God created man and blessed him to ‘rule over every created thing, have dominion over the same and extend this given kingdom beyond the borders of the Garden of Eden. In like manner Lord Jesus also, before ascending upto heaven, issued a similar command to ‘make disciples of all nations’. By the grace of God we have become heirs of the heavenly kingdom through faith in the Son of God and are responsible to expand this kingdom from within us to others. Holy Spirit has not only established this kingdom within us but also empowers us to ignite this same light in others.
God created man on the sixth day after ensuring availability of all that he may need to live a life committed to Him. To proclaim man’s rule over all living beings, God brought all animals and birds etc before Adam and he named each one of them (Genesis 2:20). The owner has the right to give names to his possessions the process of naming was not only to give Adam enough knowledge about each living being to give proper names but also to convey the message of his rule over those being named.
Man was given dominion over every created thing and commanded by God to exercise due control over them – ‘multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion’ (Genesis 1:20). Hebrew word ‘kabash’ is translated as subdue or enslave and the real meaning of the word involves use of harsh and violent means. During the creation process the earth yielded all that it was commanded to do. Why then this specific command to man? The harshness of nature needed to be brought to subjection by man to avoid any adverse effect for subdue means that creation will not do man’s bidding willingly and easily. Strength will have to be used by him to take control. This subduing is like the ‘cutting off of non fruit bearing branches’ to get desired results as taught by Lord Jesus (John 15:2).
Second, to exercise dominion or rule for which Hebrew word ‘radah’ has been used, implying the rule of a king and the same word is used to describe King Solomon’s rule that his dominion will be from sea to sea (Psalm 72:8). And then the exact requirements of ‘radah’ that God desires is defined in verses 12-14 of the same Psalm – where the king delivers the needy when he calls, helps the poor and those without a helper, takes pity on the weak and the needy to save their lives, from oppression and violence he redeems their lifefor precious shall be their blood in his sight. God has also clarified what this ‘radah’ under His Divine authority should not be – “You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. Yu have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally (Ezekiel 34:4). Lord Jesus set an example of this rule by becoming the ‘Servant King’ despite being the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The command to rule will thus actually become, “Be fruitful and have children, filling the earth with your life so that you can have the power to fight against everything in it that leads to death. Rule with care and fairness over the natural world, over the myriads of My beautiful creatures – from tropical fish to soaring eagles to dogs and cats – every creature that is part of this world. Authority was given by God to mankind but we lost it to Satan through our disobedience.
The source of opposition to God’s Kingdom – Lord Jesus was accused of casting out demons under the power of Satan and His answer was categorical. “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand” and then He further clarified, “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:26 – 28). Lord Jesus thus revealed the existence of two kingdoms on the earth – one of God and the other of Satan. As compared to what God has ordained His kingdom to be like, Lucifer decided to set up his kingdom above God and was thrown down to the earth from heaven. His presence is confirmed in the Garden of Eden by the Scripture after having been thrown down to the ground (Ezekiel 28:13-18 & Isaiah 14:12).
In the wilderness the devil tempted the Son of God by offering Him a short-cut to establishment of His kingdom by first showing Him the glory of all kingdoms of the world and then offering the same to the Lord if only He bowed down and worshipped him. The Savior Lord did not contest his claim but rebuked him. Satan’s power over the whole world gives him immense control over everything. On the other hand through faith in the Son our relationship with God has changed from a fugitive to ‘children of God’ while the world around us is in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19). This is a basic fact of our life on earth and we must comprehend this fully before venturing into confronting the devil.
Believers’ status – “Christ gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” – controlled by the evil one (Galatians 1:4). The sacrifice of the Lamb of God on the cross was ‘payment in full’ for our sins to release us from bondage to the devil. God the Father has “delivered us from the dominion of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). This change has made us citizens of God’s kingdom from being the citizens of the evil age through defeat of Satan.
Should we fear Satan – An impression has been gained from some verses of Scripture that Satan after his defeat has no authority over us anymore. He does not have any direct control but we are surrounded on all sides by the forces of darkness “moving like a roaring lion” to devour anyone weak in his/her faith. Lord Jesus took on human flesh “so that through death He might destroy him who has power over death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). Also, that “God disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in Christ” (Colossians 2:15). The Messiah prayed to God the Father not that He “should take them (all believers) out of the world but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). We seek safety and protection from evil daily in our prayers (Lord’s Prayer). Though the devil was defeated and his forces suffered a major setback, he is still a powerful enemy, with thousands of years of experience, out to destroy us.
But what and why does Satan oppose? – Any movement from the kingdom of evil into God’s kingdom is a perceived loss of face to Satan for his ideology of hatred and violence gets rejected. Obeying our Lord’s command “to make disciples of all nations” is getting into a battle with the devil and his forces. His modus operandi is –
· First, “blind the minds” of all who hear the message of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4);
· Second, by snatching the Word away from them for Word is the seed sown into the soil of their souls (Matthew 13:4 & 19).
· Third, he displays deceptive signs and wonders through his agents and Lord Jesus warned us of this that “false christs and prophets will arise” during the end times (Matthew 24:24). The devil comes “with all power and with signs and wonders of falsehood and with wicked deception (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
· Four, Uses people to stop others from believing by spreading falsehoods. Apostle Paul preached the Good News of the Gospel to the Roman proconsul on the island of Cyprus but Elymas tried to turn the proconsul away. Apostle Paul called Elymas “son of the devil” and rebuked him (acts 13).
· Five, Satan hinders mission efforts in general – Apostle Paul repeatedly desired to visit the believers “again and again, but Satan hindered us” (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18).
· Six, He persecutes Christians for their faith. The Son of God cautioned the Church in Smyrna, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation” (Revelation 2:10). Apostle Peter also warns us that “Satan prowls around like a roaring lion” (2 Peter 5:8) and the sufferings we experience are from the jaws of the devil.
· Seven, Sickness, demon possession and harassment of believers is his most potent weapon. Lord Jesus healed the multitudes through driving out demons and setting them free from their control.
Being victorious over the devil – Satan was the ‘chosen angel, equipped with great wisdom and power’ and to defeat such an adversary, we also need a superior power. Our Lord assigned special tasks to test, “He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits” (Mark 6:7). Later He sent the seventy in similar manner and they “returned with great joy and they were saying to Him, “Our Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (Luke 10:17). Just before ascending into heaven, Lord Jesus declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go (Matthew 28:18). He first blessed us with power and authority that was vested in Him and only then called us out to go for spreading God’s kingdom.
Through faith in the redemption in the Lord Jesus, we are empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Apostle Paul further stresses this that “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-7). The same Spirit of God that raised the Messiah from the dead now lives in us (Romans 6:10-11). It is in this context that Lord Jesus blessed all believers thus “whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these” (John14:12).
We have been chosen and called by God according to His purpose and filled with His love. In this blessed state we also love God and He ensures that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28). In this it is ‘all things’ and not some of them and secondly they ‘work together’ for our good; they are not necessarily good from the beginning. We are living in this fallen world of an ‘evil age’ and we remain vulnerable to bad things – diseases, financial troubles, stressful situations, relational issues and accidents etc like everyone else. In certain regions we as believers face more of these problems due to our faith. The Scripture assures us that God would take all that comes our way – the good and the bad even evil and our sufferings – and turn it into what is good for us through the overall effect put together. Joseph understood this principle well to tell his brothers, “You meant it for evil against me but God meant it for good” turning around his sufferings into a great and unimaginable blessing (Genesis 50:20).
God planned and permitted His Son to undergo extreme sufferings and death by crucifixion at the hands of those who were chosen to worship Him to eventually turn this into incalculable eternal good of all. What does this mean? Last year or few years continually may not have been good for any of us but we need not fear for God has the capacity and will to ‘make all things work together for our good’ this year. Our part is to remain steadfast in faith and “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your cares upon God for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). God is true and so are His promises and all that is required to receive the blessings is faith.
Lord Jesus prayed to the Father not for our removal from the earthly realm into heaven or any other place but to save us from evil. The same prayer He commanded us to pray for we are sent into this world with an express purpose of establishment/expansion of God’s kingdom on the earth. Making disciples is very much expansion of His kingdom and it involves us of force – given to us by the Lord – to snatch souls from the ‘jaws of the roaring lion’. This is what God desires of us and this is the least we can do!