ADAM FAILS AS KING
We have thus far determined that the Bible teaches that there was no
death before the fall of Adam amongst the creatures (man and animals) with
the breath of life. Thus, we sense that no aspects of the curse of
sin (storms, thorns, thistles, earthquakes, decay, etc.) were present
before the fall. We, at this point, are very comfortable with all of the
teachings of the Bible relating to creation and our first parents.
Everything was good. The animals and man were herbivorous (Gen.
l:29,30). Thorns and thistles came after sin (Gen.3:18). The six days of
creation must have been twenty-four hour periods as the Bible seems to
indicate, for long periods of time would have required death. Even Romans 8
fits beautifully into this understanding as we read there that creation
itself was subjected to futility (Rom.8:20).
The command to subdue the earth must, therfore, have been strictly
for our first parents and must have no relationship to the believer today.
But wait a moment. We still haven’t faced the question of the timing of
Lucifer’s fall into sin. If he sinned before Adam was created, couldn’t it
still be possible that some part of the earth was still cursed? Then to
subdue it could still have meaning for the believer today.
In this chapter we shall study more intently the meaning of “subdue it”
and in so doing also discover the timing of Lucifer’s fall into sin. We
shall then be better prepared to begin to study more specifically the task of
the believer today.
Fill The Earth
In seeking light on the phrase “subdue it,” let us look briefly at
other statments in Genesis 1 relating to our first parent’s
responsibility toward the world. Perhaps, by studying these we may get
some insight into the meaning of the phrase “subdue it.”
The first phrase we should look at is the phrase `be fruitful and
multiply and fill the earth'(1) (Gen. 1:28). We see this phrase does
not relate in any sense to a mandate to conquer, or to subdue. This
language is employed to indicate God’s blessing upon man who would fill
the earth with progeny. Not only is it a blessing to man to see his seed,
but a mandate is surely implied here that this should be one of his goals in
Identical language is employed in Genesis 1:22 after God created the
fish. There we read:
And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and
fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the
The fish, of course, do not conquer or subdue the sea. They simply,
under the blessing of God, multiply and fill the sea which is the environment
in which they exist. This phrase, then, does not help us to understand the
command to subdue the earth.
Till And Keep The Garden
A second phrase that relates to Adam and his work before his fall into
sin is the command given to Adam in Genesis 2:15:
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to
till it and keep it.
In this command Adam is told to till the garden and keep it. Let us
examine these tasks. The word “keep” is the Hebrew word shamar which means
to keep, observe, take heed (Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible).
Shamar is translated as “keep” at least 284 times in the Old Testament.
Keep my commandments, keep all the words of this law, are typical Old
Testament sentences employing shamar. The implication is that of
maintaining the present state of affairs. There is no suggestion in this
word of bringing into subjection or bringing into control that which is out
of control. Adam was to maintain a creation that was good and perfect. This
command is, therfore, also unrelated to the word “subdue.”
The command to dress or till the garden is the other part of Genesis
2:15. The word “to dress” or “till” is the Hebrew word abad.(2) It really
is the opposite of a word like “subdue” or “dominion.” It is
translated some 214 times in the Bible as “serve.” It tells us that Adam
was to work in the garden, tilling it and doing what was necessary to
maintain production. It also carries no implication of Lordship over the
earth, or of having the earth in a state of subjection to man. Rather, it
implies that man was to maintain that which was already good and perfect.
Dominion Over The Creatures
Thus far then, we have discovered no statement in the Biblical record of
man before the fall that relates to this intriguing command to subdue the
earth. There is one word, however, that appears to be quite related to it.
That is the word “dominion.” In Gen. 1:26 we read:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over
all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon
And immediately following the command to subdue the earth we read (Gen.
