Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 19 August 2022:
Judges 18:5, 6 — “And they said to him, ‘Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.’ And the priest said to them, ‘Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the LORD.’”
The Levite had not heard from God, and God was not with the Danites, but the Levite, who led unauthorized worship, told these ungodly marauders what they wanted to hear. Again, the Bible warns that we must not presume to speak for God in order to please ourselves or others — “But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts (1 Thessalonians 2:4).” We cannot proclaim “peace” to others when they do not have “peace” with God through repentance and obedience — “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11).”
Throughout the Bible, God has called His ambassadors to speak the truth in love, particularly to those who do not want to hear it — “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37).” However, too many have distorted God’s word to “keep the peace” by telling people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear, a sign of end times — “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:3-5).” Our readings from Proverbs warn us continually not to be a messenger who is unfaithful with the message.
Judges 18:20 — “And the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.”
The Levite proved himself to an opportunist with no loyalty.
Judges 18:24 — “And he said, ‘You take my gods that I made and the priest, and go away, and what have I left?'”
Micah placed all of his hope in false religion. Though he claimed that his false religion was honoring to God, it was powerless. If you place you hope in anything but Jesus, you will discover that you built the house of your life on sand. The house of cards will crumble, and the bigger the house, the harder it falls.
Judges 18:27 — “…and they came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, and struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire.”
The Danites, blessed by their illegitimate priest, were ruthless and took advantage of the weak. Some of the most ruthless people claim to be the most righteous. Moralism is often the excuse for lawlessness.
Judges 18:30, 31 — “And the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up Micah’s carved image that he made, as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.”
Once again, the Danites used man-made religion to validate their sinful lifestyles as many do today. Today’s most popular religion is secular humanism support by a fake science that starts with the premise that there is no God.
Luke 20:1, 2 — “One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, ‘Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.’”
The chief priests and scribes ask an important question: Who gave Jesus the jurisdiction, authority, power, or right to take control, to give orders, to make binding decisions, and to enforce obedience? And by what power did Jesus heal? The answer to the question of who gave Jesus authority defines the scope of Jesus’ power – who and what is subject to it. In Luke 20, Jesus does not come right out and answer the question. However, later Jesus proclaims that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) Jesus explains that his total authority comes from the Father, “And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.” (John 5:27, 7:17, 10:18, 12:49) Jesus explains that the Father has “given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” (John 17:2) This authority has been given to no one but Jesus. However, by that authority, Jesus has commissioned us as His ambassadors on earth to proclaim the Gospel to the world and make disciples everywhere.
The purpose of Jesus’ miracles was to prove Jesus’s total authority – “’But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the man who was paralyzed—‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.’” (Luke 5:24) It is by virtue of his total dominion and power that Jesus proclaimed that all should fear Him – “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:5)
What is particularly amazing is that just as the Father transferred power and authority to the Son, Jesus also transferred power and authority to his disciples – “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.” (Matthew 10:1) To his disciples Jesus said, “Behold, I have given you authority over all demons…. [and] over all the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19) Wow!
Likewise, followers of Christ have been given authority and power because they “have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” (Colossians 2:10) Because of the Holy Spirit the dwells within us, Jesus says, “when (not if) they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say.” (Luke 12:11) The Bible says that, though we live in power, under the authority and dominion of Christ, the evil powers and those who have rejected God’s authority continue to wrestle hopelessly against God (2 Peter 2:10; Jude 1:6-8) — “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) We are reminded to boldly “Declare [truth]; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you” (Titus 2:15), remembering that “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:15)
Do you live boldly as Christ’s ambassador, armed with the power of the Holy Spirit that is within you, with authority given you by God Himself? Are you faithful to the charge you have been given? Jesus gave us (and modelled) some specific rules for how we should handle our powerful authority and responsibility:
1: Don’t abuse it or misuse it out of selfishness. (Matthew 20:25; Mark 10:42))
2: Exercise your authority faithfully even over the smallest matters. (Luke 19:17)
3: Never attempt to speak under your own authority or act under your own authority. Do and say ONLY what God instructs. (John 7:17; John 8:28; John 12:49; John 14:10; John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 9:8)
4: Never misrepresent God’s authority, act falsely, or seek your own glory. (John 7:18)
5: Never forget that your authority comes with great responsibility, a charge received by God. (John 10:18)
6: Remain subject to governing authorities which have also been empowered by God. (Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1)
7: Use your authority for building up, not tearing down. (2 Corinthians 13:10)
Live today faithfully and mightily. The Holy Spirit is within you.
- Revelation 20:4 — Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Luke 20:1-8 – There is no sense arguing with cynics about the authority of Jesus. Seek those who have a heart to hear the Gospel. Reason with the reasonable.
Luke 20:14 – “But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’”
Materialism, pride, and envy led religious leaders to kill God’s Son.
Luke 20:20 – “So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.”
As happened with Jesus, people, even religious leaders, will seek to entrap Christians to falsely accuse them before the government. Many will appear sincere. Christians must be careful but still bold.
Luke 20:25 — “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Caesar had the authority to coin money and to demand taxes, but God has authority over all, including governments. Jesus obeyed Caesar but God first.
Luke 20:41-44 – Jesus was an expert on God’s word, without aid of electronic devices, commentaries, or other study aids. God expects His Ambassadors to be experts too. How are you doing?
Luke 20:46-47 – “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’”
The teachers of the law pursued their religion selfishly. Christians who follow Christ are, by definition, selfless. Beware of anyone who seeks personal glory, honor, or attention. True followers of Jesus seek to glorify Him alone. Pride is not a fruit of the Spirit, but rather a fruit of the flesh. Those who like to use the “vertical pronoun” of “I” usually have a pride problem.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 19 August 22: Today, resolve to become a true Biblical scholar, but even better a Biblical follower, motivated with a true love for Jesus. (Luke 20:41-44)