At the beginning of time itself, God created the heavens and the earth. As Creator, God is the ultimate owner of both the heavens and the earth. We read King David’s declaration in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” – Psalm 24:1 NKJV. We also see this proclamation from Moses to Pharoah in Exodus 9:29. Paul also reiterates this truth in 1 Cor., “for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” – 1 Corinthians 10:26 NKJV.
On the sixth day of creation, God created man and woman and gave them this charge, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:28 NKJV. By assigning dominion to mankind, he essentially gave the deed of the earth to humans. This, however, did not rescind God’s ultimate ownership of anything. As Abram declared to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth,” – Genesis 14:22 NKJV.
Tragically, Adam and Eve instead of listening and obeying God, followed the seductive song of the serpent. They took the deed of the earthly paradise and subjugated it to Satan. By obeying the devil and rejecting God, they placed themselves under sin and evil. Satan became the “prince of the power of the air,” “the ruler of this world,” and “the god of this age.” (see Eph. 2:2, John 12:31, and 2 Cor. 4:4). Because of this, when the devil sought to move the man, Jesus, from his preordained purpose to save the world from its errant ways, Satan could truthfully say, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” – Luke 4:6 NKJV. Satan’s lie wasn’t that the kingdoms of the world had been delivered to him, but that Jesus could take them as his own by worshipping him.
The “deed,” however, was still being managed and controlled by man. Man is still the steward of the earth. If mankind wanted to live under the despotism of Satan, God would not renege on his promise to man even if man abused his stewardship. This is what is meant in Psalm 115, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men.” – Psalm 115:16 NKJV.
Therefore, it can be rightfully said of Job, “ …his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East.” – Job 1:3 NKJV. Job had been given stewardship over God’s sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys. And Job acknowledges that all he possessed came from God. “And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.’” – Job 1:21 NKJV.
If God was to reassert his control, he could only do so by getting mankind to give him control again. This seemed impossible since by “one man’s (Adam’s) offense, judgement came to all men,” (Rom. 5:18). All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Though God should be evident to us, men ignore him and worship the creation rather than the creator. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” – Romans 1:20-23 NKJV.
There was a hope, though. If a man was born who was not tainted by rebellion, a man born of the “seed of the woman,” he could resubmit mankind to the authority and blessings of God. I hope you can see that Christ had to come as a man. The promise was to mankind and only by a man could the promise be restored. If one could live completely submitted to God, that one could impute his righteousness back to mankind by submitting to the death sentence man had been placed under.
Since Jesus Christ was not under the penalty of death as was every descendant of Adam, death could not contain him. To show that he had authority over death and hell, Christ was raised by the Spirit. Thus, he could now declare, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” – Matthew 28:18 NKJV. Jesus Christ has become Daniel’s rock that smashes the kingdoms of this world and grows to become a mountain that covers the whole earth. (See the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision in Daniel chapter 2.) Soon we shall shout with the voices of heaven, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” – Revelation 11:15 NKJV.
Until that day, we are still stewards of the world and all its possessions. We are not its owner, but we are called to manage it until Christ returns to take possession of what is rightfully his. If we continue to hoard and selfishly possess the treasures of this world, we do so to our detriment. Like the rich young ruler, we are called to willingly forsake our possessions and follow Christ. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV. Our possessions are not what’s real. Only that which is carried into eternity, that which we have done in Christ’ name, will last. That is what Jesus called “treasures in heaven.”
I don’t believe Christ is calling us to poverty. I don’t see that in scripture. He has called us to be stewards of his possessions. He has called us to contentment. If we receive anything from him, it is to be received with thanksgiving. But striving after what others have and discontentment with our own lot in life shows we are not seeking first his kingdom, but are seeking what the nations (Gentiles) seek.
I have a friend who argues that good stewardship is taking what God has given us and using it produce ten-fold, or a twenty-fold, or a hundred-fold. I agree! We should make the most of what we are given. But if we are keeping score with the balance in our bank account, we are missing the point. “The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up.” – 1 Samuel 2:7 NKJV. We should make as much money as we are given the grace to make, but we must learn to be satisfied with the Lord, whether he gives us much or gives us little. “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” – 1 Timothy 6:6 NKJV
What did Jesus mean when he said, “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Luke 18:25 NKJV? This doesn’t mean that all rich people are outside the kingdom. We all, particularly in America, are rich by the standards of this world. Thankfully, what is impossible with men is possible with God. Rich people are saved just like poor people are saved — by trusting in the Lord. If you care for your soul, make sure that God possesses you and your heart is not owned by your possessions. You cannot serve God AND mammon.