Called to Rule and Subdue: A Helpful Analogy

In Genesis 1:26-28, we are presented with language of rulership and subduing of nature in relation to the role of humankind in the world. This idea of the crowning of humans with divine governorship has sometimes led to abuse of creation, as authority means authorization to subjugate, weaken, and destroy. In a very good article by Raph Klein entitled “Liberated Leadership,” (Currents in Theol and Mission, 1982: 282-290), this analogy is given.

“An ancient cylinder seal…shows a man with his foot resting gently on the neck of a deer, a posture that connotes rulership. But the man depicted on the seal is at the same time arm-wrestling with a lion, which was trying to prey the deer. Such benevolent, protective rule over the animals exemplifies what the sacred writers in Gen 1 and Ps 8 were trying to say about the human assignment to rule the world.” (288)
When I read this I am reminded of Jesus “with the wild beasts” in Mark 1:13 when he went out into the wilderness. Because he has come as the image of God restored, he can be “at peace” with nature in a way previously impossible for humans in this present evil age.

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