Subdue or be Subdued?

Gen 1:28  And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 

I attended a conference today which continues tomorrow. The presenter was working through Genesis and how he evangelises prison inmates using the first 3 chapters, showing how God was at work in the chaos right from the very beginning, and then relates to them by showing them how God is at work in the chaos of their own life.

A number of light bulbs went on. One of them was to do with this passage and how it fits within the context of the whole narrative of the Pentateuch. Moses was telling the Israelites their story. They had come out of Egypt, and in many ways they wanted to return to the vomit from which they were rescued. I believe the context of this passage is to speak directly into the issue of idolatry. Moses tackled all of the Egyptian God’s. Proving that the one and only true God is the one and only true God.

The Egyptians worshiped nature gods. Gods of the sea, land, heavens and animal life. In the process of their worship, they became subjugated under those creations. But, in this passage, the author is stating that the only one they were to be subjugated to, was the creator and not the created. 

This is what idolatry does – it subjugates us into bondage to things that shouldn’t.

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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3 Responses to Subdue or be Subdued?

  1. tildeb says:

    I always worry when the notion of living in balance with nature, in a sustainable way, is somehow inadequate, that we are supposedly commanded to dominate it because we believe we are in charge or given a superior position or have a greater right to its resources than what it can continue to provide. This is a recipe for disaster on a global scale.

    In addition, the notion of multiplying beyond a balanced, stable, and sustainable population is sheer and utter folly because we must reach a tipping point where the drain on the environment – to meet even our most basic needs for water, air, food, shelter, and clothing – plus our enabling technologies are inadequate to meet these exponential demands. There is no better root cause for unmitigated human suffering than the creation of unsustainable living conditions to breed poverty, hunger, mass migration, conflict, and disease.

    When we assign piety to such foolish faith-based assumptions to drive policies like dominion over nature and population expansion and endow these with a sense of holiness and sanctity, we are very much a significant part of causing suffering. We stupidly deepen these fundamental problems by convincing ourselves that we are right to do so.

    Well, we’re not right… regardless of the beliefs that infuse this self-destructive urge to continue to abuse the environment that sustains us.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Subduing and having dominion over the earth doesn’t mean to rape and pillage…though many have understood it to mean exactly that. Within the context of the Biblical literature this passage is talking about don’t come under the authority of idols. Elsewhere, the Scriptures go into much detail about how to care for the land, take care of their livestock, which is really profound for the culture of the day, and even now, the idea of giving our land a rest and the rotation of paddocks / fields is being considered a new thing for agriculture…yet Scripture tells us its a good thing to do.

      • Craig Benno says:

        I have a farming and horticultural background. Caring for the land, looking after livestock, sustainable agriculture has / is a real passion of mine.

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