“You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9)
“And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads. On its horns were ten crowns… The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority… They worshiped the dragon because he gave authority to the beast. And they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to wage war against it?’ The beast was given a mouth to utter boasts and blasphemies. It was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It began to speak blasphemies against God: to blaspheme his name and his dwelling—those who dwell in heaven. And it was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. It was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation.” (Revelation 13:1-2, 4-7)
“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’” (Revelation 11:15)
Why is it important to understand the Subdue and Rule Mandate was never meant to be exercised over other people? Because it helps explain the force driving the turbulent transition from human dominion under the “ruler of this world” and human dominion under the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
We’ve been on a long trek together as we’ve traced the Subdue and Rule Mandate’s arc through the entire Bible.
This study began thirty years ago when I realized that God’s commission for humanity to take dominion over the earth, to subdue the wilds outside of Eden and rule the newly-tamed territory as the garden’s boundaries expanded, never included people subduing and ruling other people.
We were designed and created to extend our Divine King’s reign over the world as His viceregents with His delegated authority and power. The only prerequisite was that we did it His way.
But then the Man and Woman messed up – royally. They chose to do it their way, and in the process, human beings turned their dominion drive against each other to conquer and establish dominance over whatever area of our lives we could. We would become imagers and shapers according to what we wanted, not how God wanted, and every person would do it independently of all others.
In short, everybody wants to rule the world.
God wanted us to subdue and rule His creation and creatures as co-equal, cooperating partners, standing on level ground before our God and King. We were meant to represent God to His creation and represent God’s creation to Him.
But no, we threw it all away in the drive for dominion over everything. Now we have billions of people trying to control their worlds their way, even if it means stepping on others to achieve control. Sometimes the “stepping on” is relatively benign, like arguing with someone or deliberately offending them. Sometimes the “stepping on” becomes crushing, like an assault, a government coup, or the devastation of a world war.
But as we’ve seen, there’s a fix to our situation. Jesus solved the problem by remedying the sin and heart issues, filling us with His word, and taking up residence within us through His Spirit via the New Covenant. As Jesus’ reborn people, we can be the subduers and rulers we were meant to be as we move toward the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:1), where we’re finally restored to how we were in the beginning. But there’s a difference between Adam and Eve and reborn people. Our obedience to God comes not from ignorance of sin but because we know it all too well and willingly submit ourselves to God with His help. Someday, we’ll be as perfect as humanity was after Adam and Eve were created.
But between the original and the optimal, there is the dismal.
Two kingdoms clash now – God’s and fallen humanities. God’s kingdom is where His people have pledged their allegiance to Him and follow His will. Fallen humanity’s kingdom is where unregenerated, spiritually dead people continue their unholy rebellion against God and follow their wills.
The two kingdoms clash in the war for global dominion. Disconnected from God, human dominion continues in a sinful and selfish pursuit of control as much as possible. From the Pharaohs to Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Mohammed, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and many others, the ultimate prize for megalomaniacal despots remains the entire world under their control. This Clash of Two Kingdoms won’t end until one side defeats the other.
Spoiler alert! It won’t be God’s kingdom that loses.
That brings us to the end—the End Times—the Final Battle for supremacy. And two humans will duke it out before God’s kingdom wins – the Christ and the Antichrist.
It all comes down to this. Jesus is the God-Man. As God’s man, Jesus is the perfect human being to subdue and rule the earth precisely as His Father intended, in complete obedience to His Father’s will. As God Himself, Jesus is the only human being qualified to rule over other people. In the beginning, the original hierarchy was three-fold: God over Humanity over Creation. Because of Jesus’ unique nature, the new hierarchy is now the Father over Jesus over Humanity over Creation.
Our current world situation is God’s kingdom in reborn people vs. a satanically-influenced human kingdom comprised of people wrestling each other for control. The only thing that will change the world for good is Jesus’ return. That’s when God’s Viceregent/Humanity’s King arrives to break the line of human dominion on earth and set up God’s kingdom forever (Daniel 2:31-35, 44-45).
But God will allow His adversary, who started the whole mess in Genesis 3, “the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan” (Revelation 12:9), another go at usurping God’s throne. Satan’s original take-control tactic was to convince humanity to serve him, not God, and then use humanity’s God-given dominion as his own to rule the world. Quite ingenious, actually!
But then Jesus showed up. Satan knew Jesus was the hub of the Father’s plan to reestablish humanity’s submission to God and humanity’s viceregency over creation, just as in Eden. Yes, that would cut Satan out of the picture. That’s why Satan tried to get Jesus to disqualify Himself during the Wilderness temptation, and that’s why Satan and his minions pushed humanity to kill Jesus. If Jesus the human was dead, then Jesus would be under the god of death’s rule.
