FEED MY SHEEP Chapter 3, Man's Task
Written by: Camping, Harold Posted on: 05/07/2003
Category: Bible Studies
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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