Rule Over the Earth? Who, Me?

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We are one-third of the way through a discussion of life’s foundational question: “Why am I alive on the earth today?,” as revealed to us in the creation account in Genesis 1:26-28. Last week we looked at purpose #1 of that three-fold commission: To bear God’s image.” This week, #2:

2.) “Have dominion (rule)…over the earth… and every living thing that moves upon it” (vs.28).

In these verses, God expresses why all descendants of Adam, every person who ever lived, including you and me, were created in the first place. It was to “have dominion,” “rule,” or “establish God’s Kingdom” over His newly-formed earth and all it contains.

God was not deterred or dissuaded by Satan’s attempted derailment of His master plan at the Fall in the Garden. That was simply a God-ordained, temporary detour that necessitated Jesus coming to earth to show us, in living color at the cross, what our rule will be like!  

The word “rule“ means “supreme authority, sovereignty, absolute ownership” (Merriam-Webster dictionary). In other words, God has commissioned us and given us the power to have dominion over “the earth and every living thing that moves upon it.”

WHO? Yes, we are to rule over every living creature: “…over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 

Interestingly, our rule does not include ruling over other human beings as individuals. That’s because humans all were created to rule with us (as individuals) in this Kingdom, never are they to rule over us (as individuals). This means husbands never rule over wives, employers over employees, nor governments over citizens. Notice the specific list of what we are to rule over is mentioned in the above quote, and it includes all birds, fish and earth-bound animals only. No human beings are mentioned.  

WHERE? Even though humans are not to be ruled over directly and absolutely—like slaves—there are institutions, organizations, and associations in this kingdom over which God gives us rule. For example, 1 Timothy 3:4 describes an elder in the church as one “who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence.” Men, therefore, rule over their families, with their wives’ assistance. 

Likewise, churches, civil government, the marketplace and other associations have enforced laws that those in these groupings must follow in order to belong. These laws do not apply to the individual apart from that association, so the individual is not ruled over personally as a separate entity, but voluntarily, as a member of the group. These associations are always voluntary. 

HOW? We have the eye-witness accounts in the Bible of this human rule being applied by the perfect human model—Jesus Chrst, the God-Man Himself. He stood firm, never budging from standing for the truth of the law of God, yet always with love and compassion, even saying from the cross as His killers murdered Him, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus is the perfect model for us as we learn to rule over the earth.

As we express the rule of God in these institutions, the Lord’s Prayer is answered: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on the earth as it is in Heaven!” (Matthew 6:10). His Kingdom is extended wherever His law is kept..

WHAT? However, unlike Jesus, the vehicle we use in every one of these situations (family, church, civil government, etc.) with which we extend God’s Kingdom over the earth as His representatives, is NOT exclusively the law of God!

John 1:17 tells us why: “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The Law of God is different from the Truth of God. The Law of God was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai some 1500 years before the cross, during which time God was a God of judgment. It reflects His perfect Law that demanded retribution for failing to keep it. 

On the other hand, The Truth of God is the Law of God accompanied by the Grace of God, poured out on us at the cross, and then through us on those over whom we are ruling—by God’s Law! 

Distinguishing between the Law of God and the Truth of God is mind-blowing, but the above-quoted John 1:17 makes it a distinction that is impossible to ignore. Without the grace of God filling and flowing forth from the one exercising rule, the law of God is a legalistic cudgel, becoming the “law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).

The Apostle John is the apostle of The Truth, He uses the word “Truth” 27 times; in the three Synoptic Gospels it appears 11 times. John’s treatment of the topic in his epistle of First John is a masterpiece.. He lays out, systematically, the main characteristic of a natural, spontaneous and unconscious ruler in the Kingdom of God. That’s for next week.

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