Subdue

The following is a recent sermon by a Kevin Glass, 17 year old Junior at Ouachita Hills Academy, Amity, Arkansas.

Tonight we are going to be looking at one text.  This verse is rarely discussed in the context that will be mentioned tonight. It is possibly the  most practical verse in the Scriptures.

And I believe that it’s the ground on which the spiritual world meets the physical world. This single passage lays out before us our duty and our passion, not only for the time spent on earth, but also throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. But my true hope is that this text will give you a fresh, beautiful glimpse of the love of God. Do you all want to know what the verse is? Let’s pray.

 Lord I come before you tonight asking that You will guide my tongue and guard your truth Lord from any twistings that my selfish heart may want to include. I simply ask that You will give to anyone here who needs it, the experience you have given me through this message. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Please open your Bibles to Genesis 1:28,

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Now don’t panic. my topic is not marriage. Specifically we are going to look at the latter part of this verse.

A few months ago I rode my bike down to Mr. Yanez’s property that borders ours. Mr. Yanez and my father were doing masonry work on his house, so I shot down there to give them a hand. It was a beautiful day, and while I was mixing some mortar with Mr. Yanez, he made an offhand comment. He said: “is it not wonderful to be able to work with our hands and have dominion over the earth by building and refining nature into bricks and the like?”

He may not have realized it, but his “offhand comment” had recreated the worldview of this skinny kid who stood in front of him. It was one of the greatest epiphanies I had ever had. At that moment Kevin realized, we were created to create.

If sin had never entered this world, Genesis 1:28 would be one of the the great commissions of Christ, and it is. It told Adam and Eve to reflect God’s image. Sin has entered our world and thus our priorities have rightly shifted to the work of saving souls. But our life on earth is to be greatly shaped by this verse. And after all how are we to save souls?

Subdue The Earth

 What does “to subdue”  mean? I believe that one facet of the commission is a command to learn of science and of God’s creation so that we can develop methods and invent technology that will be a huge blessing to billions, as well as give glory to God. Let’s look at how this verse applies to our life on earth by first examining the history of scientific research.       

During the dark ages, science was in its infancy and strange theories such as a flat earth were simply received as fact.

The lack of scientific investigation was so prevalent that should flies be observed on a carcass, then it was be logically assumed that the flies came from the dead carcass. But as time went on, men started to have questions about the world around them. Questions like, why does lightning strike and where does it come from? Does nature just resist a vacuum or is there a more practical explanation? This particular question lead to research in air pressure.

Isaac Newton

I don’t know if any of you know the legend of Isaac Newton who was one day sitting under an apple tree when an apple landed on his head. The sore bump on his head led to the logical question: ”Wait, why did that happen?”

And thus he began his research into the laws of gravity. You might ask, why am I telling you all of this? Well I have heard some people say, “Don’t worry about how nature works, just accept that it does.” Well my friends, if none of those men had asked questions about the world around them, if there had been no research about electricity, for example, radio and telephone would not have existed.

Alexander Bell

Alexander Bell and his partner worked for years in difficult circumstances and self sacrificing hunger and deprivation. They invented the telephone under ridicule and mockery. Mr. Bell was a teacher for deaf/mute children and he wanted to use the money he got from the telephone to start a school for them. It did not matter what the project was, he had a cause and he was dedicated.

The Airplane

How much effort would be wasted in the sharing of the Gospel were it not for the telephone? If Bernoulli and others had not experimented and learned about air pressure, and if the the Wright brothers had not built off of the discoveries of Bernoulli and others, then they never would have come up with the ingenious idea of the air foil, which in turn sparked the age of aviation. What would Paul have given for a machine that could transport him to any point in the world within a day?

In the jungles of the world, an airplane shrinks the size and difficulty of trips through the mountains. If someone is sick, a pilot can medevac them out instead of taking days to hike them out on stretchers. And the Wright Brothers never knew that in a way, they had just saved a life.

As the Renaissance men began to question the world around them, Satan looked at what was happening and said to himself,

If these guys search for knowledge of any type they’re going to find God, the source of all learning. I think I’ll give them one of my world famous lies and tell them that all this knowledge comes from themselves and that man is naturally perfect, basically good.

Thus the renaissance and enlightenment in many ways failed drastically of bringing about any real good. Romans 1:22 States:  “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”  But, as we mentioned before, these men were used by God to bring about great good in the world and without them, the work of the Gospel would not have gone as far as it has today.

But let’s face it. sometime subduing the earth is a little bit challenging. Getting up at 5:45 to sit through classes can sometimes leave my brain feeling quite inoperable. Then, vocational responsibilities can take a toll on the physical and mental powers. Of course they don’t actually take a toll—they build them up. But it still seems as though, for the student, life is made up of one endless round of work. Welcome to the real world folks!

You know, give God a challenge. Ask Him to help you appreciate your studies. My friends, there are people all over this world who would be so grateful for  the top notch education that you are receiving here. Education that George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison,  the Reformers, and especially God, would look at and say, “That school is doin’ it right”

Yet it us so easy for us to take this education for granted, and push the books aside, and not take advantage of what we are being taught. When God looks at your school life will God say “Thou good and faithful servant?”

