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THEOLOGY > Man > Dominion Mandate > Purpose of the Mandate 


The purpose of the Mandate is rule, a rule over the entire earth and subservient to the rule of God. Man has been commanded to exercise sovereignty over God’s creation, but it is a derived sovereignty—that is, human sovereignty is beneath Divine Sovereignty (see: God is Sovereign).

Before He created man God said: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion . . .” (Gen. 1:26); after He created the first couple, God said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion . . .” (Gen. 1:28). In both statements there is the word, “dominion.” What is the meaning of this word?

“Dominion” is from the Hebrew word, radhah, a verb that appears more than twenty times in the Old Testament. In the KJV it is translated as: “bear rule,” “have dominion,” “prevail against,” “reign,” “rule,” and “rule over”; of these the most common translation is “rule.”

Following are some passages where radhah appears as “dominion,” “rule,” and “reign”:

And you may take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession; they shall be your permanent slaves. But regarding your brethren, the children of Israel you shall not rule (radhah) over one another with rigor (Lev. 25:46);

Those who hate you shall reign (radhah) over you (Lev. 26:17);

For he had dominion (radhah) over all the region on this side of the river . . . over all the kings on this side of the River (I Ki. 4:24);

Others were chiefs of the officials who were over Solomon’s work: five hundred and fifty, who ruled (radhah) over the people who did the work (I Ki. 9:23);

Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion (radhah) over them”(Neh. 9:28);

Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; the upright shall have dominion (radhah) over them in the morning (Ps. 49:14);

Rule (radhah) in the midst of your enemies (Ps. 110:2);

they will take them captive whose captives they were, and rule (radhah) over their oppressors (Isa. 14:2).

The Mandate is a mandate of radhah, that is, man is to have “dominion”; he is to “rule” or “reign” over the earth. As can be seen from the above verses, the word is not a weak word nor a passive word, but is used of ruling over slaves, ruling over territory, or ruling over conquered people.

Man exercises his Dominion as the representative of God; thus the Dominion is a delegated sovereignty. The rule of man is not absolute but is derived from God and is contingent on the determination of God. Man’s rule is a gift from the Creator, not a right of man by virtue of his creation.

A point that has been made several times warrants repetition: the earth exists for man, man does not exist for the earth. In the scheme of things man has priority over the earth, and not only priority over the earth, but the right to rule the earth and all that is on it and in it as he sees fit. The earth exists to serve man, and man has authority to use and dispose of it for his own well-being. This is not selfish nor self-centered thinking; it is an attempt to reflect on man and the earth, and man’s life on the earth, from a Theistic perspective.

The earth is not Mother Earth. Man is not from the earth in the sense that the earth produced him and has cared for him, bringing him to the present point of his development. Man is from God see: Created by God), made by God in His own image and likeness (see: Image of God). The two concepts—Mother Earth and God the Creator—are foreign to each other; they cannot be harmonized. There is no basis for a worship of the earth, nor for an inappropriate reverence for the earth that inhibits man from using the earth according to his own determination. A proper view of Creation invalidates the foolish concept of Mother Earth, and it also keeps man from feeling guilty for utilizing the earth.

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