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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Farm near Manheim, PA 11/19/17 (Click to enlarge)
Sunday afternoon Brooksyne passed this scenic farm north of Manheim, PA.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"God Blessed Them" (Part 2)

Note: This is the second of a three part series based upon God's first words to humans following Creation.

Message summary: This Thanksgiving week (here in the USA) let us thank God for the blessing of His creation commands to man concerning our stewardship of the earth and properly practice God's command to subdue and rule over.

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"God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground'" (Genesis 1:28).

Today consider the blessing that plants and animals are to us. What if we were the only living creatures? Although I suppose we wouldn't know any better that would sure be boring and there would have to be an entirely different mechanism for our nourishment!

Consider all that plants and animals add to our lives; flowers, lawns, medicines, our pets, trips to the zoo, a source of food and you can add to the list as you think about it.

Plants were created on the third day of Creation and animals (including fish and birds) were created on the fifth and sixth days of Creation.

Yesterday's message considered the first part of the daily text:
"God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number." We believe the words "fill the earth" further completes the blessing and command to "be fruitful and increase in number."

1) Man is commanded to subdue it (the earth). Most standard English translations use this word "subdue". Other versions state, "subjugate it [putting it under your power]" (Amplified)

This command has been misinterpreted by some to assert that this indicated man is not to take care of the earth, even using it as an excuse to plunder it. Although in reality this is a "strawman" argument used to attack Christians who may have a different view on the specifics of how to care for the environment not whether the environment should be cared for. I have never met a genuine Christian who wants to destroy the environment!

An online commentary counters, "To think that God gave man carte blanche to plunder and destroy the earth is simply ludicrous. He is its Creator! Why would He immediately command Adam to ruin it? Would any woodworker, upon just finishing a beautifully stained piece of furniture, tell his son to break it up for firewood? No! Just as God desires for His creation, the woodworker would put his handiwork to use and also care for it by keeping it waxed and dusted to prolong its life."

To subdue is better understood to have the sense, "take care of". In chapter 2 man is instructed concerning the Garden, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15).

2) Man is commanded to "rule over" the animal kingdom. In this verse many of us are probably more familiar with the KJV rendering "have dominion" used also in v.26. Not only is there a Biblical distinction in the creation of man versus everything else created in the sense we are "made in God's image" but also man is to rule over the rest of the creation.

Once again we must address that this verse "rule over" has been used by some to assert that the Bible and Christians call for animal abuse and cruelty. Such is not the case at all but rather the opposite is true for those who seek to be obedient. Rather than develop this defense I will point our readers to an excellent article from the GotQuestions website posted below.

This Thanksgiving week (here in the USA) let us thank God for the blessing of His creation commands to man concerning our stewardship of the earth and properly practice God's command to subdue and rule over.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, just as You blessed the human race making them fruitful and multiplying their kind, You also blessed the vegetation, the fish, fowl of the air and every living thing that moves upon the face of the earth. You gave the human race universal charge of everything you made, putting all things within our authority; including the tilling of the land, making it subservient to our usage and for our good. May we honor You by being good stewards of that which is entrusted to us. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

For further study: I find this note from the "GotQuestions" online study helpful in regard to today's passage:

The word dominion means “rule or power over.” God has sovereign power over His creation and has delegated the authority to mankind to have dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:26). David reinforces this truth: “You made [mankind] rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet” (Psalm 8:6). Humanity was to "subdue" the earth (Genesis 1:28)—we were to hold a position of command over it; we were placed in a superior role and were to exercise control over the earth and its flora and fauna. Mankind was set up as the ruler of this world. All else was subjugated to him.

God’s command to subdue the earth and the animal life in it is a command to have the mastery over all of it. A true mastery (of anything) cannot be accomplished without an understanding of the thing mastered. In order for a musician to master the violin, he or she must truly understand the instrument. In order for mankind to attain mastery over the animal kingdom, we must understand the animals.

With the authority to rule comes the responsibility to rule well. There is an inherent accountability in the command to subdue the earth. Man has a duty to exercise his dominion under the authority of the One who delegated it. All authority is of God (Romans 13:1-5), and He delegates it to whomever He will (Daniel 4:17). The word subdue doesn’t have to imply violence or mistreatment. It can mean “to bring under cultivation.”

