One of the marks of the inspiration of the Scripture is that even though it consists of sixty-six different books (some quite different), written by approximately forty people, over a period of close to two thousand year years, it is not many stories, but one story. Despite its incredible diversity, there is a transcendent unity that transforms it into a single narrative.
When we think about the overarching story of Scripture, we need to pay close attention and look for things that we haven’t seen before. If the story stays shallow and two-dimensional—so will our faith! The things we’re looking for have always been there. Perhaps they haven’t been noticed or emphasized, but they need to be because they provide the richness, depth, and texture that we need in our faith.
1. God made man to be lord over creation and represent Him.
In Genesis 1:27-28 we are told:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
There are three things here: God, man, and the creation. Man and creation were both made by God. Indeed, man was the pinnacle or God’s creation. Furthermore, man and creation were made to have relationship with each other. That relationship was specified here—the man and woman were to be lords over creation. Yet they were to rule in a way that reflected God. They were to rule as God’s representative. Therefore, imaging God and exercising dominion were not two separate purposes; they were two parts of a single purpose. Man was not just to rule over creation, he was to rule over creation in ways that reflected His Father. It wasn’t just about power; it was about using power in ways that were like God. That’s always been a problem for us, hasn’t it?
2. Man rejected God’s purpose for him.
The lords over creation sadly decided that ruling could be done independent of modeling. Rebellion replaced submission and their purpose replaced God’s.
3. They lost dominion over creation. Disaster followed (how could it not?). Man, who was intended to rule over creation, in many ways will now would ruled by creation. What was given in Genesis 1 would now have to be taken as the ground was cursed, painful toil, sweating brows, and thorns and thistles were promised. It’s important to keep in mind that this estrangement from creation reflects (and was caused by) man’s alienation from God. Man’s fractured relationship with his Father was the fault line for all that went wrong. Still, we’d miss some important elements if we limit the story to simply man and God. We’d have the center of the picture, but we’d miss the background that provides the context and richness.
4. Creation was cursed (enslaved) as part of man’s lost dominion.
Creation now had a giant crack running right through the middle of it where sin and death were leeching in. The cosmos was in chaos. We need to keep in mind the connectedness of all that happened. There was nothing that was isolated or arbitrary. Man’s purpose and creation’s purpose (to be ruled by man) was one. What happened to man happened to creation and what happened to creation happened to man. Creation will reflect the rebellion that has been brought in by its two lords. Everything now stood in need of redemption!