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Sabbath School Lessons on The Role of the Church in the Community
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 2: Restoring Dominion *
Introduction: What does "dominion" mean? The Commonwealth of
Virginia, where I live, is called the "Old Dominion." When I looked
this up in Encyclopedia Virginia, I discovered that Virginia was the
first of the "overseas dominions of the kings and queens of England."
I thought "Old Dominion" meant something grand. Instead, it means I
live in a place that was dominated by another country! The King James
version of the Bible says humans have "dominion" over the creation.
Let's dive into our Bibles and learn what that means!
- Creation and Dominion
- Read Genesis 1:26-27. Over what does God give humans
dominion? ("Over all the earth." Then the Bible names the
animals, both domestic and wild. It sounds like we have
dominion over all of the creation.)
- Notice that God then says that He is creating us in
His image. Why? (Since God is the ultimate ruler, He
made us to look like Him. I guess it is good for the
rulers to have a similar look.)
- You may have noticed that the New International
Version uses the term "rule" instead of "dominion."
Does that make "dominion" easier to understand?
- If you say, "yes," tell me how you rule over
- Read Genesis 1:28. We see a new word, "subdue." How does
"subdue" add to our understanding of how we should "rule"
over the creation? (Clearly, humans are in charge.)
- Read Genesis 1:29-30. If you had just been told that you
were in charge of the animals, would this add to your
authority or limit your authority? (Given our culture
today, this is a major limitation on our authority. We are
not permitted to eat the animals. Instead, the animals and
humans have essentially the same diet - green plants.)
- What does this limitation teach us? (Our authority is
- Read Genesis 2:15-17. What additional limits do we find on
our authority? (Adam and Eve are told not to eat of the
fruit of one tree. In addition, they are give an
obligation regarding the creation. They are told to "work
it" and "take care of it." This is another limit on our
- Given these limits on our total authority, how would
you best describe the nature of our authority?
(Benevolent or symbiotic. We take care of the
creation and it takes care of us.)
- The Fall and Dominion
- Read Genesis 3:17-19. After Adam and Eve sinned, how has
their relationship with the creation changed? (Nothing in
the text says that humans are no longer in charge, rather,
nature is in rebellion. Nature is not cooperating as it
did in the past.)
- Read Genesis 3:16. What logic do you find in the
punishment for sin? (Remember that we were created to be
rulers like God? We will now experience something like
God is experiencing with us. God is our Creator. As we now
create more humans, the experience is painful - just as we
are creating pain for God. God's creation is now creating
difficulties and trouble for Him. The plants are now
creating difficulty for Adam. God gives us a parallel
experience to what He now suffers.)
- Read John 12:31-33. Jesus calls Satan the "prince of this
world." To what extent did dominion pass to Satan when
Adam and Eve sinned? (Jesus clearly calls Satan "prince,"
and ascribes some authority in the world to him. But,
Satan's authority is limited because it was God who told
Adam and Eve (after they sinned) their new relationship to
the creation. It is revealing that Jesus calls Satan
"prince" as opposed to "king.")
- Read Genesis 6:5-7. In light of this text, how would you
describe the relative authority of Satan and Jesus after
the sin of humans? (God retained ultimate authority. God
proposes to destroy the creation. If Satan had complete
authority over the earth, he could block this, or at least
would have a legitimate complaint that God was destroying
his property, his kingdom.)
- Read Genesis 7:1-4 and Genesis 7:20-23. Who is in charge
- Read Genesis 9:1-5. Who is in charge here? (God and
- After the flood, what does God say about the
authority of humans over the creation? (God says a
couple of things. First, He announces that humans can
eat animals. Second, God proclaims that animals "are
given into your hands," but God prohibits eating the
blood of animals. God is in complete control. Once
again, God delegates part of that control to humans.)
- As you contemplate the verses we have read, does it seem
to you that we humans are laboring under the control of
Satan, or that God has retained control and that we are
still operating "in His image" in the sense that the
problems we have created for Him now are problems with
which we must deal? (Humans never had authority to
transfer power from God to Satan. What humans did is
complicate their own authority by participating in the
rebellion against God's authority.)
- Re-read Genesis 9:2 and notice what it says about a
further alteration in the relationship between humans and
animals. What is that change? (Animals will now fear
humans. They will want to stay away from humans.)
- Why would God do that? (To preserve the lives of the
animals because humans are now eating them!)
- Is there a parallel, once again, between God's
authority and our authority in "His image?" (Men now
understand that God is capable of destroying His
creation. Animals understand that humans can destroy
- Toward More Perfect Dominion
- Read 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. How should we handle the fact
that our sin and Satan's work creates real problems for
us? (Pray that we will be delivered from wicked and evil
- Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10 and Deuteronomy 15:7-8. Are
these two texts in conflict? How would you reconcile them?
- Re-read 2 Thessalonians 3:6. What "teaching" is Paul
writing about? (Context tells us the teaching is
their example of work. Thus, the poor being helped in
Deuteronomy 15 are the working poor. These are not
people who disobey the teaching to work.)
- Read Leviticus 19:9-10. What is required of the poor as
part of this provision for their food? (That they work.
They work to "reap" what has been left over.)
- Read 1 Timothy 5:3-4. What is the rule for widows who are
"really in need?" (That the first source of help should be
- Read 1 Timothy 5:9-10. What is the rule for helping
elderly widows? (They can only be put on the "list" (the
official church list for help) if they have done good
deeds in the past.)
- Re-read Genesis 3:17-19. We previously decided that the
hard work required to raise food from the newly rebellious
nature, reflected the great difficulty that God now faces
because of our sin. What does this suggest about work? (It
improves character. Work teaches us about dominion and
- Why does God generally require that we give help only
to the poor who are working? (If you look again at 2
Thessalonians 3:9, Paul tells us he is a model for
teaching the importance of work. We teach the
importance of work when we work and when we create
methods of helping the poor that require them to
- The discussion of helping widows, and the warning to "keep
away" from a "brother" who is idle ( 2 Thessalonians 3:6),
refer to those within the group of believers. Do you think
these rules also apply to those outside the church?
- CNS news reports that, according to the United States
government, only 62.8 percent of the population (age 16 or
older and not in an institution) is in the workforce. This
number includes those who are unemployed, but actively
looking for a job. What does this say about the state of
God's plan for work?
- Friend, humans rebelled against God in Eden and He imposed
punishments that allow us in some measure to experience
His suffering while improving our character. Are humans in
rebellion today by separating help for the poor from a
requirement to work? If you agree, will you consider how
you can help restore the lesson in Eden of God's dominion?
- Next week: Justice and Mercy in the Old Testament: Part 1.
* Copr. 2016, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.