Races of Rulers
Humans aren’t the only creatures blessed with authority.
In Why Did He Come?, I discussed where we’ll be headed for some weeks, looking into a panoramic view of the Gospel. So, where else to begin but Genesis?
Now I’m sure in your mind debates of evolution and such pops into your mind, but that isn’t where we are landing. No. We are turning our attention to authority and those who possess it.
In all of the splendor of Creation seen and unseen() nothing is more exquisite than the “lights” and humanity. The reason I say this is that in the Genesis account, these two entities are given a unique purpose—to rule. Seriously!
14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals[a]and for days and years. 15 They will be lights in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to have dominion over the day and the lesser light to have dominion over the night—as well as the stars. 17 God placed them in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth, 18 to dominate the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.And God saw that it was good. 19 Evening came and then morning: the fourth day.Day Four – Gen. 1:14-19 (HCSB)
24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.Day 6 – Gen. 1:24-31 (HCSB)
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth,[a] and the creatures that crawl[b] on the earth.”
27 So God created man in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.
28 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[c] on the earth.” 29 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 food will be for you, 30 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. 31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.
It is this rule-language that’s the essence of being made in God’s image; to rule in a manner consistent with the Creator, representing him and being his stand-in as it were on earth—his representation (For an external source on the matter, see Michael Heiser: The Image of God and Imaging God).
As evidenced today, humanity dominates the landscape whether riding along in airplanes, building skyscrapers, regulating space for wildlife, etc. But how do stars rule when they’re just giant balls of gas? Well in the greater Ancient Near East (ANE) worldview, the modern scientific observation we have today isn’t the picture given in the Bible; rather these “lights” either are or (in Israelite context) representations of spiritual beings/gods!
So, while humans are given authority to rule over the earth, the heavens—the stuff above the ground—are under the authority of the other beings. What you have are two created beings, both capable of being like their Creator: “lights” and humans.
Next time we’re turning our attention to where the story of the Bible picks up these two creatures interacting with each other in the story of Adam, Eve and the serpent.