Created on Purpose
November 19, 2022 | Brian Bill
On Tuesday of this week, another world record was broken when the population of our planet topped 8 billion people! I’m not quite sure what baby’s birth put us over the top, or even how they count this, but it’s fair to say humankind has kept at least one of God’s commands which is to “be fruitful and multiply” as found in Genesis 1:28-31. Let’s stand and read together.
“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.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
Because everyone is made in the image of God, every person on the planet matters to God. Last weekend, in a message called “Gender Matters,” we celebrated this truth from Genesis 1:27: In God’s good design, He created everyone as male or female. Males and females are equal, but not identical, because their biological sex is separate and distinct. God created males and females on purpose with different purposes. We’ve been made differently by design with distinct capacities and roles to fulfill the divine mandate to serve as stewards of the earth.
As we come to the end of our study in the first chapter of Genesis, it’s helpful to review what we’ve learned these past seven weeks.
- To move forward in our faith, we must go back to the beginning.
- Genesis has a big beginning because God is a big God.
- When God says it, that settles it.
- We’re able to see God’s provision and providence, that He is powerful and personal, and our response needs to be one of praise.
- God forms and fills His creation for His glory and our good.
- Because we are image-bearers of God, our purpose is to reflect, reveal, and represent Him.
- In God’s good design, He created everyone as male or female.
These past few weeks many of you have spent time reading the first chapter of Genesis. Way to go! How many of you read through the entire Book of Genesis in one sitting? The challenge was to do this before Thanksgiving, so you still have time.
Being made in the image of God involves having a personality, morality, spirituality, and the responsibility to respond. Because we have a soul, a spirit, and a will, we possess dignity and value. There is no one like you and there will never be another you. This has at least two implications. First, unless you are rightly related to the Creator through the new birth, your life will lack meaning and purpose. In the words of Augustine, “Thou has created us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee!” Second, you will never look into the eyes of someone who does not matter to God.
Our main point today is God created us on purpose for His purposes.
We see in verse 28 how God begins by blessing Adam and Eve: “And God blessed them.” To bless means to, “to enrich and endow, to salute on bended knee.” This word comes from the ancient practice of weighing coins on a scale to determine their value. To bless has the idea of recognizing worth and adding value to someone’s life. Interestingly, men and women are not the first created beings to be blessed. In verse 22, He blessed sharks and sparrows.
In the New Testament, the term translated “bless” is the Greek word eulegeo, from which we get “eulogy,” which means “to celebrate someone by paying tribute through giving high praise.” Since God does that for us, let’s make sure we celebrate those around us, before they die. In their book called The Blessing, John Trent and Gary Smalley encourage believers to bless others. It’s especially important for parents and grandparents to bless children and grandchildren. They use the acrostic BLESS to help us remember the main ingredients.
B – Be Committed. A blessing is not meant to be a one-time statement but rather a long-term commitment to another’s well-being.
L – Lovingly Touch. The power of an appropriate hug or touching a hand communicates warmth and acceptance.
E – Express Value. Communicate how highly you value that person.
S – See Potential. Help the person picture a special future and cheer them on to help them move forward.
S – Say It. Effective blessings must be put into words of affirmation, whether spoken, written, or both.
One of my favorite blessings in the Bible is found in Numbers 6:24-26: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Just because we’re blessed doesn’t mean we’re to just sit and soak. We’ll see that God gave five responsibilities to men and women in this passage. This is often referred to as the creation mandate. God blesses us so we will be obedient and bless others. In Genesis 12:2, God blessed Abram so he in turn would bless the nations: “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”
Deuteronomy 28:2 links God’s blessing to our obedience: “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Let’s look now at our responsibility.
1. Be fruitful.
The idea behind “fruitful” is “prosperity or growth.” Simply put, Adam and Eve were to have children. Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” The Bible refers to children as a blessing from God. From conception on, children are made in the image of God and are given as a blessing from God Himself. As fellow image-bearers, we affirm that babies are blessings, not burdens, and must be protected from all hurt and harm, beginning in the womb.
