Summary: What is the Christian’s relationship to government, and why does God make a big deal out of their authority in this passage?
The Powers that Be
In chapter 13, we look at our relationship with government and all ordained authority over us.
’the powers that be’ in v. 1 is a direct reference to all authority God has allowed us to be placed under.
When Jesus was approached by scribes and Pharisees w/ a trick question, "Is it lawful to pay taxes," [I wish He had said no!] He knew if he said yes or no, He would be condemned either way. But you don’t back God into a corner. Jesus pointed to a coin, and Caesar on it, and said to render to him what is his and to God what is His. This ingenious answer leaves both Caesar and God on their respective thrones. We do have an obligation to both our heavenly and earthly citizenships.
Do you believe in separation of church and state [not in our constitution]? We’ve been hoodwinked, because our founder’s intentions have been turned inside out. The government is to stay out of the church, but not the other way around. God used to be an invited guest of our government, and a foundational part of who we are.
These principles we now look at apply to our relationship both to government, such as our nation’s leaders or even police officers. It applies to your boss, whether he’s good or bad, your parents, your pastors, or anyone God has placed you under.
1. The ordination of government.
v. 1 "Ordained" = divinely created by God for a purpose. This happened after the flood, in Genesis 9:1-17. God’s first institution was the home/marriage [Gen. 2], then the government, and then the church in Acts 2. So, government is 1 of the only 3 institutions which are God ordained. That doesn’t mean government is always right, or that we like the person in office. Government is often evil, and corrupt, but it couldn’t even exist w/out God allowing it to stand for His purposes.
We may not always respect the person in office, but we should respect the office...for God is ultimately still in charge, and He holds the king’s heart in His hand.
... to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
And the God who puts them in is the One who brings them down!
And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings...
But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
King Nebuchadnezzar flourished w/ God’s blessing upon him, yet when he was lifted up in pride, God was able to abase him like an animal.
King Uzziah was Godly, and when he died, Isaiah went into the temple, depressed and distraught, thinking it would all fall apart. Then God gave him the vision of Himself, high and lifted up. The message? Your king may die, but the King of kings is alive and well!
It doesn’t matter who wins the presidency in November, God is still in charge!
Now, what does this ordination of government mean to us today?
• Voluntary obedience is commanded. "be subject" = submit
God in His wisdom established the principle of authority in every area of our lives.
We distance ourselves from those who teach riot and rebellion in the name of God. You see it on TV. Almost any national rebellion you see around the world is justified by its participants as being what God would want. These verses reject that.
v. 2 In the 60s it looked like our nation was going to fall apart. They burnt flags, draft cards, and other unmentionables. Those seeds of rebellion which were sown then have reaped the harvest of the nation we live in today, w/ no recognized authority, no absolutes, and no respect to our heritage. They are rewriting our history and trying to change our future.
Look at how children rebel today against their parents and teachers. And when parents take their kid’s side vs. the teacher, they are just teaching that child to not recognize even their own authority as parent!
ill.--there’s been times when we knew the teacher was wrong, but we didn’t want to undermine their authority so we dealt privately w/ them, and focused our child on what THEY should do differently to help the situation.
It used to be when you got a spanking at school you got one at home. We’ve come a long way!
The same is true in churches nowadays. As the leader here I have to make decisions and judgments at times. "Who does he think he is? God?" They come for counseling, but don’t submit to it or obey it...like as if it was just an alternative to consider, or they were looking for me to support them in what they have already decided to do, and just needed ’permission’.