Creation of Land Animals and Man. Part 5 of 5 (Series: Lessons on Genesis)
by John Lowe
Be fruitful, and multiply,
The procreation and nurture of the continuing generations of mankind upon earth is a God-ordained privilege and commandment. God also gives man a job to do: fulfill God’s intention for man’s exercise of dominion over the earth. Inherent in this command is that man should “be fruitful and multiply.”
God, having made them capable of passing on the nature they had received, said to them, “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” With this pronouncement, he gave them:
1. A large inheritance: Replenish the earth is a directive that is bestowed upon mankind. They were made “to dwell upon the face of all the earth” (Acts 17:26). This is the place where God has placed man to be the servant of his divine will, to govern the inferior creatures, to give praises to his creator—“All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee” (Psalms 145:10; KJV)—and, lastly, to serve a kind of probation, before going on to either a better state, or a worse state.
2. A numerous lasting family, to enjoy this inheritance. God has pronounced a blessing upon them by which their posterity would extend to the furthest corners of the earth and continue for the longest period of time. Fruitfulness and increase depend upon the blessing of God: Obed-edom had eight sons, “for God blessed him” (1 Chronicles 26:5). It is due to this blessing, which God decreed at creation, that the race of mankind is still in existence, and that as one generation passeth away another cometh.
and replenish the earth,
"Replenish the earth" does not depict a re-population of the earth, but the spread of mankind throughout the world. There is no record of previous populations that sometimes are alleged to have existed prior to humanity. The passage should be translated, "Fill the earth and subdue it."
Man cannot fulfill God’s plan for him on the earth unless he populates it.
1. Additionally, God gave mankind a desire for sex, which would make the populating of the earth rapid and probable.
2. However, many have thought that being fruitful and multiplying was God’s only or chief purpose for sex, but this isn’t the case. The primary reason God created sex was to contribute to the bonding of man with woman to form a one-flesh relationship.
3. Animals have sexual relations only for reproduction, but human sexual response is different from animal sexual response in many ways. Human ovulation has no outward sign; humans have sex in private; humans have secondary sexual characteristics (only in humans do females develop breasts before the first birth). Only humans demonstrate a constant availability for an interest in sex, as opposed to a “heat” season in animals. In humans, the duration of the sexual interlude is longer and the intensity of the pleasure of sex is stronger, and only humans continue to have intercourse after the end of fertility. None of these specifically human aspects of sex are required for reproduction, but all of them are useful for sex as a tool of bonding.
and subdue it:
“And subdue it” does not mean that it was in the hands of others, who had no right to it, and who must be conquered and have it taken out of their hands; but rather to make use of it by tilling the land, and making it useful to man.
“Subdue it” corroborates what he had said before with respect to dominion. Man had already been created with this stipulation, that he should bring the earth under his control; but now, he is put in possession of his right, when he hears what has been given to him by the Lord. And Moses reinforces this thought in the next verse, when he says God has given to him the herbs and the fruits. It is important that we understand that everything we have and everything He will give us in the future comes from the hand of God. And therefore Paul teaches us that when we eat and drink we sin, unless we have faith, “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23; KJV). If we need something, we should ask Him for it, and when we use His gifts, we should acknowledge His goodness and fatherly care.
Some conclude from this passage that men ate only herbs and fruits and that it was unlawful for them to eat flesh until the flood. This is probably true, because God confines the food of mankind within certain limits. Then after the deluge, he specifically grants them the use of flesh. The reasoning behind this view, however, is not very strong: because those on the opposite side can argue that the first men offered sacrifices from their flocks. Moreover, the law of sacrificing does not allow any sacrifice that has not been given for our use. Finally, men were clothed in animal skins; therefore it was lawful for them to kill animals. God certainly did not intend that man should be meagerly sustained; but rather, by these words, He promises a liberal abundance of plant and animal life, which He was supposed to subdue and make use of as part of a gratifying and pleasant life.
Man by his superior wisdom has been given methods to make the fiercest animals yield, and the strongest to serve him; and he has dominion over all the animals, which has been granted by God himself. The commission He received was to utilize for his necessities the vast resources of the earth, by agricultural and mining operations, by geographical research, scientific discovery, and mechanical invention.
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.
With these words, God gave to man, when he made him, a universal and unlimited dominion over the inferior creatures, over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and they are echoed in Psalms 8.6—“Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.” Although man provides for neither the “fish of the sea” or “the fowl of the air,” he has power over both, and even much more power over every living thing that moveth upon the earth, which are more commonly under his care and within his reach. God intended for this blessing to put an honour upon man, so that he might be more strongly obliged to bring honour to his Maker. This dominion was greatly diminished by the fall, and yet God's providence continues to give safety and support to mankind, and God's grace has given to the saints a new and better title to the creatures than that which was forfeited by sin for all is ours if we are Christ's—“Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours” (1 Cor 3:22; KJV).
• Or the world. “The world” is used to denote the things which God has made; the universe, the things which pertain to this life. And the meaning of the apostle probably is, that all things pertaining to this world which God has made—all the events which are occurring by His providence were theirs, to be used for their advantage and their enjoyment.
• Or life. Life is theirs to enjoy, and the various events and occurrences of life all tend to promote their welfare, and advance their salvation.
• Death. They do not fear death, although it is usually regarded as a calamity and a curse. But it is theirs:
o Because they shall have peace and support in the hour of their death.
o Because it has no terrors for them. It shall take away nothing which they are not willing to give up.
o Because it is the avenue which leads to their eternal rest.
o Because they shall triumph over it. It was subdued by Christ when He rose from the grave.
o Because death is the means by which they are translated to a world of glory.
• Or things present, or things to come. Events which are now happening and everything that can possibly happen to us. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39; KJV).
• All are yours. All shall tend to promote your comfort and salvation.
Psalms 8:1-9 echoes this original sovereignty bestowed on man.