Politics in Genesis

Brute force is the dark side of all authority in a fallen world (see Lamech the Cainite in 4:19, 23).  Yes, God is the source of human rule and ordained it for order and fair dealing (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14).  The powers that are in control in a given situation usually owe their position largely to the aggression of ambitious men.

For a purer example of authority see the Patriarchs.  This was in part their prerogative simply as parents.

In the world outside, the Patriarchs wielded no authority.  not even full citizens, they made their own private treaties (over disputed water rights 21:30) or alliances (14:13) or purchases (23:4ff).  While they disapproved of marrying into Canaanite families and dissociated themselves from flagrant immorality, they conformed with social laws and customs, aware of no call to be social critics or to seek office.  Only Lot set himself to rise in the world and attained a seat “in the gate” (19:1), which was all too ineffective when the test came (19:9).

The one apparent exception to this rule is Joseph.  His promotion came unsought and was so clearly the work of God that he had no hesitation of accepting it and proving himself equally God’s servant and Pharoah’s.

Politics in Genesis: where human rule is upheld as divine ordinance and its officers as God’s servants, while the people of God are required to live not only as “strangers and pilgrims” (1 Peter 2:11) but as cooperative citizens whose “well doing” (1 Peter 2:15) puts criticism to silence.

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