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Adam's at Bat, Satan Pitched, Adam's Out, Satan's Up, but how?

Question
In Genesis 3, Adam disobeyed God and dominion over the earth was taken from him and given to Satan. All humanity inherits Adam's sin, requiring Jesus (the new Adam) to redeem us. The blueprint for salvation exists in Old Testament law, describing why Jesus is the only one acceptable as the sacrifice for our atonement. I am beginning to see the unified plan God had from the beginning. But what I don't understand is why, or by what mechanism, did Satan gain dominion over the earth when Adam lost it?
Answer
Excellent question. We may basically say there were three orders of beings that ruled in the beginning, or had power to rule the earth: (1) God, eternal, unchangeable, uncreated, the highest of all, and sovereign over all, etc. (2) angels who, though lower than God were made higher than man "in the beginning" (Psa. 8:5; Heb. 2:7, 9), but will be lower than elect mankind after their glorification (1 Cor. 15:35-58; 1 Cor. 6:3), and (3) mankind, the lowest of these three in their unglorified state. (Of course, there is the animal kingdom, which is lower than man, and though many interesting comments may be made, it does not really enter the picture for our conversation here.)

Though God is sovereign and the very King of kings, he chose a vice regent to rule the earth - Adam (Gen. 1:28; Rom. 5:12). However, Adam handed his vice regency of the kingdom to Satan in Genesis 3. Thus, Satan became the "god" of this world (2 Cor. 4:4) because Adam sinned, giving the "keys of the kingdom" of this world to Satan. Because Satan was a higher being than man was at the time of his fall, depraved man in and of himself could not regain the kingdom. Some theologians say Satan desired to be like God (Isa. 14:1-23; Ezek. 28:11-19) and desired rulership over the earth - and so his initial temptation of Eve and Adam. Whatever the reason for Satan's rebellion, we know it was all within God's eternal plan (before the foundation of the world) for Christ to die at Calvary (1 Pet. 1:18-21) for the effectual saving benefit of all (John 6:39) his elect (Eph. 1:4-13; Rom. 8:28-29; 9:11-24, etc.) whom he knew would initially fall in Adam.

We must remember that Adam was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and that God's prime initiative to the first man Adam was to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). In other words, Adam was to spread the image of God throughout the earth - and even the universe. We may compare this to the Ancient Near East concept of building statues in the likeness of kings or the way they put a king's portrait on a coin to show who ruled of the kingdom. Image after image would be spread to mark the king's so-called territory. Similarly, Adam was supposed to mark God's territorial kingdom (the whole universe), but when he sinned, his image and that of his posterity (Rom. 5:12) was marred with evil. It bore the semblance of Satan, whose image was now to be spread. That is why Satan is seen as the "god" of this world with his image, for the most part, being the one that is spread. However, if we follow the redemption story, God always had a remnant (as seen in the Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic covenants and in Micah 7:18 and Romans 11:5, etc.), but in the whole Old Testament we never see a regaining of the kingdom.

The life, death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior changed things. Satan is presently defeated (Col. 2:15). Think of him as the Bin Laden of this world (but worse), defeated, but not in captivity (as of this day in 2006) and still up to some old tricks. He enjoys his 9-11 events, but one day he will wish he could dial 911 to put out the pains of his eternal torment (Rev. 20:10). Satan, however, is presently bound from deceiving the nations (Rev. 20:1-6). Jesus the God-man (the second and last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-47) regained the keys of the kingdom, which the first Adam gave away through sin, and gave them to the church (Matt 16:19). By the grace of God, since the earthly ministry of Jesus and forward, the evangelistic efforts by God's people have been spreading the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20) throughout the nations (Rev. 5:9; 7:9), and presently we are seeing the fruit of the original divine mandate to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). God's image once again is being spread throughout all the kingdoms of the world. When the spreading of God's image is complete in the universe, Christ will return in glory to take his church (invisible, eternal, true church) to the new heavens and the new earth.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).