Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according
to Our likeness; 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."
Did you know that "Adam"
is the Hebrew word for "man?" God named the first man "Man"— kind of
like Tarzan in the old movies calling his son Boy! The Lord, however,
didn’t do it because of a limited vocabulary; He had a purpose in mind.
He wanted Adam to be the ideal man, the epitome of manhood, the role
model for all the generations to come. And prior to the entrance of sin,
and even to a great degree after that, Adam really was the prototype of
the perfect man. If we look at the original man, and God’s purposes for
him, we may discover what God intends for all of us, even though we may
live 6000 years after Adam.
The original man was created to be in dominion over
something… let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the
birds of the air, and over the cattle, etc. Man is not happy unless
he's ruling. By the way, this is also true of women—in the next two
verses God commands both male and female to "fill the earth and subdue
it"—but the domination instinct is probably even more prevalent in the
First of all, God created you to be in control of your
own life. You’re not supposed to be the victim of circumstances, you’re
not to allow yourself to get out of control; you shouldn’t get addicted
to drugs, alcohol, and other substances or habits that bring you into
bondage—you’re supposed to be in dominion, in control in the healthy
sense. You’ll never be truly happy, fulfilled, unless you’re in
dominion, gradually bringing your life into submission.
Furthermore, man wasn’t created to be somebody else’s
flunky—a servant, or a despised employee. These kinds of relationships
often have the effect of emasculating one man while building up the ego
of another. Today, the man may be controlled and dominated by a number
of various entities: the government, his supervisor at work, a woman, or
even a strong-willed child that he’s too sentimental to discipline.
Some people, of course, get a kick out of humiliating
others—it seems to reinforce their own manhood. This is testosterone out
of control—a man with no dominion over himself, trying to mask it by
taking dominion over others. This is the sort of man who picks fights at
the bar, especially with those he judges least likely to put up serious
resistance. This is not an example of true masculinity here—the healthy
protector instinct mentioned in the last chapter—but, rather, a deep
sense of insecurity, failure, and the resultant cover-up actions.
Biblical society was largely agricultural—each
Israelite worked his own piece of land, and prospered according to his
own wisdom and industry. There were small villages where a few families
practiced specialized trades like shoemaking, flour milling, shoeing
horses, and the like—but these tradesmen were also self-employed. Nobody
was their boss. In the Millennium, after Christ returns to earth and
sets up the visible Kingdom of God, the Bible says, "They shall not
build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat," (Isa
65:22). In other words, God is going to return the earth to the old
system of raising your own produce, working for yourself, rather than
our present arrangement of employer and employee. God’s perfect will for
the man is to be his own boss, to be in dominion of his own life.
The Industrial Revolution changed all that, and many
men plod hopelessly to work each morning, having long since sacrificed
their personal dignity and pride, daily buckling under the thumb,
perhaps, of an unreasonable boss or foreman, making money for somebody
else, and paying union dues to insure that their benefactor is forced to
pay a decent wage.
A Balancing Note
According to our text from Genesis, man is created to
be in dominion, in authority, the ruler of his own domain. The catch is,
in order to be in authority you must also be under
authority. If you break away from your head, then you lose your
authority. Man’s rulership of his own home is a biblical responsibility,
but he only has the right to exercise it if he’s submitted to God—and,
within reason, to God’s authorities on earth, because God Himself rules
through delegated authorities.
Somebody has to be able to at least offer advice, and
approve or disapprove of the way you handle your authority. In
Christian circles, this function is generally exercised by the pastor
and elders of the church. They don’t have the right to run your life and
make your decisions for you, but they are a source to turn to in time of
need—a balance to the authority you might otherwise abuse if you had no
accountability outside your own home. A Christian woman
understandably dubious of submitting to a husband who is not in
Is Bigger Really
When we talk about dominion, we need to address the
subject of bigness—man’s preoccupation with having something bigger
(therefore presumably better) than his fellow man. Just how much
dominion was man originally intended to have? How big was his sphere of
influence? Well, Adam was in dominion of a garden!
In a general sense, mankind is in dominion over all
the fish, fowl, cattle and creeping things of the earth—you don’t see
giraffes building cities, or whales using laptop computers to
communicate with their fellows who live oceans away. Only man has really
developed and taken dominion over the earth, because only man has that
capability, and only mankind is called of God to do it. Only man is
concerned about his fellow inhabitants of the earth, only man is
interested in ecology and wildlife conservation. Man is in dominion of
the earth: it’s an observable fact, whether he’s used his authority
wisely or not.
On a personal level, however, Adam was only in
dominion over a garden. He was not in dominion over other men. Look
again at our text from Genesis. Man doesn’t have dominion over other
men—or women, either for that matter (the woman willingly submits to her
own husband, not to other men—and he only has as much dominion as his
character is able to demand of her). Over the fish, yes. The birds and
animals and creeping things, yes, man’s in dominion. But it’s
significant to notice he’s not given dominion over his fellow humans.
The first man recorded in the Bible who strove to have
dominion over other men was a fellow named Nimrod. His name means "let
us rebel," and that’s how he spent his life—rebelling against God. He
began to take dominion over other men, and along with his wife, actually
devised a false religion that helped to subdue them—it was the first
organized attempt to worship anything other than the true God. The Bible
refers to this religion as "Mystery Babylon," the mother of all the
false religions of the world.
There is such a thing as leadership—God calls people
to serve as leaders in the church, and in human society—but He wants
servant leaders, not dominion-takers. The man that is driven by the
desire to lead other men is suspect—he’s operating in the spirit of
Nimrod. Perhaps that’s a key to understanding why there is so much
corruption at the higher levels of government and corporate America.
