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FEED MY SHEEP Chapter 3, Man's Task

Written by: Camping, Harold    Posted on: 05/07/2003

Category: Bible Studies

Source: CCN

                            CHAPTER 3

                          MAN'S TASK

    We  shall  now  continue  in  our  study to answer some of the questions  raised and left unanswered in the previous chapter.  As we discover solutions to these questions  we shall also get closer to the end  of our search for the Biblical  answer to the question of man's task in the world today.

God's Victory Timetable

    The first  question we shall try to  answer is:  If Christ had destroyed Satan and  his works by His perfect  obedience, why does Satan still continue to bind the hearts of men  throughout the New Testament period?  Why is death  and decay still  as prevalent as ever?  Where is the evidence of the victory on the cross?

    The fact is, of course, that while Christ's  work as Redeemer, as the last Adam, has been completed, the time for the full impact of the  victory upon this sinful  world and upon Satan  has not as yet arrived.  That God has  a timetable in  dealing with Satan is suggested in the Old Testament.  In Genesis 3:14 we read:

    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."

    But while the physical snake moves around on its belly, Satan, the real object of this curse, took over this world as its prince.  He actually appeared  to lose almost  none of the  prerogatives he had had before the fall.  The book of Job gives startling evidence of his continued  freedom to be in heaven.  Thus, while the curse was certain and sure, the final  effects of it were not to  appear until some future date.

    Similarly, while Christ  was completely victorious over Satan, the final  evidence of  this victory  is for  the future.  This is intimated in I Corinthians 15:24-27:

    Then  comes the end,  when he delivers  the kingdom to God the     Father after  destroying every  rule and  every authority  and     power.  For he  must reign  until he  has put all his enemies     under his  feet.  The  last enemy  to be  destroyed is  death.      "For  God has  put all  things in  subjection under his feet."      But when  he says,  "All things  are put  in subjection  under     him," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under     him.

    It is even more clearly stated in Hebrews 10:12,13:

    But when Christ  had offered for  all time a  single sacrifice     for  sins, he sat down at the  right hand of God, then to wait     until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet.

    And in Hebrews 2:5-9  we see that the subjection is  not be be complete in this world:

    For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come,     of which  we are speaking.  It has been  testified somewhere,     "What is man that thou are mindful  of him? or the son of man,     that thou  carest for  him?  Thou didst  make him for a little     while lower than  the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory     and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet."

    Now  in  putting  everything  in  subjection  to  man, he left     nothing  outside his  control.  As  it is,  we do  not yet see     everything in subjection to him.  But we see  Jesus, who for a     little  while  was  made  lower  than the angels, crowned with     glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so  that by     the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

    These verses are  quoted from Psalm  8:4-8.  While the  Hebrew word  radah is never  used outside of  Genesis 1 to describe man's rule  over the  creatures, in  Psalm 8:4-8  the Bible does use the Hebrew  word mashal to describe such  a rule.  There God declares, "Thou madest  him to have dominion (mashal)  over the works of Thy hands; Thou  hast put  all things  under his  feet, all  sheep and oxen," etc.

    While  this appears to be a statment relating to the condition of man  today, a  commentary found  in the  Bible on  these verses indicates  otherwise.  That  commentary  is  Hebrews 2:5-9, where these verses  are qouted to show  that it is in  the world to come that this condition  will apply.  The  whole world is brought into subjection  to Christ (Ephesians 1:22) because of Christ's work on the  cross.  But  "we see  not yet  all things under Him" (Hebrews 2:8).  This will be in the world to come.

    Moreover, the  man that is in view in  Psalm 8 is not mankind.  It  is not the believers either.  Hebrews 2 clearly shows that the man God is speaking of in Psalm 8 is Jesus Himself, who was made a little lower than  the angels.  By this magnificent victory on the cross He  brought everything  into subjection  .  This  subjection includes Christ's victory over Satan.

