The Creation Mandate or Caretakers of the Planet
Be fruitful and multiply. This command isn’t very specific. It’s sort of like the Vulcan greeting: Live long and prosper. The creation mandate is very general in its address. But peering into it gives us insight into the heart of God since it shows us what He had in mind for mankind before the fall.
Before we read about the intricacies of the creation of man, woman, and the planting of the garden of Eden in Genesis chapter 2, we read about the story in general terms in Genesis chapter 1. The creation of male and female occurs in the same thought. So the creation mandate is given both to male and female. Since there was no garden of Eden revealed in this account, the command to have dominion over the earth cannot be limited to the garden of Eden alone.
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.
The command to have children in order to fill the earth is directly related to subduing the earth. God’s plan for mankind to subdue the earth was to occur through the human race populating the entire scope of the planet. God created the earth to be inhabited by mankind and dominated by mankind. Man cannot rule the entire world without populating it.
Have dominion over the fish, the birds, and every living thing on the earth.
This command is for the human race as a whole. It anticipates the population of the earth by the first man and woman. The establishment of the human race as a whole was the reason God created the earth and everything in it. God wanted to have beings in His likeness dominating the entire scope of His creation on planet earth.
I have given you every plant, tree, and fruit for food.
God’s plan for the human race was for them to eat the fruit of the earth. As they go forth populating and dominating, they are also to eat food. The food that they are to eat, God has already created in the grand scheme of creation.
Every land animal and bird has been given the plants for food as well.
There doesn’t seem to be any command to mankind here, but it must play an important role in mankind having dominion over the earth. Dominion, as we will see later, is not simply having authority over, but caretaking as well. Mankind was not called to just be the boss of planet earth, but to tend it, nourish it, and provide for the well being of it. I use the term planet earth to mean the planet proper, and all life forms on it. Nature would be a good word to use here. Nature belongs to mankind to care for.
God’s entire program for the human race included a system which would be ruled by mankind. The system would operate with plants growing to feed all humans, land animals, and birds. Since mankind is in charge, it is their responsibility to ensure that each living creature has enough food. As mankind populates and spreads out through the earth, dominion will be asserted over new places. Mankind’s role could be described as “caretakers of the planet”.
How did the fall change things?
Is this creation mandate negated by the introduction of sin within the human race? Do we as humans no longer have responsibility to take care of this natural system established by God since sin came into the world? I think we can address the issue by asking two questions. #1- Do humans still have the place of dominion over the earth, or does it belong to some other entity? #2- Did God know that the fall would happen or did it take Him by surprise?
Depending on how you answer these two questions, you will come up with your theology regarding the care of the planet. Just think – it all goes back to the beginning. #1- The fall introduced the influence of the devil over mankind. But the devil’s influence is negated unless he has sinful mankind to work through. So even in light of the devil, the dominion still belongs to man. The fall also introduced God’s plan to redeem mankind. But the redemption will be brought about by the man Jesus Christ. So the future plan of redemption also belongs to man (the ultimate man) through Jesus and all who belong to Jesus. #2- I don’t ascribe to open theism. God knew in advance what His creation would choose. His mandate still stands as His plan for mankind.
God’s plan to redeem mankind must include the restoration of the natural order as originally intended in the creation mandate. God still intends for the planet earth to be inhabited and dominated by the human race. He still intends for mankind to be the “caretakers of the planet”. Christians should be prime examples of treating this earth well. The reasons why are not because we believe in “mother earth” or because we believe in converting people through a social gospel or because we deny a future judgement; but because God set in motion a divine decree at the beginning of creation for us to obey.
As a Pre-Millennialist, I see the Millennial Kingdom as a step in restoring this planet to its rightful owners, the human race. But not just any humans, the man Jesus Christ and all who belong to Him will be the rulers of this world. God had plans for this planet at the beginning of creation and that hasn’t changed a bit. He still intends to fulfill the creation mandate even with the entrance of sin into the world. The establishment of the nation of Israel as the centerpiece of the Millennial Kingdom must be understood in light of the creation mandate. Israel will have the responsibility to care for the planet since all dominion will reside in Jerusalem.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman