Civil Government: Chapter 3 – Origins of Civil Government: A Rejection of God’s Rule Over Man (Excerpt)

Civil Government - coverIf God did not institute civil government from its beginning, how did it originate? The Scriptures show us that civil government had its origin after the flood with Nimrod.

“Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.’ The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar” (Genesis 10:8-10).

Nimrod’s actions in establishing a kingdom were in rebellion against God. Many people do not (or will not) see this. They read these short verses about Nimrod as simply a benign record of history, rather than the first great organized rebellion against God since the flood.

The phrase that is easily overlooked is “before the Lord.” Nimrod was “a mighty hunter before the Lord.” He held such a place of prominence among the people that others would use him as a point of comparison — “Therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.’”

This phrase is often used to mean in the presence of the Lord (Genesis 19:27; Exodus 34:34) or in worship to the Lord (Exodus 29:11; Deuteronomy 26:10). Because of this, brethren assume that the phrase is used positively here. Yet the word translated before (panim) has many different uses. In blessing Joseph’s sons, Jacob placed “Ephraim before Manasseh” (Genesis 48:20), meaning he placed Ephraim as chief among Joseph’s sons over his older brother Manasseh. It is used to describe kings who “faced each other” in battle (2 Kings 14:11). The translators of the New American Standard Bible have also translated this same word as against (Hosea 5:5; Ezekiel 6:9).

The Bible is not describing anything that Nimrod was doing in the presence of the Lord and certainly not in worship to the Lord. Rather, it is describing what Nimrod was doing to place himself before the Lord in the eyes of the people, making him their chief rather than God. Nimrod was opposed to God and wanted the people to forget the Lord and instead look to him as the ultimate authority and the provider of their happiness.

You can read more about the origins of human government in Civil Government: What the Bible Says About Its Origin, History, Nature, and Role. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!