The next responsibility is “to multiply” which refers to “abundance.” God brought Adam and Eve together to reflect His image, to represent Him, and to reproduce godly offspring. This is fleshed out in Malachi 2:15: “Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” One of the purposes of marriage between one man and one woman is to multiply the human race by producing godly offspring. Sadly, just this week, marriage was redefined again with the United States Senate passing what might more accurately be called the “Disrespect for Marriage Act.”
Here’s a paraphrase of what Albert Mohler said in The Briefing on Thursday: “Our culture is moving away from the beliefs of Bible-believing Christians faster than we even recognized, particularly in the areas of the sanctity of life and the redefinition of marriage.” Just this week, Full House star Candace Cameron Bure stood up for traditional marriage. Her comments sparked outrage among the LBGTQ community online. Here are some of the caustic quotes.
- This is rude and hurtful to a whole community of people.
- It’s irresponsible and hurtful for [her] to use tradition as a guise for exclusion.
- [She] is out of sync with a great majority of people of faith.
It should be noted, this firestorm was ignited simply because she said she was in favor of traditional marriage.
God created us on purpose for His purposes. He wants humans to be fruitful and to flourish.
3. Fill the earth.
To “fill” has the idea of “finishing or satisfying.” This word is used in 1 Kings 18:33: “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” God was not satisfied with just two image-bearers; He longed for the entire earth to be full of people who share His own image. This purpose for people to fill the earth is so important to God that He restated it after the worldwide flood in Genesis 9:1: “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’”
God wants His image-bearers to fill the entire earth, not to stay in one location like the people tried to do when they constructed the Tower of Babel. Genesis 11:8 describes what God did: “So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.”
Since God is blessed by what He has birthed, He blesses His creation so it will give birth and multiply
The blessing of the creation mandate is linked to the ability to multiply and reproduce: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill.” The Creator God wants His creation to be fruitful, to flourish, and to fill what He has formed. Since God is blessed by what He has birthed, He blesses His creation so it will give birth and multiply. While God has the sovereign power to give or withhold children, His general will is for married couples to have children. Having said that, it doesn’t mean you are not blessed if you are single, struggle with infertility, or choose not to have children. Neither Jesus nor the Apostle Paul were married or had children
But, it does mean children are to be viewed as blessings from God. Recently, I was moved by a post called, “Life is Beautiful” from a blogger named Travis.
Don’t let the fact that babies are born all the time dull your awareness of the glory and beauty of it. If it is a wonder and marvel that fruit can grow from a seed that came from a fruit (and it is), then how much more significant it is that a living creature can generate another just like it. And if a dog giving birth to puppies or a cow giving birth to a calf is breathtaking (which it is), then how much more awe-inspiring it is when a woman gives birth to a baby boy or girl. A boy or girl she has been already nurturing for nine months. boy or girl unlike every other boy or girl on the planet.
And yet, there is clearly more going on than just a remarkable natural process. It is mysterious and miraculous that a creature would be able to reproduce itself. To generate another of its kind, but not a carbon copy. We are not talking about an assembly line of identical cars or computers, but entirely new beings.
Within humanity, of course, the glory of this miracle is most vividly displayed. The body of a woman may have all of the necessary components to grow and sustain a tiny life, but it is evident that a master Sculptor is at work, molding cells into their proper form and function and instilling a consciousness, a conscience, a personality, and a purpose. God is the master Sculptor, of course, doing the work that humans could never begin to accomplish on their own. He issued the command for people to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), but He is the only one who can ultimately make that happen.
He creates a life, forms it, and breathes a conscious soul into it. He chooses to begin that process with the union of a man and a woman, while completing it within her womb. And, as Psalm 139 so powerfully proclaims, He knows every moment of every life, from conception onward.
