In our previous Why Am I Here? (The Answer) daily teaching we saw how, according to to the Genesis account, mankind was created to image God (Gen. 1:26a). But there’s still plenty more to see. So, as we make our way to the ultimate reason for man’s existence we will first continue to survey the opening chapter of God’s Word, looking back to the initial revelation of man’s creation to understand why we are here. We pick up today in the second half of Genesis 1:26.
(2) Mankind was to Exercise Dominion and Stewardship Properly
Immediately after the LORD said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26a), He continued saying,
let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. (vs.26b)
So contextually, there is a sense in which mankind’s dominion was meant to be an outworking of the image of God within man, as well as a reflection of God’s rule. To be clear, dominion does not suggest vicious subjugation. Man was not free to do with the earth whatever he wished. He wasn’t supposed to abuse God’s creation, nor was he supposed to worship it. His vice-regency was meant to reflect the kingship and sovereignty of the One to whom both he and everything else belonged – God.
Man was to “subdue” the creation (Gen. 1:28), tend the garden and keep it (Gen. 2:15), name the animals that God brought before him (vs.19, 20), exercise dominion over the animal kingdom and the earth for the beneficence of man and animal alike (1:26b), and so on. It’s at this point that someone might say, ‘I can see what exercising dominion looked like for Adam (and subsequently Eve) but what does it look like for me?” Generally-speaking, it will involve reflecting God in the way that you and I carry out our respective stewardships. It will look like managing our households well so that they are orderly, well-kept, and hospitable (1 Tim. 3:4,12; 5:14; Titus 2:5). It will look like taking care of the property that the LORD has given to us with dignity, unlike the sluggard of the proverbs (Prov. 24:30,31), using it, in some fashion, for the betterment and service of others. It will look treating the animals under our care with a respect that befits God’s compassion for them (Prov. 12:11; Jonah 4:11). It will look serving others with excellence (Col. 3:24). It will look exercising whatever authority we have – over children, over homes, in churches, within the state, over lands, over employees, etc. – in a manner that befits the God we represent. In short, it will look like exercising God-glorifying, integrity-filled, careful stewardship over the things that God has put under our care.
David thought that the reality of this entrusted dominion was praiseworthy (Ps. 8:6-9). If that reality was praiseworthy for David it should be doubly praiseworthy for us (cf. Heb. 2:5-9), seeing as we know the One to whom all authority has been given (Mt. 28:18) and one day all things will be visibly ‘under the feet’ of the Savior who not only entrusts His people with responsibilities in here-and-now but will share His authority with them when He returns just as He promised (Mt. 19:28; 25:21; 1 Cor. 6:2,3; Rev. 2:26; 3:21; 5:10).
(3) God Created Man to Be Fruitful and Multiply.
Let’s be careful with that statement. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul made it clear that not every person was mandated or called to be married (Mt. 19:12; 1 Cor. 7:7, 32-38). There are those that are given the gift of singleness. So the command that Adam and Eve had to be fruitful and multiply by no means implies that it is a divine imperative for every human being to get married and produce offspring. But with that being said, while it was particularly pertinent for Adam and Eve to bear children and begin the process of populating the earth, it does become clear in later revelation that children are a gift from the LORD (Ps. 127:3) and that He desires a godly offspring (Mal. 2:15). So, in so much as men and women marry and bear children, they are here on this earth as parents to train those children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4), so that from one generation to the next the praiseworthy acts of God might be proclaimed (Ps. 78:4; 145:4).
(4) God Created Man to Worship Him
It would be strange if God had a priority for man above this one. After all, why would God place a priority for His creatures above Himself? He wouldn’t. He is the greatest good; and the greatest good that His creatures can pursue is to love Him with all of their hearts, souls, minds, and strength (cf. Mt. 22:36-38). And I think that this is implicit in the creation narrative. God, we know, created man on day six; but what came next? A day of rest (Gen. 2:2). As becomes clear in later revelation, man was to follow the divine pattern set by God – six days of labor and one day of rest (Ex. 20:9-11). The rest was the not cessation of all activity, as though man could only observe the Sabbath properly by either staying in bed or a stasis pod, it was the cessation of the activities, i.e. the labor, that occupied the prior six days. You could say – the Sabbath was a reminder that God had a greater purpose for man than his work. To put it another way – the climax of the creation week was the sixth day but it was not the goal. Worship was. And, if throughout Israel’s history the Sabbath day was to be a day set aside for rest in God and the worship of God, to use language from Leviticus 23:3 – a day of “solemn rest” and a “holy convocation” among the Israelite dwellings (and eventually local synagogues), should we not think that worship occupied a primary priority in paradise? Fundamentally, then, one of the central reasons for which we exist is to bring to God the worship that He deserves.