Friday, February 05, 2016

Reflection on Genesis 1: Our Place in the World

When God fashioned the world, he created something initially that was formless and void, or a vast wasteland.  Then, God brought order to all of that primordial stuff.  After creating the firmament, he place stars, the sun, and the moon in it.  He said it was for signs, seasons, and years.  He also said the greater and lesser lights were to "govern" or "have dominion" the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness.

When God created man, he instructs that man is also to have dominion.  But man's dominion is to be over the sea, the things the fly in the sky, and the things that roam on the earth.  As the functionaries in the firmament bring order, beauty, and goodness there, so men, God's functionaries on the earth, is to bring order, beauty, and goodness on the earth by exercising dominion over the earth. 

Some have pulled an ecological message out of this, understanding that we need to be caretakers of the earths' resources and its wildlife.  In exploiting the earth's resources, we need to do so responsibly and with care.  While there seems to be some of this in inherent in God's design, it doesn't seem to be the main thrust of what "dominion" means to man.  The next chapter and the remainder of the Bible is focused on man, not the environment.  The next chapter shows how God instituted the very first social institution, which is marriage and family.  It seems that governing, or exercising dominion has to do not mainly with ecological order, but with social order.  Whether it is marriage, family, governance, social contracts, exchange of goods, etc., there is a design for governance from the designer.  When that design is honored, things tend to work well to his glory.  When that design is ignored, disorder, ugliness, violence, and death usually follow. 

When I look up, and consider the sun, moon, and stars, I will be reminded of these things.  The sun faithfully governs the day as the moon does the nights.  The stars twinkle in the heavens and give guidance to travelers.  The seasons faithfully come and go.  These functionaries in the heavens provide order, beauty, and goodness as they faithfully perform their governing functions to the glory of God.

How do we, as God's functionary on the earth, perform our governing function?  Unlike what we see giving it's light in the heavens, we give a different kind of light.  The text says that we have been created in the image of God.  Our light is not for seasons, years, day and night, but for a different kind of order and beauty.  Our light illuminates the beauty of righteousness, virtue, holiness, and love.  These things are designed by God to be part of the foundation for our marriages, our families, and our social institutions.  As the heavens submit to God's design for their governance and bring goodness and beauty to the heavens, so we, when we submit to God's design in our governance here on earth, bring goodness and beauty to the earth that God has created for his glory.

Prayer:  Lord, may our hearts be humble and submissive.  May we look to your instructions and commandments in ordering our lives.  May we truly understand true beauty, goodness, and holiness from you, our creator and designer.  May we be reminded that all of this belongs to you, and that we are here to serve your purposes.  May we be submissive to you, holy, righteous, virtuous, loving, and kind.   Please forgive us when we, in our pride, forget all of this.  Please pardon our sins according to the grace you have shown in Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord.  In his name…AMEN.

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