CONFLICT FROM THE BEGINNING
The Holy Spirit and chaos
From the beginning, conflict has existed: the abrasive hostility of order and disorder, light and darkness, good and evil. The Word of God opens with an introduction to conflict. "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved (brooded) upon the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2). Think of the Spirit of God, moving within the framework of Divine objective, brooding upon the face of the chaotic deep. Deity is averse to chaos and disorder, as is shown in creation. The extent of the conflict of that ancient chaos with God's Spirit transcends our imagination. The effect that disorder has upon you is a very faint reflection of that situation.
Light and darkness
The first creative work of God summoned light into existence. But even then, there was conflict. Light did not dissipate darkness, nor could it be merged with it. They are conflicting orders. What illuminates and what obscures cannot be joined together. Thus it is written, "And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day" (Gen 1:4,5). There is a divinely appointed line of demarcation between what illuminates and what obscures. They can never be joined. They are, by their very nature, in conflict.
Adam, Eve, and Satan
The crowning work of God's creation was man. Everything led up to that. The Lord's observation at the conclusion of each creative act was, "and God saw that it was good" (Gen 1:10,12,18,21,25). But following His crowning work, the observation was, " . . . and, behold, it was very good" (Gen 1:30). The earth was created to be inhabited by man, not merely by the impersonal and brute creation.
To sooner was man created, "male and female" (Gen 5:1), than hostility was introduced. Eve was confronted with moral conflict. She had to weigh something that God said against a contrary statement. The result of that confrontation is found in the reign of sin and death that has followed (Rom 5:12-21). With the introduction of "the knowledge of good and evil" came conflict, not known in the sweetness of innocence. Here is the first record of man confronting conflicting gods!
Cain and Abel
Struggle now became a part of our race. The first two sons were Cain and Abel. They were different. One was "of the evil one," and one was pleasing to God. This condition was not due to a deficiency in the family structure. It was the result of man's fall. Prompted by religious controversy, Cain "rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him" (Gen 4:8). Thus, are we introduced to the first person-to-person conflict on the human level. At the threshold of human history, therefore, the seriousness of conflict--particularly religious conflict--is demonstrated.
Enoch and the world
Before the passing of a millennium, corruption began to dominate the world. With the rapid multiplication of our race came the more rapid spread of evil. In the midst of a wicked generation a man equal to the conflict arose. His name was Enoch. He "walked with God" while others walked in their lusts (Gen 5:24). Because he was translated from this life without experiencing death, his analysis of that generation is important. "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (Jude 14,15). In prophesying the impending flood, Enoch provides us with the first example of a man in conflict with the world.
Noah and the world
Lamech, Noah's father, lived during the last 56 years of Adam's life. The godly influence generated by that association was doubtless the contributing factor to Noah's godliness. Ungodliness reached its apex in his day. It was so dominant and unrestrained that God "repented that He had made man on the earth" (Gen 6:6). Those supposing that an omniscient God is indifferent to the attitudes of men need to consider the gravity of that statement!
The all-seeing eye of God found a man in conflict with that wicked world: righteous Noah. The result was that Noah "found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen 6:8). Commissioned to build "an ark to the saving of his house," Noah became a witness to that conflicting generation. This "preacher of righteousness," by obediently constructing an ark, "condemned the world" that contended with him (Heb 11:7). In Noah we have the first example of a winning minority!
Ishmael and Isaac
Following the dispersion of the proud would-be builders of Babel's tower, God called Abraham, separating him from the masses to Himself. He promised that the race would be rescued by Abraham's "Seed" (Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-4; 17:16).
Eventually, two sons were found in his house: one from a bondmaid, and one from his wife. These sons were in conflict. Ishmael, the son of Hagar, "mocked" Isaac, the son of Sarah. The result of this conflict was the expulsion of the "bondwoman and her son." Commenting on that ancient conflict, Paul wrote, "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now" (Gal 4:29).
Jacob and Esau
Jacob and Esau provide us with a remarkable portrayal of conflict. These were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. While yet in the womb, these twins struggled with each other, locked, as it were, in combat. God revealed the reason for the conflict. "And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger" (Gen 25:23). Not only were two nations represented by those infants, they were "two manner of people." They were different, and would be at variance with one another. To this very day, the descendants of Jacob and Esau are in conflict--and it all started within the same womb.
The world, an arena of conflict!
We cannot afford to be confused by the presence of conflict. This world is an area of fierce and unrelenting dissension. Whether we read of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, or Ishmael and Isaac, conflict is there. It is seen on the plains of Shinar when people conspired to build a tower. It is perceived when Israel was in Egypt. It is again seen in their conflicts in Canaan. The reality of conflict is not the issue. The real concern is how we will handle it.