We are Kings!

We are all fascinated with royalty! Even if we are Americans who long ago kicked King George out, we never seem to get enough of the royal drama across the ocean. C.S. Lewis would have all the Children in Narnia kings and queens, drawing on a fundamental longing of each human heart. To rule is in our DNA as image bearers of God, the great King of whom all other kings are but a mere shadow, or analogy.

In our post-colonial times, the idea of dominion is politically anathema. Our culture cringes at such words as “… fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea …” (Gen. 1:28). Of course, to “subdue” and have “dominion” do not mean to abuse but to nurture. In fact, the whole idea behind “to till” the garden and “to keep it” (Gen 2:15) is to allow humanity the freedom to be creative with the environment and to fashion it as one would shape an exotic garden conducive for humanity, animals, plants, seas and stones, to exist in complete harmony. Without human rule, nature can never reach its fulfillment and intended end.

To this end, the very structure of Genesis 1 is an apologetic against the ancient pagan world view. For them, the gods did not create the world for man, but man was made to serve the gods. Since the gods were nature deities, this means that humanity was subservient to nature. In days 4 through 6, the order is crucial. God first made inanimate objects, the “two great lights, the greater to rule the day, the lesser to rule the night; He made the stars also” (1:16). It has long been observed by scholars that by not mentioning the proper names for “sun” (Heb. šemeš) and “moon” (Heb. yāēaḥ) the text is minimizing any possibility of associating these celestial bodies that were worshiped by the pagans as the sun god “šameš” and the moon god “yāēaḥ.” The fact that the stars that make up the immovable houses of the zodiac that determine the fates in pagan cosmology are dismissed, as it were, as an afterthought, is intentional. They are not sovereign deities, but are creations of God made for a specific purpose within their own domains. However awe-inspiring they may be, they were not made as an end in themselves, but as features adorning the celestial ceiling of the great cosmic temple in which humanity was to rule for God.

The creatures of the sky and sea made in the fifth day are superior to the inanimate lights of the great dome by virtue of life and proximity to ruling humanity. Likewise, the beasts of the earth made in the sixth day, although they share the dignity of being made on the same day with humanity, are made for humanity and not the other way around. By Moses’ time humanity, by and large, had turned everything upside down in their cosmology. To survive in a hostile environment alive with nature deities with whom there could be no real relationship, one must manipulate the gods as best they could by magic. They must be appeased, bowed down to, and worshipped. Fear drove humanity to worship creatures less than themselves, to reverse the true order of creation, and grovel in earth magic and astrology.

It might seem silly to us now to think of, let’s say, the relatively cultured Egyptians worshiping dung beetles and their elite scholars wasting endless generations of time compiling the “Book of the Dead.” However, our secular culture, in a strange twist, finds itself operating with a similar cosmology as the old witchdoctors. Both magic and science share the same fundamental belief that nature is ultimate, the former as deity, the latter believing that matter is all there is and thus ultimate. Moreover, they both think in terms of manipulation; the former by magic, and the latter by scientific method. Both cosmologies leave the human heart hollow and aching; the former in slavery to a nature that it was made to dominate, and the latter in the endless struggle to dominate the primal elements of chaos ─ darkness, formless earth, and the watery deep; even death itself ─ with its technological gadgetry, so that man can drive the Creator from His temple and take His place! What terrible kings we have made ourselves to be! What a dark kingdom we have made of this world!

One Response to “We are Kings!”

  1. I am so very glad to have found this blog. John worgul has deeply affected my spiritual formation as one of my seminary professors. I am forever greatful. Doug Coddington

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