    It is in the world to come, the new heaven and new earth, that the full destruction  of Satan will be realized.  At judgment day Satan and all who are  his followers, both demons and men, will be cast into the lake of fire.  Then, too, death itself together with the  place of the dead, Hades, will  also be cast into the lake of fire  (Rev.  20:14).  In  other  words,  at judgment day the full consequence of Christ,s victory on the cross will be realized.  At that time the  full impact of  the curse of  Genesis 3:14 will  be seen.

    Note the language of Isaiah 65  which indicates the conditions that  will exist in  the new heaven  and new earth (Isaiah 65:17).  In verse 25 we read:

    The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion  shall eat     straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent's food.  They     shall not hurt  or destroy in  all my holy  mountain, says the     Lord.

    Note that the statement speaks of  conditions similar to those that existed in the garden  of Eden.  There is peace.  The animals are again  herbivorous.  Note the  serpent.  The curse  of Genesis 3:14  has  been  brought  to  full  fruition.  His humiliation is complete.  In Hell  he is  the lowest  of the  creatures.  One is reminded of  the language of Isaiah 14 which  speaks of the end of the  king  of  Babylon.  I  believe  there  is  adequate Biblical evidence to show that  the king of Babylon is presented  here as a type of Satan.  Note:

    But  you are brought down to Sheol,  to the depths of the Pit.      Those who  see you will stare at you,  and ponder over you; is     this the  man who made the earth  tremble, who shook kingdoms,     who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who     did  not  let  his  prisoners  go  home?  All the kings of the     nations lie in glory, each in  his own tomb, but you are  cast     out, away from your  sepulchre, like a loathed untimely birth,     clothed with  the slain,  those pierced  by the  sword, who go     down to the stones of the Pit, like a  dead body trodden under     foot.  You will not be joined with them in burial, because you     have destroyed your land, you have slain your people.  May the     descendants  of  evildoers  nevermore  be  named.    (Isaiah     14:15-20)

    The passages quoted in  Isaiah 65 and Isaiah 14  are obviously word pictures of conditions  that will exist beyond  judgment day.  How  much we  can understand  them literally  is not the burden of this discussion.  The picture of the final punishment of Satan is easily seen.

Why Does God Delay?

    Why,  we might ask, did  God delay  carrying out  his curse on Satan?  Why has  He delayed for  almost 2000 years  throwing Satan into  the lake of  fire?  Some light  is shed on  this question in Ephesians 3:8-11:

    To me,  though I  am the  very least  of all  the saints, this     grace was  given, to preach  to the Gentiles  the unsearchable     riches of  Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of     the  mystery hidden  for ages  in God  who created all things;     that  through the church the manifold  wisdom of God might now     be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly     places.  This was according  to the eternal  purpose which he     has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    The  delay  of  God,  in  bringing  into  effect  the  final destruction of  Satan and  his works,  is necessary  to permit the development  of  the  church.  God  has  in view a vast throng of people who were chosen from eternity to be his sons.  Until all of them  have been born of  Christ, the church will  not have come to full fruition.

    It is through  this church that Christ's wisdom  is being made known to angels  and demons, to all of the inhabitants of heavenly places.

The Cross and Satan

    However, while  Satan's destruction  is destined  for judgment day, the impact of Christ's  victory on the cross was  experienced by Satan at the time of the cross. 

    Because Christ was entirely victorious over Satan by his death and  resurrection He  was enabled  to do  with Satan as He willed.  His mastery over  Satan is emphasized by the statement that He has the  keys  of  Death  and  Hades.  In  other words, Christ is the complete master  of Satan  as evidenced  by His  mastery over  the works (Death and Hades) of Satan.

    I  died, and behold  I am alive  for evermore, and  I have the     keys of Death and Hades (Rev. 1:18).

    He has  become the  supreme master  of the  earth, even though Satan is permitted to continue for the time being as prince of the earth. 

    And from Jesus Christ  the faithful witness the  first-born of     the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth (Rev. 1:5).

    Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this     world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the  earth,     will draw all men to myself (John 12:31,32).

    He  has removed  the authority  and power  of Satan  over this creation, which Satan had obtained  by virtue of his victory  over Adam.  During the Old Testament this authority and power of Satan was  not  total.  It  was  limited  by  God because God has never relinquished  His  care,  love  and  concern  for this universe he created.  God  continued to  reign as  Creator.  Moreover,  it was limited because the Lordship as  Jesus Christ as Redeemer King was anticipated.  Thus,  while Satan  is called  by God  the prince of this world,  and the ravages  of Satan's ruling  are seen on every hand, we read in Psalm 24:1:

    The earth  is the Lord's  and the fullness  thereof, the world     and those who dwell therein.


    For  every  beast  of  the  forest  is  mine,  the cattle on a     thousand hills.  I know all the birds of the air, and all that     moves in the field is mine (Ps. 50:10,11).

    This same  theme is emphasized  in the New  Testament where we read in I Corinthians 10:26:

    For the earth is the Lord's, and everything in it.

    At  the  cross,  however,  the  limitations  placed upon Satan became more pronounced.  We read in Colossians 2:14,15:

    Having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal     demands;  this  he  set  aside,  nailing  it to the cross.  He     disarmed  the  principalities  and  powers  and  made a public     example of them, triumphing over them in him.

    The  victory  over  Satan  which  was  anticipated  in the Old Testament became a  reality at the cross.  Because of this reality Satan began to experience increasing difficulty in maintaining his dominion over man.

    He  was cast  out of  heaven so  that he  can no longer accuse believers before God as he had done with Job.

    Now  war  arose  in  heaven,  Michael  and his angels fighting     against  the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but     they were defeated and there was no longer any place  for them     in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient     serpent who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the

    whole world--he  was thrown down  to the earth  and his angels     were  thrown  down  with  him.  And  I  heard a loud voice in     heaven,  saying,  "Now  the  salvation  and  the  power of the     kingdom of our God and  the authority of his Christ have come,     for the  accuser of  our brethren  has been  thrown down,  who     accuses  them day  and night  before our  God.  And  they have     conquered him  by the  blood of  the Lamb  and by  the word of     their testimony for they loved not their lives even unto death     (Rev. 12:7-11).

    And he said  to them, "I  saw Satan fall  like lightening from     heaven" (Luke 10:18).

    Christ  bound  Satan  so  that  he  can  no longer deceive the nations.  By this binding  the Holy Spirit  is enabled to plunder the house of Satan.  In other words, men from every nation who are under bondage to Satan now can  be made free from the shackles  of Satan.  Matthew 12:18,29 speaks of this binding:

    But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then     the kingdom of God has come upon you.  Or  how can one enter a     strong  man's  house  and  plunder  his goods, unless he first     binds the strong man?  Then indeed he may plunder his house. 

    Much  New  Testament  language  is  employed  to  indicate the freedom  that has  come to  men because  of Christ's  victory over Satan.  A few verses will serve to illustrate this:

    Formerly, when you  did not know  God, you were  in bondage to     beings that by nature are no gods (Gal. 4:8).

    And  you  he  made  alive,  when  you  were  dead  through the     trepasses and  sins in  which you  once walked,  following the     course of this world, following the prince of the power of the     air,  the  spirit  that  is  now  at  work  in  the  sons  of     disobedience (Eph. 2:1,2).

    The Spirit of  the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me     to preach good news  to the poor.  He has sent  me to proclaim     release  to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,     to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18).

    The startling evidence that something happened to Satan at the cross  can be seen at Pentecost.  For more than three years Jesus, the master  teacher, had  been teaching  and showing  the power of God.  For  example, His home environment of Nazareth and Capernaum is cited for its unbelief.  The converts were few and far between.  While  crowds followed him, the  conversions that are recorded are in the main those of isolated individuals.

    But then  came the cross.  And 50  days later Petecost.  Peter preaches  one sermon  and a  whole multitude  are saved from every nation.  Just  think of  it, 3000  were saved  that one afternoon.  Surely something had happened to Satan's power over man.