Except you can’t kill God.
As for Jesus’ dead body, so what? Jesus’ Father remade His Son’s body into humanity’s final glorified form, fit for an eternal kingdom. Once Jesus commissioned His reborn followers back into the subdue and rule process (the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus ascended to His Father until it was time to restore everything. That means Jesus will return to take His place as world ruler of all human kingdoms with Himself as Israel’s king.
Satan, not being original, has decided to counter God’s strategy by copying it, which God has already revealed to us in the book of Revelation. Satan plans to substitute his man as king over Israel and global ruler instead of Jesus the Christ.
That man is the Antichrist.
The Eschatological (End Time) Restoration of the Subdue and Rule Mandate
Antichrist comes from two Greek words; Anti- which means over, against, opposite, as instead of, and christos meaning anointed (NAS Greek Dictionary). The Antichrist is Jesus’ opposite and stands against Him. The Antichrist is not a false Messiah and will certainly not be Jewish, as some misinformed Christians believe. The Antichrist’s goal is to oppose Jesus and take total dominion over the earth and all creatures, especially humanity. He will serve as Satan’s proxy to replace God as ruler over humanity as the Antichrist attempts to achieve the pinnacle of human dominion over the earth.
Again, Satan lacks originality. He’s trying to set up an unholy Trinity opposite of the holy Trinity; Satan for God the Father, the Antichrist for Jesus the Son, and the False Prophet for the Holy Spirit.
The last seven years of humanity’s dominance over the earth will end in a grudge match to end all grudge matches. “In this corner, Christ, the God-Man, and in the other corner, Antichrist, the Man Who Would Be God.” The Antichrist embodies the quintessential drive for a human to “be like God.”
Yes, the original temptation that started the whole mess will find its fullest expression in the Antichrist.
But where God desires His people to serve shoulder-to-shoulder as His priest-kings, the Antichrist wants all people to serve him alone as a god, under his feet, as the ultimate expression of human dominion via one human being Conquering and Dominating the rest of humanity.
Why does this grand finale happen at the End between the line of human dominions (empires and kingdoms as we see in Daniel 2) and God’s dominion on earth? Because Jesus has been given all power and authority (Matthew 28:18) and will not return to take up David’s throne (Luke 1:32; Matt. 25:31) or dominion over the earth until then (Luke 1:32; Matthew 25:31; Revelation 12:5; 19:15). The Antichrist will appear just before Jesus does.
Because Jesus faithfully completed His Father’s plan of redemption, the Father has given Him a level of authority never held by another human being, “…far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he subjected everything under his feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way” (Ephesians 1:21-23).
According to Paul, since Jesus is the ultimate human Viceregent and Priest-King, the extent of His dominion will be over everything on earth. The duration of Jesus’ dominion will last from this current age into the Messianic age to come and will continue longer than any other kingdom. The scope of His dominion will include everything “in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10), which includes not just the Edenic “creation and creatures” under the original Subdue and Rule Mandate but His Father’s spiritual and physical creation entirely.
The end of human dominion on earth will occur when Jesus returns because He’s the designated Son of Man who will set up His Father’s kingdom. The Father plans to subdue human dominion on earth and replace it with His dominion as intended originally, with Jesus subduing and ruling the world, thereby fulfilling His Father’s grant covenant to humanity (1 Corinthians 15:25) and His Father’s promise to David, a son (descendent) who will rule forever (2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16).
However, Satan will make his play to retain his place as the ruler of this world.
For forty-two months before the return of the Messiah and the onset of God’s kingdom on earth, Satan will move through a susceptible human being to make a counter move for world domination in a bid to usurp Messiah’s place. God will allow the Antichrist to exercise the limited authority Satan has (Revelation 13:5). The Antichrist will be a man who will give Satan what Jesus did not give him at the Temptation, worship in exchange for dominion. This exchange will include more than just his dedication to Satan. As Satan’s viceregent, the Antichrist will serve as a proxy for worshiping Satan.
Characteristics of the Antichrist that relate to the Subdue and Rule Mandate
The Antichrist will be the epitome of the ungodly perversion of the Subdue and Rule Mandate, just as Jesus epitomizes its godly expression. The Antichrist will be the manifestation of the human heart unleashed, satanically empowered, and unyoked from God’s law. One of the Antichrist’s most telling monikers is Paul’s “man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:4, anomia, from anomos, “without law”). The Jewish version of this is “the Torah-less man.”
Jesus established the centrality of the Torah/Law as the basis for exercising dominion righteously in a person’s life. Since the Antichrist is the unholy opposite of Jesus, the Antichrist will inherently oppose God’s Torah/Law and will exercise dominion in a way actively opposed to and rejecting the Torah/Law. The Antichrist will embody fallen humanity that rejects God’s will in its pursuit of absolute dominion. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 makes this clear as he “opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship,” including the One True Living God.
