From beginning to end, the Bible makes it totally clear that God is a covenant-seeking and –making God. His involvement in His creation is to be in a covenant relationship with people He has created in His image to live in intimate communion and even union with Himself. He does not simply tell us what we should do, He invites us to join with Him in carrying it out. It all happens when His people respond to His covenant invitation.
From that covenant relationship came both the Old and New Testaments, also regarded as the old covenant and the new covenant. All the heroes of both testaments lived out their covenants with God—Abraham, Noah, Moses and David and all the prophets of Israel spoke the authoritative words of God from their covenant consciousness and His son, Jesus, who carried on that covenant, even seeing His own death on the cross, producing the new covenant.
At His last supper, He told His disciples, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:25 NASB
He was letting His anxiety-filled followers, who feared being left without His actual presence, know that their covenant relationship could be fully accessed and would produce a union with Him which would make all things possible in Christ.
In the creation account of Genesis 1, we are told that after creating mankind in His own image, which required an expression of His image in the form of both man and woman (Genesis 1:26), He offered an opportunity for the first couple to lead and carry out His intention for the created, yet unfinished world.
God blessed them and God said to the them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves over the earth.” Genesis 1:28 NASB
Their mission was to subdue and control, indicating that they faced chaos, even in the brand new world.
This sounded very much like some of the orders coming down from headquarters as I was being trained for combat duty in the army. As I faced the chaos of my world after my stroke, I sensed an answer to my prayers and asked God what I could do to handle the anxieties of my new world. I felt God saying, “Subdue and control.” The natural world is a combat zone, but in covenant together with God, we will see this new creation continue and be completed—for we will do it in union with Christ. That provided both hope and confidence for the perilous journey forward. I was commanded to face up to the wildness of nature and a part of that was the wildness of the old sin nature, especially in myself.
As a boy, my favorite thing to do, for which I asked Mom and Dad every birthday and Christmas was horseback riding lessons. I was glued to the television whenever the Lone Ranger came on—how I admired his noble steed ‘Silver’. The day came when I visited my godparents at their weekend getaway retreat on which sat a big barn with many stalls and its own corral. They had bought a new horse. It was a white Arabian and it even had a black leather with silver studded saddle—just like my TV hero. I gazed into the stall and could tell immediately that the horse was not fully broken. He was kicking the walls and snorting and digging up the floor of the stall. The horse trainer saddled him for me, pointed at the left stirrup and said, “Bill, are you ready?” He could see the excitement and trepidation on my face.
“Don’t worry, Son. Just mount up, grab the reins, subdue and control. He will respond to your leadership. And I will be there to help you if needed.” That was my covenant promise. With that assurance, I struggled into the saddle and off we started cantering around the corral—what a ride!
The battle started with me having to confront my own fear. I have returned to that moment many times as I have seen the wildness of nature and my own physical limitations snorting at me, but I have remembered that my Father God through His Son was there with me to assist me in being obedient to His orders in our covenant of life together. And every now and then even in very tenuous painful darkness, I sense that I am being carried for the ride of my life. How grateful for this subdue-and-control-covenant. That covenant still stands for all of us. Our Father never abandons His children, so mount up and enjoy the ride of your life.