Families as Communities
Our previous study examined the origins of "community". God has designed for mankind to live as a community.
1. How did we define a community from our first study?
We established that the first community was the "DNA" for all the insuing developments of communities. Some of the principles of the first community we observed were-
ð Rules: although the Ten Commandments were not formally written as Law until many years after the first community, these Laws were known to the first communities. In any strong community there must be rules with sufficient threats and rewards to encourage observance of these rules.
2. What benefit do God's laws have for any community? (What are the rewards for observing God's rules as a community?)
ð Respect for authority: we saw that part of the rules for community living was respect for parental and divine authority (Ex. 20).
3. In writing to the Christian community at Rome, how does Paul say that Christians should regard the rules of the secular community and those that enforce them?
ð The stronger providing for and protecting the less strong: God toward His people; the husband toward his wife; and parents toward their children.
4. What group of people did Jesus say that we will always have in a community?
What responsibility does a community have toward these people? (Mtt. 19:21; Mk. 10:21; Luke 11:41; 12:33)
The First Development of Community
From the first micro-community, Mr and Mrs Adam with their children, we see that even when their children left home, after getting married, they still lived in communities. The first type of community was not to be the only community in existence.
5. What command was given to children to ensure that the concept of community was not restricted to just one family? (Gen. 2:24)
This does not imply that a child can not leave home until they are married. But it does mean that a young person (for marriage was assumed for all people) was under the authority of their parents until married. Wise parents of unmarried children know how to release their children when they are able to fend for themselves. Some people teach that children should live at home until married. But imagine if that had been applied to the (unmarried) apostle Paul (1Cor. 7:7) ?
The writing style of ancient Hebrew literature used grammatical devices that enabled them to make introductory statements about what might be discussed much later, and not necessarily in chronological order. Therefore the early accounts of the Bible make introductory statements which are detailed perhaps much later. For example, this is the case when it describes Cain, one of the sons of Mr and Mrs Adam, leaving home.
6. Where did Cain go, and what did he do after leaving his parents? (Gen. 4:16-17)
Cain did not go and live as a hermit. He lived in a community called "Nod". He then built a city and presumably lived with his brothers and sisters. Here is the next the development of community: families living together. Although people got married and left the home of their parents, they were still bound by a sense of community to their blood relatives. The early chapters of Genesis detail people living in communities that were more closely related to each other than people living in communities today.
The Extending of Families
It appears that up until the Flood, clusters of families that were related to each other lived near each other. We find Noah's sons and their wives living near their father and mother. They were a community of related families. Thus the concept of community grew from a single family to a number of related families living near each other. Some of these communities were called cities (Gen. 4:17). These related families worked together, played together, and shared together and formed the basis of the early cities. As sin continued to contaminate mankind and its affects ravaged countless lives, cities become more corrupt. At the point where God had to intervene with judgment, He looked not just for a righteous man, which was Noah obviously was, but also a righteous community which Noah headed. The work of building the ark for those sixty or so years was not to be a one man show, but the work of a community: Noah's family and their families.
7. Today God is looking for a righteous community before He intervenes with judgment upon the world. Who is this community today? (Ephesians 3:10-11)
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© 2001 Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania