GENESIS 1:26-28 - Masculine Glory

It's Good To Be A Man  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:18
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God creates man on the earth for productive, representative rulership

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So our new sermon series is called “It’s Good To Be A Man”—there’s a book by the same name (that undergirds much of these messages) by Michael Foster and Dominic Bnon Tennant; I commend it to you as we go through these sermons. Last week we started by observing that it is good to be a man because God created men to be ruling fathers—patriarchy is inevitable, but good patriarchy is not.
But today I want to start off by stating another reason that it’s good to be a man—because men don’t have to read instruction manuals! (Amen, brothers?) We can lay out all the pieces of our new five-piece patio furniture set (or smoker grill or bassinet) and just intuitively understand how it all fits together. The only thing we can’t understand is why there are always so many spare parts left over after we’re finished—manufacturers are apparently throwing in a lot of extra parts with their kits these days!
In all seriousness, I think that a man’s tendency not to “need” instructions and directions comes from something very good in his masculinity. But in the world we live in today, there are a lot of men who are looking at their own lives as if they were examining an odd remaining piece after they’ve finished assembling a swingset: “Where did this come from, and what is it for??”
In our society today there are countless men who are looking at their masculinity and saying, “What is it for?? Why am I made this way??” What is masculinity—with all of its strength, aggressiveness, independence, restlessness, energy, ambition and curiosity—what is it for? The common answer in our day and age is that all of those masculine traits that I just named are detriments to the world; that those attributes are what is broken in men.
But, just like any bewildering doohickey laying on the shop bench at the end of an assembly project, the question of what God made men and their masculine nature for is found in the Instruction Manual. Right at the beginning of every instruction manual is a list of the parts and what they are for—and the Bible is no different. Like every other question about our world and the way it works, the question of why God made men masculine is answered in Genesis. (And somewhere in northern Kentucky, Ken Ham just smiled quietly to himself!)
So once again, Bethel Baptist Church family, turn with me to Genesis 1. Here is the answer to why God made men:
Genesis 1:26 (ESV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Two things to notice here—God created man in His image. And He created man to exercise dominion over the creation. The verses leading up to verse 26 describes how God formed and filled all of creation. And here in verse 26 he creates man in His image to exercise His rulership over that creation. In the passage we read earlier in our worship, this is described as a glorious position:
Psalm 8:5–8 (ESV)
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
This is why I think we need to speak of masculinity in terms of glory—because the Scripture itself describes it that way. Masculine glory is tied up with the notion (here in Genesis 1 as well as in Psalm 8) of dominion. God made man to have dominion over the creation. And as we make our way through these verses today we will see that “taking dominion” means
Masculine glory flows from God’s design in which men were created to be His representative ruler on earth. To be a flesh-and-blood stand-in for His presence, working in submission to God to continue the work that God began in the first six days. And so the way I want to say it this morning from Genesis 1 is that
Masculine glory is the living IMAGE of God that brings HEAVEN to EARTH
This, then, is what you were made for, brother—this is why God wired you the way that He did, this is why your masculinity was given to you. God has made you to be His viceroy, His stand-in, in order to “establish His own presence and rule in the physical realm” (Foster, M., & Tennant, D. B. (2022). It’s Good to Be a Man: A Handbook for Godly Masculinity. Canon Press., p. 19)
Masculine glory comes, first of all, from the fact that

I. Men are made to EXTEND the REIGN that God STARTED

Genesis 1:28 says
Genesis 1:28 (ESV)
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
As we noted a moment ago, these verses come at the end of the chapter’s description of God’s creation of the grand structures of the Creation—the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything that fills them (stars, planets, sun, moon, animals, birds, trees, fish). But then at the end of this process he creates man, and gives him the responsibility to continue what He started—fruitfully ordering the world as His representative.
Notice the way God instructs Adam in verse 28—he was to be fruitful. God commanded Adam to exercise dominion
By being wisely PRODUCTIVE (v. 28; cp. Gen 2:8)
In Genesis 2:8 we read
Genesis 2:8 (ESV)
8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
Notice that the Scripture says God planted the garden—but He gave it to Adam to cultivate. Similarly, we read that God created the animals, but He gave them to Adam to name (Genesis 2:18-19). So you see here that Adam was given the task of extending the reign that God started—he was to fruitfully order the world in God’s stead. The garden was planted, but it was up to Adam to take what God planted and make it more fruitful—cross-pollinating, hybridizing, grafting, innovating. God equipped Adam with the drive to order and harness and cultivate the Garden, to strive to accomplish grand plans and establish impressive results. Masculinity equips men with the drive to create and build and innovate and invent and and be productive because men are created in the image of the wise and creative and innovative and inventive and productive Creator God who tasks them with bearing that image to bring heaven to earth.
We often think of this in terms of “stewardship”—that we have been given the Creation to care for in God’s place. And that is true, as far as it goes. But there really is more to masculine glory than merely being a “manager”—read carefully what God commanded Adam in verse 28:
Genesis 1:28 (ESV)
28 ...And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it...
As helpful as it is to see men as stewards of God’s creation, there is an unmistakable element of subduing—of conquering, of bending the creation to our will, of striving with and taming the creation. God commanded Adam to exercise dominion by being wisely productive, and
By being constructively AGGRESSIVE (v. 28; cp. 3:23; 2 Chr. 28:10)
The same word for “subdue” is found in other places in Scripture that give us a fuller picture of what God was commanding Adam to do. In 2 Chronicles 28:10, for instance, we read
2 Chronicles 28:10 (ESV)
10 And now you intend to subjugate [same word] the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves...
The same word is used to describe the conquering of the Canaanites in Joshua 18:
Joshua 18:1 (ESV)
1 Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them.
The need to subjugate or tame or conquer the creation comes into a bit more focus when we consider that the Garden of Eden was not representative of the whole earth at this time. God planted the Garden in a particular place, and (as we see in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden) it had borders.
Think of it this way: A number of years ago I was talking with a lumber company owner who told me a story of a landowner who had contracted with them to harvest the timber off of his property. He brought the owner to a patch of ground in the woodlot that was perfectly cleared and raked, all the stumps removed and all the tire tracks smoothed out. The owner said, “Now when you’re done, I expect my entire woodlot to look just like this!” (Needless to say, the lumber company told him that’s not the way logging worked!)
In much the same way, God placed Adam in the Garden so that he would have an idea of what his task would be—to make the rest of planet Earth look like that. And in order to do that, he had to strive and subdue and conquer and impose his will on a wild, untamed, trackless wilderness. Not in the sense that Adam was violently attacking or destroying the creation, but aggressively subduing it to harness it, tame it, make it productive. Like a cowboy bronc-riding an unbroken horse, Adam was to use his God-given aggression to bend the Creation to his will as God’s representative.
The world around us is of the opinion that the aggressive nature of masculinity is one of the great evils to be eradicated. But as Foster and Tennant write in their book, “There is no hint in the Bible that your aggressive instincts are a result of the fall. You are not, in other words, a defective woman...” (ibid., p. 25). Moms, your little boys’ natural aggressiveness and energy, their drive to conquer and explore and subdue and tame, their habit of leaping off of the couch with a full-throated battle cry is not something to condition out of them—it is their glory!
Brothers, your desire to conquer and subdue is not the problem--the problem is that you are following in your father Adam’s footsteps all too well. Because Adam was created to bend the world to his will on God’s behalf; instead, he rebelled and decided to bend the world to his own will. And instead of man’s natural aggressiveness being turned to subduing the Creation on God’s behalf, instead of masculine drive and ambition and creativity and energy being directed to bringing heaven to earth as God’s image bearer, we have created Hell on earth by our sin-twisted image. We sons of Adam have failed to carry out the work God entrusted to us, and all of the masculine glory we were made for has been tarnished and smothered and twisted and made ugly by our sin.
We were made to extend the reign that God started, but since all of us have followed our father Adam into rebellion we are no longer capable of bringing Heaven to earth. And so this is why

