Divine Authority


        Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and elders of the people approached him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we proclaim, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So, they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things” (Mathew 21: 23-27.)


        The religious leaders had been profiting from the sale of merchandise within the temple. They were also manipulating exchange rates in order to defraud unsuspecting pilgrims. Jesus entered the temple, and overturned the money tables, and chased out those who were selling merchandise. He then sat down and began to teach. As he taught, some of the religious leaders approached him, and asked him by what authority he had done these things. The Lord in turn asked them where John the Baptist had received his authority. John had been given God’s authority outside the bounds of the corrupt priestly hierarchy; he wore no expensive robes; he had no formal temple training; he didn’t spend years in a classroom studying theology; yet God used him to call tens of thousands of Israelites to repentance. There is an authority that comes from men; an authority that can be abused and used for selfish gain. In the midst of man’s attempts to exploit God’s people, the Lord often raises up leaders to oppose those in power; leaders who are given divine authority; leaders who are willing to disobey their superiors in order to accomplish the will of God.
        On September 9th of 2009, a military patrol made up of 36 American/Afghan troops was ambushed in the eastern province of Kunar (Afghanistan.) The men were pinned down and suffering casualties. In the midst of the firefight, these brave soldiers repeatedly requested air support; yet the off-site commanding officers denied every request. The men eventually radioed the base saying, “We’re going to die out here.” Dakota Meyer, a marine posted behind the main patrol, requested permission to drive into the ambush to haul out his distressed comrades; his fervent requests were denied four times. Knowing that his superior officers were wrong, Dakota disobeyed their direct orders. He and another marine selflessly jumped into a Humvee and headed into the “kill zone.” They made five trips back and forth. Each time, Meyer (who was manning the gun) exposed himself to a hail of enemy fire. The two marines were able to save 13 servicemen and 23 Afghans; they also collected the bodies of four dead American soldiers. Sergeant Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. However, three of the military officers who denied the requests for assistance, were issued letters of reprimand (‘likely leading to the end of their careers.’)
        Obeying authority is good; but sometimes those in leadership can error; some may even be completely corrupt, immoral, and unrighteous. On occasion, in order to accomplish God’s will, it becomes necessary to question and oppose those who are in positions of influence. As Christians we are given great authority; God Himself speaks through us; He uses us to accomplish His works; we are vessels of His love, His mercy, and His peace. May we continue to serve Him in love; may we preach the message without shame or remorse; may we continue to oppose those who pervert the gospel for their own personal gain; and may lovingly and persistently submit to the authority of those whom God has undoubtedly anointed.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we recognize Your authority. We understand that you have called us to accomplish Your will. Please continue to use and guide us in the ways of righteousness. When we encounter leaders, who are evil and unjust, give us the strength to oppose them. Concerning spiritual matters, may we never submit to the unrighteous; instead, may we continually be willing to serve under and obey those whom you have truly anointed. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.

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