…and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the
birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon
The word “dominion” which is the Hebrew word radah means to rule or
reign. It is, thus, at least somewhat related to the idea of subduing or
bringing in subjection. The word radah can be found twenty-four times in
the Bible. It is normally translated “dominion” or “rule.” But
significantly, while in Genesis 1 it is used twice to indicate man is to
have dominion or rule of all other creatures, exclusive of man, it is never
used in this manner again. It is used to indicate rule over a slave
(Lev. 25:43, 25:46, and 25:53) rule over those who built Solomon’s temple
(I Kings 5:16, I Kings 9:23, II Chron. 8:10); rule of the enemies of God
over God’s people (Neh. 9:18, Lev. 26:17); rule of God’s people over the
enemy (Judges 5:13, Numbers 24:19, Ps. 49:14, Isa. 14:2, Ps. 58:27); rule of
the enemies of God over the nations (Isa. 14:6, Ezek. 29:15); rule of
Christ over the nations (Isa 41-2, Ps. 110:2, Ps. 72:8); rule of false
priests over God’s people (Jer. 5:31, Ezek. 34:4); rule of Solomon over the
land and kings between the Euphrates River and the Mediterranean Sea (I
What can possibly be the intention of God in using “radah” twice in
Genesis I to indicate man’s relationship to the lesser creatures of the
world and then never repeating this? Instead God uses the same word to
emphasize man’s relationship to man and to the nations.
Especially interesting, too, is the statement made to Noah after the
flood. Genesis 9:1 is almost identical to Genesis 1:28–, except that
where Adam is told to subdue the earth and dominion over its creatures,
Noah is given no such mandate. Rather he is told that God had put fear
and dread of man within the other creatures and into mans’ hand they were
delivered. Why this complete change in language? Something drastic must
have happened between the events of Genesis 1:29 and those of Genesis 9:1,2.
The word “dominion” (radah) thus appears to introduce more questions
into our search for the meaning of the command to Adam to subdue the
earth. Since we sense that there is an intimate relationship between
“subdue” and “dominion” it is time to look forth rightly at the phrase
“subdue it.” In so doing we will discover the answers to the questions
raised by the word radah, and we shall also discover the correlation
between the words “subdue” and “dominion.” Moreover, we shall also find
answers to the questions concerned with the timing of Satan’s fall, and the
possibility of death and decay being present in the world prior to Adam’s
Adam Is To Subdue The Earth
We must logically look for our answers from the pages of Holy Writ. The
Bible is its own interpreter. It does offer a valid and beautiful
solution to the proper understanding of this key phrase “subdue it.”
The word “subdue” which is the Hebrew word “kabash” is used twelve times in
the Old Testament in addition to this use in Genesis 1:28. It is
variously translated subdue, subjection, assault, etc. An examination of
these twelve usages will help greatly to understand the meaning of its use
in Genesis. Four times it is used to indicate mastery as in the
relationship of a master to a slave. These passages are:
Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children
are as their children; yet we are forcing our sons and our
daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already
been enslaved; but it is not in our power to help it, for
other men have our fields and our vineyards (Neh. 5:5).
But afterward they turned and took back the male and female
slaves they had set free, and brought them into subjection as
slaves (Jer. 34:11).
And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and
Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins
of your own against the Lord your God? (II Chron. 28:10).
But then you turned around and profaned my name when each of
you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set
free according to their desire, and you brought them into
subjection to be your slaves (Jer. 34:11).
Once it is used in the book of Esther when Haman threw himself on
the bed of Esther to plead for his life. The king, who entered the room,
suspected Haman was trying to seduce the Queen. We read in Esther 7:8:
And the king returned from the palace garden to the place
where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the
couch where Esther was and the king said, “Will he even
assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the
words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face.
The word kabash translated “assault”, therefore, in this instance
also means mastery over, or bringing into subjection even as in the case of
the master-slave relationship.
Five times the word kabash is used in relationship to the Israelites
and the land of Canaan.
And every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before
the Lord, until he has driven out his enemies from before him
and the land is subdued before the Lord; then after that you
shall return and be free of obligation to the Lord and to
Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the Lord
And Moses said to them, “If the sons of Gad and the sons of
Reuben, every man who is armed to battle before the Lord, will
pass with you over the Jordan and the land shall be subdued
before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a
possession (Num. 32:29).
Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled
at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there; the land lay
subdued before them (Josh. 18:1).
Is not the Lord your God with you? And has he not given you
peace on every side? For he has delivered the inhabitants of
the land into my hand; and the land is subdued before the Lord
and his people (I Chron. 22:18).
These also King David dedicated to the Lord, together with the
silver and gold which he dedicated from all the nations he
subdued (II San. 8:11).
In these verses, too, the word subdued (kabash) is emphasizing mastery.
