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Dwelling in God’s word: A study on being stewards of creation

by Pastor Andrew Ruddell

In the beginning God created the cosmos and all that’s in it. With his word he ordered the chaos and he blessed it and called it ‘good’. Made in his image, He declared humankind ‘very good’.

All creation worked together in perfect order and harmony – the land, oceans and atmosphere, plants and animals, man and woman. The soil brought forth vegetation, the oceans were filled with fish, the skies with birds. Every kind of creature was fruitful and multiplied.

God, the ruler of all, made humankind his vice-regents (stewards) over creation, ‘to subdue and have dominion’ (Genesis 1:28). Made in God’s image they were to do this without greed.

Read Genesis 1:28.
Made in image of God, what do you think the vice-regency of humankind was intended for? Was it to be aggressive against creation or for creation? Compare your answer with Genesis 2:15.

Then entered the lie from the father of lies, who was ‘a murderer from the beginning’ (John 8:44). Humankind listened to the lie rather than the truth of the Word. This lie is the physical and eternal death of all humankind and all things in its wake. (Genesis 3:17).

God’s word is always ordering and effective. His word goes forth and never returns void. But when it is misused to serve the lie, it is not without harmful consequences. Under the lie, humankind’s dominion over creation is disordered. Instead of care and proper use, there is misuse and abuse. This has resulted in irreparable damage to the planet through unbelief, ignorance and exploitation.

Think of all the good things you enjoy from God’s creation. List as many as you can.
How can they be abused? What are the consequences?
How can the good things God gives you be abused to bring harm to others or even death?
Think of the ways we try to justify this abuse? Is it God’s fault or is it for self-gain?

It is often said that ‘money is the root of all evil’. Is this true? Would getting rid of money save the planet? Read 1 Timothy 6:10. What is the real problem?

In Genesis 1:28 the two verbs ‘subdue’ (in Hebrew kabash) and ‘have dominion’ (radah) are used. When these words are used elsewhere in the Bible with aggressive overtones, extra words are added in the Hebrew to modify their meaning (Numbers 32:22,29; and Leviticus 25:43,46,53; Isaiah 14:16, respectively).

Because of these two verbs in Genesis 1:28 some blame Christianity for the ecological damage to the planet. Is this claim accurate?

While substantial improvements in human wellbeing are evident in many parts of the world, this has come at considerable cost. Disorder and decay are all around us – ‘the whole creation groans’ (Romans 8:22).

No longer are all creatures fruitful. Plastics are clogging and choking our wildlife. Our impact has been widespread. As a glaciologist I would travel to the earth’s remote polar and alpine regions to measure glacier loss from human-induced climate change. Science has physical power but can never prevent us living ‘the lie’ and misusing it.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17–21. Where does victory over sin come from? How was this achieved?
As Christ’s ambassadors who work with God’s creation, how is Godly dominion manifested?

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