But God will help you. He will turn your weakness into His strength. How can we be afraid of any task if we realize that God’s power is the one fulfilling that task?!!! And that the same God that gave you the task is the same God that will help you fulfill that task.  

download (1).jpg

Let me remind you, your job right now is to be a student. Focus on the job at hand. One key element of success is to not let planning about the future turn into living in the future (“ouch”). Do your duty that lies directly in front of you. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the true meaning of doing your best,

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

And Ellen White states in the book Christ’s Object lesson’s page 344,

Some who are engaged in domestic labor are always at work not because they have so much to do but because they do not plan so as to save time. By their slow, dilatory ways they make much work out of very little. But all who will, may overcome these fussy, lingering habits. In their work let them have a definite aim. Decide how long a time is required for a given task, and then bend every effort toward accomplishing the work in the given time. The exercise of the will power will make the hands move deftly.”

In other words, scrub the dishes and chop wood and clean the way you would land a Boeing 747 with hundreds of passengers on board in the middle of instrument meteorological conditions. Or whatever seems like something “big” to you. If you don’t remember anything else that I say tonight, remember this, whatever your calling is in this life, whether it is to be a preacher, a canvasser, an inventor, a scientist or an aeronautical engineer, or a plumber—be deeply committed to your work, strive to do your best, strive to benefit others and serve others through your profession, and pray earnestly for God’s blessing on your work.

Do your very best. It is so hard I know, I’ve tried it, and it doesn’t last very long. But God looks at me and He looks at you and he says “ Kevin, you are strong not because of anything you have done, but BECAUSE I SAID SO” that’s all you need to hear. Then you will be able to do your best.

God has taught me that excuses are like chains, binding us from seeing God and from realizing our full potential. When you stop making excuses you will be set free!!!! My friends, when you subdue the Earth will all you’ve got. When you do your best, THE SKY IS THE LIMIT!!!!!

Sharing the Good News

 The best and highest use of our professions in regards to “subduing the earth”, is to be a witness to others.

manup.png

I have recently realized how much of a genius Jesus was. To make the greatest impact, he mingled with the people. This is the most efficient method of spreading the gospel. God plants within each of us our own personality, our likes and dislikes, and our talents—which in turn determine our occupations. Within that occupation, there are men and women who are longing for the Everlasting Gospel. Through groups of people who share common interests we can mingle with others, because now each of us have common ground to discuss between us, and it makes it much easier to make friends. It actually gives us a reason to associate with others.

And when others observe the integrity and perseverance with which you pursue your field, they will see something that they themselves don’t have.

How does this principle apply to us in the world to come? Well, first let me approach this subject from a young person’s point of view. Sadly, many young people, when they examine their own hearts honestly don’t want to go to Heaven. They are consumed with this world, and pictures of cherubs floating on clouds with harps does not compete with some really good things in life, such as—I don’t know—music, engineering, science, aviation etc. Maybe some of those things don’t sound so good to you.  Anything good and noble that one loves to do, about which one is passionate. Right? I would wager that the average young person does not note these things as probably appearing in the world to come. A disclaimer: we don’t know what Heaven will be like. And we won’t know until we get there. But it will be better than anything we can ever hope for.

 It stands to reason that if God created this earth with all it’s microcosms of life and an infinite field of study, as well as heaven and the new earth where we will live eternally, with perfect minds and bodies, can we expect anything less of that world?

And so it proves true in Adventist Home page 547 paragraph 4, 

Heaven is a school; its field of study, the universe; its teacher, the Infinite One. A branch of this school was established in Eden; and, the plan of redemption accomplished, education will again be taken up in the Eden school.... { AH 547.4}

 Heavenly Knowledge Will Be Progressive—All the treasures of the universe will be open to the study of God’s redeemed. Unfettered by mortality, they wing their tireless flight to worlds afar—worlds that thrilled with sorrow at the spectacle of human woe and rang with songs of gladness at the tidings of a ransomed soul. With unutterable delight the children of earth enter into the joy and the wisdom of un-fallen beings. They share the treasures of knowledge and understanding gained through the ages upon ages in contemplation of God’s handiwork. With undimmed vision they gaze upon the glory of creation—suns and stars and systems, all in their appointed order circling the throne of Deity. Upon all things, from the least to the greatest, the Creator’s name is written, and in all are the riches of His power displayed { AH 548.1}.

 Heaven will definitely be a place of peace and quiet, and we will enjoy the simple lifestyle of agriculture. But are we going to learn nothing there? When the King of the universe is our teacher? How can we just sit there!!!?? The God who made literally  everything?

Historians? You will have the Great orchestrator of good in the Great Controversy as your teacher!

Biologists! You will have the Creator of DNA and complex life systems as your instructor!

Physicists! You will have the God of order and laws who is in no way subject to relativity!

And for the inventive among us and really all of us because we all have goals right? Ellen White states something actually quite eye opening in the small book “Heaven” on page 152 paragraph 5:

“There, every power will be developed, every capability increased. The grandest enterprises will be carried forward, the loftiest aspirations will be reached. And still there will arise new heights to surmount, new wonders to admire, new truths to comprehend, fresh objects to call forth the powers of body mind and soul.”