But over whom or what had they obtained mastery? Was it over the physical
land of Canaan as suggested by the phrase “land is subdued” or “land shall be
subdued.” Had they gone into the land, reclaiming the wilderness, planting
vineyards and building cities? Having done all this, was the land
subdued or in subjection before them?
The fact is that this is precisely what they did not do. They were to
possess the land and these provisions of plants and buildings were
completely prepared for them with no effort of any kind on their part. In
Joshua 24:13 we read:
I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities
which you had not built, and you dwell therein; you eat the
fruit of vineyards and oliveyards which you did not plant.
To subdue the land of Canaan, therefore, must have reference to
something entirely different to that of subjugation of the physical land.
If we look again at these passages where kabash is used, we note that in each
case it deals with the subjugation of enemies. The land was subdued only
when the enemies within the land, who also claimed possession to the land,
had been destroyed from the land. Even as kabash is used to relate to mastery
over a slave, so, in these passages it used to indicate mastery over an
enemy. In neither case does it relate at all to material substances
such as a physical land.
It was an enemy who must be removed from this land flowing with milk
and honey. Until he was removed, the Israelites could not claim their
mastery over it. The land was not their possession in actuality
although it had been given to them as their right. When they stood
at the boundary of the land of Canaan they were to go in and subdue it. They
were to claim their rightful ownership, their Lordship, over this good and
wonderful land by destroying or enslaving the enemy who also claimed
ownership of the land.
When we look now at Genesis 1:28 we see that man is to “subdue it.” The
word “it” without question refers to the earth. Thus the language employed
here is exactly parallel to that of “subdue the land” when Canaan was in
view. Adam was to “subdue the earth.” We, therefore, must conclude that even
as in the case of subduing the land of Canaan, Adam was not to subdue a
physical land but an enemy of some kind. Adam was to enslave someone
or destroy someone. He was to become master over some other personality.
This person or persons could be an enemy who also wanted to possess the
land which had been given to him, even as the Amorites who claimed possession
to the land of Canaan were the enemy who were to be destroyed by the
Israelites as they subdued or subjugated (kabash) the land.
Note now the parallel that exists between the Israelites at the borders
of Canaan and Adam as the first man on this earth. The creation lay
before Adam. It was completed without his effort. Similarly, the land
of Canaan lay before the Israelites. It was a good land. The cities and
vineyards had been completed without any effort on their part.
Adam was promised by God that this creation was to be under his
dominion. He was to fill it with his progeny. The Israelites were told that
the land of Canaan had been given to them as an everlasting possession.
They simply were to go in and possess it.
Adam was told to subdue the land. An enemy threatened. He was to claim his
right to the land by bringing this enemy into subjection. Likewise,
the Israelites were to subdue the land of Canaan. The enemy who required
subjugation were the Canaanites who also wanted ownership of the land.
Israel would subdue the land–conquer this enemy–by being obedient to
God. Adam could also subdue the land–conquer the enemy who threatened–by
being obedient to God. The parallelism being the two situations of Adam and
Israel is certainly striking.
But who was this enemy in Eden? It surely was not someone who already
occupied the land, for the creation was good. The enemy was someone who had
become jealous of God. He, too, wanted to be a King. This enemy was one of
the highest of the angels, Lucifer. His envy would lead him to a terrible
act. The New Testament points to this envy and pride of Lucifer who
became the devil, Satan. In I Timothy 3:6 we read:
He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with
conceit and fall into condemnation of the devil.
And in James 3:14, 15 the Scriptures declare:
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your
hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom
is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly,
Apparently, the sin of pride was driving Lucifer to this overt act
of rebellion against God. And the creation of the world provided the golden
opportunity. If he could enslave man, he would automatically become King of
this beautiful creation. Since Adam had been given dominion over it, the
master of Adam would also be master of all which was subordinate to Adam.
But how could Adam subdue this potential enemy? How did the Israelites
subdue the land of Canaan? By obedience to God. In the measure they obeyed
God, they came into possession of the land of Canaan. God would lead in the
destruction of the enemy.
One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord
your God who fights for you, as he promised you (Josh. 23:10).
