Transcending Eden | Part 6
Be Fruitful, Multiply, Fill the Earth
Welcome our series: TRANSCENDING EDEN
- Transcend = to go beyond the historical space and time in which an event occurs
What we learn from the first three chapters of Genesis – the Epic of Eden – is FOUNDATIONAL TO THE WAY WE APPROACH THE WORLD.
Foundational to the way we understand
- who God is,
- our beginning,
- why we are here,
- what’s wrong,
- and what’s the cure.
Let’s Summarize Where We Have Been
1.) God is the eternal – perfect – all powerful – glorious Creator of all things.
2.) All of life, all things that exist, find their beginning in God.
3.) And all things that exist find their purpose in God.
4.) So when God speaks, things happen:
Day 1: God said let there be light, and there was day and night
Day 2: God spoke and the heavens above and the earth below were created
Day 3: God spoke and the dry land was separated from the seas and vegetation covered the dry land
Day 4: God spoke and filled the cosmos with stars and He set the sun and the moon in their place
Day 5: God spoke and the waters were filled with living creatures and the skies were filled with winged creatures
In the beginning of Day 6: God spoke and the animals of the earth were created
5.) Then God stepped back and He contemplated our beginning in verse 26, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…”
6.) Then God completes our beginning in verse 27: God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
7.) And when God created humanity – male and female – He created them special.
8.) God created you in His image: YOU ARE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD – “Imago Dei”
- 3x over in verse 27 God makes the point that: You are made in the image of God
7.) And so:
- Your life has a BEGINNING because of God (26), and therefore you are not our own.
- Don’t waste the life God has given you!
- Your life has BEAUTY because of God (26,27)
- You are endowed with the Beauty of Divine Consequence and Divine Significance
- You are beautiful in the eyes of God. He sees through your mess to what He created you to be.
- Your life has BLESSING because of God (28)
- God speaks to His creation. He blesses humanity as His image-bearers so that we can know Him personally – hear and receive God’s word
8.) Last week we pointed out 3 specific blessings of being made in the Image of God
- We PERSONALLY RELATE to God
- We have REPRESENTATIVE DOMINION – stewards of creation
- We are all endowed with the same DIVINE DIGNITY, across age, ethnicity, and gender. All humanity has intrinsic value.
9.) When we allow an assault on the Image of God – when it is degraded – at least 7 abominable sins stem forth: 1. Abortion 2. Euthanasia 3. Racism 4. Genocide 5. Slavery and Human Trafficking 6. Perversion of Sex 7. Devaluation of Gender
10.) And so we must elevate the Imago Dei in our consciousness
11.) Because with this blessing of being made in the Imago Dei comes responsibility
12.) In fact, as God blesses humanity, He gives 5 Specific Imperatives (v28)
God blessed them; and God said to them, “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.”
- Be fruitful
- Fill the Earth
- Subdue [the earth]
- Rule over [the earth]
13.) Now over the next several weeks we are going to look at these commands, as imperatives that transcend the Epic of Eden to you and me, today.
14.) And so lets take the first 3 together: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth…” (v28)
Are these Commands for Me?
What does it mean to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth?
“be fruitful” = perû’ = to have offspring, to bear (as in fruit), to make
“multiply” = rebû’ = to become numerous, to increase, to multiply
And at this point you are probably thinking, God says, “make babies.” Well, let’s look at the third command of the series..
“fill the earth” = milû’ = to fill,
And you say, “Yep, make babies, bunches of them.” But to “fill the earth” has a deeper meaning..
milû’ = to fill, but also to consecrate as a priest
In Hebrews 5:1-4 we get a glimpse of what OT priesthood was:
1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; 2 he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; 3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. 4 And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.