II. Christ came to RESTORE the REIGN that we WRECKED (Romans 5:17-19)

Our father, the first Adam, led us into the corruption of our masculine glory, dragging the Creation he was meant to fruitfully order in God’s stead into a polluted hellscape destructively disorded by his own sinfulness. And so, in the fulness of time, God sent His own Son—Jesus Christ, the Creator God in human flesh—into this broken and disordered creation to restore the reign that we wrecked in our father Adam:
Romans 5:17–19 (ESV)
17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
And because Jesus succeeded where Adam failed—where Christ obeyed God where Adam disobeyed—then He is the One who has begun to put to rights what Adam (and we) wrecked by our twisted masculine glory. We were created to be the living image of God to bring Heaven to earth, and in Adam’s disobedience we have failed. But by His obedient death, burial and resurrection, Jesus Christ succeeded where we failed. And the Scriptures say that
His RESURRECTION establishes His RULERSHIP (1 Corinthians 15:21-24; cp. Revelation 19:11-16)
In 1 Corinthians 15 we read
1 Corinthians 15:21–24 (ESV)
21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
Adam’s masculine glory was twisted and corrupted by his disobedience, and as a result we live in a twisted and corrupted world. As sons of Adam, men carry on his twisted and corrupted glory, and instead of fruitful and constructive aggressiveness that orders and shapes the world, we have barren and destructive aggressiveness that corrupts the world.
But just as the first Adam brought death by his disobedient masculinity, Jesus Christ brought life by His obedient masculinity. He conquered where Adam failed, He brings life where Adam brought death, He brings fruitfulness where Adam brought barrenness. This is all another way of saying that the apex of masculine glory has been revealed in Jesus Christ. He is what Adam was meant to be: The living image of God bringing Heaven to earth by fruitfully ordering the Creation—we see Him in all of His conquering, subduing, ordering glory in Revelation 19:11-16
Revelation 19:11–16 (ESV)
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Jesus Christ is the pinnacle of masculine glory—and the Great Good News for all of this sorry world’s broken and scarred and twisted men is that
He REDEEMS masculine glory in RIGHTEOUSNESS (cp. 1 Cor. 15:47-49; 2 Cor. 5:17)
Brothers, there is nothing to be ashamed of about your masculinity—the desire to strive and overcome and harness is your glory, because it images the glory of God Himself. It is what you were created for—the world wants you to somehow reject it (which is impossible); but Jesus Christ has come to redeem it!
1 Corinthians 15:47–49 (ESV)
47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
By virtue of our birth as sons of Adam, we bear the “image of the man of dust”—a corrupted, sinful caricature of masculine glory that eventually disorders and diseases everything it touches. Our God-given ambition turns into wickedness of greed and envy and selfishness. Our glorious energy and assertiveness and aggressiveness designed by God to take in hand and subdue a wild, tumultuous and vast planet is perverted into violent oppression or drained away in lazy self-centeredness.
No wonder men look at their masculinity and say, “What is this even for?”—the sin of our father Adam that we have inherited has twisted that masculine glory out of all recognition. But just as you have borne the image of the man of dust, you shall also bear the image of the Man of Heaven, Jesus Christ!
He has paid the penalty for the sin you have inherited from Adam (and have imitated Adam by your own sin), He has conquered the death that Adam introduced into the Creation, and when you come to Him in repentance and faith He promises to restore that masculine glory in you!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
The only path to restoring the masculine glory you were created for, brother, runs past the foot of the Cross. When you come to Him and you lay down before Him all of your sin, all of your failures and rebellions and abdications, all of your deeds borne of the twisted and corrupt masculinity that you inherited from your father Adam, when you by faith enter into Him, He promises to make you a new creation—to restore in you that masculine glory that will transform this world. Not in your own name, and not for the sake of your own ambitious glory or selfish greed or lust for power, but to harness and use that masculine glory for the sake of bringing Heaven to earth, fruitfully ordering this world in the Name of your Savior, Jesus Christ!
Hebrews 13:20–21 (ESV)
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.


Is the word “dominion” a positive or negative word in our society today? What does the word mean in the context of Genesis 1 and Psalm 8? How are men uniquely created by God to exercise dominion?
Why is it Biblically accurate to refer to “masculine glory”? (Hint: Read Genesis 1:26 and Psalm 8:5). Does the world around us perceive masculinity as something “glorious”? Why or why not?
How is masculine aggressiveness related to the Fall of man into sin? Did the Fall cause masculine nature to become aggressive? Why or why not? How did the Fall affect masculine nature?
How does Jesus Christ fulfill the purpose of masculinity Why is it Biblical to say that “Jesus Christ is the pinnacle of masculine glory?” In what ways did Christ subdue and conquer where Adam failed?
Consider how your life has reflected broken or corrupted masculinity. How do 1 Corinthians 15:47-49 and 2 Corinthians 5:17 give you assurance that you can have that masculine glory restored through Christ?
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