In the measure they disobeyed, they became slaves to the enemy in the
land. The several hundred years of history, recorded in the book of
Judges, give vivid testimony to their enslavement, which followed when they
did not obey God by destroying the enemy who also claimed ownership to the
Adam, of course, failed the test. Lucifer came into the garden and
the battle was joined. He apparently took on the form of a serpent for it
was the wisest of all the animals (Gen. 3:1). The Hebrew word for
“subtle” or “crafty” in the verse is translated most often in the Bible
as “prudent.” Of all creation this wisest of all animals would most
easily be obeyed by Eve. He, of course, did not join the battle head on
with Adam. He carefully planned his strategy by capturing a lower echelon
ruler first. Then her obedience to Satan would insure victory over the king,
Adam, himself. Satan follows the same technique today as he seeks to
overthrow the work of Christ by working through the bride of Christ, the
I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I bethrothed you to
Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. But
I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning,
your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure
devotion to Christ (IICor. 11:23).
Adam was to subdue the earth by destroying Satan. He could assure the
destruction of Satan by his perfect obedience to God. This understanding of
the word “subdue” (kabash) matches the usage of this word elsewhere in the
The implementation of this command was assured by the words of Genesis
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely
eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day
that you eat of it you shall die.
Here we see how God set up the testing arena. A tree was included
in the garden from which he was not to eat. This is where man and
Satan met to determine who was to be Lord of creation. As we continue
our study, we shall see how this battle affected both heaven and earth.
But at this point in our discussion we see clearly that the phrase
“subdue it” of Genesis 1:28 gives no aid or comfort to those who might
believe there was death in creation before Adam’s fall. And the
understanding of this key phrase opens up a door to much other significant
truth that relates to a historical Adam.
But before we develop this thought further, let us address ourselves
to another question which also suggests the possibility of death in the
creation before the fall of Adam. If the angel, Lucifer, fell into sin and
had access to this earth, could not his sin also have brought death or
decay in some measure to the universe? Let us return to Eden to answer this
question. Let us attempt to determine the timetable of Lucifer’s fall into
When Did Satan Fall?
In I John 3:8 we read, `the devil has sinned from the beginning.’
Was this the beginning of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God
created?” Did it occur before the six days of creation? Then Satan must
have been created a sinful being, or his rebellion must have been so
close in time to the time specified in Genesis 1:1 that to all intents and
purposes it must have been alsmost simultaneous with the `beginning’ of
Genesis 1:1. But other Biblical evidence points to a time when Satan or the
angel Lucifer did walk in perfection. This is suggested by the name given
to him in Isaiah 14:12, as well as the statement concerning him in this same
How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How
you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low.
This thought, of sin in the world of angels coming some time after
their creation, is also suggested by such Biblical statements as that
found in II Peter 2:4:
For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast
them tnto hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to
be kept until the judgment.
Perhaps a clue to the timing of the angel Lucifer’s sin can be found in
Mark 10:6. There we read:
But from the beginning of creation,
God made them male and female.
Note that this verse also speaks of beginning even as I John 3:8 spoke
of the beginning when Satan fell. But “beginning” in Mark 10:6 is
identified with Adam and Eve. This would suggest that possibly Satan did
not sin at least until Adam and Eve were created.
This concept of Satan’s rebellion occurring at about the time of Eve’s
sin is further strengthened when we witness God’s curse upon him in Genesis
The Lord God said to the serpent, Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals;
upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the
days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the
woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise
your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
In the case of man and creation it was at this moment in history
that the ground was cursed (Gen. 3:17-19), and man was condemned to return
to the dust. The parallel curse comes upon Satan. One could expect
then that Satan’s fall was also simultaneous with that of man’s.
Incidentally, we sometimes think of the curse of Genesis 3:14 as being
applicable to the animal which was the ancestor of the snake. The snake
may well be the descendant of a serpent which was cursed as a result of
it’s involuntary involvement with the sin of Satan. But the curse in its
primary emphasis is on the serpent, the devil. Verse 15 has reference
only to Satan, and there is no change in the object of God’s statement
between verse 14 and verse 15. Moreover, the Bible expressly calls Satan
a serpent in a number of places, a most notable place of which is
Revelation 12. Furthermore, in Isaiah 65:25, God speaks of the new heaven
and new earth, and in this context he speaks of dust being the serpent’s
food. This can only be a fulfillment of the curse of Genesis 3:14.(3)
So the earth is cursed, man is cursed by death and travail in childbirth
and Satan is cursed. Satan and mankind stand equally guilty before God.
