Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
There are two major points to take note of in this scripture: the command for human beings to reproduce and the authority of humanity over the animal kingdom.
First, God clearly commands the first couple (who will be introduced to us by name later) to reproduce in order to populate the earth. Some have taken this to be a direct command to all couples (in all times) to produce multiple children. Though having large families is honorable, the command here was specifically for the purpose of populating the earth. God began with one married couple and expected them to populate the earth with their children. God gave a similar command to Noah after all humans (except Noah and his family) were destroyed in the Flood. God told those who were left to “fill [replenish, King James Version] the earth” (Genesis 9:1).
The Bible nowhere gives couples a specific command to have a certain number of children, but it does teach the blessings and benefits of having children (Psalm 127:3-4)—only within the marriage union (Hebrews 13:4).
Second, this verse clearly teaches that human beings are given “dominion” (authority) over the animal and plant kingdoms. As the pinnacle of God’s physical creation, human beings have supremacy over lower life-forms and are permitted to eat the animals that God labels clean (Leviticus 11). Though humans are not to abuse or mistreat animals (Proverbs 12:10), the modern “animal rights” movement has no basis in Scripture.
We should also note that there are four basic planes (or levels) of existence in the present order:
- The God plane. Elohim—the God family—is presently composed of only God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.
- The angelic plane. The “ministering [serving] spirits” (Hebrews 1:14) created by God were created to serve God’s creation and humanity. This plane would include both the righteous angels and the rebellious angels (demons).
- The human plane. We are created in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27) and are presently “a little lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:7), but we have the potential to be elevated to the God plane in the future (Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2).
- The animal plane. All living creatures are under the dominion of man, including mammals, insects, birds and aquatic life-forms (Genesis 1:28).
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “God Rests.”