Genesis is foundational to a biblical worldview. As a public servant, you should know the passages that follow, see their connection and integration, and allow that knowledge to guide and convict your thinking and actions.
I trust this study will prove to be practical and helpful. It is my prayer that together, God will grant us a movement for Christ among public servants nationwide in the years to come. It is toward that end that we labor.
Read on, my friend!
The book of Genesis is foundational for developing a biblical worldview. It sets the stage for the sixty-five following books of the Bible. Herein the big questions of life are answered: questions regarding the meaning of one’s existence cannot be answered satisfactorily apart from revelation regarding the origins of life. But the opening chapters of Genesis are not limited to just that. Genesis has much to say about various complex issues that face public servants today.
I will attempt to highlight some of those cogent passages that have much to do with the foundation for policies that lead to a healthy nation. Herein is God’s blueprint that reveals the basics of a strong nation — If public servants enact what follows, God will bless a nation. Conversely, violation of these timeless principles leads a nation to ruin. Genesis is the opening section of our owner’s manual, so read it carefully, and do not prove resistant to what it says.
II. COMMUNICATION AND PERSONABLENESS
Before launching into passages that God has given us for guidance in the formation of civil government policies, one should not overlook several manifest attributes of God Himself that spring from the first passages of Genesis.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
It is important to note that God existed eternally in three different personages of the same numerical essence prior to the beginning of His creative acts in 1:1. This passage marks not God’s beginnings, but rather the beginning of the universe in historical time and space.
In the New Testament book of John, verses 1:1–3, we learn that Jesus, the second member of the Trinity, existed before the beginning of the world (cf. Hebrews 1:10; Colossians 1:16–17; 1 Corinthians 8:6). God was already existent in three persons before what is recorded in Genesis 1:1 (cf. Genesis 1:26; 3:22; Isaiah 6:8 for the use of “us”). Prior to God’s creative acts, He already eternally exists, and intrinsic to His triune nature are His attributes of communication, personableness, love, and respect. This has important theological implications for public servants: if God’s nature is personable, communicative, and loving, then it follows that God-fearing legislators need be also.
YOU MIGHT NOT FEEL COMPELLED TO ENGAGE OTHERS ACROSS THE AISLE, BUT GOD DID SO WITH YOU!
To manifest these attributes is to be godly. God in His triune being was sufficient and fulfilled in and by His own nature, but He nonetheless reached out and created, meaning He volitionally engaged others. So should you and I — even if they are in rebellion to the person of God and His worldview. God’s creative acts were certainly not predicated on man’s responsiveness. Genesis 1:1 reveals pre-creational attributes of God that are to be emulated by man.
In addition to these communicable attributes of God, this profound first verse unveils at least six broadly qualifiable characteristics of God that should not go unnoticed.
III. SIX BASIC ASPECTS OF GOD’S NATURE
A. GOD IS NOT ATHEISTIC
This passage provides no philosophical argument pertaining to God’s existence. Rather, it boldly presupposes His presence, and everything is viewed from that premise.
B. GOD IS NOT POLYTHEISTIC
The main verb created (bara in Greek) is singular, meaning Moses (the author of Genesis) was inspired by God to write that there is only one true God (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4). Polytheism is the belief in a plurality of gods.
C. GOD IS NOT MATERIALISTIC
For God to have created assumes the idea of ex nihilo or “out of nothing.” That is to say this passage knows nothing of preexisting material that evolved upward in terms of sophistication and intelligence. Conversely and declaratively, it is God who brought all matter into existence.
D. GOD IS NOT PANTHEISTIC
In this passage God is clearly separated from what He has created. That is to say God is not in or a part of what He created. He is not pan- (“in all”) theistic in nature.
E. GOD IS NOT NATURALISTIC
Naturalism is the theory that scientific laws can account for all phenomena. It is the opposite of supernaturalism. This passage boldly exclaims a supernatural origin of the universe.
