The doctrine that God is in "control" of all creation may seem logical and may seem to be acknowledging the true position of God. As with any doctrine the question arises, "is this doctrine scriptural"? To explore the scriptures on this subject, one must know that the Bible is basically an eastern book – it was originally addressed and written to people of a different culture. Thus, the researcher must understand concepts such as the Hebrew "idiom of permission" and the Hebrew concept of "agency". However, in this essay I will endeavor to keep things simple.
In Genesis 1:26 – 31, 2:5 – 9 is the record of the beginning of mankind; a being with body, and the breath of God (spirit, the image of God). Mankind (male and female, equally) was given dominion, which is "rulership" over all the kingdoms of the earth. This included the earth and everything in the earth. Not only that, mankind (male and female, equally) was given the authority, commission, and means to subdue the earth and have the rulership over the earth. They were to take responsibility and get to work as God commanded. All this authority and ability was delegated to mankind by God.
Genesis 2:16, 17 declares that the position of mankind as rulers over all the kingdoms of the earth was conditional. They could lose their position as ruler (i.e. they would die) if they did not obey this one condition.
Pay attention to one important detail. In the previous verses considered, nothing about ownership was ever stated. This is very important. Although mankind was given complete dominion and rulership, they were never given ownership over the world.
In Genesis 3:14 – 19, God declares the consequences of the actions of the serpent (the devil), Eve and Adam. Briefly, the devil is cursed. He has the authority and access to obtain his nourishment from the earth (dust) which includes mankind. The ground (earth, dust) is cursed and by implication mankind is cursed as well. The man must now labor in order to obtain nourishment – he is no longer ruler over the earth. In fact, at this point, mankind is considered to be dead (Ephesians 2:1)
What happened to the rulership over all the kingdoms of the world? Read Luke 4:1 – 8. In verse 6, the devil declares that the authority and the glory (exercised power) of the kingdoms of the world was delivered to him. The reader may scoff at this declaration, thinking that the devil lied here. If he was lying, Jesus had the understanding and insight to be able to expose the lie. Jesus did not do this; instead he focused in on the concept of worship. By his response, Jesus declared that his worship of God could not be bought at any price.
Ephesians 2:1 – 3 describes the dominion and rulership of the devil over mankind and the environment. Ephesians 6:10 – 12 describe the spiritual war we have with the evil spiritual rulers of the darkness of this world. This is not speaking about flesh and blood!
Finally, Revelation 12:3 mentions a sign appearing in heaven. This sign is a great red dragon which has seven heads and a diadem or crown on every head. The crowns are a reference to the rulership and authority which is exercised by the red dragon. In 13:1 is the description of a creature which has ten crowns on its ten horns. Again these are references to rulership and authority. In this case its rulership and authority had been delegated to the beast by the dragon. These are all figurative, pictorial descriptions of the devil and the rulership which was delivered to him when Adam fell.
God is Good, Always. Even Jesus stated, "…why do you call me 'good'? No one is good except God alone…" (Mat 19:17, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19). Even Jesus rejected the application of "good" to himself!
If God is in complete control of all creation, then someone has a lot of explaining to do for all the evil and destruction that happens in the natural environment. To say that God is in complete control of all creation is equal to accusing God of evil.
No, God is NOT in complete control of the earth and everything in it. He retains ownership of the earth. He is a Just God – everything he delegated continues to function. Those beings who exercise the delegated authority function as tenants of the earth, not as owners. There is coming a day when the consequences declared in Genesis 3 will come to an end. Even the earth yearns for this day as is mentioned in Romans 8:18 – 23.
So, we have seen how the doctrine that God is in complete "control" of everything is not scriptural. God does retain ownership of his creation. Because he is always Good and Just, he does not interfere with the functioning of the kingdoms of the world. Because of the accomplishments of his son, there will be a day when the curse is removed and the creation will be restored. On that day his son will rule and will submit himself to the rulership of his father, God.
(C)2013 Keith S. Radcliffe