Read "Part One" of this series by clicking here.
One of God’s purposes in establishing Israel as the chosen nation was to display to the nations around them a true and clear picture of what loving authority and submission are.(1) Before the fall, Adam & Eve lived in perfect harmony – intimate relationship – with God. He was their creator, they the creation. Yet, in their lust for self-rule, they rebelled against God’s Word – His authority.
Moving along in the Biblical narrative, we see God’s relationships with others, like Abraham, Moses, and David defined and formalized in “covenants” (see Genesis 15 and 17 – Abraham; Exodus 24:3-8 – Moses; 2 Samuel 7 – David).
Obviously, God had relationships with these individuals before he made a covenant with them. Why then did he bother with a covenant? God established a formal relationship with these men in order to emphasize the importance of His future work in the relationship. Since God wanted to demonstrate to the world, who He was in His love for a particular people, God wanted to highlight the importance of His relationship with these people – the Jewish people.
God desired not to just show the world what love looked like – true, steadfast, unending love – but also what authority looked like. God desired His love to a particular people, would compel their love for Him. God desired that their submission to His ways and His law, would demonstrate that His authority is a gift – after all, God knows all and is the creator. It logically follows that He would also know the ways they should then live their lives.
The same God who established a covenant with Abraham, Moses, and David, established a covenant with us who believe, as well. By believing God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins, and confessing Him as our Lord and Savior, we are saved; we are given the gift of eternal life and justified – Christ’s righteousness is imputed to our account, our sins imputed to Christ’s account, when we believe the truth of the gospel message. God promises to count us righteous when we repent of our sins and cast ourselves on the only truly righteous one – His Son, Jesus. This is the covenant God has made with us, for us.
Authority gets a bad rap nowadays – really, I guess it’s been happening for the better part of the last 50 years, though I’ve not been around that many years yet. But when we stop and realize that authority is a creation of God’s, and not a thing that man has created, we have to then examine, biblically, what it means to be in authority and what it means to submit to those who are in authority. We take comfort from what the Bible teaches, even – that all people – even church leaders – are in authority. We are able to glean insight into true, biblical authority, when we read the Gospels and see how many times Christ, himself, submitted to His Father’s authority.
So, next time you are tempted to buck up against authority, remember these things and reconsider what the Bible teaches about authority. Next time you are tempted to not define or formally recognize a relationship you may have with another believer or a group of believers, stop and reconsider the formal recognition God enacted in His covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David, and His covenant with us, through Christ’s blood.
(1) – Leeman, Jonathan. The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010. 236. Print.