“And God said, Let us make man…after our likeness: and let them have dominion.” (Genesis 1:26)
We are only able to rule when we develop God’s likeness, or attributes, of doing the right thing, AKA right-eousness. Only by freely making a choice to act out of love for another by dying to self-interest can humans transform into the likeness of God.
Mickey Mouse amusingly demonstrates the reality that power gets out of control when wielded by an unqualified individual. Like Mickey Mouse, when things aren’t done right, chaos and destruction result.
We’ve experienced this through bad cooking, driving accidents, relationship breakdowns, and major disasters regardless of the intention to do good or bad. Just extrapolate what kind of damage can be caused universe-wide by someonewho doesn’t function in the full knowledge and understanding of the truth.
The ultimate source of power can only be the Creator, who designed, put into action and maintains the laws of physics, converts energy to matter and matter to energy, and breaths life into organisms.
We’ll never gain control over as much as ourselves, or become all we can be, without growing into the likeness of God.
“And he gave some, apostles; some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
The fundamental principles of dominion are given in the very first chapter of the Bible.
1) Be fruitful, i.e. be productive. Be a good worker. Make good things happen, in both the earthly and the heavenly/spiritual domains. Interestingly, God gave this same instruction to animals.
“And God created…every living creature that moveth…and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful..
Life on planet earth is interconnected in what is called the biosphere. We all depend on every species being fruitful in good works in their particular niche such as trees producing oxygen and flowers, and bees pollinating flowers and making honey, and bears breathing oxygen and eating honey, and microorganisms aiding digestion in intestinal tracts and…
It does make you wonder how evolution could happen in such an interdependent system. In any case, we all suffer when any single element of the ecosystem is harmed.
Most representations of the man and woman in the Garden of Eden picture them wandering around aimlessly. That’s not what the Bible says. Anyone who has ever been put in charge of anything can tell you that it is hard work. Being fruitful, or working hard, is just as much a New Testament command as it was an Old Testament command. And in my experience as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, personal accomplishments are essential to good mental health.
“…walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:10)
“this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord, Yahweh’s Appointed Savior / Yeshua Messiah / Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (II Thessalonians 3:7-15)
2) Multiply, i.e. procreate to continue God’s creation of mankind. Again, God gave the same instructions to animals. It is entirely possible that God only made prototypes of the animals, just as he only made prototypes of humans, or that so many were destroyed during every evening’s blitz that they had to be bred back from the edge of extinction.
“And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying…multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare…” (Genesis 4:1)
We also multiply spiritually.
“I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in The Chosen One / Messiah / Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Yahweh’s Appointed Savior / Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” (I Corinthians 4:14-16)
3) Replenish the earth, i.e. engage in activities to fill up the earth. Based on these instructions, which are identical to those given to Noah after the flood wiped out the rest of humanity and animals, it seems that, indeed, a massive catastrophe killed off most of the first creations.
“And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Genesis 9:1)
“And he [Jacob] said unto him [Laban], Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me. For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude...if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock.” (Genesis 30:29-31)
The New Testament writings commanding God’s people to fill the earth with people who have heard, therefore have the opportunity to believe and receive eternal life, are not new or unique to Christianity.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized [by God’s Spirit] shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:15-16)
4) Subdue the earth. To subdue is to bring under control.
“For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.” (Psalm 18:39)
To subdue the earth is to bring nature under control. The fundamental way we do this is by farming. Civilization depends on a stable food supply through agriculture, and this requires clearing undesirable plants out of fields, channeling essential water resources with dams and irrigation systems, and protecting the crops from predators, all the while being conscientious of protecting the land for future generations.
“And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father..And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water…And they digged another well…and digged another well…and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” (Genesis 26:18-22)
Everyone is not a farmer, but everyone has a piece of territory to subdue – our own bodies. Biochemical cravings for sex, drugs, food, even the desire to just laze around instead of getting to work, have to be battled by everyone.
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (I Corinthians 9:27)
It is not until we accomplish all of the above steps that we can in reality have dominion in any arena, as small as our body and as large as the universe.
