The First Commission
by Henry M. Morris IV *
The first record of God’s great love toward mankind is expressed in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible. “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 first command to humanity is preceded by the Creator’s direct blessing and establishes a pattern seen throughout the rest of Scripture. Even on those occasions when God says, “Thou shalt not…,” He does so to guide and protect those He loves. The commands of the Lord are always founded on and wrapped in love, for He only desires the best for us.
But this first command to humanity—perhaps best known as the Dominion Mandate—was given both as a blessing and a responsibility. Adam and Eve would soon discover that God’s instructions encompassed far more than they could have imagined at the time. Not only were they expected to begin populating the earth, but they were also commanded to manage the resources God had placed around them. In this way, God would receive glory from His new creation while providing mankind the privilege of sharing in the earth’s magnificent bounty.
This mandate has never been revoked and was even renewed and expanded to Noah and his sons soon after the great Flood (Genesis 9:1-7). Ultimately, when God’s plan of redemption and judgment is complete, He will destroy this world and create “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:10-13). But until that time, man is still expected to fulfill God’s command to care for this world and rule over it.
The military terminology to “subdue” and “have dominion” should not be misunderstood as God’s permission to abuse and destroy. Rather, God clarifies His intent as one of true stewardship of His creation: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was given the responsibility to tend (dress) and cultivate (keep) God’s creation, indicating a special care and concern for the earth’s resources. But proper “dressing” and “keeping” cannot occur without a thorough understanding of the underlying processes and functions. We know this as “science” in today’s terms, and, in the true biblical sense, scientific study was expected by God to accomplish this very first commission to mankind.
Science lies at the very heart of ICR’s work. Apart from the study of God’s Word, our research is the catalyst that sparks our entire ministry. Thanks to our supporters, ICR scientists are uncovering remarkable evidence that confirms the Bible’s accuracy and authority. Our current biology research, in particular, is making exciting progress, showing that the genetic makeup between creature groups is truly unique (e.g., “after their kind”) and that measured mutation rates—a pillar of evolution—show that life can be no more than thousands, not millions, of years old.
For over four decades, ICR has championed innovative research that demonstrates evidence for creation as understood in Scripture. These, and many other projects, have been made possible through the generosity of fellow Christians who believe in our mission and have been blessed by our work. Won’t you prayerfully consider how you can partner with us? Your tax-deductible gifts will make a bigger difference than you may imagine and will be put to good use in fulfilling mankind’s first commission to stewardship for the glory of our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ.
* Mr. Morris is Director of Donor Relations at the Insti-tute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Henry M. Morris IV. 2013. The First Commission. Acts & Facts. 42 (10).