Earth Day is a fantastic day to celebrate Creation Day! Join AMBrewster as he lays out God’s Creation Mandate specifically for Christian parents and shares valuable insight into how your family can grow closer to God and each other as you steward Creation together.
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In just a couple days many people will be celebrating Earth Day. Personally, I like to refer to it as Creation Day, and I’d encourage you to do the same. Creation Day serves many of the same purposes as Earth Day, but its name and the way we celebrate it rightly focus on the fact that Creation must have a Creator, and He’s more important.
In episode 47 I introduced a concept I created called Sanctified Sustainability, and a few days later we published A TLP Snippet #6 called, “Sanctified Sustainability, Your Family, and Earth Day.”
Please listen to those episodes to learn more about Sanctified Sustainability and hear some interesting ideas for celebrating Creation Day.
However, on today’s show I want to talk more about the foundation of Sanctified Sustainability — something to which theologians refer as the Creation Mandate.
But before we jump into that, I want to thank whoever it was that gave us another 5-star rating on iTunes. I really appreciate it when you do that. Thank you so much!
And it would be really cool if you’d leave a review too. Let people know why you think TLP is a 5-star podcast.
It’s true, we’re still the number one podcast for Christian parents, and we have you to thank for that. So be sure to leave a review and let other parents know why their time will be well-invested when they spend it with us.
And I look forward to reading your review on the show.
Alright, so what is the Creation Mandate and how does it affect your parenting?
Normally, when people discuss the Creation Mandate they turn to Genesis 1:28, which reads: “And God blessed [Adam and Eve]. 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.”’
The Creation Mandate can be reduced to five principles: Be fruitful, multiply, fill, subdue, rule.
But first it’s important to understand that this mandate was given to mankind before the Fall. This was not a punishment, it’s not a consequences of sin, our responsibility to the earth was part of God’s perfect plan, and it’s still as important right now.
It’s also interesting to consider that God had this plan in mind while everything was still good. That means that God planned for His creation to be better only when mankind got involved.
That’s a unique point.
So, before we continue, I have to ask, is your family fulfilling in any way God’s first and greatest command to humanity?
Hopefully your family is engaged in fulfilling the Creation Mandate, but perhaps it’s not. So, let’s discuss God’s requirements and discover if we’re dropping the ball.
Let’s move through this mandate in reverse order.
1. God commands us to rule over the Creation. The ESV uses the term “have dominion,” but I like the way John MacArthur describes it: God wants us to be the kings of the world.
Don’t forget that God made man in his own image. So many of God’s characteristics have been built into our DNA. We talked about a number of these in our discussion about helping your child love what’s good in episode 137. In that show we saw that God created us to be relational, creative, passionate, and good.
In addition — as we’ll see today — God has given us the ability, desire, and command to be in charge.
The Creation needs mankind. Contemporary philosophers and movie makers may imagine a world set free from mankind’s oppression, a thriving ecosystem finally able to thrive, but that’s not the world God envisioned.
The Creation needs your family to rule over it. This includes everything included in the creation account: the earth, the water, the sky, plants, animals, creeping things, and birds. We can even have dominion over light and dark.
2. God commands us to subdue Creation. This word is incredibly strong. It has the idea of taking something into bondage. The word is used all throughout Scripture to refer to people forcing others into slavery and subjugating nations.
The Truth being revealed here is not simply that mankind exists as the crown of creation, but that he is to use the Creation. Nature will want to do one thing, we — who know what’s best — choose to use it in another. The Hebrew word can have the idea of “squashing from a position of strength and basically reversing a decision or situation.” In a way, we can say that it doesn’t matter what Creation wants, we’ve been called to exercise our will upon it.
This may be lived our simply in the way we tend our yards, gardens, and in the way we train our animals.
3. Now, the remaining parts of the mandate deal specifically with procreation. In many ways, having children was your participation in the Creation Mandate.
Still, even though they’re all related, let’s look at all the words.
“Fill" has the idea of completely filling or overflowing something. This it a unique concept especially in light of the secular environmentalist’s dire prediction that there are too many people on the planet and that we’re near the tipping point.
Isn’t it interesting that God commands mankind to overflow the earth? Now, I have my opinions on what God intends to do, but it’s mere speculation. What we do know, is that Creation is a big place and God knew it would take a lot of people to rule and subdue it well. And something tells me God created it to be just the right size.
And so we’ll look at the last two commands together because in Scripture they often appear together. Eleven times in the Old Testament, God refers to being fruitful and multiplying, and every time He’s referring to the number of children and — eventually — the number of descendants born to someone.
“Fruitful” means what you’d expect — bear fruit, and “multiply” speaks to the fact that reproduction is not about addition, it’s about multiplication. It’s not as if God creates new people to be added to the current population. No, nearly every human being has the ability to procreate, and the more people who are born the more people can be born.
I find it interesting that God didn’t just say be fruitful. He wants us to multiply. But, do you see that none of us truly ever multiply. We add, and then our children add, and then their children add, and when it’s all said and done we all participated in the process of multiplication.
So, if all I can do is add, why was I commanded to multiply?
Inherently, I play an important part in equipping my children to fulfill the Creation Mandate. Without my instruction and guidance, my children may have the wrong view of marriage and children and their dominion of the earth.
I participate in the multiplication by adding children and then teaching them to add and teach their children to add and teach.
