Personal security (part 2): The kingdom pattern established and the fall

This is the second part of this six-part series on personal security. If you missed it, you can read the introduction.

1. The kingdom pattern established: Eden

The Bible begins with the establishment of the ideal. God creates everything by his powerful word, and it is just how he wants it—it is good (Gen 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). His work of creation culminates in a day of no work, the day when creation enjoys the blessings of God. In this blessed, perfect creation, there are perfect, ordered relationships between God and mankind, within mankind, and between mankind and the rest of creation.

From this ideal three points can be identified in relation to our question of personal security:

1. The relationships that we observe within humanity, between the man and the woman, are perfect. They complement each other perfectly. There is no power struggle, threat or shame in their relationship, as demonstrated in their nakedness before one another (Gen 2:25).

2. Life, especially human life is valuable, a gift from God and a gracious part of God’s creation. The man and the woman are created in the image of God, the only members of creation to have this privilege. Their life and their special relationship with God is an essential part of the ‘good’ creation.

3. In this ideal situation, there is order. Relationships are perfect, tasks are perfect and carried out perfectly, and the blessings of God are abundant—within the boundaries of God-ordained restrictions. Every tree in the garden is good for eating, but the man and the woman are not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, as that will result in death (Gen 2:16-17). Within the context of his ideal, God is the ruler and he exercises his dominion over his creation through the establishment, and as we will see, upholding of expectations.

If we were to stop our investigation at the end of Genesis 2, personal security would be a non-issue. There is no threat, no trouble, no disturbance to the perfect life that mankind enjoys under the blessing of God.

2. The fall: Adam’s sin

In Genesis 3 the perfect Eden-life is fundamentally disrupted. God’s word is doubted, his dominion is challenged, and as a result his creation suffers.

No longer is Eden the perfect work environment for a perfectly suited gardener. Instead it is a place of sweat, pain and toil.

No longer are human relationships complementary and perfect. Instead they become the scenes of argument, struggle and conflict. The God-given task of multiplying and subduing the earth is now accompanied by the pain of childbirth.

God drives humanity out of Eden, removing them from the cherished tree of life, thus allowing the unnatural spectre of death to enter human existence (Gen 3:24).

Within a chapter of sin entering the world, individuals feel the sting of death through violence. In an angry reaction to not being accepted by God, Cain murders his brother Abel (Gen 4:8). Within five generations Lamech proudly declares his strength to his wives, boasting that in response to an injury he suffered, he has killed his attacker (Gen 4:23-24).

By the time God is grieving because every intention of the thoughts of mankind’s heart was only evil continually (Gen 6:5), violence is a well established, ‘normal’ part of the post-Eden culture.

However, in the context of God’s post-flood re-creation commission to Noah, the importance of human life in the image of God, and the seriousness of the taking of life (including, but not only through violence) is reiterated (Gen 9:5-6).

As we observe these perfection-destroying but world-shaping events, it is clear that human life is no longer the assumed gift that it once was. No longer is there a level of ‘common decency’ that can be expected in interpersonal behaviour. In fact, perhaps it is the exact opposite. Perhaps what we once viewed as normal—a peaceful life, free of threats or violence, people treating us the way we would like to be treated—has now become the exception. Perhaps the question we are now forced to ask about our personal security is not “If we were suffer some kind of threat what would be our response?” but “When we suffer a threat, how will we respond?”

With a fundamentally changed humanity and the rapidly developing consequences of that change, we enter the next phase of kingdom development with a very pessimistic view of humanity.

5 thoughts on “Personal security (part 2): The kingdom pattern established and the fall

  1. I’ve always felt that Lamech was not merely boasting, but in fact threatening his wives with violence (as foretold in Gen. 3:16 “he will rule over you”).

  2. Hi Ellen,

    Yes, there could well be a bit of ‘see what I did to him – don’t mess with me’ in there. (which of course demonstrates even more strongly the devastating spread of sin)


  3. One of the disadvantages of Goldsworthian BT is that it usually moves very quickly through these early chapters. I believe that the Noahic covenant is actually very significant for this current topic.

    Prior to the flood God alone punished murderers, he alone had the prerogative to execute them. This is why Cain was protected, and why Lamech’s boast was in some way correct – no one had the right to kill him, despite what he had done.

    But after the flood God turned over that prerogative to humanity. He now expects us to manage and execute our own murderers.

    It would be interesting to investigate further this change, because the text doesn’t explain why God included those clauses in the Noahic covenant.

  4. Dannii,

    I’ll think more about what you have written – but one quick thought.

    It is true that post-Noah God gives much of the role of justice / judge to humans (for example in Exodus there is a lot of judicial material) but all that justice is to be done under his guidance and his law. Yes, he uses humans in the mechanics of the process, but humans are not the ‘ultimate authority’ – the law of God is.

    As we’re going to see, there are great problems caused when humanity takes ‘the law into their own hands’ – without reference to God’s law.


  5. Something that is often missed is that every opportunity for sin is also an opportunity to gain maturity, to become a “wise judge” who can discern between good and evil, as Hebrews puts it. The Garden of Eden was just that, a kindy, with a basic test for newbies. The test was priestly (do what you’re told without question) and the reward would have been kingly (now you can judge with some authority). Noah obeyed God as a priest so God made him a king. That’s what the two trees in Eden were, priest and king, Jachin and Boaz, bread and wine, external law (life) and internal law (wisdom). Melchizedek was a Noahic priest (as was Jethro). They were priest kings, bread and wine. In circumcision, God ripped them in two. Jews were a nation of priests. Wine could not be consumed in God’s presence. Jesus fulfilled the “bread” priesthood of Aaron and restored the order of Melchizedek, a priesthood of all nations, bread AND wine, obedience AND kingly wisdom.

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