Governing Authorities

2 Chronicles 27-28 and Romans 13

In today’s reading, we read about Jotham, in 2 Chronicles 27:6, that “Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.”  Then about his successor, Ahaz, in 2 Chronicles 28:19, “The Lord had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the Lord.”

Then in Romans 13:1, we read, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Wait a minute, in the Old Testament reading, we read about a good king, and the blessings that came because of his faithfulness, then we read about a wicked king, and the punishment that came because of his unfaithfulness.  And then in the New Testament reading, we’re told to submit to all governing authorities, because God has established them?  This doesn’t seem to make sense.  Shouldn’t we submit to good rulers, and rebel against bad rulers?

As intuitively right as this seems, this isn’t what God commands us to do.  By submitting to authority, God isn’t telling us to take part in their sins, or even endorse their sins.  But we do need to submit to governing authorities.  Period.  I have known of Christians who refused to pay taxes, because they alleged those taxes went to fund wicked practices.  But God demands submission.  We, as Christians, need to submit to ruling authorities.  We must pay our taxes (in this example), because that is our responsibility.  We aren’t responsible for how those taxes are spent.  Judgement for that will fall on someone else’s head.

Romans 13:2 goes on to say, “Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves.”  You may complain about my pointing this out, but God is the one who said it, so if you have a complaint, take it up with Him.  This clearly says that civil disobedience is sin.  Period.

Romans 13 goes on to say in verse 7, “Give everyone what you owe him.  If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”  I’ve seen Christians who have a bumper sticker that says, “Not my president.”  I think that bumper sticker should really say, “I claim to be a Christian, but I am a hypocrite.” or “I refuse to obey God.”  

The problem is, many Christians think that this or that political party will save them.  They don’t seem to realize that all human rulers are wicked.  Instead of getting so worked up about politics, we should focus on the end of Romans 13, where we’re told in verse 11, “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

The bottom line is this… Jesus is coming soon.  Don’t get so worked up about politics, or following this leader or that leader.  Wake up.  Follow Jesus.  His return is very soon.  Don’t love this world or the things of this world.  Be zealous for Jesus!

I’ll close with Luke 21:28, “…Stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”


–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 27-28 and Romans 13

A Call to Be Holy

Isaiah 7-9

man in praise

Tuesday, February 7

I hope you all have enjoyed the first six chapters of Isaiah thus far.  Today, we get to continue with chapters 7 through 9, and we will get right to it.

Chapter 7 has an interesting phenomenon that some scholars within the Church of God call “agency”.  Pay special attention to who is talking when (this may seem complicated).  In 7:3, we see that God is talking to Isaiah, and God instructs Isaiah to relay a message to King Ahaz in 7:4.  7:4-9 is the message that Isaiah was to tell Ahaz.  Then in verse 10, it states, “Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz.”  God was not talking to Ahaz in the first place though; rather, God instructed Isaiah to speak to Ahaz.  Furthermore, in verse 13, the being who was talking to Ahaz says, “my God”.  Therefore, although it says “again the LORD spoke to Ahaz,” in verse 10, I believe that it was actually Isaiah speaking to Ahaz.  In summary, there are two reasons as to why I believe it was Isaiah speaking to Ahaz:

  1. God wasn’t talking to Ahaz in the first place, so the word “again” would not make sense in this context if it were indeed God talking. However, Isaiah was previously talking to Ahaz, so it would make sense to say “again” if it were Isaiah talking to him.
  2. In verse 13, this being talking to Ahaz (either God or Isaiah) says, “my God”. As we all know, the LORD does not have a god, so it wouldn’t make sense for the LORD to say this.  Also, in verse 14, it talks about the LORD in 3rd person.

This idea of “agency” is found in several passages throughout the Bible.  The idea of agency is important when at times Jesus is connected to the term “God”.  It is important to understand to defend the oneness of God.  If this interests you at all or if I made absolutely no sense (which is very well possible) but still want to learn more, then the following article can give some clarification.

http://www.21stcr.org/multimedia-2012/1-articles/re-shaliah-introduction_law_of_agency.html

Isaiah 7:14 is one of the most well-known Immanuel (God with us) prophecies.  The Immanuel, which is Jesus Christ, was prophesied to be born from a virgin.  As far as I know, there aren’t many people born from a virgin mother.  It totally contradicts what we all learned in health class.  However, Jesus himself was born from a virgin.  This alone was a miracle, and it was to be a sign for the people.

In chapter 8, there was one thing that stuck out to me found in verse 11.  It is a call to be holy.  To be holy is to be set apart or different from others, and this is exactly what the LORD told Isaiah to do.  He instructed Isaiah “not to walk in the way of this people,” meaning that he should act differently.  The people in Isaiah’s time were wicked people.  Isaiah 9:17 states, “for everyone is godless and an evildoer.”  We also know this from all the judgement in the previous chapters.  I think most of us would agree that we also live in a society that is very godless and full of evildoers.  We too then should be set apart from society.  We should not walk in the way of the people in our society.  There should be differences between you and the common person.  Are you living differently than others?

Isaiah 9:6 is a controversial verse within the Church of God that probably made many of you uneasy when reading it.  It is a verse that needs to be considered and given thought.  Similar to 7:14 it is prophecy about Jesus Christ.  However, in this prophecy, it states that the son shall be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  This verse, along with a few others throughout the Bible, has a Trinitarian feel to it.  I do not have all the answers myself, but this verse cannot just be ignored.  I urge you all to look more into this, and make some sense out of it rather than just ignoring it.

I hope you all have a great day!

-Kyle McClain

(Photo credit: https://amokarts.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/scripture-visualized-isaiah-79/)

Lessons from the Kings

2 Chronicles 26-29

2-chronicles-26-5

Thursday, December 1

In today’s passage, three out of four kings are more good than bad for a change, however one intriguing thing happens during the time of a bad king, while two good kings have different experiences in the Temple of God.

 

During the time of evil King Ahaz, Israel wins victories over Judah, but when they intend to treat people from Judah as slaves. a prophet of God who lives in Israel, then leaders of Ephraim also defend the captives (2 Chronicles 28:8-18). This shows that there can be people who fear God amongst those who do not. Think about how difficult it was for them to live amongst a rebellious people.

 

Two kings have different experiences in the Temple. Uzziah begins to reign at the age of 16 and starts out great, but becomes arrogant as he became more powerful. He decides that he will offer incense in the Temple, even though only the priests are supposed to do so. He ends up being afflicted by leprosy. In the end of today’s reading we read about Hezekiah’s great effort to purify the Temple. We might read both and wonder why God places so much emphasis upon ritual. I think it is good to take time to think about this. When we get to our readings in Hebrews we will read much more about this, but for now, just take time to think about why God gives such specific teaching about how the Temple is to be maintained.

-Greg Demmitt