Upon both are pronounced the condemnation of God. Only man is given hope as
God intimates victory for mankind over Satan, as he promises a
Redeemer in Genesis 3:15. Significantly, it appears that the final
judgment upon Satan is also simultaneous in time and parallel in character
to that upon mankind. Both will be thrown in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10
and 15). Both are destroyed from this earth when Christ returns in
judgment (Rev. 19:11-21). This parallel termination of man and Satan
emphasizes the possibility of a simultaneous falling into sin.
We have seen thus far that for a number of reasons Satan’s sin probably
occurred simultaneously with that of man’s. None of these reasons is in
itself conclusive. But all are within the intent of Scripture. There
is, however, one other rather impressive reason that points to Satan’s
initial sin occurring simultaneously with man’s.
When we examine God’s statement to Adam in Genesis 1:28, we see that he
is to subdue the earth. We have determined that this must be understood as a
mandate to Adam to conquer and destroy the enemy, Satan, who would attempt
to subjugate Adam. He was to expose and destroy Satan by his perfect
obedience to God. But nothing is said to Adam by God relative to the
question of redeeming a universe or heaven from the ravages of Satan’s sin.
We know as a fact that Satan’s sin produced real distress in heaven for
many of the angels rebelled with him. Moreover, as we have seen, his
rebellion also produced a cursed earth and death in man and the lesser
creatures. If Satan had rebelled much earlier than the time of the episode
in the Garden of Eden, so that there already were results–death and decay–in
the universe as well as rebellion in heaven, one surely could expect some
provision for redemption of the earth and heaven. None, however, is
suggested or intimated before the fall, in regards to Adam’s mandate. His
only job was to conquer Satan by his perfect and loyal obedience. Could this
have been because Satan’s fall was simultaneous?
When we look at the last Adam, Jesus Christ, however, we see immediately
that He had a two-fold task. He must destroy Satan by His perfect obedience
as part of His mandate. In this He paralleled the first Adam.
But the God-man Jesus must also destroy the work of Satan. He must redeem
a cosmos that had become ruined and deranged because of the dominion of
Satan. The havoc of Satan’s rebellion not only resulted in a wrecked earth
but also in a heaven that required renewing. This renewing was Christ’s task
as we see in Ephesians 1:9.
For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of
his will, according to purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for
the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things
This corresponds to the statment of II Peter 3:12,13–that the heavens as
well as the earth are to be renovated, and new heavens and a new earth to be
Waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,
because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved,
and the elements will melt with fire. But according to his
promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which
Adam was given no mandate relative to the work of Satan and, therefore,
we must conclude heaven as well as earth were without the ravages of sin
until this moment in history when the temptation took place.
Therefore, Satan’s fall must have been simultaneous with man’s.
Now the whole picture of misery lies unfolded before us. Satan is
cursed so that whereas in his pride he wanted to be King, he now is told
that he is to be less than the least of the animals. He, who aspired to
rule over man who was created in the image of God, is cursed to be less than
the least of the creatures with the breath of life. The creation, too, was
cursed. Because Adam, who had been given dominion over the creation, was
cursed, all that over which he was to reign was also cursed.
This is the significance of the words of Romans 8:19-23:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of
the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility,
not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in
hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its
bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the
children of God. We know that the whole creation has been
groaning in travail together until now; and not only the
creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the
Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption of sons, the
redemption of our bodies.
The creation which had been given to Adam as a loyal, obedient,
wonderful, living creation now had become rebellious, and deranged with
death as the evidence of this futility. The ground was cursed so that it
brought forth thorns and thistles. It would no longer be obedient to King
Adam who was to till it and keep it (Gen.2:15). Instead man must draw his
living from this rebellious cursed earth by the sweat of his brow (Gen.
Man was cursed. In the day he disobeyed he died. He died spiritually
in that he was separated from God by his sin. He died physically as indicated
by the decay that began in his body. The evidence of this death was the
eventual return of his body to the dust. Even as his body dedayed, the
entire creation would be subject to decay and death. The instructions
given to Adam in Gensis 1:28 were given before the entrance of sin
into the creation with all of its horrible consequences. Adam and Eve as
the first people in their beautiful world were given the guide lines for
their kingsship over it. But they disobeyed and, instead, were made
subject to Satan.
It is very enlightening to read in the Bible God’s mandate to Noah when
he left the ark. Then the world, which had become too sinful to continue,
had been destroyed; and God began again with Mr. and Mrs. Noah and their
three sons and their wives. Now all the curses of Genesis 3 have been
declared. The world is under the dominion of Satan as prince of the earth.
God, however, again gives an outline of man’s responsibilities in this sin
stained world. He uses very parallel language to that given in the garden to
In Genesis 9:1,2 we read the mandate given to Noah:
`And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be
fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” The fear of you
and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth,
and upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on
the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they
Note the similarities of Genesis l:28,29:
And 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 air and
over every living thing tht moves upon the earth.” And God
said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed
which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree with seed
in its fruit; you shall have them for food.
Both Adam and Noah are blessed, both are commanded to be fruitful,
to multiply and to fill the earth. But at this point the similarity comes
to a crashing halt. Adam is told to subdue the earth and have dominion
over all of its creatures. God is silent with reference to Noah’s
subduing the earth, or having dominion over its creatures. Instead, the
beasts are to live in fear and dread of him. How clearly the Bible describes
the change in creation in these verses. Noah cannot be told to subdue the
earth because he is a slave of Satan. By Adam’s sin, man has lost his claim
to Lordship over this earth. Satan is rightly called the “prince of this
earth,” and the “prince of the air.” He has enslaved man and robbed him of
his kingship and authority over the creatures. Even though Satan has been
cursed, he has become the ruler of man and creation. The beasts are not
loyal, willing subjects to man as they were before the fall. Instead, they
obey man only because of fear. They are slaves of slaves.
This dark, dismal picture sets the stage for the coming of Jesus
Christ. Already in Genesis 3:15 God promises that a Redeemer will come
who will destroy Satan. This Redeemer, who is the seed of the woman, that
is, he, too, is a man, will crush the head of the serpent. He will utterly
enslave him and destroy him by his perfect obedience to God. He will do
what Adam failed to do. By his perfect obedience to God he will claim this
creation as his own possession. He will have mastery over it and reign
over it as king. This is why Paul in Romans 5:14 calls Adam a type of
Christ. This is why Jesus announced in Luke 4 at the beginning of his
publice ministry that he had come to set the prisoners free. They were
to be set free from bondage and enslavement to Satan.
Satan fully realized Christ’s threat to his kingdom. He attempted
to kill the baby Jesus using Herod as his tool. He came to Jesus in the
wilderness to tempt him. The language of Matthew 4:1 is very pertinent:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be
tempted by the devil.
Christ must establish his claim to this earth by subduing the enemy
Satan. He is following the footsteps of Adam. God had set the stage for
Adam’s test by the command that they were not to eat of the tree. If
Jesus, too, succumbed to the temptations of Satan, the present ruler of the
earth, he, also, would become his slave and the creation would be Satan’s
forever, or God would have to introduce an altogether different plan for its
Christ is the seed of Abraham. The seed of Abraham is also spiritual
Israel, the body of Christ. Even as Israel was tested by God for 40 days
while Moses was on Mt. Sinai, 40 years while they were in the wilderness,
and 400 years during the period of the judges, so Christ was tested for 40
days. Adam had failed. Israel had failed again and again. Now Christ had
come to do what Adam had failed to do. Now Christ had come to do what
Israel under the law had failed to do. So he was driven into the
wilderness to prove His obedience, His rightful claim on this creation
which He created.
Did he fail? No. By his perfect obedience He won a resounding victory
over the enemy. And try as he might throughout the years of Jesus’
ministry, Satan was unable to break through this obedience. Satan’s
doom was sure. But would Christ be obedient even unto death? Jesus had
said to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world He gave his only begotten
son.” Christ’s mandate was far more serious and complex than Adam’s.