- Work hard and be productive
- Multiply – expand the workforce so more can be accomplished
- Replenish or fill the territory with new life
- Subdue the resistance, the obstacles to having dominion
In God’s kingdom, to have dominion means to lovingly care for those entrusted to us.
Too often we equate “dominion” with “dominate.” Too many leaders are psychopaths whose idea of power is to transform free men and women into slaves and sycophants by instilling fear through oppression, abuse, death and destruction. It’s easy to hate and destroy. It takes real power to love and create new life. It’s easy to isolate from people and exploit them as subjects. It takes real power to engage in relationship and and to transform fearful oppressed peoples into free and successful men and women through role modeling forgiveness, kindness, and support of their personal growth and development.
It’s easy for religions to demand women to submit to male authority, and many women do tolerate abuse to maintain access to the basic necessities of life. That’s not what the Bible teaches. It’s rare to find men who will sacrifice their prerogatives and advantages to meet the needs of their companions like Adam and Jesus Christ did.
“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as The Chosen One / Messiah / Christ is the head of the congregation of believers / church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the congregation of believers / church is subject unto Messiah / Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as The Chosen One/Messiah/Christ also loved the congregation of believers / church, and gave himself for it…So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church / congregation of believers.” (Ephesians 5:21-29)
The great patriarchs of the Old Testament got their training in leadership by caring for helpless and frustratingly stupid sheep – Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David. The greatest leader of all, Yeshua Messiah / Jesus Christ, calls himself the Good Shepherd.
“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.” (Exodus 3:3)
“And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear.” (I Samuel 17:34-36)
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
The methods for having dominion – self control and influence over others – can be understood in terms of man’s three dimensions – body, soul, and spirit.
The body is controlled through technology that can sustain or destroy the body, like beneficial or harmful drugs, and power sources for peacetime energy or weapons.
The soul – emotions and intellect – is controlled through meeting its needs in healthy or dysfunctional relationships with others through education, politics, philosophical arguments, psychological techniques, entertaining distractions, and peer pressure.
The spirit is controlled through involvement in spiritual, religious, paranormal, extraterrestrial, and openly or covertly demonic domains.
“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:19-20)
People who seek mastery at any level recognize the need to access power that transcends their own human limitations. The only way to get power and authority is to get it from the one who has it. This is reflected in religion, of course, but also in other areas of life such as:
- The spiritual side of martial arts.
- Alcoholic’s Anonymous first three of twelve steps acknowledging the individual’s need for a higher power,
- All versions of mysticism promoting everything from self-improvement to world domination by discovering and tapping into the god within.
- Ancient rulers’ claims of descent from and apotheosis to a god, like Augustus Caesar.
- Rulers’ claim of divine right, like Louis XIV, the Sun King.
A key concept to understand is that having dominion over the earth, wielding that much awesome power, is inextricably linked with having the image (appearance) and likeness (attributes) of God. This abstract concept is expressed in the costumes that must be put on by Superman and others like him before acting on their superpowers.
Partial or temporary dominion can be exercised by a servant who has been granted some authority.
“And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: And...thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac…And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.” (Gen 24:2-4,53)
Full dominion, in extent and permanence, is granted to children as an inheritance.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Colossians 1:11-12)
Dominion is often designated to heirs long before possession is actually taken of the estate (physical possessions as well as immaterial power and authority), waiting for the maturity of the heir.
“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.” (Galatians 4:1-2)
“God…hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things…unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom…But now we see not yet all things put under him.” (Hebrews 1:1-38; 2:8)
Notice that dominion isn’t granted to all children. Only the ones who mature into the likeness of the father, expressed as unity with the Father by acting as they know their father would act, are empowered to take dominion over others. This applies to both good and evil rulers.
“Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch. [You can hear the rising outrage in his voice and see the intense glare in his eyes s he switches to the first person in denouncing the offender.] Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.” (Genesis 49:3-7)
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (I Timothy 3:2-5)