“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28, NASB).
When man was created over 6000 years ago, he inherited the bounty of God. According to the Oxford Dictionary, inheritance means to come into possession of belongings from someone else. Through his creation, man was made in the image of God and inherited from his heavenly Father perfect human life, a garden home, and dominion over his environment. We read in Genesis 1:26-28,31, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 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. … And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
Man Given Dominion
Man was promised not only life but dominion over his natural environment and the animals, but not over each other. Man became like God in the sense that he was given authority and rulership in the earthly realm. Pastor Russell wrote in Volume 1 of “Studies in the Scriptures,” “As Jehovah is ruler over all things, so man was made a ruler over all earthly things — After our likeness, let him have dominion over the beasts, fowl, fish, etc. (Genesis 1:26). Moses tells us (Genesis 1:31) that God recognized the man whom he had made — not merely commenced to make, but completed — and God considered his creature “very good,” that is, perfect; for in God’s sight nothing short of perfection is very good, in his intelligent creatures” (The Divine Plan of the Ages, page 174). How remarkable it is that God provided man’s benevolent dominance over his environment!
Made a Little Lower Than the Angels
The perfection of man, as created, is further expressed in Psalm 8:5-8: “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.” God’s law was written on Adam’s heart. He was perfect mentally, morally and physically. The “little lower” aspect may refer to the limitations that Adam and Eve had when compared to angels. Angels are able to travel through vast distances in brief time periods. Man is more restricted by natural laws. However, man has an opportunity to become part of the abolition of sin and death by becoming part of the Bride of Christ. This was included in the declaration to Satan after man’s fall, “her seed; he shall crush thy head” (Genesis 3:15, Darby). Our heavenly Father determined before the foundation of the world that He wanted to expand creation to another dimension.
His object in this creation can only be viewed from the understanding that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and that love compelled Him to action. This is the same motivation that energizes many parents-to-be, as they consider having a family. Parents soon learn a lesson with their children that our heavenly Father understood in the permission of evil. It takes much patience and understanding to effectively parent a child. Prior to sin, man had a perfect relationship with his Creator and with the animal kingdom that God intended for him to rule over. He was charged with the responsibility of giving names to all the animals (Genesis 2:20). One can imagine the depth of thoughtfulness that Adam exercised in naming the animals. It suggests a relationship of understanding and friendship. Adam and Eve inherited the ability to procreate human life. They were “to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). “Replenish” as used in the KJV translation simply means to fill, satisfy, have wholly or to be full (Strong’s Concordance, H4390) compared to what we usually think “replenish” means — a re-stocking or re-filling of something depleted. The Scriptures indicate that their procreative work began after the fall into sin (Genesis 3:16). When Adam sinned, he lost the innocence that he had prior to sin and became painfully aware of the consequences of evil, as it played out between Cain and Abel and the remainder of his progeny.
Adam and Eve Disobey
We learn of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis 3:9-11: “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” The account begins with a conversation between God and Adam. Adam was well aware of his transgression because he knew he was naked and was avoiding the presence of God. The Lord had to ask for his whereabouts upon which Adam acknowledged his fear because he was “naked.” He was guilty and he knew it. Nakedness is used in 2 Chronicles 28:19 to describe the condition of Judah after God brought it low due to the sin of idolatry. In like manner, Adam’s nakedness revealed his true condition of disobedience which was more than a minor infraction of God’s laws. The Lord held Adam accountable on this matter. In response, Adam shifted the blame for his action to Eve. “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12). Upon that declaration, God inquired of Eve about the matter. She honestly exclaimed, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:13). 1 Timothy 2:14 says, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” It was not the deception of Eve that brought on the penalty of death; it was Adam’s deliberate spurning of the law of God. Perhaps Adam chose the same path as Eve because he feared being alone again. Perhaps his love of his mate led him into disobedience. Whatever the reason, the die was cast for all humanity to experience the penalty of sin and death. When we are born, we inherit the impact of Adam’s original sin in our genes. The Psalmist declares, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).
Consequences of Disobedience
Man became estranged from his Creator, his Father and his closest friend, by virtue of sin. The close relationship enjoyed by Adam with his creator ended. This is similar to loved ones being separated by unkind words or sentiments until an apology or reparation is made. In Adam’s case, reference was made to a future healer who would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).
Jehovah was not able to maintain his intimate relationship with his human creation, because sin had marred it. What started with perfect conditions in Eden was interrupted by man’s disobedience. More than 6000 years have elapsed since the fall, during which “thou [Jehovah] hidest thy face … takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust” (Psalm 104:29). This period is also known as the “permission of evil,” designed to prepare man to return to their original inheritance through the coming kingdom of Christ.
Experience with Sin Necessary God foresaw the need for man to experience the consequences of sin before he could live and rule himself. Br. Russell wrote on this manifold wisdom of God in Volume I of “Studies in the Scriptures.” “God could have made mankind devoid of ability to discern between right and wrong, or able only to discern and to do right; but to have made him so would have been to make merely a living machine, and certainly not a mental image of his Creator. Or he might have made man perfect and a free agent, as he did, and have guarded him from Satan’s temptation. In that case, man’s experience being limited to good, he would have been continually liable to suggestions of evil from without, or to ambitions from within, which would have made the everlasting future uncertain, and an outbreak of disobedience and disorder might always have been a possibility; besides which, good would never have been so highly appreciated except by its contrast with evil” (The Divine Plan of the Ages, pages 119,120). Br. Russell continues, “The question recurs in another form: could not man have been made acquainted with evil in some other way than by experience? There are four ways of knowing things, namely, by intuition, by observation, by experience, and by information received through sources accepted as positively truthful. An intuitive knowledge would be a direct apprehension, without the process of reasoning, or the necessity for proof. Such knowledge belongs only to the divine Jehovah, the eternal fountain of all wisdom and truth, who, of necessity and in the very nature of things, is superior to all His creatures. Therefore, man’s knowledge of good and evil could not be intuitive. Man’s knowledge might have come by observation, but in that event there must needs have been some exhibition of evil and its results for man to observe. This would imply the permission of evil somewhere, among some beings, and why not as well among men, and upon the earth, as among others elsewhere?” (The Divine Plan of the Ages, pages 121,122).
Man’s Inheritance Restored
Through experience God implemented the wisest, most effective program to teach man the knowledge of good and evil, to rehabilitate man, and to restore his inheritance and perfect environment. To accomplish this, God gave His only begotten son Jesus as a ransom for Adam. This ransom secured for each member of our race an opportunity for everlasting life under favorable conditions in Christ’s kingdom. It also purchased back Adam’s paradise home and his dominion as earth’s king. Br. Charles Russell writes, “Hence we read, ‘And thou, O Tower of the flock [Christ], the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion’ (Micah 4:8). The Apostle Paul also, speaks of the ‘redemption of the purchased possession’ (Ephesians 1:14). Our Lord in one of his parables referred to this also, showing that he purchased not only mankind, the treasure, but also the field, the world, the earth from under the curse: and that all who join with him, as members of the Kingdom class, share in that purchase of the field and the treasure (Matthew 13:44)” (The Battle of Armageddon, page 648). Man’s inheritance of life, happiness, and dominion will be restored as it was in the “first dominion,” through the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Praise the Lord! Amen.