The Creation Mandate in Genesis 1:26-28 is the first Great Commission. It impacts our calling to the vocation and work that God still has over us today. It is what provides meaning for our focused and exhausting labors during the week. It is what provides a lasting quality to even what appears mundane in our work. What Adam failed to do in not accomplishing this Mandate, the Second Adam has completed. Christ has “re-commissioned” us in his work in this world to present the whole world cultivated like the garden of Eden to a city back to his Father for his glory. We are being remade – body and soul. We are commissioned.
Photo: Omaha Steak’s ribs plus Jodi’s home-brew, speaking of Creation Mandate. May 2020.
The Creation Mandate:
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:26-28
Selected quotes from A NT Bibilical Theology – Beale:
We can speak of Genesis 1:28 as the first Great Commission, which was repeatedly applied to humanity. The commission was to bless the earth, and part of the essence of this blessing was God’s salvific presence. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were to produce progeny who would fill the earth with God‘s glory being reflected from each of them in the image of God. After the fall, a remnant, created by God in his restored image, was to go out and spread God‘s glorious presence among the rest of darkened humanity. This witness was to continue until the entire world would be filled with divine glory. Thus, Israel’s witness was reflective of its role as a corporate Adam, which highlights the notion of missions in the Old Testament. Page 57.
My attempt here is to provide a thumbnail sketch of the way I see the Genesis 1:26-28 notion of the Adamic king of the new creation forming the central storyline that is threaded throughout all the various books of the Old Testament to one significant degree or another. Page 63.
The main strands of the Biblical story traced above in the Old Testament books are those of Israel (and it’s king) being commissioned to fulfill the Adamic commission to reign over a renewed earth but repeatedly failing to do so. As a result of this failure, Israel suffers judgment in exile, and these patterns of renewal and failure become typological patterns of the true, final eschatological rule in a new creation that will inevitably come. Thus, promises of future restoration in the new creation continue to be reiterated in the Old Testament narratives. Page 85.
The Old Testament storyline that I posit as the basis for the New Testament storyline is this:
The Old Testament is the story of God, who progressively reestablishes his new creational kingdom out of chaos over a sinful people by his word and Spirit through promise, Covenant and redemption, resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to advance the kingdom and judgment (defeat or exile) for the unfaithful, unto his glory.
The New Testament transformation of the storyline of the Old Testament that I propose is this:
Jesus’ life, trials, death for sinners, and especially resurrection by the Spirit have launched the fulfillment of the eschatological already-not yet new-creational reign, bestowed by grace through faith and resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to advance this new-creational reign and resulting in judgment for the unbelieving, unto the triune God‘s glory. Page 16.
One significant aspect of the Biblical narrative beginning also in Genesis 1-3 but not tracked as much in the preceding summary is that of God‘s glorious tabernacling presence with his priestly people in the sanctuary as the goal of God’s redemptive work. We saw on the discussion of Genesis 1-3 that Adam was not only a king but also a priest in Eden, which was a primordial sanctuary. Functioning as a priest in the Eden temple was essential to carrying out the commission of Genesis 1:26-28. The Adamic commission often is combined with the notion of priestly service in a temple when it is repeated to Noah, the patriarchs, Israel, and in the promises to end-time Israel. This will be elaborated on in a following chapter on the role of the temple in biblical theology. Page 85.
Source: A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New. By G. K. Beale. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2011.