Q. I have been listening to your mp3 series on Daniel. I have a question on “earth ownership” and the authority to set up kingdoms. In Daniel 2:37,38 it is clear that God established Nebuchadnezzar as king, and in fact king of the earth. Also, Romans 13:1 states that the “authorities that exist are appointed by God.” However, in Matthew 4:8,9 Satan offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he would worship him. I’m a little confused on how Satan can make his offer. What am I missing? Is Satan speaking of the spiritual forces behind the thrones?
A. Daniel made it clear that God had appointed Nebuchadnezzar king over the whole Earth (Daniel 2:37-38). It’s also clear that God judged Nebuchadnezzar for letting that go to his head. When his ego got out of control, God made him think he was a cow, and for seven years he lived in a pasture and ate grass (Daniel 4:28-37).
It is true that God establishes human authority, but that doesn’t mean all leaders are good. Some scholars say he gives us the leaders we deserve. Sometimes that can be a blessing, and other times it can be a judgment.
Some early Christians were claiming no one but Jesus had authority over them, and that they no longer needed to obey their rulers or pay them taxes. In Romans 13:1-7 Paul was correcting them in this matter.
I believe Satan was offering Jesus spiritual authority over Earth. It’s important to note that in declining, Jesus didn’t dispute Satan’s ability to do so. As John would later write, “We know we are children of God and the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). It must have been a bona fide offer.
Accepting Satan’s offer would have allowed Jesus to accomplish part of His mission, which was to redeem the creation Adam had lost. But had He done so no one could have been saved. He couldn’t have redeemed any of Adams descendants.