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FEED MY SHEEP Chapter 2, Adam Fails as King

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

Category: Bible Studies

Source: CCN

                            CHAPTER 2

                      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 the world. 

    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     earth.

    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     the earth."

    And immediately  following the command to  subdue the earth we read (Gen. l:28):

    ...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 earth.

    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 Kings 4:24).

    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 fall.

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     (Num. 32:21-22).

    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,     unspiritual, devilish.

    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 land.

    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 Church.

    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 Scriptures. 

    The implementation of this command was assured by the words of Genesis 2:16,17:

    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 sin.

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 passage.

    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 3:14,15:

    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&nbs

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