Not content with opposing God, the Antichrist will also claim divinity. Rather than the promised God-Man, Jesus, subduing and ruling the earth, the Antichrist will be a man who declares himself to be divine (Ibid.). Because he claims divinity, the Antichrist will exercise his “right” to “legally” exercise dominion over humanity even though his actual claim is illegitimate. However, that doesn’t mean he’s spiritually powerless to back up his usurped authority. The Antichrist will exercise vast spiritual power because of the high-level supernatural being empowering him, “The great dragon… the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). The dragon will give the Antichrist what Jesus turned down, “(Satan’s) power, his throne, and great authority” over the kingdoms of the world (Luke 4:5-7; Revelation 13:2, 4).
The Antichrist’s Conquer and Dominate Actions
As Adam and Eve were God’s imagers (displaying God’s image to creation) and Jesus was the Father’s supreme imager, so the Antichrist (the Beast from the Sea/the nations, Revelation 13:1) will be Satan’s imager on earth, a human representation of the evil spiritual being. The Beast from the earth (the False Prophet, Revelation 19:20) will also make an image of the Antichrist to be worshiped by humanity instead of humanity-in-God’s-image worshiping Jesus, whose image into which we’re being changed. The battle of the images is the focal point of dominion over God’s children, and it is defined by the question, “In whose image will humanity be shaped, and as whose image will humanity rule the earth – Satan’s or God’s?”
Adam and Eve’s Subdue and Rule Mandate also made them shapers of God’s world as they were commissioned to cultivate (shape) and protect Eden. To exercise dominion is to be a shaper of God’s world. The Antichrist’s permitted purpose will be “to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. It was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation” (Rev. 13:7), thus making him a satanically motivated shaper, utterly opposed to God. His work will be enabled by “Satan’s working, with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9) as a counterfeit of Jesus’ works which revealed and confirmed His claims (John 14:11).
The Antichrist’s purpose is to shape what he dominates, humanity, into his image. People love to mimic their idols, be they celebrities, sports heroes, highly successful business people, social media influencers, and the like. I believe many will willingly worship their new “idol” out of deep respect and fear of his immense authority and power, and as a pastor once said, “We become what we worship.”
Throughout history, Jews have recited the Shema, “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4), as their pledge of allegiance to God. Part of the traditional Shema scriptures that are recited is a command to embrace the Torah and “Bind them (Moses’ words) as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead” (Deuteronomy 6:8).
As a literal fulfillment of this Torah command, many Orthodox Jews wear tefillin, boxes containing select scriptures strapped onto the forehead and left arm during prayer times. MyJewishLearning.com explains the purpose of tefillin, “Within these tefillin are placed four sections of the Torah, that declare the absolute unity of God, and remind us of the miracles and wonders which He wrought for us when He brought us forth from Egypt, even He who has power over the highest and the lowest to deal with them according to His will” (myjewishlearning.com/article/tefillin-spiritual-significance).
Fixing tefillin upon the head and left arm (the hand, in Hebraic thought) is a physical demonstration of the Shema pledge of allegiance to the One True God and the wearer’s dedication to His commands. Just as Jesus requires allegiance, the Antichrist will demand allegiance to himself. Just as our Heavenly Father requires His people to demonstrate their allegiance to Him through obedience to His commands, the Antichrist will do the same.
As a direct challenge to God, the Antichrist will force people to swear allegiance to him and demonstrate a perversion of the tefillin. “And it (the False Prophet) makes everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead” (Revelation 13:16) (John 14:6). The Antichrist’s prophesied sign of allegiance is a mirror image of the tefillin, the mark of allegiance worn on the right hand or forehead rather than the Jewish manner of the left hand and forehead.
Those who refuse to worship the beast or his image and do not accept the mark on their forehead or hands because they refuse to swear allegiance to the Antichrist will be beheaded. This manner of execution will be primarily focused against Christians “because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God” (Revelation 20:4). I find this particularly interesting because Jesus is described as “the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18) and beheading is a graphic display of the Antichrist exerting dominance over Jesus’ Body. Christians have already sworn allegiance to God and submitted to Him under Jesus’ dominion. One of the Antichrist’s goals is to separate God’s people from Jesus and unto himself.
Swearing allegiance to Jesus or the Antichrist will become a terrible decision for many people. If they accept Jesus’ dominion and refuse the Antichrist’s domination, they will die physically but live forever spiritually. If they accept the Antichrist’s domination and refuse Jesus’ dominion, they will die physically and spiritually (Revelation 14:9-11). Why will the Antichrist kill those who refuse to bow to his Conquer and Dominate will? Because taking a human life is the ultimate act of a person dominating another.