    And as we look at this dramatic proof of the fact that Satan's house  is being plundered  following the victory  on the cross, we might  ask  the  question,  "what  then  is  the  mandate,  the responsibility of the Christian in this  present world?"  Isn't he to  subdue this world for the glory  of Christ?  Isn't he to probe the scientific  mysteries of the world to  His glory?  Isn't he to master the animals and all living creatures so that they are again loyal subjects to him  as they were before the fall?  Isn't he to build cities and rule people's to God's praise?

    In  attempting to  answer this  question we  might review what happened to man in Eden.

Sinless Man

    When we  first look at man in the Bible we see that he as well as the world is completely pleasing to God.  After the six days of creation "God saw everything he had made, and  behold, it was very good."  It was without the ravages of sin and  the decay and death that followed  when sin  entered the  world.  In  every aspect  of creation there was loyalty, obedience and felicity to God.

    Man  who was  created in  the image  of God was given dominion over this perfect and wonderful creation as God's vice-gerund.  He was  to  rule  over  it,  to  care  for  it and maintain it in its pristine state  of goodness.  He was  to multiply  and fill  this earth with his progeny.  He  was to be the head of  a great people that would serve and glorify their creator in perfect obedience to Him.  They were to live  in a perfectly hamonious relationship  to God the  Lord of  creation.  They  would walk  as a  holy race  in personal  fellowship to  God.  The  lesser creatures, the animals, the fish, the birds together with the ground itself were to  exist in a harmonious relationship  to their lord and master,  man.  And as  man  ruled  over  them  they  too,  would glorify God in their loyalty  and  service  to  man.  All  creation,  both animate and inanimate, praised God as Lord and Creator.

Sinless Man Falls

    But one slight  condition was imposed  upon our first  parents Adam  and Eve.  They, as  the head  of mankind,  must claim it by their perfect obedience to God.  To give them opportunity to claim their  right to  be king  of this  creation God set up the testing program.  He put a tree in the garden called  the tree of good and evil and told Adam and Eve they were not to eat of it.  This tree, together with this  command, provided the  arena where Adam  would claim his lordship  as comprehended  in the command  to subdue the earth.

    The angel  Lucifer, Satan,  was the  enemy who  also wanted to assert his  lordship over the earth.  We  saw that Adam failed the test.  Satan became prince of the earth and man  became his slave.  The creation was cursed as was Satan.

    What was man's  new relationship to  the world?  What  was his new  relationship  to  God  after  the  fall?  By  virture of his obedience  to  Satan  he  had  repudiated  his  own  lordship over creation.  He, in fact,  became a slave of Satan.  Creation itself was subjected to the bondage  of decay in parallel relationship to man's enslavement.

Man, The Slave Of Satan

    Because man had become a slave of Satan he no longer wanted to please  God.  Instead  he transferred  his affection, his loyalty, his allegiance to Satan.  The evidence of this transfer was in his lack  of  desire  to  please  God  and his all consuming desire to please  himself.  He, himself,  was now the  only King who must be served.

    He was under God's condemnation because God's  perfect justice required punishment  as a penalty  for such a  rebellion.  He lost his  fellowship and his communication  with God.  His sin-darkened mind  and  being  provided  the  avenue  through which Satan could assert his mastery over man.

    Because  he had  repudiated his  lordship over  creation, that lordship was actually taken  from him.  Never again was he told to have dominion over the creatures as Adam was given dominion before the fall (Gen.  1:26 and 28).  Rather the  earth and the creatures rebelled against man as  man had rebelled against God.  The earth instead of  obediently serving  man would  bring forth  thorns and thistles.  Earthquakes, tornadoes, the raging seas, forest fires, drought,  famine,  floods,  epidemics,  insect  infestations, wild animals, and poisonous reptiles are surely all manifestations of a rebellious creation over which man no longer had dominion.

    The  cosmos would continue to praise  God as creator (Ps. 19).  Even the wrath of man would praise God (Ps. 76:10).  God was still Lord of His  creation.  But man's position as  His vice-gerund had been removed  because man had  surrendered to Satan.  The perfect order  established  at  creation  had  been destroyed.  Instead of being King, man had become a slave.

    Because man  (Adam and Eve)  was created in  the image of God, that is, with  the ability to know God and  serve him with perfect obedience, he could blame  no one else for his sin.  He alone was responsible for his fallen state.  And since Adam was the head of the human race all mankind who  were his progeny stand in the same relationship to  God as Adam.  His kind,  the human race, also are enslaved to Satan and in that sense are likewise totally depraved. 

    The evidence  of man's  depravity can  be seen  in his lack of selfless  love for  his fellow  man as  well as in his perversions relating to  himself.  Perhaps, the depths of his depravity can be seen  in the manner he worships.  He was created to worship God as his Lord and creator.  In turn he was to  bear the responsibility as  lord  over  the  creation  and  its  creatures  as well as the inanimate  part of creation.  The sun, the  river, the crocodile, science, material possessions, a fellow man, or the human body are typical objects of depraved man's worship.

    But man's enslavement to Satan and the curse upon creation  is not  absolute.  If  it  were,  man  would  destroy himself in the shortest possible  time.  Satan is the very essence of death.  God had  a plan for his creation which required a prescribed period of time to carry out.  Therefore, certain restraints were  placed on Satan,  and on  mankind his  slaves, so  that God's  plan could be carried out. 

    God's  plan for this  creation was established  by God because God loved  this creation, and  at no time  did he relinquish  this love even for a moment.

    The love  of God  manifests itself  in the  warm sunshine, the cool streams and the beautiful sunset.  It also manifested itself in the  fact that  God put  the fear  and dread  of man within the animals and  delivered them into his hand.  Thus, man would not be destroyed by the lesser creature, and  they would provide food for man.  It  also  manifested  itself  in  the fact that God did not remove the  knowledge of God (Rom. 1:19), or  of guilt  of his sin from  man's being.  God allowed  man to  have a  conscience (Rom. 2:15).  He left the laws of God's kingdom imprinted upon his heart (Rom. 2:15).  This gave him  a sense of  right and wrong together with a realization  that only by  attempting to do  right could he maintain any decent  level  of existence.(1)  The  knowledge of an eventual judgment  day that  God left  within man  also served  to restrain him from total rebellion.  One evidence of this restraint upon man is revealed by the measure of kindness and mercy shown by natural man to his fellow man (Matt. 7:11).

    God  also  restrained  Satan  in  his  mastery of man.  Satan, therefore,  cannot lead  his  slaves,  man, into anymore extensive disregard of God's laws than God will permit.

    The knowledge  of God and  his laws which  God has left within man, together with the blessings of nature, of health, of  a sense of  well being,  etc. that  God bestows  upon all mankind, further condemns man and emphasizes his personal responsibility before God to  live  in  obedience  to  God.  As  he  continues to refuse to acknowledge or praise  God in the face of this knowledge and these blessings, he further condemns himself.

    As  part  of  God's  plan  for  man to perpetuate himself, God established  government  amongst  men.    Man  was  given  the responsibility  of  ruling  over  his  fellow man.  This authority manifested itself  as parental  authority over  child, master over servant or slave, and government over its peoples.  This authority of  man over man is not related in any sense to the Edenic command to  Adam  to  subdue  the  earth,  or  to  have  dominion over its creatures.  These  latter responsibilities and prerogatives ceased with  man's  surrender  to  Satan.    Rather  this  phenomena  of government may be found  in every level of God's creation.  It can be  seen, for  example, in  the angelic  world, (archangels versus angels); amongst humans as we have seen; amongst animals (the bull elk  ruling over the herd) (the bull  sea lion ruling over the sea lions) (the bird pushing  the fledgling from the nest).  This rule of man over  man enabled the  working out of  the blessing of  God upon man to multiply and fill the earth to be realized.

    In line with his rule over  his fellow man, he was also  given the  mandate to  make judgment  in areas  of good  and evil and to punish the  wrongdoer (Gen.  9:6; Prov.  23:13; Rom.  13:4).  This also  extends to  every level 

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