The Mystery of Replenish and Subdue


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I have always loved the book of Genesis. It’s secrets and mysteries hold me like a magnet because God said, I have told you all things from the beginning. In other words, everything you need to know about God, His will, His purposes, why He created man, and what for can all be discovered by digging into Genesis. Get these answers right, and everything else that follows makes perfect sense on every level. Get it wrong, and its like trying to get to point B when you have no idea where your point A is or where you are in relation to it.

In my opinion this is what Satan is all about – confusing the issue of where you really are and what God really said. I don’t think he needs to do any more than this to screw things up. Think about it. God says this, and if Satan can get you to think it means other than what God meant, then he’s accomplished his purposes. That’s because man acts according to what he thinks and believes. Believe wrong, and you act wrong. You make wrong choices, wrong decisions. You will never get where God wants you to be unless God Himself intervenes and sets you back on a straight course again.

I think that is why I find the book of Genesis so fascinating because this is the beginning. This is where God said He put all His answers. The closer you are to the Source, the less chance there is of jumping into the middle of something that is already misdirected. The answers are all here, in seed form, waiting to be discovered; gems waiting to be mined; glories, riches and abundance just waiting to be poured out on anyone willing to step aside and look for them.

One of the first mysteries God opened my eyes to were the words, “replenish and subdue” from the blessing He pronounced upon man in Genesis 1:28. The question that rose up in me was, How can you re-plenish something that hasn’t been “plenished” yet? And what was there to subdue? God made everything good and the whole of it together as very good. What was there that needed to be subdued?

Most bible translations will translate replenish the earth as fill the earth, claiming that replenish is a mistranslation and that fill the earth is just an expansion of the first phrase of being fruitful and multiplying. I don’t agree with this. For starters, to “re” anything is to do it again. To claim that it is an expansion on being fruitful is to deny the inherent triune nature of this entire verse.

Genesis 1:26 says in its entirety:

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 moves upon the earth. (emphasis mine)

There are three phrases and therefore three aspects to this blessing. One of the greatest tools God has given me to understand the Scriptures is to look for the trinity in all things. He made the earth to declare His glory and reveal Him. He is triune in nature. All things in nature express this trinity: root, branch, fruit; man, woman, child; body, soul, spirit. The list is endless. Therefore, if you want the Scriptures to point to the truth, you need three points on your line.

I see this blessing like this:

  • Be fruitful and multiply (God the Father/image)
  • Replenish the earth and subdue it (God the Son/likeness)
  • And have dominion over… (God the Holy Spirit/have dominion over)

There are three separate phrases, three separate actions, three separate operations each of which corresponds to each member of the Godhead, bringing about God’s plans and purposes to completion.

Setting aside all other questions for the moment, we are still left with what God meant when He said, “replenish the earth and subdue it?” In the light of the fall of man, and the salvation of Jesus Christ, this makes sense. But what does not make sense is why God declares this before Adam is even formed? Is this a prophetic word that already speaks of Adam’s fall? Was God’s plan to make man “in His image, after His likeness, and to give him dominion” also a prophetic word?

There is so much to look into here. A wonderful adventure is about to unfold!

As a side note, some of these things have become so very familiar to me that I may have left what to you may be huge gaps of understanding in my efforts to unfold what I already know. If this is the case, I would encourage you to ask me to clarify things through the comments section rather than just abandon what I am trying to make known. Sometimes the messenger isn’t always the best teacher. But with your help that can be changed.