If any person refuses to swear allegiance to the Antichrist willingly, he will use economic power to force them through the threat of not being able to buy or sell (Revelation 13:17). He will use the same to enforce his dominion over them. The “mark of the beast” is the Antichrist’s sign of ownership, like how God marked His people in Ezekiel 9:4-6. The irony is that God’s mark in Ezekiel kept His people from being killed under His judgment on Jerusalem, whereas the Antichrist’s mark will draw God’s death sentence under His End Time judgment (Revelation 16:2).
Jerusalem is God’s city, the hub around which the nations of the earth revolve (Ezekiel 5:5). Jeremiah says the age to come is when Jerusalem will become preeminent among the nations, “At that time Jerusalem will be called The Lord’s Throne, and all the nations will be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord in Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 3:17). Jerusalem will become the capital city of Jesus’ global dominion and the place from which He will rule the nations. Therefore, it makes sense that the Antichrist will seek to announce his “divinity,” his divine right to rule, from the Temple Mount, ground zero of Jesus’ future dominion on earth, “so that he sits in God’s temple, proclaiming that he himself is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
However, the King of kings and the Lord of lords will not tolerate this infringement, encroachment, and usurpation of His dominion, for it belongs to Him. With the bowl judgments, God will direct a continued attack against the Antichrist’s kingdom (Revelation 16:2-11).
The final battle between Jesus and the Antichrist for global dominion links Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45, and Revelation 19:19-21. Daniel’s “stone that broke off from the mountain without a hand touching it” is Jesus returning to crush the line of human empires and to establish His dominion, a dominion not created by human beings. Because Jesus is the God-Man, the Antichrist, the Man Who Would Be God, will be subdued quickly, and Jesus will rule over him and all who swore allegiance to him as they suffer in the Lake of Fire.
After the Christ-Antichrist battle, Jesus will be the supreme ruler on earth, and God’s kingdom will commence. Humanity will once again take its place as God’s proper viceregents. Jesus promised His disciples they would have a unique leadership function relative to the twelve tribes of Israel. “I bestow on you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom. And you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:29-30; Matthew 19:28).
However, the rest of humanity will not be left out, for “if we endure, we will also reign with him…” (2 Timothy 2:12). Jesus’ sacrificial death enables humanity to be restored to our original Subdue and Rule commission, where we will once again serve God as His kings and priests. We will rule over the earth properly as we care for it and keep it God’s way only, just as it was in the beginning (Revelation 5:9-10).
But that’s not the end. There’s more to come!
After Jesus’ millennial reign, the Father will allow His Adversary, Satan, one more attempt to Conquer and Dominate His creation, just as he tried to do in Eden initially. Only this time, Satan will face off against Jesus, who will quickly subdue Satan’s army with fire from heaven and throw Satan into the Lake of Fire, where the Antichrist and False Prophet will already be burning (Revelation 20:7-10).
Then comes the final judgment when all human beings who refused God’s dominion over their lives will be resurrected and face their King and Judge. They will be judged “according to their works… And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12, 15). Again, taking a human life is the ultimate act of domination.
When the earth is finally cleared of all opposition to God’s dominion, Death and the storage place of the dead are destroyed, and Messiah’s millennial reign is completed, Jesus will hand all earthly dominion back to his Father (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)
The Subdue and Rule Mandate circle will finally be fulfilled.
“Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5)
I started my long journey on this topic when I first became aware that God had given humanity the Subdue and Rule Mandate but that people were never meant to use it against others. As I studied the Bible and observed human interactions, I realized that our drive for dominion, our striving to bring our worlds under control and keep them under our control, was at the core of our human nature.
Our dominion drive motivates us to achieve great things in our wonderful world. But when it’s not subject to God’s governance, humanity can unleash unspeakable horrors upon each other as people’s desire to Conquer and Dominate has flamed within them.
It’s our drive to control everything around us.
We all do it because we all have it.
In this next section, I want to share insights, observations, and reflections I’ve collected over the years to show how consistently and deeply the Subdue and Rule Mandate and its perversion, Conquer and Dominate, works in and through us every moment of every day.
In the meantime, look around and watch how people relate to each other. Check out how they interact to determine whether Subdue and Rule or Conquer and Dominate are operating. Here’s a simple way to determine which is which. “Are the person’s words and actions aligned with God’s character and His ways as revealed in the Bible?”
You’ll be surprised at how much you see our Subdue and Rule Mandate in action.
Because everybody wants to rule the world.
New American Standard Greek Dictionary
Tefillin: Spiritual Significance, Myjewishlearning.com/article/tefillin-spiritual-significance
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts