1. Created and CommissionedRelated Media
Unlike many secular theories and philosophies about the creation of humanity, Scripture teaches that humanity is a direct and purposeful creation of God. Therefore, humanity, and each person specifically, is not an accident. In Genesis 1-2, the creation story is given. In six days, God created the heavens and the earth and everything within them. On the sixth day, God created humans—both male and female. In Genesis 1:26, God said this:
Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.
Humans being created in the image of God shows that people are created more uniquely and reverently than every other part of creation, including animals, fish, birds, stars, and planets. Certainly, everything that God created demonstrates some aspects of the Creator, but none more so than humans who are the only part of creation said to be made in God’s image. When creating humanity, God planned for them to rule over all the creatures of the earth. Genesis 1:28 says, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.’” Humans are called to fill, subdue, and rule over the earth. Essentially, they were to be God’s vice-regents—ruling the earth under his leadership. Since God created humanity on the last day of creation, made them in the image of God, and commissioned them to rule, they are the pinnacle of creation. Furthermore, in Genesis 2, the text describes in detail God’s creation of man and woman. He creates Adam from the dirt of the ground and breathes life into him; then fashions the woman from Adam’s rib while he was sleeping. With the sun, moon, stars, animals, fish, and birds, their creation is mentioned only in passing. Humanity is the highlight of creation—made in God’s image to rule over it.
What can we learn about humanity from God’s unique creation of them and his commissioning of them?
1. God’s creation and commissioning of humanity reminds us that humans are not God. Unfortunately, the initial temptation which led humanity into sin was to be like God—to be independent of him. In Genesis 3:4-5, Satan said this to the woman, “… Surely you will not die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open and you will be like divine beings who know good and evil.” In fact, throughout history, people have thought that they were God or gods—especially the monarchs of nations and certain people groups. But, God did not create humans to be gods. They were meant to represent God as his image bearers to the rest of creation, but they were never to be worshiped or to seek worship.
2. God’s creation and commissioning of humanity reminds us that humans must obey and submit to God. They are not free to do whatever they want. In fact, though God called humanity to rule the earth, he put a tree in the garden that they were not allowed to eat from—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 2:17, God said, “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.” This was meant to remind humanity that they must submit to God and obey him. Though there was great freedom in serving God, there were some things they were not allowed to do. Humanity was made to obey God.
3. God’s creation and commissioning of humanity reminds us that humans are meant to reproduce as a way of honoring and obeying God. In Genesis 1:28, God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply!” Therefore, consistently throughout Scripture, we see that children are a gift from God and that God desires godly offspring. Psalm 127:3-5 (NIV) says,
Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
Also, Malachi 2:15 (NIV) says,
Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
Children are one of God’s good and perfect gifts to humanity (Jam 1:17). They are meant to continue God’s creation mandate and to contend with the enemy who seeks to pervert God’s ways. The fact that God desires parents to raise “godly offspring” (Mal 2:15 ESV) means that parents must not only reproduce but also disciple their children according to biblical values and help them complete their God-given callings. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Unfortunately, today children are often seen as a burden and, consequently, at times abused, abandoned, or aborted. God’s original commission reminds us that God loves children (cf. Matt 19:13-15), and he wants us to “be fruitful and multiply” as a form of obedience to him (Gen 1:28). Therefore, we should love children as well and consider having many of them as a blessing and a way of honoring God (Ps 127:5, Mal 2:15).
4. God’s creation and commissioning of humanity reminds us that humans are to faithfully steward creation but never worship it. Again, in Genesis 1:28, God said, “Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.” This rulership is specifically seen in how God paraded the animals in front of Adam, and he named them in Genesis 2. Naming reflected his rulership over them and all of creation in general. Psalm 115:16 says, “The heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind.” Therefore, humans should study creation, develop its resources, use them for good, and protect it.
With all that said, for the Jews reading and hearing Genesis 1-2, this would have specifically challenged their worldview. Gentile nations typically worshipped creation, including the sun, moon, stars, and animals. And the Jews who were previously slaves in Egypt had started to do the same. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, they made a golden calf to worship (Ex 32). As they heard Moses teach this in the wilderness, they were challenged to not worship creation, but to instead rule it, cultivate it, and use it as a way of obeying God (cf. Rom 1:21-22).
For us today, God’s creation mandate of faithfully stewarding the earth reminds us of the importance of science—studying creation so we can better understand it and use it—farming—to feed people and animals—and conservation—so we don’t waste our resources. But it also challenges us to not exalt creation over humans. Sadly, at times, people are more upset over the loss of an eagle egg than the fact that around the world millions of human babies are aborted every year. It was never God’s will for creation to be exalted over humans.
5. God’s creation of humanity reminds us that humans are made to glorify God. This is seen in the fact that they were made in God’s image—to reflect and serve him. Isaiah 43:7 says, “everyone who belongs to me, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed—yes, whom I made!” Colossians 1:16 says this about Christ:
for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him—all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers—all things were created through him and for him.
All things were created by Christ, through him, and for him. Therefore, as humans, we must seek to glorify God in how we oversee the earth and, also, in how we use the gifts, skills, and relationships God has given us. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul said, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”
Certainly, as we consider God’s creation of humanity and his purpose in them ruling over the earth, like David in Psalm 8:3-9, we cannot but say:
When I look up at the heavens, which your fingers made, and see the moon and the stars, which you set in place, Of what importance is the human race, that you should notice them? Of what importance is mankind, that you should pay attention to them, and make them a little less than the heavenly beings? You grant mankind honor and majesty; you appoint them to rule over your creation; you have placed everything under their authority, including all the sheep and cattle, as well as the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea and everything that moves through the currents of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is your reputation throughout the earth!
Amen! Thank you, Lord!
- What stood out most in the reading and why?
- What evidences from Genesis 1 and 2 show that humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation and meant to rule over it?
- Does God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” apply to people today? If so, what are some implications of that command?
- How can people practice being faithful stewards over creation?
- In what ways do people at times exalt creation over humans?
- What other questions or applications did you take from the reading?
Copyright © 2021 Gregory Brown
Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.
Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.
All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.
BTG Publishing all rights reserved.