Following Adam’s fall from grace, God would have been just to remove all hope that he or his offspring would ever be able to exercise righteous dominion as His vice-regents over the earth and make manifest His kingdom to all creation. But the Lord showed grace to humanity, holding out before us the possibility that we could still be used of Him to take dominion for His glory, telling Noah and his sons to multiply and fill the earth and rule over its creatures (Gen. 9:1–7), the same dominion mandate laid upon Adam in Genesis 1:28.
Soon it was clear that human beings after Noah would fail just as Adam did (9:18– 27). Again, God did not remove the promise of vice-regency in His kingdom entirely but graciously chose one family to extend His reign. Abraham and his descendants, the people of Israel, would be the means through which our Creator would graciously reestablish man’s place in His kingdom. His family would succeed where Adam and Noah failed, for God promised to multiply Abraham’s offspring and make them dominate their enemies in righteousness (Gen. 22:15–18). By God’s power, Israel would accomplish Adam’s original mission.
Deuteronomy 7:12–26 expands upon this promise, looking specifically at the manifestation and extension of the kingdom of God in Israel’s early history. Since there are now many enemies of the Lord on account of the entrance of sin in the world, the expansion of God’s kingdom can come only through the defeat of His enemies, who are also the enemies of His people. God promises to fight on the behalf of His faithful people and drive the unrepentant Canaanites out before Israel so that the people can establish a homeland from which they can declare the glories of the Lord (Isa. 49:5–6).
Note that God will fight on behalf of His faithful people. Of course, the Lord knew Israel would never be perfect, so He instituted sacrifices to atone for sin (see, for example, Lev. 16). Still, God expected general conformity to the covenant — respect for the Law, sorrow for sin, and atonement for transgressions — if He was to fight on Israel’s side. By such conformity, the nation could be assured of divine blessing as it waited for the Lord to fulfill the mission given to Adam through His Messiah, the true Israel of God in whom God declares His people to have kept His covenant.