In His Image
Ruling the earth on God’s behalf
By Jared Segerstrom
Last month, we started exploring what it means to be created in the image of God. God created humans differently than He created animals. Because mankind is made in God’s image, every person has inherent dignity and worth.
As we look at scripture, we see that God not only made humans differently than He made the rest of His creation, but He also put humans in charge of His creation.
Immediately after stating that God created humans in His image, the creation account says:
“God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28).
God told Adam to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. He wanted Adam and Eve to have children and care for His creation. God goes on to tell Adam to “have dominion” over every living thing. God gave Adam a specific job: rule the earth on His behalf.
We know from the Bible that God is the ruler over all creation:
“The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).
God is in absolute and complete control over everything that happens on the earth. Another way to say that God is in control is to say that He is sovereign. God, in His goodness and sovereignty, has chosen to manage His creation through humans.
God elaborates on His command for Adam to rule in the following verses:
“God also said, ‘Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This will be food for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth—everything having the breath of life in it—I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day” (Genesis 1:29-31).
Our responsibility to rule includes using the resources of the earth to encourage human flourishing. Have you ever stopped to consider how many careers and activities actually practice God’s command to have authority over creation? Just a few include: farming, gardening, hunting, habitat control, sailing, fishing, flood control, engineering and biology.
“Every time we steward God’s creation and work hard to use it wisely, we are obeying His command to exercise authority over creation.”
As image bearers commissioned by God to rule His earth on His behalf, we should relate to God’s creation properly. That means we should not abuse His creation.
But, at the same time, we must remember that God has put us in authority over creation. Many people in our world worship God’s creation instead of worshipping God. They refuse to rule over creation and instead ascribe plants and animals equal or greater value than humans.
When we care for creation well and rule over it instead of worshipping it, then we are faithfully practicing the image of God.