Getting the Garden Right: Vice Regency

In this brief post, we want to consider one facet of what it means to be made in the image of God.

Genesis 1 and 2 establishes that God is the high king and sovereign who created all things. When the picture in these chapters is contrasted with Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) creation accounts there is a polemic against idolatry. There is no struggle on God’s part to create; there is no overcoming the forces a chaos, or war between gods. God speaks and creation comes into being. What was formless and void becomes fashioned and filled by the word of God. He demonstrates complete sovereignty.

 

In Genesis 1, humanity is created and introduced to us as ‘made in the image of God.’ The description of humanity in Genesis 1 is foundational for the Christian worldview. The moral and ethical implications abound from the single statement than humanity is made in God’s image. In this brief post, we want to consider one facet of what it means to be made in the image of God. Human beings, in Adam and Eve, are created in the Garden of Eden to be vice-regents over creation. Genesis 1 and 2 contains an abundance of kingship imagery and language.

First, Genesis 1 and 2 establishes that God is the high king and sovereign who created all things. When the picture in these chapters is contrasted with Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) creation accounts there is a polemic against idolatry. There is no struggle on God’s part to create; there is no overcoming the forces a chaos, or war between gods. God speaks and creation comes into being. What was formless and void becomes fashioned and filled by the word of God. He demonstrates complete sovereignty.

Furthermore, God is depicted in kingly and royal language. The notion of God “resting” on the seventh day is not because God was tired or decided to take a break. Resting is kingly imagery. In the ANE, when kings had established their sovereignty and asserted their dominion, they rested. God is revealing his royal splendor in and over the creation.

Second, God establishes Adam and Eve to rule and have dominion over the creation. He created them as the highest of all his creation. Again, in the ANE, kings would often erect statues bearing their image in order to assert and manifest their reign over a particular territory. God, creating and establishing the earth, establishes an image to rule in his stead as he ‘sits down’ in heaven to rule all creation. The language of Genesis 1 is what we call “vice regency.”

Gen. 1:26 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.”

Gen. 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Gen. 1:28 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.”

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