In the beginning of the Bible, we read about how God created the world, how he brought order to the chaos and lit a light in the darkness. On the sixth day of Creation Week, God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings:
“27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”(Ge 1:27)
To understand how man became a “stranger”, we first need to go through what a human being is and what it means to be created in God’s “image”.
The Old Testament Hebrew text states that man was created into God’s ”tselem”, a word that is usually translated into “image” or “statue”.[i] The corresponding New Testament Greek word “eikon” is also translated into “image” or “likeness”.[ii]
Just as a painting of a tree is the image of a real tree, so man is the image of God. The painted tree is not the tree, but an image of the tree. Man is not God, but an image of God. Just as one recognizes the real tree by seeing the painted tree, so one recognizes God by seeing man.
After creating Adam and Eve in his image, God goes on to bless all humanity and give us a threefold mission:
“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.””(Ge 1:28)
The first blessed mission is “be fruitful”. Of course, for humanity to increase, Adam and Eve must multiply and have children.
The second blessed mission is to “fill the earth”, i.e., to migrate. God wants Adam and Eve, and by extension all of humanity, to wander, to move, to discover, and to spread across the earth. Just as God’s glory and presence fills the whole earth[iii], so does God want man to migrate and fill the whole earth with their presence. As we will see in chapter 3, God does not want humanity to stay in the same place and hide behind walls and borders.
The third blessed mission is to “subdue it”, i.e., to be God’s representatives on earth and to take care[iv] of God’s creation. Animals are also created by God, but because humans are created in God’s image, humans are different from animals and become like God’s co-rulers on earth. [v]
All three of these missions are interrelated. To rule the whole earth, humans need to migrate. To fulfill the whole earth, man needs to multiply. So, migration is directly linked to the divine mandate to rule over creation, and one of the aspects of what it means to be a human being made in the image of God.
Just as sexual reproduction and man’s rule over earth are divine gifts and missions that God blesses, so is migration a divine gift and a mission that He blesses. By fulfilling all three of these divine missions, human beings, being in the image of God, also become God’s representatives on earth and participate in God’s continued creation of a beautiful world.
Unfortunately, however, it didn’t take long for Adam and Eve to fall into sin. Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and, consequently, were expelled from the Garden of Eden:
“22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever-“23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”(Ge 3:22-24)
You have read a free chapter of my book Friend of Strangers. If you like this book, please consider purchasing the ebook through Amazon. Since English is not my native language, there may be some linguistic inaccuracies. Please contact me if you find any.
Read the next chapter: Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
[ii] Ro 8:29
[iii] Is 6:3
[iv] Ge 2:15, Pr 12:10, Pr 27:23
[v] Ps 115:16