From the time of Eusebius of Caesarea (Ecclesiastical History 1.3), Christians have recognized that Christ held three offices: Prophet, Priest, and King. These three offices are not a later theological construct. All three play a major role in the history of redemption recounted in Scripture.
The seed for the Christological office of king lies in the dominion blessing of Genesis 1:28-30. As the climax of God’s creation, as the creature made in the image of his Creator, man was to rule the earth as God’s vice-regent. The text does not provide extensive information as to what the nature of this unfallen dominion would have been like. Some speculate that humans were to extend the conditions of Eden throughout the world (cf. G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission, 83f).
Before the original intent of mankind’s dominion could be realized, Adam and Eve sinned and the entire world fell under God’s judgment. The sin of the first couple affected more than their spirits. The blessing of dominion was distorted by sin. After the Fall, the very ground resisted mankind’s dominion (3:17-29). In some ways, the creation seemed to now have dominion over its ruler: “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (3:19).
Genesis 4:17-26 reveals that the creation blessing has not been annulled. Cain is fruitful and he multiplies. Some of his descendants are recorded, and the multiplication of descendents is implied by the building of a city. Lamech’s bigamy should also be viewed in the context of the multiplication of progeny. Nor was dominion aspect of the blessing removed. The cultural achievements of Genesis four are all instances of subduing the earth. Some men assert their control over the animal world by domesticating animals. Others learned how to manipulate creation to create musical instruments. Men also learned how to forge minerals from the earth into tools. These cultural achievements are recorded in the line of Cain to demonstrate that the creation blessing still retained force among fallen man.
God also reaffirmed man’s dominion over the earth after the Flood. He gave the animals and plants into man’s hand (9:2-4). But the disorder of sin is also apparent in this passage. Man may rule the beasts, but the beasts will eat him (9:2). Though God also lays down a basic law of social order (Murder is a capital offense; 9:5-6), when men once again organize themselves socially, they exercise their dominion in defiance of God (11:4). For sinful man, the blessing of dominion became a curse, and man’s dominion needed to be curtailed (11:6).
At this point in the story the dominion of man over the earth does not appear to be beneficial, but the closing chapters of Genesis raise the issue of kingship in a more hopeful manner. This time the king is the solution. Jacob prophesied a king from Judah would rule over a restored earth (49:8-12; This interpretation presumes the translation, “until he whose right it is comes” (HCSB; cf. T/NIV). This translation is based on (1) the reading שלה rather than שילה in thirty-nine Hebrew manuscripts, (2) the translations of the LXX, Syriac Peshitta, and Targum Onkelos, and (3) the probable allusion to this verse by Ezekiel 21:26-27. For a survey of the views and detailed augmentation for this interpretation see Smith, 206-23).
The promise of a Messianic king in this passage is commonly recognized, but his dominion over a restored world is often missed. The prediction of a restored world is found in verse 11 A world in which vines can be used for hitching posts is manifestly overflowing in agriculture. Likewise washing clothes in the juice of crushed grapes indicates the extravagance of this future age. Smith notes this creates quite a contrast with the present world of famine, thorns, and sweat (Smith, 215f.). This prophecy invests the promise to Abraham, “kings shall come from you,” with greater significance than would have been at first apparent.
Beale, G. K. The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. New Studies in Biblical Theology. D. A. Carson. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004.
Smith, Bryan. “The Presentation of Judah in Genesis 37-50 and its Implications for the Narrative’s Structure and Thematic Unity.” Ph.D. diss., Bob Jones University, 2002.