God created Adam and Eve in a “good” world (Gen. 1.31), and His appointment to them to be fruitful and multiply and to exercise dominion over the creation was aimed at their developing and increasing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
In order to fulfill their appointed calling, Adam and Eve understood they would have to commit to learning, working in and on their environment, and defending their assigned mission field against whatever might undermine their dominion efforts and compromise the good purposes of God.
But what vision must have captured their minds as they set about these tasks in those first days, prior to the fall?
A vision of dominion
What could Adam and Eve “see”, in their minds? What did they talk about as being the likely outcome from their learning, working, and defending the garden? As they pursued the disciplines of discovery, development, and defense, what were the primary objectives? What did they “see” as the fruit of their exercising dominion?
We can, of course, only speculate on such questions, but this much, at least, was probably part of their dominion vision:
- Many offspring to help them improve and extend the garden and its goodness, until enough children had been born, raised, and engaged in the work of having dominion that the entire earth – and they could have had no sense of its dimensions – would become a garden before the Lord.
- A peaceable, orderly, joyful, and fruitful existence in cooperation with all the creatures of the garden, both plants and animals, for the mutual benefit and enrichment of rulers and ruled alike.
- Discovery and development of many unseen wonders and powers (minerals, flowing rivers) and whatever might be made from them to adorn the garden and delight its keepers – that is, they must have had some idea of culture, of the making of things useful and beautiful to assist them in their calling.
- Continuous and deepening resort to divine blessing, to the presence and guidance of God, to help them in their work and to nurture and develop them in their relationships, roles, and responsibilities.
Had Adam and Eve been able to keep this vision in mind, and to be guided by it, the calamity of the fall might never have occurred.
A continuing call and idea
Yet, even after the fall, we see the idea of dominion still at work in the first couple. The entry of sin into their lives, and through them, to the creation itself, did not cancel or nullify the idea of dominion. Adam and Eve continued to work the ground, beget and raise children, teach the story of their creation and fall, and guide their offspring in making culture and seeking the Lord through worship.
This sense or “seed” of the dominion calling remained in them by virtue of their being the image-bearers of God and of His having redeemed them graciously from their transgression. They bore the stain and effects of sin in their bodies; however, renewed in their souls and restored to the blessing of God, they immediately took up the tasks of dominion, pursuing God’s original intention for them, according to His ongoing command and promise, and in spite of the obstacles created by their fallen condition.
From these first Kingdom visionaries, therefore we may learn (1) what are the tasks of dominion: discovery, development, and defense of the creation; (2) that staying within the blessing and Word of God is the only secure place for exercising dominion; (3) and that no obstacle, hindrance, or threat from the fallen world or our own sin must be allowed to keep us from seeking to exercise dominion over the creation and to pass that calling on to subsequent generations.
We are faithful to God and to our first covenant parents when we embrace the idea of dominion as they did and make it part of our daily experience in the Lord.
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.