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The Subdue and Rule Mandate, Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants. ~William Penn

Now that you’ve seen the biblical basis for why everybody wants to rule the world, their personal world, perhaps your eyes are open like mine. No matter where I look in life, what media I watch or listen to, or what human interaction I have with others, I see the Subdue and Rule Mandate’s dominion drive firing on all cylinders.

We can’t do away with it in others. Nor can we unplug it from our lives. It’s embedded in us.

That’s not a bad thing.

It motivates us to get up in the morning and take on the world. Our drive for dominion moves us to take hold of the chaos in our lives and shape it into order like a potter shapes clay into a beautiful masterpiece of art. Or it’s like a small child who takes the pieces of a simple puzzle assembles them, and finishes their picture with a sense of accomplishment. Or it’s the joy of a well-shoveled driveway after a snowstorm or the soft pleasure a gardener knows when seeing the first sprouts erupt from the soil on a warm spring morning.

All of what I just described is our Subdue and Rule Mandate in operation. Bringing our world under control and managing it – cultivating and caring – working and watching – growing and guarding – and in those extra special moments that touch our innermost being when we resonate that all is right with the world, we experience the echoes of Eden.

Don’t worry. For those who know the Lord, Eden is returning. Be patient.

Let’s turn to real life, the world around us right now, and observe how the Subdue and Rule Mandate influences us and how its wicked antithesis, Conquer and Dominate, drives our world. Let’s learn from both how we can become the viceregents our Lord and Savior wants us to be, loyal servants who please our God and King amid a crooked and perverse generation.

Before the Fall, the Subdue and Rule Mandate was God’s design. After the Fall, Conquer and Dominate was humanity’s deformation of the Mandate.

At its core, Conquer and Dominate reveals itself in person-to-person battles for dominance as people usurp God’s place by ruling themselves and trying to rule others. That is the echo of Genesis 3:5, “You will be like God.” What does that effort produce? Conflicts, fights, power struggles, wars, strife, hurt, slavery, and death. As presumptive gods, some people will do anything to get to the top of their world, where they can control everything and everyone.

History proves humans make lousy gods.

The quest for godhood becomes deeply malevolent under human self-will after throwing off God’s yoke. God’s governor on our Subdue and Rule drive was His Kingship and Torah. As Pastor Casey Nowlin (Family Church of Marco Island) put it, “If you leave God, you will mistreat people” (comment on Romans 1:18).

A literary example of our drive to Conquer and Dominate all is Sauron, the villain and chief antagonist from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings. Via Sauron’s character, Tolkien captured the essence of humanity separated from God and His moral restraints, a creator and shaper whose utter malevolence presented a benign face by creating rings of power for others while harboring evil intentions to enslave all beings in Middle Earth.

“But they were, all of them, deceived, for another Ring was made. In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret a master Ring, to control all others. And into this Ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life. ‘One Ring to rule them all’” (J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of The Rings).

Yes, each of us fallen children of God wears a ring of power. A ring in the Bible often represents authority (Genesis 41:42; Esther 3:10; ), and with that authority comes the power to exercise the ring-giver’s authority.

And each one of us is trying to make it the One Ring.

The difference between Subdue and Rule and Conquer and Dominate is whether a thought, word, or deed is unrestrained by God’s boundaries and exercised in a self-centered, self-serving, sinful way or restrained by God’s boundaries and exercised in a completely selfless, other-serving, godly way. The difference is the priority on me (Conquer and Dominate) vs. the priority on us (Subdue and Rule). Conquer and Dominate is forced, overbearing, oppressive, and benefits one person or side, whereas Subdue and Rule is voluntary, cooperative, contractual, and works for the good of all.

Subdue and Rule are beautiful and potent when we deploy them side-by-side to accomplish tasks. Because we’re human, we have authority, power, and the Subdue and Rule Mandate to use our dominion drive 1) on God’s behalf, 2) according to His will, and 3) according to His character. No one can take that from another, although multitudes have tried over millennia.

The Conquer and Dominators’ only hope is to make you submit to them via enticement or force. The last and most extreme form of submission is death, where the aggressor simply eliminates those who refuse to submit to them.

“Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power – not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist” (Facebook meme).

When humanity fell, the ground was cursed. Where once it produced freely (in Eden), it would no longer respond well to humanity’s efforts. So, what did the usurper “gods” of this world do to protect and provide for themselves without God’s presence?

Under the current world system, it’s often easier to subdue and rule people than to subdue and rule the world. All the powerful people need to do is manipulate or force others to do the work for them.

On the flip side, many people are all too willing to submit to their masters so long as they get something out of a symbiotic domination-submission relationship. “People need to feel needed. We all crave affirmation, attention and love from authority. We project our desire for parental affection on people all around us. We want to be blessed. We want to kiss the ring” (Jon Wu, Twitter, September 2, 2021).

Yes. Some people will gladly kiss the One Ring if they can get what they need from their god. That, too, is an echo of Eden, where the One True God gave humanity all they needed – protection, provision, and His presence 24/7/365.

God had only three commands for Adam and Eve in Eden. “Be fruitful and multiply, subdue and rule the earth, but do it My way only” (Genesis 1:28, 2:16-17). But no, the rebellious couple chose to do it their way only. How did that work out for them and their descendants?

Refusing God’s laws led to a hyper-sexualized and hyper-controlling humanity.

The unrestrained struggle for power and control is the thorn in humanity’s side.

Isn’t it interesting that at the moment Jesus accomplished His Father’s Great Reset of humanity, His crown was made of thorns, and His side was pierced to ensure Satan’s ultimate dominion over Him through death?

We now live in a clash of dominions. There are far too many examples to cite. However, through the following sections, I want to show you how this all works out in some of the primary arenas of life, and I’ll try to keep it short but not sweet. Once you take the Subdue and Rule “red pill,” you’ll see its influence everywhere, as I do, just like in The Matrix.


Tolkien, J.R.R., The Lord of The Rings

Pastor Jay Christianson

The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts


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