The natural man (and all too often, the born-again
believer operates in the natural) is preoccupied with bigness. Americans
are probably more preoccupied with bigness than most other cultures,
simply because it’s more attainable here than it is in a developing
country with less opportunity. We seek bigness because it shows that
we’re successfully taking dominion over our world—and because it
represents our ability to take dominion over our fellow man!
We admire men with big muscles. And men admire men
with big muscles more than women do, did you know that? Because it’s
something you wish you had the personal discipline to do yourself, it’s
something you value—being bigger and better than the next guy, able to
lift more weight, flex a larger biceps, earn the admiration of other
men, and presumably, to be more desired by the women. Bigger muscles
means being able to impose your will on others, to take dominion.
It’s not just physical size that’s at stake, of
course. The struggle for dominion drives men to build bigger companies
because that makes them feel superior to their competitors—they have a
larger share of the market, a greater degree of dominion. Big companies
strive to buy out the competition and close down their companies. They
already have a large enough profit margin, their own personal success or
survival is not at stake—it’s simply the carnal, fallen nature of the
stronger man to take dominion over others who are more vulnerable. It’s
not a whole lot different than the muscleman kicking sand in the face of
the 98-pound weakling and walking off with his girl. It’s a satanically
inspired drive to show exercise personal dominion by emasculating
The Christian leader’s obsession with attracting more
people, getting on more television stations, and building bigger
buildings can be inspired by the same base desire to be bigger and
better than the next guy. We’ve learned to express our desires more
sanctified terminology—winning the lost and advancing God’s kingdom—but
it’s no big secret that it’s often more about building our own kingdoms.
Man’s preoccupation with bigness is nothing more or
less than a carnal desire to lord it over his fellow men and women.
That’s not what God had in mind when he put us in dominion of the
God does want man to be in dominion, however, in the
sense that we’ve already discussed. Furthermore, He wants us to be
Be Fruitful & Multiply
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be
fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it...
Back again to the original blueprint. In Genesis 1:26,
God gives the man dominion. In verse 28 he commands him "Be fruitful
and multiply." It is required of a man to be fruitful; he can only
be content when he is multiplying himself in others. It’s the fatherhood
instinct: imparting of yourself into somebody else—your offspring, your
disciples, your apprentice. Teaching other people how to do what you do.
Bearing fruit in younger people and perpetuating what God has done in
you. He who does this has fulfilled one of the great purposes of
manhood, or humanhood, if you will—for women are to be fruitful, too.
Dominion and fruitfulness are inter-connected. "God
said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue
it...’" Get it? Subduing the earth isn’t an individual effort; it’s
not about building an empire and ruling over it. Mankind as a whole is
to take dominion over the earth, to subdue it, tame it, care for it,
take authority over it. He does this by sending his fruit out into it.
In the context of Adam and Eve, being fruitful meant
to bear children. The man marries a woman, the two of them have
children, and family by family mankind subdues the earth by sending
their offspring into it. This is one of the reasons that there is a
great emphasis on child-bearing, and the legacy of children, in the
Bible. The true man has a lot to impart, and it’s his duty to help the
world by multiplying himself in others and sending out other true men
Spiritually speaking, this was emphasis of Jesus,
Paul, and the other leaders of the Bible. Jesus had twelve disciples
that He reproduced himself in; Paul always had a handful of young men
with him, being mentored, learning to be like he was—they were his
fruit, his spiritual offspring. Neither Jesus or Paul ever married, but
look at all the spiritual offspring they have today. A man needs to be
fruitful and multiply.
The Intellect of Adam
Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of
the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see
what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature,
that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the
air, and to every beast of the field...
At one point, God brought all the animals to Adam and
told him to name them. And, of course, as every Sunday School student
knows, the first man proceeded to do so.
It strikes me that this was a very intelligent
individual—to be able to recognize and name all the animals of the
earth: all the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects—everything.
And there were more species back then, too—not just two varieties of
elephant, like we have today, but maybe a dozen now extinct mastodons
and mammoths and such. This guy had great mental abilities.
Adam's mind was a wonderful piece of equipment. It
should inspire us to develop our own minds. Scientists tell us that we
utilize less than two percent of our minds. I wonder how much Adam
used—in the days before sin started to take its effect on mankind.
Imagine the amount of knowledge he absorbed in his 930 years! How much
might someone like Einstein have learned if he were allowed good health
and all his faculties for over 900 years? A man who wants to live up to
his potential as a man should strive to be intelligent, learned,
educated as possible. We should make it a part of our lifestyle to be
continually stretching our minds, learning about new subjects—yes, a
mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Ignorance leads to prejudice, intolerance, and other
ugly attitudes that nobody can be proud of. Education, pursued properly,
with the intent to develop yourself fully for the glory of God, is
wonderful thing. Part of manhood is striving to be all that you can be,
intellectually as well as spiritually and physically.
Adam means man. Now that sin has taken hold of the
human race, we may never, this side of glory, be able to regain the
totality of manhood that he enjoyed, but we certainly can come a lot
closer to it than we are today. Go for it. Enjoy your manhood and seek
to be all the more manly, as a testimony to the grace of your Heavenly
2003, Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder
Ministries. All rights reserved
Scripture quotations from the New King James Version, unless otherwise
Go to Part III of This
Article: What Separates the Men from the Boys
Go to Part I of this
Article: Provider & Protector
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