Christ, Creation Mandate, and New Creation

I’m not a “yard work” guy. At all. It’s all I can do to keep my lawn cut and my weeds (reasonably) at bay. Yard work gives me hives—literally—along with itchy, bloodshot eyes and a runny nose. The one redeeming quality of yard work, as I see it, is that it highlights our need of Christ.

Now, my knee-jerk response to weeds is to blame Adam for the fall and curse in Genesis 3. However, though what we often call the “first gospel” (protoevangelium) doesn’t occur until Genesis 3:15, I’d argue that even Genesis 1-2 highlight Christ and redemption for at least two reasons.

First, Genesis 1:26-28 records the “Creation Mandate”:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. 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.”

God gave humanity the responsibility of subduing the earth. From where I’m sitting, that’s not going well. My feeble efforts on my two-acre parcel of the earth, described above, demonstrate the problem. Creation—like my yard—is far from subdued, and it’s not just weeds. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods rage. Animals eat each other. In short, the thorns and thistles are winning. Until when? Until Christ establishes His kingdom. Only then will the Creation Mandate be completely fulfilled. Only through Jesus will all things be brought under a man’s feet (Psalm 8:6-8; 1 Corinthians 15:25-27; Ephesians 1:22). Only when Christ has triumphed will animals be subdued under a human Governor and the wolf lay with the lamb (Isaiah 11:1-9). In short, only Christ can fulfill God’s command from Genesis 1:26-28, just as only Christ could fulfill God’s commands from Exodus 20. God gave the commands in Genesis 1-2, knowing that only the Second Adam and not the First could ultimately keep them.

Second, God’s revelation ends with an unmistakable allusion back to Genesis 1-2 in Revelation 21-22. When Christ’s redemptive work is complete, creation will be remade (note the allusion to Isaiah 65:17-25 in Revelation 21:1ff). The New Jerusalem will be the improved and permanent Eden. Creation will be perfect and peaceful and subdued when the Messiah’s redemptive ministry if fulfilled and He hits creation’s “reset” button. Christ will fulfill and renew Genesis 1-2 while also undoing Genesis 3.

As much as I love Genesis 3:15, we need to be mindful that God’s plan of redemption preceded the fall and even creation itself (Revelation 13:8). Centering all things on Christ, the Creator, Redeemer, and King, wasn’t a response to human sin, nor is it a sub-plot of the Scriptures. It’s central to what God is doing—and has always done—in His relationship to creation. Christ, the source of creation, is also its end. The Bible hinges on Him, from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22. So what? Well, for one thing, I can’t wait to cast off my weeding gloves and allergy meds. But more importantly, Genesis 1-2 are every bit as Christ-centered as the rest of Scripture.

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One Response

  1. “Genesis 1-2 are every bit as Christ-centered as the rest of Scripture.”

    Chris, I couldn’t agree more. The notion that you’re wrong—which is a very real position that intelligent, thoughtful people take—may be the most pedantic theological argument I’ve ever encountered.

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