Turn in your Bible to Genesis 1:26-31. Last week we focused on the fact that man is created in the image of God and tried to briefly define what that means. This time I want to go back over the verses that we looked at last week and examine what we call the creation ordinances. Creation ordinances are commands or principles that God gave to us in our original, unfallen state. They are designed to promote God's glory and to practically express what it means for us to be made in God's image. As we look at these ordinances, I want you to see four things here in verses 26-31.



I. Being and Doing

First of all, looking back at verse 26 we see that God designed man as vice-ruler over His creation. This shows us two aspects of being in the image of God, one that resides in who we are and one that resides in what we do. It is because we are made in His image that God says, "Let them rule." The rule is an expression of what we are. And this tells us that there is a combination of being and doing in the image of God. God’s goodness in making us in His image ought to evoke from us thanksgiving and praise because every human being has been created in the image of God. That brings with it an obligation to praise and that obligation to praise is part of what makes men responsible to God if they reject Him. We all are made in the image, and we all owe Him that praise for being made in the image.

In our busy age, we often say to ourselves, "I need to stop all this doing and just be for a little while." We say it sometimes as if mere cessation of activity could give us the spiritual equilibrium that we need. But man as created in the image of God is made both to be and to do. Those things are not enemies. Our problem is that we’ve picked some pretty bad doing to do. We do the trivial things, or the things we are not called to, or the things for which we are not equipped. So we need to cut out some of that bad doing and do some of the better doing.



II. Blessing and Obligation

In Genesis 1:27-28 we see a second thing. Already in these verses we see the component parts of a covenant: blessing and obligation. Furthermore, in Genesis 1:27 the very first words out of God's mouth to man are words of blessing: “God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’” The whole framework of man's creation is filled with God's goodness and favor. Man did not inherently deserve to be blessed, but God showed His goodness from the beginning.

These verses also show us two of the four great creation mandates. First of all, in Genesis 1:28, the ordinance of procreation is given. There God mandates to man that he is to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. That is the very first ordinance that God gives, and it is essential for man to fulfill his obligation to subdue the earth and rule over the animals. Even with as many people as we have today, in order to meet the challenges in bringing order to this world, we need children. And this leads to the second ordinance that is set forth in this passage: labor. Notice the words again of Genesis 1:28: "Fill the earth and subdue it and rule." The mandate is to work. The blessing is to rule. And notice that that dominion over the earth is to express itself in labor. Work is good. By the way, that reminds us of the inherent dignity of manual labor. In a society where we greatly value intellectual labor, we sometimes demean manual labor, but there is inherent value in all kinds of labor.

Now, Adam had a variety of motives to obey these mandates. He would have had a sense of duty to do that which his Creator had called him to do. He also would have had a great love and gratitude to motivate him. Now, it’s common for Christians today to say things like, “We’re to do the things that God calls us to do, not because we have to, but because we want to.” Other times we will have Christians say that, if you attempt to do the things that God calls you to in the word because of a sense of duty, you’re following the way of works righteousness. That couldn't be further from the truth. In the Garden, duty and love worked together, and that’s how it ought to be in the Christian life.



III. God’s Goodness and Provision

The third thing we see is in verses 29-30: God's goodness is shown in His providence for His creature. In verse 29 God provides food for man. In verse 30 God provides food for all the animals of the earth. And so these two verses set forth the divine providence for man and beast even in the original creation. Sometimes I think we think that God's providence is necessary only because we live in a fallen world. But this passage makes it clear that we still needed to be provided for even when things were perfect. Now there's a great lesson in that. As God's creatures, there is never a time when we do not need His care. His care is not just for the tough times, and that's an important spiritual application for us. All of us have a tendency to be very close to God and very reliant upon Him and very trusting in difficult times and then to forget about Him when things are going smoothly. But this passage reminds us that even in a perfect world we would be dependent upon God's providential care. We ought to cultivate an attitude of always being prayerfully dependent on the Lord.



IV. The Goodness of Creation

The final thing is in verse 31. God pronounces the whole creation to be good. He completes His work on the sixth day, and this verse reminds us of God's delight in that creation. That directly assaults the view that says that matter is sinful. There have been for many centuries people who have taught that matter is inherently bad or it's inherently lower in value than that which is spirit, yet this passage says that God delights in what He has made. Things aren't bad. Our use of things may be bad, but the things which God has made are wonderful. Constantly in our lives we find ourselves attempting to blame our problems on things when the problem is our use of things. We even misquote Bible verses. Have you ever heard someone say, "Well, you know money is the root of all evil"? That's not what the verse says. The verse says, "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." The point is not that material stuff is inherently bad, but if we're fallen we have an inherent tendency to use that stuff badly. And we have to check that. This passage again reminds us of the goodness of creation. May the Lord bless us as we contemplate these foundational truths which impact every area of our lives.