Dominion definition – in the Bible, who has dominion of the earth? Who should have it? Is it going to change?
Traditional Legal Model: While man was given dominion over the plants and animals, since God is all-powerful and created this earth, He has ultimate control over it and can be said to be responsible for “acts of God.”
Biblical Healing Model: God gave dominion of the Earth to man but man switched allegiance to Satan so that Satan now has dominion of the Earth and its inhabitants and can exercise control in a greater degree than many realize. And that control is in proportion to man’s wickedness. Thus, we see storms and floods and all kinds of disasters.
The Meaning of Dominion
the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority.
rule; control; domination. (www.dictionary.com)
The question here is not so much any difference in meaning of the word but, rather, who has dominion and what responsibility is associated with it.
We have dominion over our children while they are young and, during that time, they tend to take on our characters by copying our behavior; we “rub off on them.” It would be meaningless for God to have given man dominion over anything if man could have no effect on it. We have an effect on what we have dominion over – for good (blessing) or bad (cursing) depending on how we exercise it.
A king exercises dominion over his subjects either by dominance (employing force and threats thereof) or by kindness (engendering loyalty) and leadership (being an example). A king with true sovereignty can do whatever he wants but his actions are not free of consequences.
Dominion Definition – Dominion Granted
God chose to allow man freedom to manage the Earth as he saw fit. Man was to manage the earth and its creatures in service to God, the Owner and in obedience to God’s principles. God gave dominion (or management) of the Earth (and of themselves) to Adam and Eve:
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen 1:28)
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Gen 2:15)
This was done by God in honor of the principle of freedom and to be a blessing to man and the lesser creatures. The word “subdue” doesn’t have to imply violence or mistreatment. It can mean “to bring under cultivation.”
Dominion Definition – Dominion Lost
Man originally had dominion of the earth but, at the fall, he essentially switched masters:
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom 6:16)
“… for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19)
Because man was brought into bondage under Satan, what man had domain over also came under Satan. Now, instead of doing things under God’s direction, mankind was much more subject to the influence of Satan. Since the fall, Satan has been interfering in the management of the Earth by influencing man away from obedience to God. The more man disobeys God the more Satan can influence the Earth.
Mankind’s sin and loss of dominion came with many consequences:
“And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen 3:17-19)
Most versions say “… cursed is the ground because of you …” meaning as a result of what man had done, not as an arbitrary punishment. This also indicates that more than the plants and animals were originally under Adam’s dominion.
It is interesting to compare what God said at the two times when the earth was in need of being filled with life:
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them,
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,
and subdue it: and have dominion over
…fish … fowl … every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
“And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them,
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And
the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon
fowl … all that moveth upon the earth … fishes …” (Genesis 9:1-2)
The obvious change is that, after the flood, man did not have dominion, having lost it much earlier. The animals were no longer willing subjects and, instead, were afraid of man. Since the fall, man no longer had the degree of dominion he once did over the animals or the earth itself. He has been able to subjugate some animals for service only by taming them essentially through bribery (feeding them) or by coercion (the whip).
Who Now Has Dominion?
Many verses point to Satan now having the dominion of this world:
“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31)
“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (John 14:30)
“Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” (John 16:11)
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor 4:4)
“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” (Eph 2:2)
Jesus, while not explicitly confirming that Satan had dominion, implied it during the temptation in the wilderness. He didn’t dispute Satan’s claim that all the Kingdoms of the world were Satan’s, but still refused to worship him.
“And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. (Luke 4:5-6)
“Delivered” to him by who previously had it, namely Adam.
Rebellion Reflected in the Dominion
When man rebelled against God, that attitude of rebellion had an effect upon and was inherited by that which man had dominion over – the animals and even the earth itself. This is shown by:
“And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;” (Gen 4:10-11)
A similar verse shows how the earth is damaged as a result of sin:
“And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.” (Lev 18:25)
“I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it” means allowing circumstances that result from the sinful practises to take place in accord with the principles of reaping what is sown. This is shown in the glossary word study for visit. Also, see the definition of “curse” for what brings a curse to the earth.
God’s Role (“Acts of God”)
God’s role is described:
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Col 1:16-17)
“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Heb 1:3)
My understanding is that this is a reference to His upholding the laws of nature. God maintains the laws which govern nature and all life and those laws produce the natural results of all actions.
God is Not the Manager Down Here
The fact that God does not exercise dominion (day-to-day management) of the Earth absolves Him of responsibility for “acts of God.” Through Adam’s sin and our continued rejection of and disobedience to God, we have walked away from His protection and that is the cause, along with Satan’s workings, of troubles on Earth. This can be illustrated as follows with the law represented as a hedge of protection for man:
In much the same way that God allows evil people to commit evil acts and receive the inherent consequences, God allows the earth to reflect the consequences sin has had on creation. But the earth is also designed to return the blessings of obedience:
“And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.” (Deut 28:2-4)
That was God’s intent, that man, the earth and everything in it should be blessed in reaction to man’s obedience to God.
Satan has laid claim to dominion of the earth on account of man’s disobedience. There are indications that God will, in reaction to man’s obedience, bless the earth:
If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” (Lev 26:3-4)
This may, in fact, be through the mechanism of the principles of curses or blessings coming from the earth in reaction to man’s actions. Indeed, many of the natural disasters we see and that the Bible indicates will increase in the end times will result from man’s increasing wickedness.
Promise of Dominion Restored
The Bible describes the present state of the earth and all of creation:
“This entire planet eagerly waits for wicked, sinful, selfish humanity to be gloriously transformed back into perfect sons and daughters of God. For this entire creation was infected–not by its own choice, but by the choice of Adam–with the principle of the survival-of-the-fittest. It longs for the day when this destructive, selfish, fear-based, survival-of-the-fittest principle will be completely eradicated and all nature will be healed and restored into God’s original ideal. We know that the entire creation has been agonizing as in the pains of childbirth, longing for delivery from Adam’s fall, right up to the present time.” (Rom 8:19-22; The Remedy New Testament)
The earth and all of creation is waiting for the original dominion to be restored to the original managers operating along Godly principles. This will finally happen when God’s people escape the slavery of Satan and fully reflect God’s character – another topic.
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