The “dominion mandate” is often used as an excuse for not caring about, neglecting, or destroying God’s creatures and creation. The thinking is that if we were made in God’s image and mankind was given dominion over all creatures, then we are not accountable for our actions because we were put in charge.
The following verses will give us a better understanding of what God intended when he gave us dominion:
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.
25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
So what was God’s purpose for creating animals in the garden?
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
Here we see that God’s will in the garden was for animals to be companions for man because God saw that “it is not good that man should be alone.”
Animals were not initially created to be our food, but to be our friends.
God also gave man the special privilege of naming all of the animals, showing his intention for a special bond between the two.
If God’s intention in creating animals was to create companions for man, why is there a misunderstanding that he commanded Adam to “dominate” animals in a negative connotation?
God’s intention was for man to be stewards of his creation.
The charge of dominion is better understood as a position or right, passed from God to man to care for creation just as God does.
On the sixth day of creation, God chose to create land animals and man on the same day, signifying a special bond between them as intended by Him.
This is also the first time in the Bible that we see man given permission by God to rule over “all the creatures.” We see it again here:
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
What did God do on the seventh day (the day after he gave man dominion)? He rested. God went on vacation so to speak. If you have ever gone on vacation and left someone in charge of your house, car, job, kids, etc., you are giving them dominion.
It would not be your intention for them to have free reign to do whatever they wanted. You would expect them to treat your things with care and love. This was God’s expectation when he charged man to look after his creation.
It is also very important to take into consideration WHEN dominion was given to man. It was given to us before the fall of mankind and before sin.
When Adam and Eve sinned, the intended relationship between man and animals changed.
There is a good lesson in conservation and preservation of species here.
When God told man that we could eat animals, there were only seven of every clean animal and two of every unclean animal. This command also came directly after Noah was instructed to save and preserve all species of animals on the ark.
If man had immediately started to eat animals, many species would have gone extinct. Mankind would have had to wait for animal populations to reach sustainable levels before eating them.
Even though God gave man permission to eat animals, His commandment clearly came with the expectation that they be eaten responsibly and sustainably.
God also put the fear of mankind into animals because, for the first time, man was told that they could eat them.
After the fall in the garden and the great flood, it is clear that mankind lost their special relationship with animals; as well as the authority they once had over them.
The following verses are examples of this change:
In Genesis 3:21 we read that God made clothes for Adam and Eve from animal skins, marking the first slaughter of an animal.
In Genesis 6-9 God saw the earth and mankind to be so corrupt and violent, that he destroyed it with a great flood. God spared only, Noah, his family, seven of every clean animal, and two of every unclean animal.
After the flood when Noah came out of the ark, God told him:
2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands.
3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
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