Read Genesis 3, Psalm 8, and Hebrews 2:5–9.
Yesterday, we pointed out that the garden of Eden, and consequently the kingdom of God, is characterized by unity in all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. This is the current state of affairs in heaven; it was the reality in the garden, and it will be returned in full with the second coming of Christ.
However, with the introduction of Adam’s sin, the continuous and global shalom of God was lost, and with it three relationships were broken that are now marked by sin:
- Our relationship with God: For the first time, Adam and Eve were frightened at the presence of God and hid themselves among the trees (Gen. 3:8–10). Instead of physically walking with God in the cool of the day, there is separation that requires repentance, sacrifice, and ultimately the blood of Jesus to reconcile.
- Our relationships with other people: Sin immediately led to an awareness of our nakedness resulting in shame. For the first time, human vulnerability felt like insecurity because of a loss of trust, which was followed by blame and conflict (Gen. 3:7, 12). Instead of co-laboring with other humans in perfect unity of purpose and desire, our relationships with each other are marred by interpersonal conflict, abuse, envy, exploitation, and isolation.
- Our relationship with creation: Instead of being a partner in the global expansion of the garden, the created order was cursed, subject to decay, and required difficult labor to yield its fruit (Gen. 3:14–19).
But why did the decisions of one man in a garden have such consequences? God has all dominion and authority in heaven and on earth (1 Chron. 29:11, Ps. 24:1, 103:22, etc.); however, in His wisdom He chose to transfer a portion of His authority over earth to mankind.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’” (Gen. 1:26). And “The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind” (Ps. 115:16).
Adam was a sort of vice-king, representing the authority of God on earth. But when Adam chose rebellion against God’s command, just as Lucifer had done before him (Isa. 14:12–15), he aligned himself with Satan’s rebellious kingdom and gave a portion of his authority away. This is why, while tempting Jesus in the wilderness and showing Him all the kingdoms of the world, Satan is able to say, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours” (Luke 4:6–7).
Praise the Lord, Jesus knew His Father had a better way. “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb. 2:14–15). So that now, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me [Jesus]” (Matt. 28:18).
If Jesus had bowed his knee to him, could Satan really have given “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matthew 4:8) to him? If we take what we’ve learned so far, we can reframe the situation a bit. The kingdoms of the world are made up of people and systems in rebellion against God. Satan was essentially tempting Jesus to join his rebellion against God. How would Jesus do this? By choosing to bypass God’s plan for him to humble himself, die on the cross for our sins, rise to new life, and receive the kingdom of God from his Father (Ephesians 2:5–10). Instead of bowing to God, and being obedient to him, Jesus could bow to Satan, avoid the pain and suffering of the cross, and immediately become king of Satan’s rogue kingdom.3
Any authority Satan has is corrupt, illegitimate, limited, and temporary. However, by deceiving us he has, through us, made a mess of the perfection of God’s design. Satan’s power was completely broken by the blood of the cross and his fate is sealed, but we still give him power every time we choose rebellion over submission, sin over righteousness. Therefore, the mission of every follower of Christ, and the Church more broadly, is to align our heart with Jesus’, submit to His rule and reign, wrest back the authority we abrogated to Satan, and work to undo the damage he has done by his deception and accusation.
We can do nothing of eternal value outside of Christ, but thankfully, we serve a God of justice who is at work to repair the brokenness and restore shalom—and He invites us to participate.