GOD CREATED HUMANS on the sixth day as the culmination of all that he had brought into being. They were created in his image and likeness, and he gave them “dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Furthermore, God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (verse 28). And later we learn that Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to till the ground and to keep it.
The principal imagery associated with dominion is of royalty. God, the creator and ruler over all things, appointed humans to “have dominion” over all of his creation; that is, they are to “rule over” (NIV) creation in God’s place with authority–as his vice -regents, so to speak. From this follows the critically important point that humans are not simply the next step on a never-ending creation ladder; nor are they simply a part of creation with no special status. To the contrary, humans are the crowning glory of creation: Only into the nostrils of Adam did God breathe “the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). God deliberately placed all things under humanity’s care as his royal representatives. We are royalty! This point is reinforced in the eighth psalm:
“You have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet” (Psalm 8:5-6).
In the Bible, benevolent kings were to rule over, protect, and care for their subjects, and so it is with humanity and creation. In other words, God intended for humans to care for creation, exercising responsible stewardship over all that he has given us. Nothing is exempt from our care: The Bible mentions animals of all kinds, as well as the ground that Adam was to till.