“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
This was God’s first commandment to the man and woman He had created. They were to exercise dominion “over all the earth” (v.26); not a despotic dominion, as some have insinuated, but a responsible stewardship.
In order to subdue the earth, we must first understand its processes. Thus, research is the foundational occupation for fulfilling the divine mandate. Then this knowledge must be applied in technology (engineering, medicine, agriculture, etc.). It must be implemented for use by all (business, commerce) and transmitted to future generations (education). The creation can also be described and praised in the humanities and fine arts. The dominion mandate thus authorizes all honorable human occupations as a stewardship under God.
The mandate was reaffirmed to Noah after the flood (Genesis 9:1–10) with the additional institution of human government, a change made necessary by the entrance of sin and death into the world. Thus all the occupations we now call the social sciences (law, civics, counseling, etc.) have been added to God’s authorized vocations.
The tragedy is that leadership in practically all these fields has been taken over by secularists and humanists, so God’s primeval commission has largely been subverted. Christians today need a renewed vision and commitment, not only to Christ’s second great commission of evangelism, but also to His first mandate of responsible world stewardship. Therefore, “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). HMM