And so a priest is someone
1.) who is called by God and intimately acquainted with Him
2.) aware of personal sinfulness and the ravages of sin on all people
3.) knows our need of grace, mercy and forgiveness
4.) and is interceding on behalf of others so they may know God as intimately as they do
C.H. Spurgeon wrote: “Under the law, only one family could serve God in the priest’s office, but under the gospel all the saints are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9)… Paul, in addressing all the saints, bids them present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is their reasonable service… It is the grand design of all the works of divine grace, both for us and in us, to fit us for the office of the spiritual priesthood, and it will be the crown of our perfection when, with all our brothers and sisters, we shall sing unto the Lord Jesus the new song, “Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.”[i]
milû’ = to fill, but more than that to consecrate as a priest, to devote, to magnify
And so now we are beginning to catch a glimpse of another picture of what God is calling Adam and Eve to do that extends to all of us
The Commands are Given to Adam and Eve
Adam & Eve, first marriage
- marriage to go the distance
- God did not give Eve, Evette, Evanca in case Adam changed his mind later
In Gen 1 and 2 and through the NT teaching on marriage (particularly, Eph 5) we see the purposes of marriage
- Adam and Eve are not the point
- Adam and Eve, and their marriage, are pointers
- God put them in creation to point back to the Creator
And so God designed marriage to
- Point people to a relationship with Him
Eph 5, a Gospel-centered God glorifying marriage reflects the love relationship of Christ for His church
- For your mutual sanctification and joy
- For help and comfort given to each other in times of prosperity and times of adversity, and
- When it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of Jesus.
So one of those purposes clearly given here in our passage is to procreate
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:4-5, ESV)
But is Having Babies the Ultimate Fulfillment of this Command? …No
To procreate is not the ultimate imperative here because if it were then marriage would be the ultimate imperative because God has clearly established that a Christ-centered marriage – a husband/wife relationship – is the starting point for a family. God’s creative plan is that a husband and wife bring a child into this world and raise them to know Jesus (And that’s the key of this passage)
But marriage is not an imperative of Scripture.
Jesus was single and so was Paul
And God’s Word says (1 Cor 7:7,26-27 – through the pen of the unmarried Paul, lauding marriage and then saying):
7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that… 26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
So there are different gifts and different callings. Marriage is not the ultimate imperative.
Therefore being fruitful, multiplying and filling the earth must be more than just having babies..
The command is to make, multiply, and magnify the name of God to the ends of the earth
- with not just babies!
- BUT with image bearers of God – glorifiers of God – disciples – spiritual children of faith
(Mark 10:29-30) 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
Here Jesus shifts the absolute from having children biologically to having hundreds of children through the family of Christ and through spiritual influence.[ii]
Being fruitful.. is not just a physical activity but a spiritual one
…it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. (Rom 9:8)
Being fruitful.. is not limited to a husband and wife (it most certainly applies to a husband and wife but it is not limited to)
Being fruitful.. transcends the activity of a father and mother biologically to BECOME A PRIORITY
- For every Christian (anyone claiming to be a child of God), and
- For every Church (the family of God)
Look at the Commands Again
“be fruitful” = perû’ = to make
“multiply” = rebû’ = to multiply
“fill the earth” = milû’ = to magnify
And so to be fruitful, to multiply, and to fill the earth – to perû’, rebû’, and milû’:
- we make spiritual children of faith,
- we multiply our faith in others making image bearers of God, and
- we magnify the glory, grace, and mercy of God across the earth as a kingdom of priests called by God
Not just a convenient interpretation to fit this sermon series, though the commands themselves reflect a deeper sense than simply population expansion..
Look also at the repetition of this command
and it becomes abundantly clear that this command in Eden is much greater than advancing a population of humanity or a particular ethnicity rather it is about advancing the kingdom of God
Gen 9:6,7 (to Noah)
6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man. 7 “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”
9 Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel. 11 God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations [multitude of nations] shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you.
The promise that the patriarchs (Abraham and Jacob) would be fruitful with a “multitude of nations” is fulfilled in the Gentiles inheriting the promises of Abraham through faith[iii]
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
What Does it Look Like to Make, Multiply, Magnify?
- Make – Gospel Centered/Saturated, Personal
- Multiply – Family of Faith, Church
- Magnify – Fill the Earth, Mission
[ii] John Piper, “Marriage Is Meant for Making Children . . . Disciples of Jesus, Part 1” (June 10, 2007). Accessed from http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/marriage-is-meant-for-making-children-disciples-of-jesus-part-1
[iii] John Piper, “God’s Purpose for Jacob and Bethlehem” (February 4, 1996). Accessed from http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/gods-purpose-for-jacob-and-bethlehem