God created us on purpose for His purposes.
4. Overcome obstacles.
We’re also to “subdue” the earth, which has the idea of overcoming as when David subdued the nations in 2 Samuel 8:11. The word subduedoesn’t mean mistreatment but rather “to bring under cultivation.” We’re to study it, develop it, and bring creation under control. This is part of God’s blessing on men and women made in the image of God. As caretakers of creation, we’re to utilize the earth’s resources to serve God, others, and ourselves.
God has made us to be gardeners and governors who grow and govern His world. We’re to be creative in the world in which we live. We’re to serve as vice-regents, as kings and queens of His creation, as wise and kind stewards of what He has entrusted to us. Unfortunately, humans have gone in two opposite extremes by either wiping out creation or by falsely worshipping creation.
5. Exercise authority.
As part of creation care, God has given us “dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Some like to quote this verse as a command to go fishing and hunting! My dad is out in the woods showing his dominion over deer this weekend. Psalm 115:16 says, “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth He has given to the children of man.”
The word “dominion” means, “to have power or rule over” but dominion is not the same as domination. We should not abuse the environment, animals, or our fellow image-bearers because we are to subdue and have dominion for His glory and the good of others. R.C. Sproul writes, “We are called to reflect the character of God’s righteous rule over the universe. He never ravages or exploits what He rules, but rather reigns in justice and kindness.”
As part of God’s gracious provision, He provided for His creation in two ways according to verses 29-30.
- God gave food to humankind. We see this in verse 29: “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.’” The word “behold” creates expectation and gives vividness. It can be translated as, “Now! Look!” God is the giver of everything we have and need. Acts 17:25 serves as a good reminder as we prepare for Thanksgiving this week: “He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
This is repeated in Genesis 2:9: “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” Evidently, Adam and Eve were vegetarians, at least at the beginning. They enjoyed fruit and grains, which is why in their honor, I’ve been eating oatmeal topped with blueberries for breakfast.
After the flood, God gave explicit permission for humans to eat meat, which is why I enjoy steak and ribs (just trying to do my part). We see this in Genesis 9:3: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” Occasionally, I’ll hear someone say it’s more spiritual to be a vegetarian but remember the Lord and two angels ate beef when they visited Abraham (Genesis 18:7-8), the priests ate meat as part of the sacrificial system (1 Corinthians 9:13), Jesus ate roasted lamb at the Last Supper (Luke 22:15) and He ate grilled fish on the beach (Luke 24:42-43).
The point is God has graciously provided food for us to eat, which is why we must help those who don’t have enough. Our Awana clubbers collected food (the girls won again) for the Youth Hope Food pantry this week and we’ll be doing Christmas Curbside on December 13 where we’ll have the opportunity to bless those who have less in our community.
- God gave food to the animal kingdom. Listen to verse 30: “And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so.” Apparently, the animals were also vegetarians before the flood. Nine times in our passage we see the words, “every” or “everything,” which emphasizes God’s abundant and generous provision for all of humankind and the entire animal kingdom.
Seven times in Genesis 1, God calls His creation good. The Hebrew word translated as “good” is tov, which means, “well-pleasing.” After surveying all He had created, God explodes with an exclamation of praise in verse 31: “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” In Job 38:7, we read of stars and angels joining God in a celestial choir: “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of god shouted for joy?”
I appreciate this insight from Got Questions.
Because of the success in design and execution of all that was created, it could be that God was calling things good because they were effective for fulfilling the function for which He designed them…It is also worth noting that in each of these instances it is said that God “saw” that it was good. That God was observing that these things were good implies that He had a design and purpose in mind and that the created products met His approval—He judged them to be effective for serving His purpose…He assessed that which He had created and determined it was good.
What had been pronounced “good” individually is now called “very good” collectively. The term rendered “very good” is hennah tov, which could be translated as “certainly good” or “surely good” or “exceedingly great and mighty.” As God gazed at everything He created, from the smallest subatomic particles to the largest galaxies spinning in space, He celebrated how everything reflected His glory exactly as He planned.
