Created as a Migrant

Christian Mölk Friend of Strangers Leave a Comment

In the beginning of the Bible, we can read about how God created the world, how He brought order to chaos and light in the dark. On the sixth day of creation week, God created Adam and Eve, the first people:

27So 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 is created into God’s ”tselem” (צֶלֶם), a word that  is usually translated into “image” or “statue”.[1] The corresponding New Testament Greek word ”eikon” (εἰκίν) is also translated into “image” or “likeness”.[2]

Just as a painting of a tree is an image of a real tree, so is man an 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 you recognize the real tree by seeing the painted tree, God is recognized by seeing man.

After God created Adam and Eve in his image, he goes on to bless all mankind and give us a triple mission:

28And 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 to ”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., migrating.   God wants Adam and Eve, and by extension all mankind, to move, discover new things, and spread out across the earth. Just as God’s glory and presence fill the whole earth,[3] 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 take care of[4] God’s creation. Also animals are created by God, but since man is created in God’s image, man differs from animals and becomes like God’s co-rulers on earth.[5]

All three missions are connected. To rule the whole earth, man needs to migrate. To fill the whole earth, man needs to multiply. Thus, migrating is directly linked to the divine mission of ruling over the creation, and one of the aspects of what it means to be a human being created in God’s image.

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 God blesses. By fulfilling all three divine missions, man, as God’s image, also becomes God’s representatives on earth and participates 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 from the forbidden fruit and, as a consequence, they were expelled from the Garden of Eden:

22Then 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—” 23therefore 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)


[1] Ge 1:27, 2Ch 23:17, Dan 2:31

[2] Rom 8:29, Jas 3:9

[3] Is 6:3

[4] Ge 2:15, Prov 12:10, Prov 27:23

[5] Ps 115:16

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