Serving the Sovereign
What ought to be the Christian’s relationship to authority?
On the one hand, we ought not to despise human authority because we recognize that God is behind its establishment. We would have to remove large portions of Scripture to come close to the idea that the Bible is a revolutionary tract undermining rulers. Yet, on the other hand, we also understand that no human authority has ultimate or permanent authority. God ordains the rise of leaders and He also orchestrates their demise. No matter how powerful they seem in a moment, for a season, or even during a lifetime, within a relatively short time their power will be gone and in almost every case the world will remember them no more.
We must remember whom we ultimately serve—the sovereign God to whom all other rulers are “grasshoppers.” Therefore, when the authority of man seeks to oppose the authority of God, we are to ask, along with the apostles, “whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to [rulers] rather than to God” (Acts 4:19)—and we are to answer as they did.
In Acts 4, the apostles spend a night in prison after healing a lame man. When they are released, they gather with the other believers and regain true perspective by remembering that they serve the sovereign Lord, the Creator of the earth, sea, and everything in it (Acts 4:24-26). Applying this truth, they then recognize that though they are under subjugation by the Roman authorities and facing the persecution of the Jewish religious establishment, these leaders are only doing what God’s “hand and … plan had predestined to take place” (v 28), while they have been commissioned to preach the good news to the ends of the earth by the ascended King, Jesus Himself. With that perspective, they continue to share the gospel boldly and openly.
Can the same be said of us in our age? Will we obey God and share Christ even if those who wield earthly power over us are commanding us to silence or compromise?
What is it that silences us? One answer is surely how quick we are to forget that God is sovereign and that the nations and rulers of the world are under His authority. Having forgotten that, we succumb to a political correctness which makes us increasingly fearful of telling anybody that Jesus Christ is the only Savior. So, have you lost sight of Jesus’ kingly rule and reign? Do those who are ultimately grasshoppers to your Lord loom too large in your view of who to listen to and how to live? Then join the early believers in remembering, recognizing, and proclaiming the truths that God is the incomparable Creator of everything and that ultimate authority belongs to Him.
Daniel and the Lions' Den
1It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; 2and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. 3Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 5Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
6Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement1 to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 9Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.
10When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
14Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. 15Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
16Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared2 to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
19Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
25Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,
for he is the living God,
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
27He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
28So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
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