Is The Creation of Civil Government An Accident Of History Or Is It A Divinely Revealed Institution
In the previous last blog, On Being a Christian Statesman Part 3, we looked at the pre-diluvian (pre-flood) world. We noted that Cain was banished for the crime of murder. That he went on from there to build a city. That his descendants were industrious, founding the industries of shepherding, forging, and smithing, as well as establishing the art of music and the craft of making musical instruments. We ended by explaining what was really going on in Genesis 6:1-2, which was the inter-marriage of Seth’s descendants (sons of God) and Cain’s descendants (the daughters of men), and why. Seth’s people were tempted on the one hand by the industry and art of Cain’s descendants, but they were also afraid of them as they had developed weapons of warfare and were a violent and dangerous people.
One character in Cain’s family line we failed to mention in the last blog was Lamech. Lamech instructs us as to what type of person Cain went on to be after his banishment, as well as what type of person Lamech was himself. “Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.” (Genesis 4:23-24) Cain’s revenge was sevenfold. Evidently what Lamech knew of him was that he killed Abel, and likely others after him. Lamech loudly announced to his wives that he intended to be ten times as violent as Cain.
Following Cain’s pattern of life, bolstered by Lamech’s desire to dominate, it is easy to see how the earth became “corrupt in God’s sight,” and “was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:11) Now let us pass over the waters of the flood and listen to God re-constitute the duties of man in the new world.
“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.’” (Genesis 9:1-6) A lot of the language here is very similar to the original creation of Adam in the garden of Eden. “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth” is the exact language. There is some addition in Noah having dominion over the creatures. Now they are to be food for him as well as the plants. But the major addition comes in the injunction that God will now “require a reckoning for the life of man.‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.“
Why is this important for our discussion of whether civil government is an accident of history or a divinely revealed institution? Let’s get into the meat and potatoes now. When Cain killed his brother God, who is merciful, banished him. But his banishment ended in a culture of violence being established. It is didactic for us. God is showing us that there is a place for mercy. But the place for mercy is not with maliciously violent people. The weak are put at risk when we, as the majority simply drives a violent person out of the land. There is the safety of children, women, physically weaker men, the disabled, and the elderly to consider. Not just our own, but those who live in other lands too. To drive a violent man from our land and into some other land is not an act of love toward them on our part. Mercy on the violent is judgement upon the weak. That is the lesson we learned from Cain’s banishment. That was the case for those who lived during the time of the pre-diluvian world. It ended with the entire corruption of that world, and it took a devastating judgement to reverse it.
Now a new question arises. Is God commanding vigilante justice in Genesis 5:5-6? We will take that question up in “On Being A Christian Statesman Part 5” where we will openly answer the question, “Is civil government an accident of history or a divinely revealed institution?”