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Chapter 1 - In the Beginning God Created a Ruling Household
The Five Stages to Build a Ruling Household
(This is a part of the book I’m working on called The Ruling Household. Read the Introduction here)
Genesis 1 is special.
This single chapter provides the grounding for how God designed reality.
Without Genesis 1 we can spend the rest of our lives wondering what elements of our experience are consistent with God’s original purpose and which are a part of what we as humans have done to God’s good world through humanity’s fall.
We need Genesis 1 to discern creation from corruption.
In recent years there’s been a kind of revival among moral philosophers in their appreciation for the simple statement “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27 ESV).
As Christianity continues to wane in the West we are slowly learning that Genesis 1 provides the best grounding, in all human history, for a collective faith in universal human rights. Every human has the same origin, is part of the same family, and has the same basis for our value. Race, gender, and social status have no ability to alter that.
What a miracle! We remain unable to articulate a better foundation for human value than what was set forth in the first chapter of Scripture.
But this book is not about human rights.
It’s about the very next thing God says after he creates male and female.
What is the purpose for the creation of humanity?
What is the purpose for two different genders?
I can’t imagine more important questions for us to answer in our day.
So the Bible gives us those answers, “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.” (Genesis 1:28 ESV).
And while Christians have spared no ink on the implications of verse 27 we spend comparatively little time on verse 28 and when we do it’s often to deny its universal application for today.
And this is why people are so confused.
No word of Scripture is without importance and that is especially true of verses in Genesis 1.
Every part of the house is important but when the foundation is missing the house is going to collapse. It’s just a matter of time.
And collapsing is exactly what is happening to our houses in the West both those outside of the Christian faith as well as those within. Why, because it does no good to have a blueprint if you’re going to ignore it.
So we’re going back to the beginning and we’re going to examine this blueprint carefully.
The Five Stages to Build a Ruling Household
In Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits book, he pointed out that,
“all things are created twice: first, the mental conceptualization and visualization and a second physical, actual creation.”
I want you to visualize with me the building of your house in five stages.
Each is described in Genesis 1:28. We are commanded to be:
We begin by making our houses fruitful, we plant the tree that has the capability to maximize its fruitfulness.
Next, we multiply, the fruit bears seed, and that seed is planted and our tree turns into a group of trees.
Then we fill. Our group of trees becomes an orchard of fruitful, multiplying trees.
Our orchard must be ordered with clear boundaries, guarded, and cultivated. We subdue the space we’re given.
Then finally we preside over the land we’ve cultivated. An ecosystem of the created order is under our care where our vision and values are expressed in our domain.
But this rule is not done alone.
Remember verse 27, this command was not given to an individual but to male and female who were then told to multiply. This ruling is done by a family.
Now let’s pause to consider how strange this is to modern Western intuitions.
When we talk about an entity that rules through its vision and values what kind of entity springs to mind?
When we have a task that requires a diverse team to accomplish its mission we think it's time to start a business or a non-profit or maybe it’s the responsibility of the government.
That’s not what God thought.
When he looked at creation that needed to be expanded, cultivated, guarded, and ruled he designed a new kind of entity. He brought into existence a family. Not a Western family. Not a nuclear family. A multigenerational family who would work as a team to accomplish this mission. This kind of family which is a multigenerational team on mission is referred to throughout both the Old and New Testament as a house or a household.
Today we disagree with God’s plan.
We think we have a better idea.
We think the smallest units of society should not be families but individuals.
We think individuals should decide what they want to build and form entities with other individuals to accomplish meaningful missions.
Families are nice places to experience relational closeness but they are no longer the core of productive activity.
And so our families are unfruitful. They devalue multiplication. They are incapable of filling or subduing their domain and therefore they are ruled by others.
Our neglect of the book of Genesis has led to what the band Genesis, in their hit song from the 80s called, “The Land of Confusion”.
(Click here for the conclusion to Chapter 1)