As the first couple considered this calling to exercise dominion, the idea of the Kingdom of God as we might think of it was not at all in their minds. This understanding would only precipitate gradually in Scripture, as God unfolded His covenant relationship with His people over the entire course of redemptive history.
Nevertheless, Adam and Eve were given some understanding both of what it meant to exercise dominion and what it would entail. Thus, it is essential that we try to understand, if only in broad outlines, what God intended for Adam and Eve and what they must have understood to be involved in carrying out this dominion calling.
The first Kingdom visionaries
Adam and Eve are the first “Kingdom visionaries” whom we shall consider in this series. We may be more effective in seeking the Kingdom and achieving its powerful realization (1 Cor. 4.20) if we can acquire a better understanding of what the coming of the Kingdom should look like in our lives.
To this end, these studies on Kingdom visionaries will help us to gain a clearer understanding of our own callings within the divine economy.
We turn, therefore, to consider Adam and Eve, our first parents in God’s covenant, the first Kingdom visionaries in Scripture.
As Adam, and, after her creation, Eve, began to reflect on God’s calling to exercise dominion, three general disciplines must have begun to take shape in their minds.
First, they would need to discover the broad parameters of their calling. They had been placed in a garden, filled with creatures and invested with the resources for future development and use. Before they could begin to exercise dominion over the earth, they would first have to discover what exercising dominion meant within the area immediately assigned to them.
That process of discovery entailed many new things: how to relate to, learn from, and help one another; having and raising children; naming the animals; tending to the many and various plants and trees; finding out about minerals hidden in the earth; learning the various ways of harnessing and using flowing water; and so forth. Undoubtedly every day of their lives would have included some work of discovery, of seeking to understand the scope and limits of their dominion calling with respect to the whole of the creation around them.
Second, Adam and Eve would have to master certain skills of development related to each of the areas of discovery. Raising children and keeping animals require different skills. Pruning fruit trees and harvesting vegetables are not quite the same.
While discovery is a function of learning, development is the product of work. Adam’s and Eve’s calling to exercise dominion required both – learning and work – and they would have seen this quite clearly.
The third task is one of maintenance or vigilance: Adam and Eve were to defend the creation against any threat to developing the goodness of God and exercising dominion over the garden. This is the sense of Genesis 2.15, which we can gather from the fact that the same verb, shamar, normally translated “keep”, is used in Genesis 3.24 to describe the action of the cherubim in preventing Adam and Eve returning to the garden.
Thus, in addition to learning and developmental work, the calling to exercise dominion required of these first Kingdom visionaries constant vigilance against anything that might compromise the good purposes of God.
Learning, work, maintaining godly order – What role does each of these tasks paly in your calling as a follower of Christ? How much of your life can you fit under these three categories? Talk with a Christian friend about these questions.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.