F. GOD IS NOT HUMANISTIC
The verifiable ancient time stamp on the penning of Genesis, in conjunction with this bold, contrasting statement from a people of very recent postexilic Egyptian culture (of opposite beliefs), makes untenable the idea that these few profoundly implicating words were of human origin.
Unpacking these six insights serves to qualify the very character and nature of God in the minds of His followers both then and now. It is a prerequisite to examining and properly understanding the major expounded themes of the first eleven chapters that follow. Select distinctive biblical worldviews are as follows.
IV. SPECIAL CREATION
In Genesis 1:26 we read the following:
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”
Genesis 1:1 and 1:26 are both determinative passages that draw lines in the sand. They represent stark contrasts between creation and evolution in terms of man’s origin and meaning in life. How the public servant navigates, accepts, or rejects these passages will soon demarcate his or her ideology and policies.
Creation and evolution represent world-views at separate ends of the spectrum. Whereas Darwinians believe everything evolved from a preexisting cell, creation-ists believe in intelligent design. The former is the seedbed of attitudinal pride, and the latter of humility. While belief in special creation breeds ensuing reverence and dependence on God, belief in evolution is foundational to anthropocentric thinking and supposed solutions — which according to the Bible is fallen thinking. The two worldviews lead to vastly different convictions in public policy.
IT SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE THAT A COUNTRY BENT ON JETTISONING ITS JUDEO-CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW FOR HUMANISTIC SECULARISM WOULD HAVE PROBLEMS AGREEING ON THINGS IN ITS REPRESENTATIVE CHAMBERS
Legislators end up trusting in either Bible-centered or man-centered solutions to most issues imaginable and are often worlds (worldviews) apart. This analysis identifies the real problem in Washington. Special creation is a basic, immutable truth that must be held onto at all cost.
V. CREATED IN HIS IMAGE
Implicit in the aforementioned passage (1:26) is the additional significant idea that man, unlike the remainder of God’s creation, was and is created in His image and likeness. Mankind is thus at the top of God’s creative order. (No other aspect of His creation was created in His image.) Extending from that idea are the stewardship responsibilities incumbent upon mankind relative to taking care of His creation. The biblical idea of rule (literally “to have dominion”) is commanded by God prior to the fall of man (Genesis 3). This is an important distinction to make since the fall warps the stewardship of man. Nonetheless, God desires for man to add value to the natural resources He has entrusted to man for his own benefit and blessing. But now, post-fall added value and prosperity will only result from hard labor. States 3:17–19 in this regard:
“Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’”
Being created in His image (imago dei in Greek) does not give man the right to a bulldozer mentality. Mankind is to steward the earth with respect for the Creator’s creation. However, Genesis more than suggests that man should not merely conserve, but rather develop the many natural resources God has given him to cultivate for his own benefit and advancement. The Sierra Club (during its early years, but no longer) used to state this balance in a wonderfully succinct way: “Not blind to development, but development that is blind.” That sentence is a good way for public servants to hold in tension the truths of 1:26 with 3:17–19.
VI. HETEROSEXUALITY AND MONOGAMY
In Genesis 2:21–25 we read the following:
“So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
GOD’S DELIBERATE CREATION OF ADAM AND EVE HAS MUCH TO SAY TO THE PUBLIC SERVANT REGARDING MARRIAGE LAWS
First, God did not create two males or two females. Secondly, He did not bring a male to Adam or a female to Eve. And third, the passage speaks to an order in creation. The wife is to submit to the authority of her husband prior to the fall. This hierarchical authority in any institution is not a remedy for the fall but a timeless principle to keep order in His creation. Both the husband and wife have similar value but differing roles. Again, these biblical principles are foundational for public servants regarding biblically sound policies.