Adam was to claim possession of a perfect world by his perfect obedience
to God. Christ must not only claim possession of the world, but also must do
what was necessary to make that world perfect again. The world of Adam
needed no improvement. It was good. It was the ideal kingdom. All of it
was loyal, obedient and loving in relationship to King Adam. The world
that Christ had come to redeem was wrecked. It was cursed. It had been
under the dominion of Satan for 11000 years.(4) Time after time God had had
to visit it with judgment. At one time God had even destroyed the earth
by the great Noahic Flood, because of the degradation into which it had
fallen. The work cut out for Christ was indeed formidable. And because
Christ was God He knew with awful certainty the awfulness of God’s wrath that
was to be poured out on this world as penalty for its rebellion and sin.
Satan thought that crucifying Jesus was a tremendous solution to his
problem. With Jesus dead, Satan’s kingship was secure. He hadn’t succeeded
in causing Jesus to disobey God during the 40 days of temptation in the
wilderness. And even though Satan and his demons recognized that judgment
day was coming and that Jesus was involved in this (“Have you come to torment
us before the time?” Matt. 8:29). Satan, who had introduced death
into the world, believed death was the only answer to his problem with
Jesus. Already in Genesis 3:15 it had been prophesied that Satan would
bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. Christ was the seed of the woman.
Something dreadful was to happen to Jesus, in fulfillment of the prophesy
that his heel would be bruised. Could this dreadful thing be the death of
So Jesus is betrayed by Judas under the power of Satan. Will He go
through this awful sacrifice in obedience to the will of the Father? “I do as
the Father has commanded me” (John 14:31), was the desire of Jesus. And
because of the sheer horror of the path He must walk, Jesus asks, is there
another way? Could the cup be removed from Him? And then in perfect
obedience He declares “not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus hangs on the cross. He has become sin for all who believe in
Him. He is satisfying God’s justice on behalf of all who had or will place
their trust in him. He endured the pain, the equivalent punishment of an
eternity in Hell for all of these, and had not been destroyed by the very
magnitude of the wrath of God.
When the penalty was paid, He had to prove that death also had been
vanquished. Moreover, He must complete his identification with this world
He had come to redeem. After declaring “It is finished” and commending His
Spirit into the hands of His Father, He allowed His body to be buried. But
His body did not decay (Acts 2:31). Death had been vanquished. Decay which
came with death into the world as a product of sin and death had been complete
and final on the cross.
Further proof of his victory over death was given in magnificant
fashion by the empty tomb on that first Easter moring.
Christ had come to destroy the devil. Through his death he
Since, therefore, the children share in flesh and blood, he
himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through
death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is
the devil (Heb. 2:14).
He came to destroy the works of the devil.
He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned
from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to
destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8).
By Christ’s perfect obedience Christ had subdued the earth. He had
established his rightful claim as Lord of creation. No wonder we read in
But on the Son he says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and
ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom.
By his death, with its resurrection proof, He established that death no
longer had any hold on men, if they believed on him. There was to be a
resurrection for them, even as He arose from the dead. Thus, he destroyed
the work of Satan, the most terrible evidence of which was decay and death.
At the beginning of this discussion it was indicated that, in addition to
Genesis 1:28 where Adam is told to subdue the earth, there were twelve
places where the Hebrew word for “subdue” is used. The Hebrew word is
kabash. Ten of the verses were listed. Let us now look at the remaining two.
He will again have compassion upon us, he will tread our
iniquities under foot. Thou wilt cast all our sins into the
depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).
The Lord of hosts will protect them, and they will devour and
tread down the slingers, and they will drink their blood like
wine, and be full like a bowl, drenched like the corners of
the altar (Zech. 9:15).
Notice here that these prophetic verses used the word “kabash” as
indicating on the one hand that the enemies, the slingers, were to be trod
down, and on the other that our iniquities would be trod under foot.
This was prophetic language describing the coming victory of Christ over
sin and Satan.
Parallel language is easily found in the New Testament:
And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the
head over all things for the church (Eph. 1:22).
But to what angel has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand,
till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet” (Heb. 1:13).
…putting everything in subjection under his feet (Heb. 2:8).
The subduing of the earth had truly been accomplished by Christ.
Christ Shall Have Dominion
Early in this chapter we saw how Adam before the fall was given
dominion (radah) over the lesser creatures. We noted with amazement that
this command or mandate to have dominion over these creatures was never
repeated after the fall. Rather when we examine the use of radah in the
Scriptures we see especially four usages in addition to that of Genesis
I. In Leviticus radah relates to dominion of a master over a slave. In
this it is parallel to the use of the word “subdue” (kabash) to indicate
mastery as that of a master holding a slave in subjugation.
