There’s a theory, only hinted at in Scripture, that Planet Earth had been the domain of Satan prior to his rebellion. Although he was only a created being, Satan was an enormously powerful dignitary in God’s Universe (Jude 1:9). He was the overseer of the Cherubim (the guardians of God’s Throne) and a leader of the angelic host. He was God’s most impressive creation (Ezekiel 28:12-15). Because of his position, his power, and his beauty he became proud and rebelled (Ezekiel 28:17, Isaiah 14:13-14), bringing about a judgment that destroyed planet Earth.
All this seems to have happened between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Hints of this in Scripture are
1) an alternate (and some say more literal) rendering of Genesis 1:2 reads, “But the Earth became formless and void”, rather than “and the Earth was formless and void.”
2) In Isaiah 45:18 the Lord said He didn’t create the Earth that way, using the same Hebrew word that’s translated formless inGenesis 1:2, but formed it to be inhabited. Putting these two points together hints at a judgment sometime after Earth’s original creation.
3) The angels already existed at the time of the Genesis creation account. They shouted and sang for joy when the Lord laid the foundations of Earth (Job 38:4-7) so they must have been created earlier. If so, then Satan must have been created earlier was as well.
4) The serpent seems to appear out of nowhere in Genesis 3:1although there’s no mention of him in the creation account. Also the Hebrew word translated serpent comes from a root meaning enchanter, which could mean it was not an ordinary animal. And Eve didn’t seem to be reluctant to converse with him, indicating she might have recognized him for who he really was.
Let me hasten to add that I don’t believe in a pre-Adamite civilization. The Bible clearly calls Adam the first man (1 Cor. 15:45). It also says the animals were created on the same day as Adam (Genesis 1:24-26) so I don’t believe dinosaurs or any other animals preceded Adam’s creation.
After Earth sat submerged in ruin and darkness for who knows how long, God said “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) and the six day Genesis creation process began. It helps to remember that the Bible is not a book about eternity, it’s about the age of man. As such it begins with the creation of the first man and ends when the Millennium ends seven thousand years later. It gives only vague hints about what happened before the Age of Man began and what will come after it ends. All we really know is that there was an eternity past and there will be an eternity future.
God’s first instruction to Adam and Eve was to give them dominion over Planet Earth, telling them to subdue it and populate it (Genesis 1:28). Satan, whose domain Earth had formerly been, responded by causing them to sin (Genesis 3:1-13). As a result of their sin, Adam and Eve fell from immortality to being mortal, carrying all their descendants with them (Romans 5:12). The creation was also placed in bondage to sin (Romans 8:18-21), and Satan snatched control of Earth back from Adam Eve and has held it from then until now (1 John 5:19). This is why Jesus referred to Satan as the prince of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11) and Paul called him the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
Jesus redeemed the creation (bought it back) with His own blood at the same time He redeemed us, but He won’t move to actually assert His claim to it until just before the beginning of the Great Tribulation at the sound of the seventh Trumpet.
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 Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
And in Rev. 12:10 we read,
“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”
In the mean time, the Bible tells us Satan is in charge here, and there are numerous references to demonic powers influencing life on Earth to confirm this.
Satan had representation in all the Gentile Empires of Biblical times. He was called the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:4 and the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:11. An angel spoke to Daniel about being detained by the “prince of Persia” and requiring help from the Archangel Michael to get free (Daniel 10:13). He also said he would soon be doing battle against the “prince of Greece” (Daniel 10:20) although at that time the Greek Empire was still 2 centuries into the future. And the Roman Empire became so evil that many see the Roman Emperor Nero as one of history’s clearest models of the anti-Christ.
Does anyone believe things are different today? After all, Gentile Dominion won’t end until the 2nd Coming. Adolph Hitler was another model of the anti-Christ, and Nazi Germany showed how pervasive evil can become when a nation is under the influence of the occult. Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an Evil Empire. George W. Bush referred to nations supporting international terrorism as an Axis of Evil. And since the United States entered its post Christian era, who can deny that evil has had a much stronger influence here as well.
In The Church
As for evil in the Church, Paul said those who introduce false doctrine into the body are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
He said we would see this becoming more prevalent as the end times approach. In 1 Timothy 4:1 he wrote, The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
In Our Lives
On a personal level the Bible warns us about the influence of evil in our lives. In Ephes. 6:12 Paul wrote, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
The fact is the world is an evil place where bad things happen without reason and it will be that way until the Lord comes to restore it (Matt. 19:28, Acts 3:21). It’s not because God created it that way or even because He wants it that way. It’s because when our first parents sinned they unleashed a force of evil on this world that has put all their descendants in bondage and contaminated even the creation itself.
History has shown that God only lets sin and rebellion go to a certain point before reigning it in. Even during the Great Tribulation, when He will remove His agency of restraint altogether (2 Thes. 2:7), He will put an end to evil’s reign before it can completely destroy mankind (Matt. 24:22).
Is God In Control?
This brings us back to the original question, and here’s my answer. I believe things will turn out exactly like God said they will because He’s already seen the end, and He saw it from the beginning. But does that mean I believe God is in total control of everything that happens in the mean time? No I don’t, and I think I’ve shown above that the Bible supports my opinion.
I believe when we become Christians we become aliens behind enemy lines. I believe we can expect God’s help in surviving if we turn over control of our lives to Him. But I think there’s a lot more to that than most people understand.
When Jesus said to take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23) He was calling us to do what He was doing. And what was He doing? Matt. 26:39 tells us He laid down His will in favor of His Father’s will. Romans 12:1-2 explains that’s exactly what we’re called to do.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We’re to lay down our will for our life and embrace His will for our life instead.
In Ephesians 4:22-24 Paul put it this way.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
I’ve seen a lot of people who give lip service to this command, and a few who actually obey it. But even those who do obey realize the world remains an evil place, and bad things can still happen.
Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33), but He also said He came so we can have an abundant life (John 10:10). We gain this blessing by laying down the life we have planned for ourselves and picking up the life He has planned for us. In this way we can experience a personal world where He is in total control no matter what is happening in the world around us, and where He is working even the bad things that happen together for our good (Romans 8:28).
Paul said our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). For that reason, he said, “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”(2 Cor. 4:18). This life is temporary. It’s the next one that’s permanent.
This is also why Paul told us to live by faith not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), because even when we’re experiencing the adverse effects of this evil place, we can know that God has promised to work everything together for our good. Therefore, no matter how bad things might be, we can take heart in the fact that He has overcome the world, and through faith in Him we will too.