Saturday, March 3, 2007

Whose is the Earth?

The earth is the Lord's and all its fullness.
The world and those who dwell therein.
(Psalm 24:1)
The earth belongs to the Lord because He created it. In Genesis 14:22, He is called, “The Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of Heaven and Earth.”
The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's,
But the earth He has given to the children of men.
(Psalm 115:16)
As Possessor of Heaven and Earth, the Lord has given the earth to the children of men. This is a stewardship. For when God created man, He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). God created man to have rule and reign over the earth, but it was not an authority that could rightly be exercised apart from God.

We know, of course, that Adam rebelled against the authority of God and spiritually disconnected from Him. The earth was cursed because of Adam's treason. Because man was no longer in proper relationship with God, he became vulnerable to the schemes and deceits of the devil. Since then, satan has held powerful influence over man, and has blinded his eyes to the Creator (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).

God gave man the right to rule over the earth, but satan cheated man out of it. We find something very interesting concerning this when Jesus was in the wilderness and satan tried to tempt Him:
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if you will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” (Matthew 4:8-10)
Notice that Jesus did not dispute satan's right to give Him the kingdom's of the world and all that belonged to them. But He was not about to yield worship to satan, for God alone is to be worshiped. For the works of the devil were about to be destroyed. The Bible says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise share in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus went to the cross, taking all our sin and bondage upon Himself, and destroyed them there. Then God raised Him from the dead. Forty days later, He ascended to His throne in heaven, at the right hand of the Father, where He rules and reigns forever. But before He ascended, He came to His disciples and declared: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). Then He commissioned His disciples to make disciples of all the nations — the same nations and kingdoms that satan offered to give Him if He would simply transfer His allegiance!

These are the nations the Father promised the Son when He said, “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession” (Psalm 2:8). “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of the God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool” (Hebrews 10:9-10).

The Lord God of Hosts has always been the Possessor of Heaven and Earth. Though He gave stewardship of the earth to the children of men, He has always been the owner. And though Adam lost this inheritance because of the trickery of satan, Jesus, the “Second Adam” has come to destroy the works of the devil. Now the Lord Jesus is receiving the nations unto Himself through the preaching of His Gospel in all the world. We are now in the time of the outworking of His rule and reign in all the earth.