the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
The message Jeremiah sent to the exiles was rather strange. Rather than say "keep your chin up and hope for the best" he told them to take dominion. This even though the Jews had been defeated by the greatest power of the ancient world - the chief "beast" kingdom of the four empires used by God to shepherd his people.
To enjoin compliance with the dominion mandate meant the captives had a continuing responsibility of obedience to Yahweh regardless of their circumstance. This was true although they lacked self-rule, liberty of movement and had suffered the loss of wealth and position. It was true even though they were in a foreign country that looked to a foreign god as its ultimate authority. The circumstance of the captives was not conducive to even the simplest facets of obedience yet Jeremiah told the exiles to take dominion.
Dominion is often misunderstood. It is not the heavy-hand of tyranny but is the gentle cultivation of obedience to Yahweh in an individual's life and arena of activity. The Jews did not need political power or influence to take dominion. Daniel was a man of power and influence in Babylon but there was no special privilege granted the Jewish people in general because of his position. Indeed, even a native born Babylonian would have no power or influence in the kingdom apart from the court of the king. Humanly speaking, no common citizen would have been able to "take dominion" in Babylon. If we want to understand what Jeremiah meant we need to define dominion biblically.
In the book of Genesis we read, Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). And again in Genesis 2: 15, Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. This is dominion. Getting married, having children, building a house, planting a garden - making a difference in society and doing all as unto the Lord of hosts. Dominion is to bring one's arena of activity under the authority of Almighty God. And lest the Jews lose heart, Jeremiah reminds them that they will succeed because God is in control. He says "this is what the Lord of the heavenly armies the God of Israel says." In other words, Jeremiah has it on the best authority that the Jews in Babylon are supposed to remain faithful to the most basic idea of the covenant.
Thus, Jeremiah told the exiles that the covenant remained in force. He reminded them they had a responsibility to walk in obedience to God's law. Moreover, he told them that obedience to the dominion mandate would prepare them for future blessing (Jeremiah 29:10-14).
It is the duty of twenty-first century Christians to take dominion as the exiles took dominion; to bring our arena of activity under the authority of Jesus Christ. We do not grasp for power or seek out a"Christian" politician to run for the highest office in the land or plot to overthrow the government. It means we do the simple things of raising a family, building a house and business, planting a garden, reaching out to those in need and so on. To take dominion is to do all the simple things in life and to do them heartily as unto the Lord.