Genesis Creation Days: Kings and Kingdoms
Many people naturally think of the length of creation when Genesis comes to mind, and I don’t think we should avoid such conversations but when you look back over the creation days with the 100,000 ft. view an interesting point is made. Notice that on days 1-3 God made the kingdoms of the earth: sky, sea, and land. Notice also that on days 4-6 God made the kings that would rule over those specific kingdoms: birds, fish, man. Then after making the various kingdoms with their respective kings we see God, the true King over all resting from His labor on day 7.
This point is important to note simply because when one is so focused on how long creation took you miss the intention and specific ordering of the text itself, which is to show you the King resting after His labor.
Genesis 1:26-28 – The Image of God and the Dominion Mandate
It is my opinion that missionary work received it’s call into existence not in Matthew 28:19-20 but in Genesis 1:26-28. Missions is more than a NT idea. I believe that we’re given the full picture of missions in Genesis 1.
Some people call Genesis 1:28 the ‘Cultural Mandate’ while others call it the ‘Dominion Mandate.’ The name doesn’t matter here, what does matter is what Adam was told to do in this mandate. 1:26-28 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
In this mandate Adam was commanded to do 4 things:
1) Fill the earth with the image of God through procreation
2) Subdue the earth
3) Exercise authority and dominion over the creation
4) Accomplish these tasks with the assistance of his helpmate, Eve.
Now we know how Adam did don’t we? In all these things the he failed. Remember what the serpent said? “You will be like God if you eat this fruit.” He wanted it, and grabbed it, and proved to be disobedient. Through this sin Adam tried to grasp equality with God by grasping for the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
Now, you may think that the Mandate may have disappeared after Adam, but it didn’t. Listen to what Noah was told by God in Genesis 9:1-2, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given.” Did you hear that? All the same elements from Adam’s mandate are back in Noah’s mandate. Now the question turns to: Did Noah fulfill all these things? Not fully, because of the actions of his son Ham (who was the father of Canaan). Because of what Ham did, Noah cursed Ham’s son Canaan for his actions; and blessed his other sons Shem and Japheth.
After Noah, we read of Noah’s descendants, the incident at Babel, and then Abraham. And with Abraham we see a dynamic turn of events. Remember Adam and Noah were given commands in Genesis 1:28 and 9:1-2 while Abraham receives something else. God didn’t tell Abraham to do certain things like He told Adam and Noah. Rather, Abraham (who was known as Abram at the time) was given a promise, not a command. God told him that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand of the seashore, and that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed. To confirm this covenant promise, in Genesis 15 God has Abraham cut an animal in two pieces, so that the two could walk through to confirm the covenant. In that day, this is how you formed a treaty/covenant. You would cut an animal in two and walk through the pieces together. This would symbolize the binding oath between two parties by stating, “If either one of us breaks this covenant, what has been done to this animal will be done to me.” After Abraham prepared the animals, God did something unexpected. He caused a deep sleep to come over Abraham, and then God alone walked through the animal parts. Why did God do this? He wanted to show Abraham that this covenant did not depend on his own actions, but on His own. And more so, if either party, God or Abraham breaks the covenant, the curse of the covenant would fall upon God alone. This is called a self-malecdictory oath. Can you see how rich the OT is with the gospel? We know that Israel broke this covenant with God, and God kept His Word by causing the curses of the covenant to land on His Son in full measure. God killed His Son because His people did not keep the covenant.
But let’s back up and ask a broader question: Why did God give a command to Adam and Noah, and give a promise to Abraham? Why the change? I think God still had Gen. 1:28 in mind. I think that God was planning to display the fulfillment of Gen. 1:28 through the obedience of His Son. Follow me, I just said that Jesus is now fulfilling Gen. 1:28, we need to ask how did He is doing this?
Remember, Adam was commanded to do 4 things. 1) Fill the earth with the image of God through procreation, 2) Subdue the earth, 3) Exercise authority over the creation, 4) Accomplish these tasks with the assistance of his helpmate, Eve. Adam failed to do these things, and so did Noah. But where these two failed, the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, succeeded. Follow me now:
1) The first Adam failed to fill the earth with the image of God by procreation with his wife Eve. But the last Adam, Jesus, is now filling the earth with the image of God, not by procreation, but by making new creations out of us. When someone is made a new creation in Christ, they begin to be conformed more and more to His image, the image of Christ, and Christ is Himself the image of God. Therefore Jesus is filling the earth with the image of God by making new creations out of people through the gospel. Because the first Adam was created in the image of God and the second Adam, Jesus Christ, is the image of God, then the overall message of Scripture is that though man was made in the image of God and lost it through the fall, the image of God will be restored to fallen man through the work of the second Adam. Thus, when we talk of man being created in the image of God we cannot stop in Genesis we must move forward into the rest of Scripture to see the One who is the very image of God Himself. Anyone have Hebrews 1:1-3 in mind? “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the Heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” Lesson? The triune God created man, male and female, in His image. That God did this and placed mankind in His world to rule over creation was a declaration that the triune God ruled over creation. That man is made in the image of God shows that both male and female possess many of the qualities of God, reflecting God’s own character. Because the fall took place, this image of God in man was marred, and in made complete when we become new creations in Christ, who is Himself the very image of God.