VII. THE FALL OF MAN
We are familiar with the story in the garden of Eden and man’s fall (Genesis 3). This passage serves the legislator in explaining the dual nature of man. His goodness stems from being created in the image of God; whereas his penchant for sin is biblically explained due to the fall. The Genesis account explains the duality of man’s nature as does no other philosophical explanation. And the implications of the fall are vast. When man fell he became separated from God and meaninglessness set in. Who am I? Where did I come from? What is my purpose? remain unanswered apart from the Genesis account.
POST-FALL MAN HAS NO INFINITE AND PERSONAL REFERENCE POINT; HE IS VOID OF THE ANSWERS TO LIFE’S MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
Post-fall, even though man remains physically alive, he is spiritually dead (cf. Ephesians 2). As a result he needs a Savior to be reconciled to God. Without this reconciliation man lives in meaninglessness, alienated from the infinite, personal God of the universe. This disconnect affects even his ability to think straight — and in the case of a legislator, to legislate in ways that are not only good for the state but glorifying to God. In his rebellion man often arrogantly snubs God’s solutions to societal problems. The fall results in not only alienation from God but also alienation from self and others. Man is incomplete. These disconnects make for extremely rough waters throughout life.
Given this biblical truth about the fall, and in a nation where the church is institutionally separate from the state (which is biblically proper), what is the public servant to do? He or she is to defend (in an American context) the First Amendment!
When the church is structurally differentiated from the state, she has her best opportunity to prosper and win the lost to Christ. Man’s alienation stemming from the fall can only be remedied by the evangelism of the church, which best occurs when it, as an institution, is separate from the state (as history more than illustrates). The public servants’ upholding of the First Amendment is the proper application of these Genesis 3 truths. Keep in mind that when man is individually reconciled to God, he or she has the potential to become the state’s best citizen and contributor (all else being equal).
VIII. THE FLOOD
Genesis 7–9 record the Noachian Flood. What can the public servant learn from the flood? Reverence and fear of God. Any society that runs contrary to God’s precepts is subject to His judgment. The flood serves to remind us all that God is not only loving and patient but also just and wrathful regarding the violation of His principles. In the New Testament book of Romans, chapter 1, we learn of God’s wrath, not in the form of a flood, but in terms of abandonment. He gave over a nation to their own sinful ways, and the nation experienced the outcomes of those sowings.
WHEREAS GOD MADE A PROMISE NEVER TO FLOOD THE EARTH AGAIN (GENESIS 9:11), HE HAS MADE NO PROMISE NOT TO ABANDON THOSE WHO HABITUALLY SIN
At some point He removes His restraining grace. These truths should serve to adequately motivate public servants to hang in and fight legislative battles for biblical principles and to work earnestly to elect men and women who uphold them.
IX. THE DISPERSION
After the flood, in both Genesis 9:1 and 9:7, God repeats His command to mankind, first given in Genesis 1:28, to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” Keep this in mind. After the fall of man (Genesis 3), God’s prized creation displays an ongoing proclivity to disobey God — even His simplest commands. It is this overt and ongoing rebellion that necessitated the flood. But inundation did not put an end to insubordination! Soon thereafter man’s defiance of God surfaces again in this way: Rather than scatter from the region of Ararat (per God’s specific command in Genesis 11:4 and in concert with His earlier command to “fill the earth”), the descendants of Noah willed to do just the opposite. They desired to stay put and build a monument, not to God’s greatness, but to their own! That monument is known as the Tower of Babel. Note how God reacts to this in Genesis 11:6–8:
“The Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.”
The applicable takeaway for public servants intent on studying the theology of Genesis is this: God wants there to be a diversity of nations. It is rudimentary to understanding the mind of God as it relates to subjects such as immigration policy. The sin nature in man necessitates the geopolitical separation of man in contrast to the accumulation of man and his power.
