Summary: This is the 5th in a series of sermons over the Book of Genesis. In this sermon we discuss the ordinances given to us in the creation.
Genesis (Pt. 5) (Creation Ordinances)
Text: Genesis 1:26 – 2:3
By: Ken McKinley
Well last week we looked at this text and we talked about what it means to be created in the image of God. We saw that mankind is not just “another animal” or even the “highest order of animal” but that we are a distinct, unique creation of God. And because of this mankind has been endowed with the capacity to rule and have dominion over God’s creation. We talked about how mankind has certain of God’s attributes, not omnipotence or omniscience… but the ability to think and think rationally, morality, and personhood. And lastly we talked about how being created in the image of God means that we are an immortal spirit. And that soul and spirit goes on forever and ever.
So this morning we are going to be looking at what theologians typically call the creation ordinances. And what those are – are mandates, or commands, or I guess you could say… principles, that God gives to man in his original state before the fall. And the purpose of them is to promote God’s glory and to express in a practical way what it means for us to be created in His image.
So first of all, verse 26 tells us that we are created in God’s image and that we are to be stewards over His creation. And again we see our distinctness there, because God doesn’t create man like He did everything else. Everything else God said, “Let there be…” Let there be cattle, let there be fish, let there be birds, let there be creeping things. But when it came to man, we see the Trinity hold a conference before announcing mans creation. And instead of “Let there be…” now it was “Let US make…” And so man is created in the image of God and then given dominion, and what that’s telling us is that man is created in God’s image, and is therefore supposed to reflect that image. So verse 26 tells us what God had intended to do, and verses 27 and 28 show us God doing what He intended to do. And verse 28 says that God blessed them, but it also says that God gave them a job. A lot of people misunderstand that. They think that work is part of the curse that came upon man when Adam sinned. But God instituted work at the same time He instituted marriage. Hmmm…. I’m only kidding honey, I had better be nice to her, or she’ll mess up my power point. But seriously, we see marriage and work both instituted at the same time.
So man is blessed, and man is given an obligation, or I guess we could say, a duty. And both of those things are components of a covenant. Keep that in mind as we go through this book of Genesis, because covenants are a big part of God’s dealing with mankind. In-fact, covenants are how God deals with mankind. Now a lot of times people get confused about how they see God in the Old Testament. Some have even said that the God in the OT couldn’t possibly be the God Jesus spoke of in the NT, because the God of the OT was harsh and unloving. But if you hear someone say that then you immediately understand that its coming from a person who either has very little understanding of the Bible or a twisted understanding of it. Because the first thing we see here… the first words from God to man, are words of blessing. “God blessed them, and told them to be fruitful and multiply.” And what this is; this blessing – is God showing favor upon man, even though man had done nothing to earn it or deserve it. Some theologians say this is grace; not in the sense that we know it today because Adam was not sinful, but a type of grace – a type of undeserved favor and blessing none the less. And so we see God is showing favor, or a type of grace, even before He institutes the covenant of works, and then we come to the ordinances of creation.
The first one is the mandate to procreate. God tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. And we see here that God’s plan for this is through the natural relationship between a man and a woman. Now we can obviously see how this relates to marriage, which is given as an ordinance in chapter 2, and we’ll look at that a little more closely when we get to those verses, but I want you to notice that this ordinance to procreate also relates to our obligation to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. It would be very hard for just one man to exercise dominion over all creation by himself. The 2nd ordinance, and we’ve already touched on it, is labor – work. MariJo and I started a garden this year (thanks to Donald and Katy bringing a tiller by and tilling up the ground for us). We’ve got potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, squash and zucchini (thanks to Kendra giving us some seeds), and we’re about to plant green beans… the package says to plant them in the middle of May. There’s something therapeutic about getting outside and working, if you’re able to do so. Here in our text we see God giving man work. And again, I want to stress this, work is a good thing, it’s just become laborious to do the work after the fall. We are to work, and then we are to enjoy the fruit of our labor. Now let me say that again. We are to work, and WE are to enjoy the fruit of our labor. This is why a system like communism has never done well in Christian societies. Now some people will point out that the first Church mentioned in the Book of Acts appears very much like Communism. But what is often missed by people who like to say that, is that the gifts that were brought to the Church to be given to the less fortunate were totally voluntary. The Church had a sort of emergency fund that was used to help others who were less fortunate, and only when they needed that help. Churches today should do the same thing. But that emergency fund’s coffers were filled by voluntary giving. Not state mandated giving. And I could go on and on about this, but I won’t today.