I have been preaching through 1 Samuel for the past few months in a series that I have called: The Rise of the Kingdom. Israel in her dissatisfaction with God decides to be like other nations and have a king. So God in unfathomable providence grants Israel’s request – though not for a moment relinquishing His sovereignty over His people. In fact, the securing of their first king, Saul, is entirely His doing from start to finish. This has a host of applications for the Church today in the midst of all the political wrangling, ruthless fighting, and un-Christlike attitudes and opinions.
Because our God is sovereign (LORD) and is actively at work in whatever environment we find ourselves in, we are called to submit to the existing authorities. Addressing the believers in Rome, Paul states the matter unashamedly: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. (Romans 13:1-2)
This is an incredible statement of faith when we consider that those in authority in Paul’s day were diametrically opposed to the Christian faith and violated every form of moral decency. The apostles understood that God delights in establishing His kingdom, using the free and demented choices of world monarchs who do not even acknowledge His existence. The greatest example of this was the census decreed by the emperor Caesar Augustus. The political motive behind it was the emperor’s desire to increase the tax base and thus the wealth of his own treasury. Like everyone else in the empire, Joseph had to make the trek to his ancestral town, the city of David, to register for the census. Through the lens of faith we are able to see that by complying with Caesar’s decree, God was able to transport Mary and Joseph 70 miles south, from Nazareth to Bethlehem, just in time to fulfil the prophecy spoken by Micah seven centuries earlier in Micah 5:2.
The apostles applied this principle of submission to harsh masters (Colossians 3:22-24), unbelieving husbands (1Peter 3:1-6), and church leaders (1Peter 5:5). Submission is not to be done begrudgingly or “only when their eye is on you and to garnish their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord” (Colossians 3:22). When we cultivate such attitudes it not only impacts those we serve, it elicits amazement and awe from the world. Sadly, I often see people who lack such faith. They respond like the “worthless fellows” in 1 Samuel 10:25-27, venting disgust and disdain over those whom God has placed over them. I grow weary hearing Christians continually bashing their government leaders, maligning their corporate heads, slandering their church elders or leaders, and complaining about their husbands or wives. This has to stop. For such behaviour not only maligns the God we serve, it also blinds us (and others) to God’s invisible but decisive hand at work within our dark and decaying world.
If we believe that God is Sovereign and truly in control – it’s time that we reflect it with a modicum of consistency. If we spent more time on our knees talking to God on behalf of our leaders and less time on our feet talking to others about our leaders, maybe then God would begin to bring some desperately needed healing. 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
1 Timothy 2:1-4…”I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Selah