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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Advent - 38 days to Christmas   Wednesday, November 17 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

The cultural mandate

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 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." 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."

—Genesis 1:27-29

I was asked recently to comment on the "be fruitful and multiply" phrase embedded in this passage (and also repeated a number of times in Genesis), but I think that to isolate that phrase is to miss the larger point of the passage, which has long been called "the cultural mandate." It is God's command, specifically to Adam and Eve, and by inference to the human race, to create a human culture that fills the whole earth and takes dominion over it in the name and for the sake of its Creator and theirs.

There's no mystery in the "be fruitful and multiply" phrase; obviously Adam and Eve had a wide world to fill, and this was His blessing on them to get to it: reproduce yourselves, physically, intellectually. and spiritually. God talked to the heads of the human race but the command also got through to the animal species he had created and that Adam had named. They also got about obeying the mandate to reproduce and occupy all the space they needed to thrive and fill out their embedded, "instinctive," purposes as His creatures.

It didn't take many generations to carry out this command. By the time of Noah, just eight short chapters later in the same book, the earth had been so filled with mankind that the race began to challenge God and disregard His rule over them. As cities rose up, their populations became rebellious and disobedient to their Creator, to such an extent that He decided to void His first establishment of a human race and start again. Noah and his family were the only ones spared the great flood that came to judge the rebellion of that time, and again after the waters receded, God reinstituted the cultural mandate to the new founder and temporal savior of the human race, Noah. Though in one sense the original "world" was wiped out, in another sense it was continued in Noah and his family who were directly descended from Adam and Eve, carrying with them the better part of the culture they had been born into.

The Bible doesn't begin with the Fall (as discussed here last week), but with Creation. And its human prototypes weren't created evil, but were icons of their Creator, made in His image, declared "good" by their Creator, and given meaningful work to do on His behalf. Though the Fall (Adam and Eve's disobedience) introduced sin and corrpution that eventually infected everything in their planet, there was a covenant even immediately after the Fall that their Redeemer was on His way, and He would judge them and their descendants, and their work, their culture, and in the end would Make All Things New.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new, 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new," Revelation 21:5.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Signs of our times

At a tire shop in Milwaukee: "Invite us to your next blowout."

Sent by Trudy Myers  

Advent thought for today

I firmly believe people have hitherto been a great deal too much taken up about doctrine and far too little about practice. The word doctrine, as used in the Bible, means teaching of duty, not theory. I preached a sermon about this. We are far too anxious to be definite and to have finished, well-polished, sharp-edged systems forgetting that the more perfect a theory about the infinite, the surer it is to be wrong, the more impossible it is to be right.

George MacDonald, 1824-1905  

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