Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kingdom Man: Rule

Man, the crown of God’s creation, is God’s representative on earth. As such man is to have dominion over creation; however, since man’s relationship with God was broken by sin, the dominion of man (i.e., his “rule”) is altered. For example, God gave every tree of the garden (with one exception) as prepared food. Since man sinned and his ruler is changed, man must now prepare his own food (see Genesis 3:17-19).

One aspect of man’s rulership is problematic for many because the woman is told, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16) Presupposition concerning what it means for man to rule wrecks the text; but, it also proves the point.

First, notice that childbirth was already painful. Since the fall, the pain will be multiplied.

Second, the desire of a man’s wife is for her husband. The weight of the Hebrew is less-nice. Kiel and Delitzch help us out with “run after with violent craving for her husband.” Think: “desire bordering on disease.”

Here is the tough part: “he shall rule over you.” What does that mean? If man is to rule over creation, is man to treat his woman like a cow or a field? Hardly. “Rule” here does not mean the woman has no say-so. The word includes the sense of protection against her own hurt. Consider Numbers 30:6-8:

“If she marries a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he opposes her, then he makes void her vow that was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she bound herself. And the LORD will forgive her.”

Another way of understanding this meaning is to return to the old definition of “rule,” which means “to set a pattern.” He is to be a guide, provide direction—which means the man must know the standard or which direction in which to go.

I can’t help but think of a strange event that occurred in the life of Abram and his wife, Sarai (see Genesis 12). A famine drove this couple into Egypt and while there, Abram sensed an upcoming problem (his wife was a beautiful woman). He instructed her that if anyone should ask, to say that she is Abram’s sister (in other words: lie). Sure enough, Pharaoh caught the news of this beautiful woman in town and took her into his own house and treated Abram well by lavishing him with treasures. Then something happened: “the LORD struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.” (Genesis 12:17). Needless to say, Pharaoh’s men sent them away.

While I can’t help but notice the foreshadowing of plagues on the Big House (which is the literal translation of “Pharaoh”—future generations: beware!), this is not the only point of the passage. Abram provided unwise direction to his wife. Instead of guiding her in truth, they conspired in a lie (I believe their being “sent away” was an understatement—**wink, wink**).

When a man is walking in fellowship with the Lord, he saturates Himself in truth. When the man guides his wife (who, incidentally is burning for him), he cleanses her by washing with the Word (Ephesians 5:25-33). The rule of man over his wife is not ham-fisted bullying, but discipleship built on mutual trust of each other in the Lord.

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