Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Obeying Leaders Whom We Have Seen....

Note: This post is for mature, born-again Christian audiences only.
For decades I have imagined heaven. I don't mean that I have imagined an eternity of living in perfect bliss walking on golden streets, petting lions. I know this is paradise for many people. I focus on another moment.

This is what I have been living for, waiting for, longing for: the moment I can look into the eyes of God. That will be my eternity. If there is nothing of heaven but that instant, it will be the perfect eternity. I in His eyes and He in mine. There is nothing more I shall ever desire, for there is nothing greater.

At night, when all is dark and I am alone with that vision of seeing God face to face, I beg God that everyone see Him as I see Him in my heart.

"Why, oh why do You not reveal Yourself to everyone?" I plead ardently.  It has sorrowed my heart, wounded me. "Why can't we see You.. just, just for a glimpse?" Yet, decade after decade He is silent and unseen. 

 I have tried so hard to understand why God is invisible. For the world would instantly change if they could but see Him--look into His eyes.

Then suddenly, He revealed why this is. In a moment I understood. I want to explain to you what He explained to me, but it will take quite a while. Please be patient as I try and unfold for you what He revealed to me. 

It started in the Garden of Eden. Man was given dominion of the earth. 

And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. " ….Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Gen. 1: 26, 28

Adam failed his task. Adam failed to take authority over the snake and rebuke him. (Wasn't the snake a creeping thing he was to take dominion over?) Now he lost his part of his authority over the earth. It would no longer obey him. Now, he would work for his sustenance on the earth. (Gen. 3: 17-19) 

God told Noah that he was to take authority over the earth. "The fear and terror of you will be in every living creature on the earth, every bird of the sky, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea. They are placed under your authority." Gen. 9:2

Noah ended up drunk and Canaan, his grandson, was cursed. 

Genesis 23 tells the story of Jacob, who fled home after stealing from his brother, now was returning home, repentant and afraid. God sent an angel to wrestle with Jacob. (v. 24-30) 

"Your name will no longer be called 'Jacob,' but, 'Israel,' for you have fought with God and with men, and have prevailed," the angel said. Jacob was astounded and exclaimed, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved!"

God fought Jacob in order to make him a man.

The Bible is one long history of God trying to make men take their rightful place of responsibility and authority. Obviously that is not the main point of history, but if you look at scripture closely, it seems to be a definite subplot. Man, especially man, is to take his rightful place as king and judge. But He first has to make men, menmen of God.

When Moses didn't want to lead the people out of Egypt, God's anger was kindled and He told Moses that He would send Aaron, his brother, to be with him as he spoke to Israel and pharaoh.

"I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do…he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him." Ex. 4: 15, 16

Notice that Moses was constantly relating to God that His people were complaining. Finally, Moses tells the people that, "your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord."  When they spoke to Moses, it was as if they are speaking to God Himself. For Moses was in the earthly place of God for them. Ex.16: 8

I have never heard anyone ever talk about that last or the upcoming verse. But they prove my point. God places His leadership in His own place, for us to see Him. When we see God's leaders, we are supposed to be seeing Him. Read what happens next. It will shock you. 

After all the grumbling Israel was doing against Moses, the Lord told Moses to prepare His people for an event on Sinai. But why? Listen to what God said.

The LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever." Ex. 19:9

Mount Sinai was not only about giving the law to Israel, but about establishing forever Moses' authority. If there is any doubt of this, God shows us what happens if even Moses' siblings try and usurp Moses' authority.

Miriam began to talk against Moses because he had married a Cushite. "Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?" She began to stir up mutant in Israel. The Lord appeared at the entrance of the Tent of Meetings and summoned Miriam and told them that Moses was more than a prophet, for He spoke to prophets in dreams and visions. But Moses God spoke face to face. Verse 9 records that, "The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them." And God inflicted Miriam with leprosy. Moses intercession saved her. (Num. 12)

Next we have Israel's kings:

King David was the youngest of the siblings. David slew Goliath. That is what men of God do. Finally, a man after God's own heart: fearless, a man of action, a man of compassion and even a man who respected the seat of the King's authority. For David would not touch God's anointed authority, King Saul, even as corrupt as he was. 

God gave His authority to His leaders in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word,  Radah, (meaning "dominion") is the same dominion God has over the earth and means to dominate, subjugate. Solomon was given this dominion over Israel (I Kings 4, 5, 9).

The Men of the New Covenant

Christ came to fulfill Moses authority and King David's. (Numbers 24: 14-19, "Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion…" See also: Judges 5: 13) This domination/authority was given by God to His Son, Jesus Christ, in the New Testament (Greek: Exousia. See Matt. 28: 18. Eph. 1: 21, Col. 2: 10).

Our Lord then passed on His authority to His twelve Apostles (Matt. 10: 1, Luke 10: 19).

And in obedient to faith in the New Covenant, we are commanded to recognize and submit to His appointed authorities. (Rom. 13: 1-3, 5, I Tim. 2:2, I Peter 2: 13, 2 Peter 2: 10, Jude 1:8, 25.) Especially to our spiritual authorities:

And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take note of that person; don't associate with him, so that he may be ashamed. 2 Thess. 3:14 
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Heb. 13: 17 (See also: I Cor. 16: 16, I Peter 1: 14)

St. Paul claims this authority (I Cor. 9: 12, "If others share this authority over you, don't we even more?" 2 Cor. 10:8, "if I boast some more about our authority, which the Lord gave…" 2 Cor. 13:10, "when I am there I will not use severity, in keeping with the authority the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down." See also Rom. 15: 18, 2 Cor. 2:9, Phil. 2: 12.)

Titus, as bishop, has this authority (Titus 2: 14, "encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you." Titus 3: 1, "Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey..")

Everything in scripture is driving us towards being like God, with His authority. We are to be kings and judges. But, like Christ, we must first learn obedience. We must be perfect and that is by being obedient to our earthly authorities. The first being our human, biological father. Then our spiritual fathers. 

We cannot see God on earth, yet. Because if God were to have revealed Himself that clearly to our senses: our eyes, our touch, our hearing… we would not feel the need of being obedient to His appointed leaders. God has a system whereby we must be Him to the world. We are to represent God, we who are born again.  And yet the greatest responsibility is not just Christians, but those who are called to certain leadership: the men.

Fathers, pastors, priests, bishops, popes. We are to first be obedient to them. They must be seen first as authorities, then we can see God as our authority and obey Him. This is similar to what St. 
John warns us about with loving our brother. 

If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. I John 4: 20

Perhaps it is this way with God and His leadership. Perhaps until we can learn to obey our earthly fathers, physical and spiritual, whom we can see, we cannot obey God, whom we have not seen.

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