Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Back Story to Authority

I. Protect

A. People with authority [employers, civil authorities, elders, husbands, and parents] have a double obligation both to pray and to teach as Samuel did when Israel sinned. “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:” (1 Samuel 12:23)

B. Because Samuel served in a rebellious age similar to the present one, the prophet both warned and comforted. “And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart;” (1 Samuel 12:20)

C. Just as timely diagnosis and treatment can save bodies from cancer, they can save souls from the ravages of sin. “Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.” (1 Samuel 12:24-25)

D. Much earlier in history Job applied this pattern to his family, demonstrating the faithful way to everyone in authority. “And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” (Job 1:5)

II. Instruct

A. Moses delivered the Scriptures, not as literature, but as the framework for thought and action. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:” (Deuteronomy 6:6)

B. Moses then commanded that those in authority must teach the truth of God in word and example across all the range of life. “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)

C. The people and institutions which receive the revelation of heaven must distribute the truth for personal safety and future welfare; teaching is one of the best forms of learning. “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10)

D. Responsible people teach and explain what God has done in history, redemption, and personal experience. “We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. F or he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:” (Psalm 78:4-6)

E. When people understand the past the present Providence of God becomes visible to them. “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. (Isaiah 29:14)

III. Honor

A. The presumed inadequacies of those entrusted to a believer are no excuse for failure to do as God directs; God punishes silence with silence. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)

B. God warns against turning the opportunities to instruct in the truth into obstacles to learning the ways of God; people in authority are always molding those in their care. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

C. Honor can be hard or counterintuitive, but the alternative is shame. “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. (Proverbs 29:15)

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