Genesis One Studies
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” - Genesis 1:26
Dominion. Here is the scripture that is used a lot by Christians, stating that this scripture, which happens to occur just 3 verses prior to God's instruction as to what is to be food for both man and beast (Genesis 1:29-30), is proof that God gave us the right to do whatever we want with the animals. We can eat them, shoot them, fire them into the air in a catapult, burn them in ritualistic sacrifice, slit their throats, kick them, whip them, or be nice to them. Whatever we want to do to them. They are merely "things" that we have been given the power to do whatever we please with them.
But what exactly does that word, dominion, actually mean? Well according to your standard dictionary, it means "1. rule; authority"
Let's think about that. Authority. Police officers are authority figures. Are we ok with them just randomly hitting or shooting us? Or do we expect them to use their authority in a respectable manner? Keeping the peace, to serve and protect.
According to Strong's Concordance, the word that was used here translates as “marry” eight times, “husband” three times, “dominion” twice, “wife” once, “married wife” once, and “Beulah” once. It is defined as to 1) to marry, rule over, possess, own. 1a1) to marry, be lord (husband) over. 1a2) to rule over. 1b (Niphal) to be married. - בְּעוּלָה, בָּעַל
To be married to. To be lord over. To rule over. Well isn't that interesting?
A Christian marriage doesn't allow for the shooting, killing, abusing, or slaughtering of your spouse. That one's fairly obvious.
A righteous ruler ruling over a kingdom, would rule with dignity, compassion, and wisdom. Would we think a good ruler is someone who treats his underlings brutally and violently, killing them whenever he/she pleased? No, of course not, these are the types of rulers we despise and that history remembers as tyrants and evil. From people like King Herod, Emperor Nero, Attila the Hun, and Genghis Kahn. To more recent examples Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, and Saddam Hussein. Rulers who killed millions of people, some their own people, in dispicable ways.
Whereas rulers like King David, a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22), rules with humility, compassion and righteousness. A shepherd chosen by God to rule over His people. Or Moses, a man God also chose to lead his people, whom the Bible tells us was very humble, more than any man on the face of the earth (Num 12:3)
And whom do we know as our ruler? One whom did not abuse His dominion, His authority, His power over us while in our presence. Whom did not smite or kill or slaughter or sacrifice us while on earth with us. But in fact, sacrificed HIMSELF. DIED, for OUR sins. So that we might have everlasting life (John 3:16). And whose return is referred to in Revelation as the Marriage of the Lamb? (Rev 16:6-9)
That would be Jesus Christ, our Brother, and Savior, and soon coming King.
We were put in charge of, and as rulers over, all of His creation which He put life into, and made, with His own hands. And if He truly has plans for us in the future, in His Kingdom, to rule over much more, with much more power (1 Cor. 6:3 - we are to "judge angels").....how likely is it He would grant that honor to some of us, if we can't even rule over the creation we currently preside over, today? That we mistreat, abuse, kill, slaughter, and cause to suffer, in the millions, each and every day?
Keeping in mind that in our very Bibles, the Prophets that were given a glimpse of Heaven describe to us the angels at the throne of God and what they look like. (e.g. Ezekiel 1:1-28; Revelation 4:6-11). Man, Lion, Eagle, and Ox. Could the very Creator God who created Man in His image & likeness, have also created our neighbors after the likeness of angels? Are we being tested right now in how we care for, and treat, God's creation of whom we have dominion over now, before being given a higher level of authority/dominion in His Kingdom?
Think of this example. A Father has two children. Jack and Jill. He gives each of them a goldfish to care for, in order to test their ability to be responsible enough to care for another living being. Jack shows no compassion, nor concern. He doesn't feed the fish, he doesn't clean the bowl. In fact he is amused by being mean to it. He hits it in the bowl with a stick. He takes it out watches it suffer gasping for air. And he kills it. Jill, on the other hand, takes good care of it. She feeds it regularly. She cleans the bowl constantly. She puts new toys and plants in the bowl for the fish to play with. And she never even thinks about hurting it. She loves her goldfish.
Now it's time for one of them to get a puppy. Which do you think the Father is going to feel confident giving the puppy to? Who was the more responsible child?
You see, it really isn't that hard of concept to figure out. Dominion doesn't mean do what we will with inanimate objects. It means to care for, and rule over, living breathing beings, with humility, love (Godly love), compassion, and wisdom. It is the responsibility we were given by our Father, and one that we should take much more seriously.