THE BIBLIST PAPERS: 3
We Biblists now finish our brief three-part look into the Divine beginnings of human government by focusing on the what, why and how of Scriptural human government. As we have already seen, the beginning of human government was the requirement for the execution of anyone who murdered a fellow human being, and so we find that we have already discussed the what of human government in the previous article, leaving us free to now discuss the why and the how of it here.
It is, admittedly, a stern and uncomfortable thing to consider the execution of murderers a necessary component of human government, especially when it is the necessary component of it. But we must throw off our inclination to make human government a comfortable thing, for it was never meant to be comfortable, and it never can be, for the shackling of the sinful nature – something so deeply and horribly entrenched in us – is definitively uncomfortable and always must be.
As to the why of human government, it is found in Genesis 9:6b, where we are told that the execution of murderers is required because human beings are made in the image of God. This means that the sole purpose of human government is to protect and honor the image of God in humanity and upon Earth, and this purpose will never change. The what of government (and thereby the how, as well) will know additions by the further revelations of God, but the why of it will never know any addition or change. Protecting and honoring the image of God is the unchanging design basis for the existence of human government.
This entails that we understand something of the image of God, and for the purpose of this article I shall limit this discussion to but one facet of it – the issue of life itself. As beings uniquely created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), human beings possess a degree of life unequaled in the physical universe. God, as the eternal and ever-living One, is the origin of all life, and is likewise the Author of the absolute uniqueness and sheer depth of human life, which is a reflection of His own. As its Author, then, He alone has the right to dictate when and how human life may be taken, for it is not a light and transient thing to end a life created in the image of God.
But there is an Enemy of humanity for whom the very idea of living human beings is an affront, and this Enemy was a murderer from the very beginning of his malevolence (John 8:44; Ezekiel 28:15). He it is who is the author of the sinful nature in humanity, and so he likewise is the author of its worst expression – that of murder (the forcible taking of a human life without sanction from that life’s Author). Simply put, murder is Hell’s prescription for the idea of human life, and so remarkably successful was Hell at plying its trade prior to the Flood that God had to reset human existence upon planet Earth because of it (Genesis 6:5,11), as we have already seen.
All of this was changed by God when He lifted humanity out of anarchy and established the foundation for human government immediately upon the Flood survivors’ exit from the Ark. Crime is always slowed when the punishment for it is swift and stern (Ecclesiastes 8:11), and when the wicked are purged from a people’s midst (Deuteronomy 19:19,20). When human life is taken without God’s sanction, wickedness will abound if the murderer is not executed. It is simply the reality of life, despite what our modern thought would argue. Without this requirement, wickedness reigned supreme in less than seventeen hundred years. With it, we have lasted well over four thousand.
As to the argument that Jesus would be against capital punishment, I recommend spending some time in Luke 22:32-43, where Jesus had the opportunity to release the first Believer from his just sentence of execution by Rome, but did not. He offered the man forgiveness, but He did not stay his execution or set him free. Jesus is God (John 1:1), and as God is the same Person Who delivered the necessity of capital punishment to Noah in Genesis 9:6. He could not contradict Himself or His Word, for the sinful nature in humanity was (and still is) unchanged.
Finally, we may now have a look at the how of government, that we may know just what aspects of human government are necessary to accomplish the why and what of it thus far delivered to humanity. In order to carry out the command to execute murderers, it would be necessary to have the ability to establish that a murder had been committed, to establish a suspect or suspects in the murder, to detain such individuals for trial, to perform a fair trial, to establish guilt or innocence and then to execute the guilty upon their conviction.
And so in Genesis 9:6 we have the beginnings of the noble field of law enforcement duly established by God, and whose officers naturally serve Him every bit as much as does the pastor or minister. We likewise see the necessity for a temporary holding system for prisoners on trial or awaiting execution, and we also see the birth of the court system, with its attendant judges and advocates. Apart from these necessities, human government in Genesis 9:6 had no other legitimate expression.
Please join me next time as we begin our look into God’s next revelation concerning human government, which occurred in the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel. See you then!