isaac, which means “he laughs.” Sarah declares that God has made laughter for her and all who hear of it will laugh as well. The goodness of God to his people is ridiculous. His promises are beyond too good to be true.  May we consider how many times He has been better to us than we would ever have imagined.

Genesis 20

[1] From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. [2] And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. [3] But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” [4] Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? [5] Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” [6] Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. [7] Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” …

[17] Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children.

– Genesis 20:1-7, 17

Abraham travels to the Negeb.  He has followed the Lord many years and trusted Him.  Abraham believes in the promises of God.  But he is afraid.  He says that Sarah is his sister, putting his wife as well as the people of the Negeb in danger.  Though he is the one who lies, Abraham’s prayer for Abimelech and his household is effective.  Amazingly, God uses the prayers of this fearful man.

We, too, can be used despite our fear and sin.  But it is best if we can put aside our doubts.  If we do not trust in the Lord’s provision, then most of our prayers and actions will be self-centered.  Our thoughts will be on ourselves and our worship will be distracted.  God is patient and will walk with us, but may we desire to be free to follow Him sooner than later.

Genesis 19

[1] The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth [2] and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the 00010353night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” [3] But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

[4] But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. [5] And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” [6] Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, [7] and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.”

– Genesis 19:1-7

The angels who had previously been hosted by Abraham come to Sodom, and Lot insists that they stay with him.  Lot more or less repeats the generous hospitality of his uncle, Abraham.  However, that evening, the men of the city arrive, acting in the exact opposite fashion and intending to abuse the visitors.

Lot is by no means perfect but he understands Ancient Near Eastern customs and to some degree understands the God of Abraham.  This God welcomes strangers.

Romans 5:8 tells us, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus comes for those who are far off.  To those who He once did not know, He makes children of God.

Genesis 18

[20] Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, [21] I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.” [22] So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. [23] 18.2.1Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? [24] Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? [25] Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” [26] And the LORD said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” [27] Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. [28] Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” [29] Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” [30] Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” [31] He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” [32] Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” [33] And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

– Genesis 18:20-33

The Lord reveals to Abraham that He will go down to Sodom and Gomorrah to see if their wickedness is as great as He has heard.  Abraham pleads with the Lord to spare the city, first on behalf of fifty righteous persons, but ultimately for the sake of ten.  Abraham’s intercession is both compassionate and wrongheaded.

As the reader of Genesis soon finds, not even ten righteous people are to be found in these large cities, and God rains judgment on them.  This is tragic, disappointing, and unsurprising.  On the objective scale of a Holy God, “none is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10-11).

We cannot ask that God would spare the world for the sake of ten righteous people; they will not be found.  But, thankfully, we can plead that God would spare the world for the sake of His glory and for the sake of His Son.  We can call on God to be who He is: gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.  We can plead the precious blood of Christ, which is powerful enough to wash away sin and redeem a lost world.