As we’ve pointed out before, God is the central and supreme character of creation, with His name appearing 31 times in 31 verses! His existence is assumed, and He has left His fingerprints all over creation. His creation was precise, prompt, and perfect. As Psalm 14:1 says, only “the fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” We know from Revelation 4:11 that God created everything for His glory and for our good: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” God is most glorified when His creation works like it was designed to work.
Ever since Adam and Eve plunged the world into sin as we will see in Genesis 3, the creation mandate has become challenging to fulfill. After they disobeyed, God pronounced a curse on creation which affected the two key parts of the mandate.
- Adam and Eve were still expected to be fruitful, to flourish, and to fill the earth with children, but from that point on, this blessing would be accompanied by pain and sorrow.
- Adam and Eve were still expected to subdue the earth and have dominion over it, but now that blessing would be accompanied by exhaustion, futility, and the temptation to mistreat what God had created.
Things are not right with the world. Human trafficking, poverty, murder, sexual sins, gender confusion, pornography, crime, addiction, divorce, abortion, abuse of children, mistreatment of women, injustice, intolerance, prejudice, ageism, and racism are rampant.
Some time ago, the New York Zoo put up a sign in front of a cage with this caption, “The Most Dangerous Animal in the World.” As people looked into the cage, they saw their own image reflected in a mirror. While everyone is made in the image of God, that image has been marred and tainted by sin. Our only hope is to repent and receive Jesus Christ, who will remake us into His image through the new birth. When we are recreated, we can know and grow to be like the One in whose image we were created.
It’s into this world that Christians have not only been given the creation mandate, but also the Great Commission Mandate. Listen to the words of Jesus spoken shortly before He ascended into heaven as found in Matthew 28:18-20: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
We’re to spread this good news so people can be restored into the image of Christ as this message is multiplied to the ends of the earth.
We’re commanded to take the gospel to image bearers who have not yet trusted in Christ so they can be freed from the cage of their own sins and become conformed into the image of Christ. Throughout the Bible, we see God’s heart to bless the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every gospel account ends with God’s desire for Christians to flourish with fruitfulness by filling the world with the witness of His glory and grace. We’re to spread this good news so people can be restored into the image of Christ as this message is multiplied to the ends of the earth.
On Tuesday, David Platt tweeted, “World population reaches 8 billion today. God created, knows, and loves every one of them. And over 3 billion of them have little to no access to the gospel right now. What a time to be alive. Let’s pray, give, go, and live to make His love known among all of them.”
Since God created us on purpose for His purposes, there are three ways we can experience the blessing of God’s creation mandate by obeying the Great Commission mandate.
- Raise godly children who are equipped to live on mission.
- Take the gospel to our neighbors and the nations.
- Endeavor to use your gifts and abilities for God’s glory and the good of others.
Pray for the Persecuted
Instead of working for good, some governments are dominating, subduing, and persecuting image-bearing followers of Christ. Earlier in the service we watched a video highlighting the persecution some Christians are experiencing around the world. In our remaining moments, I want to focus on the country of Iran, where Christians are persecuted by the government, which is among the most oppressive regimes in the world. In Iran, it is illegal to leave Islam, and Christians face the constant threat of imprisonment and being falsely charged with “acting against national security” for owning Bibles or even talking about Christ.
But, here’s some good news. In the last 20 years, more Iranians have become Christians than in the previous 13 centuries. In 1979, there were an estimated 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, there are hundreds of thousands—some estimate more than 1 million. According to Operation World, the fastest-growing church in the world is in Iran today.
Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters in Iran right now.
- Thanksgiving for the miraculous growth of Iranian Christians.
- More trained leaders to serve as evangelists, church planters, and pastors.
- Endurance and comfort for those being persecuted for their faith in Jesus.