Christ as the image of God means that the image of Christ defines what man is truly supposed to be, He is indeed the Perfect Man. Yes, both Adam was and Jesus is the image of God but one was created while the other always has been the uncreated image of God. To look at Christ, the image of God, is to see what man is truly supposed to be like.
Christ as the image of God also means the image of Christ is the goal of mans redemption. Think Romans 8:29 here, “Those whom God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” The goal of a Christians sanctification therefore is Christ-likeness. Anthony Hoekema once said, “Since Christ is God’s perfect image, likeness to Christ will also mean likeness to God. This perfect likeness to Christ and to God is the ultimate goal of our sanctification. John Calvin said in two ways: one quote says, “All that we lost in Adam we regain in Christ.” Another quote says this, “The beginning of our recovery of salvation is in that restoration which we obtain through Christ who also is called the Second Adam for the reason that He restores us to the true and complete integrity.”
2) The first Adam failed to subdue and exercise authority over the earth, but who is it that the NT says has all authority in heaven and on earth to do whatever He pleases? The Last Adam, Jesus. Jesus is obedient where Adam was disobedient. The first Adam failed when he tried to grasp equality with God by grasping the fruit. But the Last Adam, the true Son of Man, Jesus, was equal with the Father and yet He didn’t use His equality with God to save Him from the cross, but He willingly went to it, as Phil 2:6-8 gloriously states, “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped (like Adam did), but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” In the disobedience and failure of the 1st Adam, we see how glorious the obedience and humble submission of Jesus is.
3) Lastly, we come back to missions. The first Adam failed to use his helpmate Eve to accomplish the tasks assigned to him in the mandate. But Jesus didn’t fail as Adam did. Jesus, the last Adam has a helpmate as well. I hope by now you can see that Adam was a type of Christ, what is rarely mentioned along side of this is that Eve as Adam’s helpmate is a type (or foreshadow) of the Church. As Eve was Adam’s helpmate, the Church is Jesus’ helpmate. Jesus is now using His helpmate, the Church, to accomplish this work on earth. It is through the Church that Jesus saves people and forms them more and more into His image. So when missions happens, people are saved, when people are saved, they begin to grow into the image of Christ more and more. Jesus is the image of the invisible God, so those growing Christians, are growing in the image of God, and when those Christians go on missions they are spreading the image of God by sharing the gospel in word and deed!
Thus we have missions, fully developed in the Dominion Mandate of Gen. 1:28. Jesus, as the last Adam, is using His helpmate, the Church, to spread His image around the world, by bringing men and women from every tribe, nation, tongue, and language to treasure Himself above all things among all the peoples of the world. Adam points to Jesus, Eve points to the Church, and God is the main actor in all of it!
Notice that this mandate was given before the fall of man? What does that tell us? Jesus fulfilling the Dominion Mandate, by sending His helpmate, the Church, around the world with the gospel, was plan A, not plan B. Too many people think that Jesus was merely God’s answer to the problem of sin (as if God didn’t know what to do and asked Jesus to solve this problem for Him). Wrong. Jesus is not only an answer to a problem, Jesus was always in view, He was present and planned Gen. 1:28 to be written so we would get a preview of missions. Don’t get me wrong here. Matthew 28 is a great place to preach and think on missions. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” I’m just saying that Matthew 28 exists, because of Gen. 1:28! So, if you’re doing missions to any degree, you are Jesus’ helpmate, spreading the image of God throughout the world, through the gospel. You are part of a plan that is not NT only, but a plan that goes back from the foundation of world! When you do missions, you’re part of plan A.
In conclusion: as a type of Christ and the image of God Adam was the first prophet, priest, and king, but by rebelling against God we look to another Adam, the Second and Last Adam Jesus Christ to make us right with God. The difference between Adam and Christ is the reason Genesis 1-3 exists, and to see this closer, we must take a look at the setting Adam was placed – the garden.
That, Lord willing, we’ll cover next week.