Destiny In Our Design Part 2 | Empty Earth
This is the second part of a series on 'Destiny In Our Design'. To view Part 1 click here.
“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 NASB).
Really? A Farmer?
I don’t know if you’ve thought about this before, but the writer of Genesis is asking us to be farmers. Or something like that. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to raise chickens or cows any more than I want to be a squid. I like the rubber boots, but I’ve chased cows through fields. I’ve stepped on the crusty, squishy things they leave behind. And I’ve been stepped on, in return, by a Clydesdale horse. Not a lot of fun any way you look at it. The last time I worked on a farm my reaction to the dust and hay was a never-ending river of snot streaming from my nose. Please God, don’t make me a farmer!
Of course, the Genesis account is framed to fit the first human beings. It’s pre-civilization. So it has to do with making the most of the land and its walking, squawking and flowering inhabitants. In other words, agriculture. This is shown by the ensuing descriptions of the naming of animals, difficulty working the ground, and the agricultural nature of the work of Adam’s sons. But this is really a purpose statement in kernel form. For once human beings begin to order, limit and control their environment, food production increases. And with it, there comes increased population, larger communities and extra commodities which can be traded. And this allows leisure and increased trade and innovation. Before long there are teachers, blacksmiths, carpenters, doctors, midwives, musicians, scholars, priests and bricklayers. Specialization. You can see this in the account of Genesis 4 with the advent of the first city planner, the first rock star and the first metal worker.
All this to say that when God spoke about what it is our destiny to do, it was to lead us to exercise our talents, influence and leadership in whatever sphere of influence we have. Multiply what we have, give it away, and make our environment thrive. And we are to do it in a way that reflects the One who made it all in the first place.
The Divine Work
In the command to be fruitful, to rule and subdue there is a sense of movement; that the stunning organic art that is this world is not yet complete on Day 7. It’s as if Phase One has ended and that many tiny touches of the brush are needed to bring the world to its fullest sense. Its further unfolding is left for the assistants, the sons and daughters to complete. This is what we are made for.
The world is made for us.
In the ancient world, the work of the world was sometimes seen as the cast off jobs of the gods. Menial tasks that they hated doing and rebelled against. But the truth is that our work in the world is the completion of the divine work. A holy task entered into through a royal proclamation, a destiny decree, a commission. The world is made for us. And God’s rest from his work is so that we can take up our work. The writer says in near-poetic consummation:
"Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." (Genesis 2:1-3 NASB).
This is the denouement, the small and succulent dessert that finishes off the meal. God rests.
But it is also the launch into a whole new phase of activity. The threefold repetition of the word for work (melakah) is curious. Only three other times does it refer to God’s work. Over 160 times it refers to human work. The implication is subtle. Human destiny = work. And our work is the divine work.
The Empty Earth
Can I make another observation?
Without us working in our sphere, something remains unfulfilled. Some aspect of the divine plan is less realized in the world than it should be. It is clearly the case with the prototypical, archetypical man. The writer of Genesis makes the observation that at the start of things there were no green plants on the earth. The reason? Because not only was there no rain, but there was no human being to “serve” the soil. The dirt was just sitting there. Dormant. Unproductive.
Creation is never going to be all it should be without us picking up our specific destiny.
Where we have ignored, forgotten or been ignorant of our specific purpose in the world, something remains undone. The family, farm, business or school room remains less full, less prosperous, less effective than it was intended to be. It stays less full of the fingerprints of God, of the Presence of God. Creation in all of its manifestations is never going to be all it should be without us picking up our specific destiny. There is stuff that we are supposed to do.
To “steward” what is in our hands for the Creator who made it all. We hold our jobs, families, houses, students, employees, classrooms and even opportunities in trust. We are kings or regents under the Great King, the Emperor of the World. We order, manage, make prosperous whatever God places in our hands. It is a sacred trust. An exciting potential. An incredible destiny we have.