The second usage is that of the enemies of God ruling over the nations of
the world or over the people of God (Neh. 9:28, Lev. 26:17, Isa. 14:6,
Ezek. 29:15, Jer. 5:31, Ezek. 34:4). In this we are given symbolical or
figurative language showing Satan’s dominion over this world. Radah is the
word that God uses in these passages because this world, which was to have
continued under the dominion of man as King of this world, and as outlined in
Genesis I, has instead come under the dominion of the enemies of God
headed up by the prince of this world, Satan. This parallels the situation
of Israel when they failed to destroy or “subdue” the enemy. They instead
were brought into subjection by the enemy.
The third use of the radah is in those passages which speak either
directly or figuratively to the dominion of Christ over this world (Isa.
41;2, Psalm 110:2, Ps. 72:8, I Kings 4:24). This is a result of Christ’s
victory over Satan and his rightful place as Lord by virtue of his
redemptive work. The new Testament addresses itself to this dominion by
Christ in such passages as I Peter 5:11;(5)
To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
The fourth usage is that of God’s people having dominion over the enemies
of Christ (I Kings 5:16, I Kings 9:23, II Chron. 8:10, Judges 5:13, Numbers
24:19, Ps. 49:14, Isa. 14:2, Ps. 68:27). This is surely prophetic
language of the Christian believers ruling over Satan in Christ. This
begins in this life when we are saved, and will find its ultimate
fulfillment in the new heaven and new earth.
We thus see that the dominion of Genesis I as employed throughout
the Bible is in perfect accord with the use of the word “subdue” (kabash) in
the Holy Canon.
In summary we have seen that from every viewpoint the Bible emphasizes
the truth that there was no death before the sin of Adam and Eve. We
have seen that the mandate they received to subdue the earth was a command
to perfect obedience in the face of the enemy Satan. Thus man would establish
his legitimate right to Lordship over this creation. The angel, Lucifer,
Satan, saw in this creation the possibility of satisfying his own desires.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his
own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to
sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death (Jas.
So Lucifer, who became Satan, subdued man and simultaneously he, the
earth, and man were cursed. All were judged by God and were made subject
to His wrath. By conquest Satan had become prince of this earth.
Adam’s task was relatively limited. The world in which he lived was
good and sinless. Death and decay were non-existent anywhere in the entire
Christ, the last Adam, came to do what the first Adam did not do. But
Christ’s task was infinitely greater than Adam’s. He must not only
vanquish Satan, but must also redeem the cosmos from the curse of God, and
from the results of Satan’s dominion. Truly, the Bible teaches that there
was no curse in any sense upon the world before Adam’s fall.
Many questions have been raised by this chapter. If Satan was cursed in
the garden, why was he permitted in the presence of God as we read in Job?
And if Christ destroyed Satan and his works by his atonement, why is Satan
still operating in the world? And how does all of this help us in our
quest for an answer to the question of the believers task today?
We shall continue in our study to look at these questions.
(Notes to numbered passages in Chapter 2)
(l) In the KJV the word “fill” of this phrase is translated
`replenish.’ To replenish something signified that it once was full or had
plenty; it became empty, and now must be filled again. The Hebrew word is
male. It is translated seven times in the KJV as replenish or to be
replenished. But is it translated at least 175 times as fill, or full or
fulfill. There is no basis in the text or the context of the entire Bible
that insists that the translation of male must be “replenish” in Gen. 1:28.
In fact, the later translations, (RSV, ASV, etc.) have changed this usage in
this text to “fill.” This agrees with the teaching of the entire Bible.
(2) See Chapter 4 of this book for a more complete analysis of this
(3) An interesting parallel exists between man and Satan in this regard.
Man returns to the dust as a result of the curse upon him. Satan
ultimately is to have dust for food which is to suggest he is in the dust
or is of the same level with the dust.
(4) For an analysis of the history of man established by biblical reckoning
see “The Biblical Calendar of History” by Harold Camping in Journal of the
American Scientific Affiliation, Sept. 1970, p. 102.
(5) See also I Peter 4:11, Jude 25, Rev. 1:6.
Continued in FEED3.TXT