ARE WE GOOD OR BAD RULERS OF THE EARTH?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
6 JUNE 1993
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Corinthians 13:11-14
This morning, we are going to look at God's first commission to us: that we are to have rule over the earth. Then we will decide for ourselves the answer to the question, “Are we good or bad rulers of the earth?”
Let's begin way back when God first gave us this commission, on the sixth day of creation, when He had created everything including land animals and Man [humans].
Please turn to Genesis 1:24-30.
24. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures [souls] after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so.
To help us to better understand our commission of dominion over the earth and all that it contains, we should look at the original Hebrew wording of this passage:
24. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the soul of life according to its kind, cattle, and creepers, and its beasts of the earth, according to its kind.
Nowhere in this passage does it refer to creatures, but living souls, neh-fesh hahyawh, the exact same wording by which humans are called.
Has the Bible been deliberately mistranslated, because humans were afraid to admit that other animals also have souls?
Could this have happened because humans have not ruled over the other animal with love and compassion, but rather brutalized them.
25. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
And God saw that it was good that He had made all these different kinds of animals, each individually as a living soul.
It was only after seeing the goodness of His other created beings, that God turned His attention to the creation of Man.
26. Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our Image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
27. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28. And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
When God says to subdue the earth and its other living souls, He does not mean to overpower it or them, for our own selfish uses, but to subdue it from the forces of evil, and this is how the word “subdue” is used every other place in the Hebrew Bible.
Our position of rule is to be a respectful and caring one; one filled with love and compassion for all the goodness God has made.
We are to help every other human and animal have the God given right to enjoy the life God created for them.
We are not to take away any of those rights, as we have done for thousands of years.
And, note that God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness"; in the likeness of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
We were made with the same qualities as God, which means that we should be acting like Him, with at least all the love and compassion exhibited by Jesus; for as He said, "…greater works than these shall he [the believer] do…." (John 14:12)
And to further emphasize this gentleness of rule, and the interaction of all of God's living souls that He created to live together, look at the next two verses and see what God originally intended:
29. Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
30. and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life [which is a living soul], I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so.
God's original intent was that there would be no killing of any kind, neither by people nor animals, for all were to eat plants only.
When we ask for heaven on earth, this, too, is part of that request; and is part of living in the power and dominion of the entire Trinity.
To do otherwise is to fight against the will of God.
Now let's take a look at Psalm 8, and note how God's glory and grace come together in our dominion over all the earth.
1. O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Thy name in all the earth,
Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!
2. From the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established strength,
Because of Thine adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.
Do you notice how God classifies the revengeful people with the enemy?
God will indeed protect us and give us strength, if we rely on Him, but not if we are revengeful. In Hebrews 10:30 the Lord says, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay."
This holding of our peace can only happen if we live in the power of the entire Trinity, and extend that peace to the entire creation, as caretakers.
3. When I consider Thy heavens, the works of Thy fingers,
The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;
4. What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him?
And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?
5. Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God,
And dost crown him with glory and majesty!
We don't live like we are just a little lower than God, do we?
We live like we have thrown away the crowning glory of God, along with our own glory and majesty.
But this need not be, for we have been given so very much more, if we would only reach out and take it, and live it.
6. Thou dost make him [man, us] to rule over the works of Thy hands;
Thou hast put all things under his [our] feet,
7. All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8. The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
9. O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Thy name in all the earth!
So, based on the forgoing, we must ask ourselves a very serious question.
Are we good or bad rulers of the earth?
And for a final note on kingdom living reflect upon 2 Corinthians 13:11-14.
11. Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
12. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
13. All the saints greet you.
14. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Your Comments are welcome
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