Man is to be the steward of the earth; he is to bring the material world and all of its varied elements into the service of God and the good of mankind. The command to subdue the earth is actually part of God’s blessing on mankind. Created in the image of God, Adam and Eve were to use the earth’s vast resources in the service of both God and themselves. It would only make sense for God to decree this, since only humans were created in God’s image.

When God gave humanity dominion over the animals, it was in order to care for, tend to, and use those animals to their fullest potential in a just manner. At the time that God gave mankind dominion over the animals, humans did not eat meat (Genesis 1:29). Eating meat did not begin until after the Flood (Genesis 9:1–3), and it was at that time that animals started to fear humans. However, although God changed the way we interact with animals, in that they are now “meat,” we still bear a responsibility to treat animals humanely. Human rule over animals does not mean we have the right to mistreat or misuse those animals.

Having dominion over the animals should entail a humane management of them as the resource God has ordained them to be. We should consider that mankind was given the task (and blessing) of representing God in this world. We are the caretakers. We hold sway over all the earth, and we (bearing God’s image) bear a responsibility to act as God would. Does God misuse His creation? No. Is God unwise in His management of resources? No. Is God ever cruel or selfish or wasteful? No. Then neither should we be. Any misuse or mistreatment of God’s creation is the result of sin, not the result of following God’s original command. We must fulfill our duty to manage the earth wisely until that time when the wolf shall lie down with the lamb in the kingdom of Christ (Isaiah 11:6).

Some scenes on the Old Windmill Farm

Brooksyne holding Daisy the goat, Lancaster County, PA 11/17/17
It appears that Brooksyne is holding Daisy in a rare moment she is relaxing! (This photo was taken last Friday following her Pilgrim presentation to the school.)

Daisy the goat with banana, Lancaster County, PA 11/17/17
Goats, pigs, chickens and two dogs were thought to be among the animals brought over on the Mayflower. Curious Daisy is checking out this piece of banana. She had already dug it out of the children's lunch pail and peeled it. Now she's smelling it and you know what comes next.

Puppies, Lancaster County, PA 11/17/17
These blue heeler puppies should be ready for a loving home by Christmas. However their sibling in the background is demonstrating they are not weaned yet!

Puppy, Lancaster County, PA 11/17/17
Not the typical pet store marketing photo with the empty dairy barn background but between the Lapp children and Old Windmill Farm guests these pups will have lots of handling and affection by the time they leave the farm!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"All Creatures of our God and King"
Video   Fernando Ortega

"This Is My Father's World"  Video  The Collingsworth Family

"Worth"   Video 
Jason Crabb

Yesterday we shared a photo from Google maps of the Mast farm corn maze in eastern Lancaster County. Here's the spot on Google maps.

Special Thanksgiving Resources

We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 27).

We appreciate singing the traditional Thanksgiving hymns. Here are several classics that you may or may not have heard this season.

"In Everything Give Thanks"  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

"Now Thank We All Our God"  Video  Best Loved Hymns

"Come Ye Thankful People Come"  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

"Thanksgiving Medley" (We Gather Together, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

"Give Thanks"  Video  Don Moen

"Thank You Lord"  Video  Community Choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

"Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul"  Video  Holland Davis

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns"
(printable webpage).

"A Thanksgiving family exercise" (pdf) We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (webpage) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading:
A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!

Today and all through this week we will share a selection of Thanksgiving music.

"Be Magnified"  Video   Kim Hill

 Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

"I Want To Thank You"
 Video  Karen Peck and New River  This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives and also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

"Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me"  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

"I'm Forever Grateful"  Video  Willow Creek

"When I Thank Him For What He Has Done"  Video  The Cathedrals

"Worthy Is The Lamb, Crown Him, Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  Travis Cottrell

"Thank You, Lord"  Video  Dennis Jernigan

"Thank You For Loving Me"  Video  Tommy Walker

"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)"  Video  Matt Redman

"For These Reasons"  Video  Lincoln Brewster

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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