The Responsibility of Dominion

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto, Sept. 26, 2010

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (GEN 1:28)

I.       Over the past few weeks, the children’s talks have been focusing on the story of Creation.

A.   In the children’s talk today we considered the concluding teaching that when the job is done, we need to rest – which leads into a consideration of the need to observe the Sabbath.

B.   For today’s subject, let’s step back and reflect on the teaching that the purpose of the creation of the universe was that there would be a heaven from the human race.

1.     Creation is all about people.

2.     Everything that was created was for the sake of a human race that could live in the world and by making choices and interacting with nature and other people, acquire a character, a foundation, upon which eternal spiritual life could be built.

II.    In the natural sense, we are commanded by the Lord to be fruitful and multiply. The Lord wants us to have the pleasure of imitating His creation of the universe by having children.

A.   It was his Divine Love that needed outside of Itself to care for and make happy and it was His Divine Wisdom that developed and implemented an orderly plan that produced substances and organized them into a universe that would support human life.

1.     So, when the Divine Love was conjoined with the Divine Wisdom, the result was a heaven from the human race.

2.     In a marriage, when a wife is conjoined with her husband, a new angel is created. The joy of producing children in marriage is a gift from the Lord that corresponds to His joy in creating heaven.

B.   We can also look at the command to “multiply and fill the earth” from the spiritual sense.

1.     The Lord wants us to be useful and multiply the many good things that He gives us.

a.     For example, the parable of the talents where he gives His fortune (good) to his servants and they multiply it for Him.

b.     Or the miraculous feeding of 5,000 in Mark and the similar feeding of 4,000.

2.     The Lord is the source of all good (including our own feelings of happiness and delight).

a.     All true delights come from giving good to others. This is the life of heaven.

3.     To fill the earth

a.     Not to fill the earth with people all at once, but to fill our lives with things of genuine value from the Lord.

III. What does it mean to “have dominion” over the earth?

A.   The root Latin word is “dominus” which means lord, or master.

B.   To “have dominion” can mean to control in a bad sense as when one nation dominates another militarily, but the root meaning is “lord”.

1.     So we should look to His example – how should one rule? What is the proper dominion that people should have over the created world?

2.     It cannot mean that we rule like a dictator because that takes away the freedom of others, and we know that the Lord values human freedom as the “pupil of His eye[1].”

a.     He invites, but does not force

b.     He leads from whatever state you are in to a better state.

IV.How should we properly “dominate” the world. What is the proper place of human stewardship of the natural world?

A.   We need to appreciate that the world is an incredibly complex thing. It took God billions of years to get things ready for human life. We need to approach it with appropriate humility.

1.     Fixes often have unintended circumstances.

a.     Rabbits brought from England to Australia for sport hunting and a familiar touch from home – crop damage, deforestation, erosion.

b.     Kudzu was brought into the Southern US as a quick growing vine to stabilize areas prone to erosion, now blankets huge areas of the South, killing all other plants.

B.   We need to realize that we cannot solve all the great problems of our day by ourselves – or even in large groups – but we can make a difference, we can move things in the right direction by making choices that reduce our personal impact on the world’s resources.

C.   And remember that this is a personal spiritual issue.

1.     Are we going to be ruled by the loves of self and the world (which, by the way, are proper loves when in their order)?

a.     We live in the world, so it is far more demanding of our attention than is the spiritual world. We can be led to think that the natural world and our place in it are the end and purpose toward which we strive.

b.     But they are not. The natural world, like the natural body, exists solely to serve spiritual ends, spiritual purposes:  a heaven from the human race.

2.     While our “dominion” of the natural of the world of nature should involve respect for others and intelligent use of resources, we need to remember that the real “dominion” that the Lord ask of us is over the goods and truths that He has given to us for the sake of our eternal, spiritual lives.

3.     We’ll close with a portion of AE 1226 that was read as the third lesson:

a.     All the kingdoms of the earth are for one use:  that each may serve the higher kingdom of heaven by performing uses to the neighbour. Amen.

First Lesson:  GEN 1:26-31

(GEN 1:26-31) 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.” {27} So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. {28} Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” {29} And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. {30} “Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. {31} Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Amen.

Second Lesson:  MAT 6:25-34

(Mat 6:25-34) “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? {26} “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? {27} “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? {28} “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; {29} “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. {30} “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? {31} “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ {32} “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. {33} “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. {34} “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Amen.

Third Lesson:  AE 1226

In the unceasing and instantaneous creation of all things in the heavens there can he seen as in a type the creation of the universe with its globes, and that there is nothing created in these except for use, and in general, one kingdom of nature for another, the mineral kingdom for the vegetable, this for the animal, and both for the human race, that they may serve the Lord for performing uses to the neighbour. Amen.

Here end the lessons. Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it. Amen.


[1]Divine Providence 97

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