The veracity of the axiom, power corrupts and absolute power corrupt absolutely, (paraphrased) is underscored by this passage. It is this principle of Scripture — the necessity for diversification due to the fall — that informed our Founding Fathers relative to the separation of powers within our specific government. The Tower of Babel illustrates that one result of man’s fallen nature is pride and an overestimation of his own importance. It is the congratulatory sense of self-prominence that is the seedbed for man’s desire for the accumulation of power.
All of this was in play at Babel: in its all-out quest for a one-nation-in-the-world form of governance, wherein man worships his own greatness rather than God’s, Babel serves to illustrate man’s continuing open defiance of God. Its modern-day manifestation goes by the name of secular humanism. Further evidence of God’s opposition to a one-nation world is the establishment of such by the Antichrist in the future.
Note the following in Revelation 13:7:
“It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.”
At this point in time, God grants Satan and his pawn, the Antichrist, temporary control over all civil government as he rules over a one-nation world. Accordingly both Genesis 11 and Revelation 13 in different ways serve to underscore this biblical truth and rudimentary principle in the formation of policy on immigration:
PRESENTLY GOD DESIRES THE WORLD TO BE INHABITED BY NUMEROUS INDEPENDENT NATIONS
It follows that nations, by God’s design, are to have different languages, cultures, and boundaries. As a remedy for the fall, the power-hungry presence of sin, and the proclivity for evil today, Scripture necessitates the principal of the separation of man’s power. This is a timeless legislative principle in need of consideration in all policy formation. With the separation of power as a principle, God is more apt to receive glory from His creation than if, like the prideful world-conquering empires of history (Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, the dream of Hitler, or that of the coming Antichrist), mankind becomes caught up in self-worship and uses his unchecked hubris to abuse others. This is the witness of history when the diversification of nations principle has been violated by world conquerors. God has created many innocent people in His own image and likeness and this is how He intends to limit their abuse. So the Lord scattered is a guiding principle for legislators.
DOES THIS PRINCIPLE APPLY TO THE CRISIS IN SYRIA?
It is the humble opinion of this writer that it does. In God’s sovereign dispersion and diversification of nations found in Genesis 11, Scripture does not call one nation, in association with this principle, to police another. I should add for clarity’s sake that if one nation threatens the sovereignty of another, the threatened nation has a biblically justifiable right to autonomously protect itself if need be.
The Scriptures emphasize repeatedly that it is God who ultimately judges nations for their atrocities. God is not incapable of due recompense! Nations, too, eventually and always reap what they sow. At times God uses coalitions of other nations (as was, for instance, the case in WWII) to achieve His ends. But if there is no acceding coalition, it is doubtful He has called only one nation to be His righteous surrogate intervening judge over the sins of another nation.
Often assumed by legislators, but somewhat arrogant, is that God has assigned America to be His watchdog over the world, when in light of our passage under study, Genesis 11, He unilaterally and sovereignly dispersed and diversified all nations. Why, for instance, would America not insist and demand that other Arab nations police their part of the world? The biblical principle of a compassionate response need also be mentioned — a seemingly contradictory biblical principle to be applied to the matter. Displays of compassion are often argued with sincere motives so as to warrant and justify a responsive action. In light of the present lack of coalitional solidarity, might it be wisest to enact and react incorporating compassion by encouraging abused citizens in a genocidal country to immigrate to our nation or others versus intervening in their civil war?
Such a policy manifests both of the above biblical principles in formulating a biblical response to the crisis. In a practical sense, such a reply seems more prudent than entering into another nebulous war with ill-defined objectives, sustainability, and determination. Weakening nations tend to enter into further weakening wars. But most importantly, to refrain at this point will serve to prevent national actions that are void of clear biblical principle.
Genesis chapters 1–11 are fascinating! The principles therein provide much wisdom for the public servant who not only desires to please God but to form policies that are immutable and beneficial to the overall health of a nation. May God bless you as you increasingly attempt to underscore all policy decisions with scriptural truths. Rest assured: in upholding any of the aforementioned precepts from Genesis, you will never be guilty of championing bad policy. Amen. cm