The character of our Heavenly Father is the perfect blend of justice and mercy. Our Lord Jesus Christ was the
perfect reflection of these same qualities. In the Kingdom Age the saints will also show these qualities to perfection in the work they are given to do.

To His children Yahweh Shows Mercy—to His Enemies Yahweh Shows Justice

 Yahweh shows only grace and mercy to His children, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8); “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). These are the qualities which are the focus of our attention in this article.

Both grace and mercy involve the mind. They denote a closeness of intellect and emotions be tween the one showing and the one receiving them. These are the qualities which a husband must show to his wife if he is to “rule” in the manner that God laid down in Genesis 3:16. These qualities are also evident in a true ruler who rules the mind of his subjects. “Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy” (Prov 20:28). Light can only be seen when it comes from a source or is reflected. The enlightening of the minds of the king’s subjects is consistent with this principle.

The lights in the firmament in Genesis 1:14–15 were for signs; that is, they signified or symbolised something. They were also to give light upon the earth. In Genesis 37:9, Joseph saw his father and mother and brethren symbolised by the sun, moon and stars.

God is spoken of as the “Father of lights”. The Sun or “Father of lights” is the source of the light or energy capable of shining upon the earth and it has—“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).

In our Lord we have the “light of the world” (John 8:12). He told his disciples: “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you” (John 12:35). In his absence, who would be light bearers? That role would belong to his disciples. Did they have the power within themselves or would their role be that of a reflector? Like the moon they were the reflectors and so are we. In the absence of our Lord we reveal that he exists by reflecting his character or glory.

First Principle for Ideal Family Relationships

 In family life the father should be like the sun, as the head or source of light. As a husband his role is that of a light provider, understanding the Word of God which is the source of enlightenment to his family. Equally important is the role of wife and mother. The mother as the “woman” should be the “glory of the man”, reflecting his qualities as the moon reflects the light from the sun (1 Cor 11:7). The children should become light bearers as the stars are. These are confirmed in the example of Joseph’s dream, in Genesis 37:9–10. If we do this, then family life becomes a parable of our relationship with our Lord.

Don’t be Fooled by Present Society

 We live in a world which is ignorant of the beautiful parable of the human relationship which should mirror our life in Christ. The principles of the Truth are assailed by a world which cannot understand the divinely appointed role of men and women. This ignorance on their part is because “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom 8:7). We do well to remember this, for the world in its folly has chosen to promote another set of standards which are sometimes felt within our families and consequently within the ecclesia. The pernicious evil of “women’s liberation” promises “freedom” but destroys the values of family life and in the process jettisons the commandments of Christ and hope of the gospel. We are subject to the Law of God and therefore need to personally make a conscious effort to hold fast to the God-given values for our families and the ecclesia.

It takes effort to do this, yet the reward is assured both in this life and in the age to come: “But to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward” (Prov 11:18).

There is a pleasant satisfaction in outworking the parable, albeit in imperfection. Never be disheartened by thinking that the principles are too high to achieve. They are the ideal and we all fail in some way or another. The immediate value to us is in the affection, warmth and devotion that can be generated, enriching our lives at personal, family and ecclesial levels. It takes time to develop. The rich rewards keep coming throughout our life in Christ; we don’t have to wait until the Kingdom Age to gain some of these.

Rulership and Dominion

 We have seen that the purpose of the Father is to set up lights in the firmament of heaven to “give light upon the earth”. This is a striking symbology of what will be accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ and the Saints, the “rulers” to “rule the day” and to “rule the night”. This “rule” will be achieved as Yahweh fills the earth with His glory, the glory that will be seen in the Lord Jesus Christ and his Bride, the Saints. The example of the sun and moon to “rule” (Heb ‘memshalah’ from ‘mashal’) in Genesis 1:16 is in stark contrast to the “dominion” (Heb ‘radah’) that man was to have “over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Gen 1:26).

Unfortunately, the English translation of the Bible does not consistently translate the Hebrew word for “rule” and “dominion”. It is necessary therefore to identify which Hebrew expressions are used. The word “rule” of Genesis 1:16 from the Hebrew root ‘mashal’ of verse 18 has the idea of ruling with the mind rather than with the physical force, of subjugation or “dominion”.

It is evident that our Lord used the process of “rulership” as in the sense of Genesis 1:16,18 on his disciples and they loved him for it and will “be willing in the day of his power” (Psalm 110:3). In contrast, in the same Psalm, we are told that the Lord will use the force of ‘radah’ or “subjugation” (here unfortunately translated as “rule”) in the midst of his enemies (Psalm 110:2).

The Hebrew root word ‘mashal’ also occurs in Genesis 3:16 where it describes the wise judgement of God upon Eve as, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule (Heb ‘mashal’) over thee”. The use of the Hebrew ‘mashal’ or “rule” in Genesis 1and 3 clearly identifies the basis of a human relationship.

To “rule” in the sense of ‘mashal’ develops honour and respect, whereas “dominion” in the sense of ‘radah’ is used to control a mind which cannot be subject to the law of God (Rom 8:7). It is important to teach the difference between ruling the mind through wisdom, understanding and love of God’s Word, and the quicker but mind destroying process of subjugation by fear. There is no honour to Yahweh when a man forces his wife to submit to him either mentally, morally or physically.

The fullness of pleasure in our own personal family life is dependent upon two minds willingly coming together as one, striving to uphold the Word of God and discovering the way each person thinks and reacts. The husband’s role is to develop the mind of his wife, to cause her to love Yahweh with her whole heart, soul and might (Deut 6:5). If he has helped her to develop this attitude, then she will reveal a deep and emotional commitment towards her husband. She will know that he has given her the very best gift possible in life. The same bond should exist between a husband and wife as the Lord prayed that his bride would have with him: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:22).

The stress and workloads that we are under often encroach upon the quality time we can spend together to be uplifted, encouraged, listened to and strengthened. In the slide towards Armageddon, the people are turning more and more towards the process of physical control and mental fear. Brethren are fearful of losing their jobs, their wives are fearful for the stability of their family environment as they see the impact of society upon their own flesh and blood. Children are fearful of violence within the school environment and within the community. As society deteriorates, the impact will be felt more often upon our community. Our way to combat this is to increase our familiarity with the examples of Scripture and to encourage each other to apply them.

The world is becoming a more violent place to live in. This has no place in any household in the Truth. Where there is a problem, help should be sought from mature brothers and sisters to deal with it.

Sometimes we hear of brethren who see their headship role as the licence to subjugate their wife or family. We would seek in vain for evidence of this in the Lord’s dealings with his disciples. Discipline with the purpose of education was evident, however, as the Lord upbraided his disciples for their lack of faith. He patiently laboured to develop their thinking through the Word of God, meanwhile always showing them grace and mercy. In this way they became dependent upon him: “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). What pleasure our Lord shall receive when his multitudinous bride stands before him, reflecting his glorious character through her own free will.

There needs to be a careful balance between true rulership by education and disciplines for wrong doing. A recognition of our personal need for God’s grace and mercy will help us to gain that balance: “I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities” (Psalm 31:7); “O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14). It remains for us to develop our family environment on this basis.

Attributes of a King (Ruler)

 What qualities do we see in our King, the Lord Jesus Christ?

As King he sets the standards, upholds them, and gains the honour and respect from his subjects because of his practical wisdom and moral attributes. A Biblical theme study on kings and kingship quickly reveals the respect for a wise king, and the difference is clearly evident between a wise king and a despot.

The example of our Lord provides the touchstone for the kings and priests of the future age. We look to him for example; we feel his wisdom in expressing the Word. We know his ability to cut through all our facade and to get through to our real needs. He can satisfy these needs. Our Lord does not act like a despot over us. He desires to rule our minds, to have us thinking so much the way he does that we feel privileged to have him as our Lord and the one we can love. We should feel confident and comfortable in his presence, with a sense of true fellowship.

All these are principles captured in the simple differences between “rulership” and “dominion” in Genesis chapter 1 and lay the foundation for the human relationship, not only between a husband and wife but also between members of the ecclesia; truly a fitting preparation for the time to come.

There will always be those who are not married and those whose partners are not in the Truth. Sadly there are also those partners who are not upholding the Truth in their life. All the faithful, no matter what their circumstances, will look to their Lord Jesus Christ as the lofty “ruler” of God’s providing and turn to him for the privilege and pleasure of having his mind rule in their hearts. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).