James Harmon
“The truth will set you free” (John 8:32)

The Divine Institutions of Genesis

Genesis means “origin”. It is “an apt title for a book that reveals the origins of all of human history … it is a book about the beginning of many things: the world, man, sin, civilization, the nations and Israel. … Genesis is a book unique among all the Near Eastern literature and foundational to all the other books of the Bible.” ( i )

In Genesis there are four fundamental principles for the building and preservation of a nation, for the building of a viable and productive society. These four principles were designed by God for all of humanity regardless of one’s religious inclinations. As such we can deduce that God must bless, in time, any society that for the most part observes and upholds these 4 principles. They can be called Divine Institutions.

Divine Institution #1 is volition. God created Adam with the freedom of choice. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.’” (Gen 2:16-17). Adam, created with the freedom of choice, could choose to obey or disobey this singular prohibition. Adam chose to disobey and the consequences of his decision affected all of nature and humanity. After eating of the fruit God said; “‘Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; You are dust , and to dust you shall return.’” (Genesis 3:17-9). Adam was held accountable for his decision to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We, in kind, are held responsible for our decisions in life, good or bad. Consequences result from these decisions.

The second Divine Institution is marriage, marriage between a biological man and a biological woman. “And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man, and the man said ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called woman because she was taken from out of man.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:22-24). Marriage, between a man and a woman, is the building block of any society.

The third Divine Institution is the family. Children perpetuate population growth in a society. “And God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Gen 1:28). The family and the children produced by it are the building block, the cornerstone that a society must have in order to grow. If their is no family then there is no society. For a society to be a productive society however the children in it must be taught to be productive members of their society. They should be taught to respect authority, to respect the laws of the land, to respect the rights of others, to respect the property of others, and that when they become adults that they have a responsibility to defend their society and to protect their fellow citizens.

Divine Institution #4, nationalism, the sovereignty of the nation state. In Genesis 9:1 God tells Noah and his sons after they exit the Ark to “…’Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’” Noah’s grandson, Nimrod, decided that they should all stay in one place. “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. And it came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly’. And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. And they said, ‘Come let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth’. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And 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, that they may 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. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:1-9). Nationalism was born at that time. A sovereign nation has the responsibility to defend it’s borders, establish just laws and unbiased courts to protect the freedoms of its citizens. It must protect and encourage the institution of marriage. It must provide an environment in which its children can grow and prosper. The nation must protect its citizens from internal and external forces that threaten it’s survival.

( i ) Charles C. Ryrie; Introduction to the Book of Genesis

About the Author
James Harmon was born and raised on the Island of Trinidad, in the West Indies, to American missionaries. From 1975 to 1995he worked in the oil fields of Oklahoma, Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, offshore Cameroon W. Africa, the Ivory Coast of W. Africa, Siberia Russia and Sweden (we drilled an exploratory well for the Swedish government). From 1995 until he retired in 2021 he sold construction equipment in Oklahoma and Texas. James has a Masters of Theology degree from Maranatha Seminary. His studies were in Biblical Hebrew, Koine Greek, Isagogics and Systematic Theology. His exposure to various nationalities and cultures has given him a well rounded perspective on life. His Christian faith puts much of that perspective to good use.