So, that’s the basic mandate. God wants us to have children and prepare those children to have children in order that there will be enough humans to rule over Creation and bend it to our will.
However, there’s more to it.
It’s abundantly sad when people grab isolated verses from Scripture and use them as proof-texts for their own Failure Philosophies.
The enslavement of African peoples is an example of such egregious behavior. It’s true that Ham’s descendants included Canaan and most of the African nations, and it’s true that in Genesis 9 Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”
But that verse cannot be used to justify the slavery of every descendant of Ham by every descendent of Japheth!
In the same way, we must not foolishly proclaim that we get to force nature to our bidding in such a way that harms it.
The Bible is clear that our stewardship is to be intelligent, efficient, and gentle. God expects us to rotate crops and be wise in how we care for the earth. I Corinthians 14 calls us to decent orderliness. Therefore our dominion must be efficient. And Deuteronomy 25:4 as well as the prohibition against working animals on the Sabbath and the various other passages that command us to care for our animals teaches us that our stewardship is to be gentle.
My point is this — we must not excuse hazardous practices in the name of dominion. We must never allow cruelty because we’re claiming to subdue the earth.
As we exercise the image of God in us, we must exercise the complete image and not merely His sovereignty.
So, what’s the practical application for your family? How does all of this affect your household?
1. We must teach our children to worship God, not nature. We fulfill the Creation Mandate because out Creator Mandates it, not because the Creation mandates it.
2. We must teach our children to exercise God’s dominion over Creation in how they manage and consume their resources. We need to teach our children to redeem their resources, not waste them. This includes their material possessions, but it also involves their time, skills, the grace God bestows on us, His Truth, and our salvation.
Again, I encourage you to listen to episode 47 about how we humans waste the resources God provides.
3. We need to teach our children to steward their health, not hurt it. Man oh, man is this a touchy subject. But seriously, what we eat is directly tied to our mandate. We Americans and Europeans — and anyone part of any nation that’s embraced western philosophies and practices — are especially not careful enough with what we put into our bodies. We’re careless, and the health issues pervading our countries are the steep consequences of our failing to glorify God in our Creation responsibilities.
4. We need to teach our children to use creation, not abuse it. Yes, we must subdue the Creation and teach it the better way, but we must not cruelly abuse nature and animals.
And 5. We need to teach our children to be fruitful and multiply, not how to selfishly satisfy. Some people don’t want children because they believe the kids will cramp their lifestyle. Some people accidentally procreate time and again as a result of their trying to find satisfaction through sexuality.
We need to teach our children God’s plan for pure sexuality and also give them a biblical view of the family. This idea of being fruitful and multiplying and filling the earth also speaks to the relational image of God in us. We can’t participate in these activities in a relational vacuum.
So, these are five of the tenants of Sanctified Sustainability:
And the beauty of participating in our stewardship of this earth is that if benefits our lives and strengthens our relationships at the same it cares for Creation.
So, let’s wrap up this study with a little more practical application in light of Creation Day this coming Sunday:
1. Explain the Creation Mandate and Sanctified Sustainability to your kids.
2. Show them how everything in their lives falls under the Creation Mandate.
3. You can even walk through your children’s day and illustrate for them how getting ready in the morning, showering, cleaning their room, making their bed, eating good meals, doing their best in school, throwing away their garbage, caring for their pets, relating to their friends and teachers and siblings and parents, redeeming their time, growing their talents, and drawing closer to their Lord is all part of God’s Creation Mandate.
4. Compile a list of the things your family frequently wastes. It may be money, time, talents, relationships, Truth, grace, or even salvation. Whatever it is, take a moment to apologize to God and then develop a plan to address those areas.
5. Start an evolving conversation about pure sexuality and God’s plan for the family.
6. Get outside and talk about how the creation sings God’s praise and how the heavens declare His glory.
7. Start a garden, and task your children with care of your property. If you live in an apartment, get a plant and teach your children to care for it.
8. Help your children see their destructiveness as direct disobedience to God. God created and calls on man to steward, when we carelessly ruin our possessions or take the lives of animals or unnecessarily harm the planet, we’re failing our divine mandate.
9. Watch The Creation Museum’s Created Cosmos planetarium show at TruthLoveParent.com. I’ll put the link in the description.
10. You can also read the Creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 and have a family discussion about whatever seems interesting to your kids.
I hope today’s episode gave you just a sneak-peek into the importance of the Creation Mandate. And whether you celebrate it on Earth Day or not, I think it would be a fantastic tradition to start Creation Day.
Just make sure Creation Day is spent celebrating the Creator.
And please share this episode with your friends to help other families all over the globe learn about their responsibility to steward the earth.
I have episode notes for you today on our blog, Taking Back the Family, and I’ll link that for you in the description as well.
On our next episode we’re going to discuss some more issues with Family Talk.
Do your children have sharp tongues? Are the constantly “joking” with each other? Well, our next episode is called “Family Jokes | is God pleased when we make fun of each other?” We’ll talk about the kind of family kidding that’s appropriate, the kind that’s not, and what to do about it.
Thank you for joining us today. Truth.Love.Parent. is a listener supported podcast, and if you’d be interested in learning about the many ways to support TLP, please click on the “5 Ways to Support TLP” link in the description.
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There are so many issues that come up in our parenting, it seems almost naive to think that our responsibility to steward the earth could be that big of a deal. But when we read God’s Word we realize that it was His original intent, His continuing desire, and part of our eternal life that we can start enjoying today.
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