If God is telling you to give up a career, for example, that you thought would “Oh, just be the dream!?” God is basically saying: ”Look, just put that aside for a little while till we bring everyone home. Then we can do all these great achievements together.”

In Adventist Home 541, paragraph 3: “A fear of making the future inheritance seem too material has led many to spiritualize away the very truths which lead us to look upon it as our home.” Yes you heard correctly. Heaven is real. Really Really real. As real as the chair underneath you. My friends that is how real Christ’s love is. How could any of us want to miss out on something like that?

But how can we see Jesus and His love in subduing the earth? Pplease turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 10:10

 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.“

 One of the world’s most famous and prestigious physicists, otherwise knows as my dad, once told me, “The only thing that lets one know how fast he is going is by a reference point. Without a reference point, one cannot judge how fast he is moving or if he is moving at all.”

In other words, if you’re in the back seat of a car, how do you figure out how fast you’re moving or if your moving at all? You look out the car and look at the road the trees the grass whizzing by. But ignoring bumps in the road and other factors, what if you look out and see nothing. All you see is black? You don’t know how fast you’re going.

According to John 10 verse 10, why did God come? So that we may have life and so that we may have a lot of it.

Life is one of the reference points by which we can barely begin to estimate the love of God. So, in order to understand the value of the gift of God’s Son, we must realize the value of life. What is life? I am asking this in the most practical sense of the term. The essence of practical life, ladies and gentlemen, is to subdue and have dominion over the earth.

Who here loves life? I for one, love life. For me the universe that God has created is full of unanswered questions and problems. So many inventions and achievements are just around the corner. Nature in all it’s wild majestic beauty. Stars that are these great big bubbling balls of hot liquid so far away that when you look up you are looking thousands of years into the past because of the time it took for the light to travel to your eye. I don’t know about you all, but I am addicted to life.

When I realized that Christ came so that I may subdue and have dominion over the Earth, and so that I may subdue and have dominion over the Earth more abundantly, everything changed. I Finally had a reference point to see the value of God’s sacrifice in every fathomable activity of life that lines up with Philippians 4:8. This the same God who gave us a mind to create technology that would bless billions of people.

Such as:

  • Computers

  • Medicine

  • Space travel

  • Aviation

My friends, when you realize that the God who created for our enjoyment:

  • Nature

  • Science

  • Astronomy

  • Biology

  • chemistry

  • Geology

  • Academics

  • Art

  • Literature

  • Design

  • Engineering

  • Music

  • Food

  • Family

  • Marriage

  • Love

That same God died for you.

But Genesis 1:18 gets even deeper. Turn with me in your Bibles to John Chapter 3 and verse 16.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

  Keep your finger in John 3:16, actually you don’t have to because you probably have it memorized, but turn John 17:3,  

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

The very foundation of life and existence is to know God. As we subdue and have dominion over the Earth over the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, as we study our creator’s handiwork in every facet of science and knowledge, we see His character stamped upon every formula and His brand of love written on the universe. As we fulfill the creation mandate to subdue the Earth, we will come to know God.

  • The God of Creation

  • The God of love

  • The God of redemption!

   In conclusion, let’s turn our attention once again to the hereafter. Throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity what will we be studying? The love and character of Christ right? But as we have seen, one of the major ways in which we see God’s love and character is through having dominion over all facets of His creation and studying it. And so we see in one of the most majestic and inspirational quotes ever penned.  The last two paragraphs of the Great Controversy. It reads,

 “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Revelation 5:13. { DD 62.4 }

The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.”

My appeal is that we will remember to thank God for simply creating us and everyone and everything else, for great and marvelous are His works . Also, may God give each of us strength to subdue the earth to the best of our abilities. 

To subdue the earth. What a responsibility. What a privilege. What a joy. What a life. What a future! 

What a God.

 Let’s pray.

 “Father, thank you for showing us our duty, thank you for promising to us to make our duty our delight. I pray that you will give us energy to subdue and have dominion over the Earth. I pray that for those of us who have studies to do tonight that we will attack it like someone’s physical or spiritual life depended on it. For we never know Lord just where the knowledge we have gained here may come into play. In the audience there are many potential pastors, and potential church leaders. But there may be many potential engineers, mathematicians, designer’s, architects, musicians, carpenters, what have you. Lord, don’t let them feel left out. Lord You are coming so soon and people must save as many souls as possible. Let all of us do all we can with the talents and opportunities You have given us to spread the gospel to our coworkers in our profession and perhaps even through our profession. As we subdue the earth, please subdue us, with your love, joy, peace and forgiveness . Let this be our prayer Lord, we humbly ask in Jesus Name.

Amen.”

Kevin Glass (1).jpg
 

Kevin Glass, 17, is a Junior at Ouachita Hills Academy in Amity, Arkansas. He enjoys music (violin and piano), video production, and has started flying lessons in pursuit of a private pilot’s license. He is the youngest of five children.  His father teaches math/sciences at OHA  and has served at several Adventist academies.