On Letting Scripture Answer Scripture

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March 7, 2022

1 Peter 2:13-17 NIV

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

CONSIDER THIS

As you might imagine, I got quite a lot of response to yesterday’s Daily Text on the matter of submitting to the authority of the government. It was mostly respectful, and I appreciated it all. I try to respond to everyone who writes me but sometimes it is too much. Yesterday was such a day. The biggest question and pushback most people have with texts like these centers around oppressive government authority. Certainly Peter was writing into just such a situation. 

From Genesis to Revelation, the people of God have a long history with oppressive, wicked national leaders. Biblical history is littered with Egyptian Pharaohs, Babylonian Kings, and Roman Emperors. Everyone wants to know how God’s people should deal with them, especially when they try to force us to turn against God or violate his commandments. And what about laws that go against our faith? Do we just go along and get along? 

Of course not. The best way to answer questions raised by the Word of God is to delve deeper into the Word of God. 

Go with me to ancient Babylon (Daniel 3):

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.

Stay with me friends of Jesus. We are on a journey here. We aren’t there yet. We are moving toward the deep end. 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Thank you for being our faithful friend in the fire, standing with us in the flames. Thank you for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Thank you for the way they honored Nebuchadnezzar and at the same time worshipped you. Holy Spirit, would you train me in this way of humble respect and unquenchable worship? Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

THE QUESTION

What do you see in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? What did Nebuchadnezzar see? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I see two principles at work in this story of OT Saints acting in a way that can apply to us: Firstly, we have to choose today which God or gods we will serve, whether the true God of the Bible or one of the many gods of this world. Secondly, we must consider the true cost of discipleship. As Bonhoeffer once wrote in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man he bids him to come and die”. We must first deny ourselves and daily pick up our cross and follow him.

  2. JD, thanks for your posts. These recent ones have been powerful and get to the heart of sin: personal pride and its fruit of self-righteousness. You write today: “From Genesis to Revelation, the people of God have a long history with oppressive, wicked national leaders. Biblical history is littered with Egyptian Pharaohs, Babylonian Kings, and Roman Emperors.” These are leaders external to the nation of Israel. Will you also be commenting the wicked internal leaders, those heads of state of the Israelites, from Genesis to Revelation and ultimately to believers beyond Scripture? Believers have been cautioned by Jesus, Paul, James, Peter, and others to be aware of wolves in their midst dressed as sheep (Mt 7:15, 10:16), to speak truth in love (Pro 16:6, Eph 4:15, Col 1:5, 2 These 2:13, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:18, 2 John 1:1), to gently and respectfully give a reason for our faith (1 Peter 3:15), to select church leaders with histories of righteous living (1Timothy 3), high calling and accountability of teachers (James 3:1) and many more. In Mt 18, Jesus, spoke very clearly about the horror of leading others astray. Jesus gave it all, and gave up His “rights” and we as His follows taking His name are called by Him to do the same thing, every day, minute by minute, second by second. Paul calls all believers to have the mindset of Christ, see Philippians 2:5-11 and live without “grumbling or arguing (i.e., complaining)”, Philippians 2:14-16a. Blessings as you share the Word of God.

  3. As you see Daniel’s three friends stood up and not bow down to worship, so will it be in the end. In Revelation says in the end Satan will try to change times and Laws. Which commandment speaks of time and Law? Look at Exodus Chapter 20 verses 8-11.

  4. Scripture teaches us to submit to the government, unless or until it tells us to violate God’s moral law. (We must obey God before men.) Then we are free to disobey, but with humility and respect and willingness to accept the consequences. We are to “speak the truth in love.” We are to bless those who curse us. We are to pray for those who persecute us. Scripture seems to make all this clear, but we often twist or ignore those Scriptures.

  5. If these young men had died, would we still study them? God would still be in control, and sometimes His ways are not our ways. I hear a lot about speaking the truth in love. All truth seems loving, but when we speak truth to leaders, it is so natural to speak in a defiant manner. IBLP used to teach about how to draw out our own sinful attitudes before we stand before a leader. Our stand must glorify God, not us. In these 21st century days, we see culture war all around us. Knowing the right answers about an issue is not enough. We have to have the living God in the middle, leading us. Just because we are on the right side, God will not necessarily show up in power. I remember Daniel, the first chapter when Daniel went before an authority and asked permission to go God’s way, proposing that the authority give them a trial, to see if God’s way would not get the authority a better result. Daniel was not defiant. He seems humble. I worry that when we as Christians today protest something, we use the world’s ways instead of God’s. We talk about prayer, but our prayers sound more like a speech to the assembled than a petition before God.

  6. I was going to comment yesterday with this very example from Daniel. These three did not submit to King Nebuchadnezzar. Even Peter did not submit in Acts 3-4 when the Sanhedrin demanded he and John stop teaching in Jesus’ name. Scripture is vast and precious and has to be taken within the whole context. The same “human authority” that commanded masks be worn, also commanded churches to close and worship gatherings to stop. We know that God is bigger than Covid and He will save us… masks and social distancing will not. Respectfully, we will submit to the Lord and continue to live and breathe and have our being in Him. We will remember the Sabbath and not neglect meeting together in corporate worship. This time it is a mask requirement, next time it may be a mark on our hand or forehead. What then?

  7. “What do you see in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? What did Nebuchadnezzar see? ”

    What I see is three faithful, courageous loyal, full of the Grace of God, men standing tall for their God, willing to be sacrificed for their belief. Then I see myself…
    This passage always leaves me uncomfortable, sort of like Isaiah in chapter 6 when he “saw the Lord, hight and lifted up…”And he said, “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips”. I feel so convicted that my little faith will fail when the time comes for me to stand up for what I believe and Who I believe in. I confess that my trust in Jesus is not as firm as I want it to be. Come Holy Spirit and teach me to trust more fully in you, that when or if you call me to stand up, your strength will be perfected in my weakness!

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