Tag Archives: King

Act Like a King

No one actually knows who King Lemuel was.  Some say that he was King of Massa, a northern Arabian nation, but no one knows for sure.  However, what we do know is that his mother (the Queen Mother?) gave him some interesting and good advice.  It is advice that we all can take to heart, especially if we live in a democratic republic, as I do here in the U.S.A.

When people think of Proverbs 31, they tend to think of the “Proverbs 31 woman”.  Not me.  That’s an afterthought.  My thoughts go straight to verses 8 and 9.

“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy,” (ESV).

There are many in our nation–many in the world–who fit this description and we could absolutely exhaust ourselves on causes which often leads to virtue signaling (hey! look at me; I care about this and that and want the entire world to know even though in reality I’m not doing much).  This post isn’t about that at all.  It is however about making sure that we are not ignoring the plight of those who are poor, destitute, or without a voice.

There are more people out there like this than we may realize.  Often I will go on a tangent about something I believe to be an injustice. Abortion is one of those topics, but another is when a parent’s rights over their child, like Alfie Evans, are stripped away. These precious children have no voice, and the voices of Evans’s parents were being ignored. Why not speak up for their rights? I have the ability. I have a voice. I have a Twitter account and Facebook page; why not speak up?

But going beyond this, why not speak up when injustice is based upon race? When racism is known and seen, why would anyone keep their mouths closed? You see, we may not be king, but in the U.S.A. one does not need to be a king, but simply a citizen. Our rule is not based upon a monarchy, but upon the Constitution. That Constitution gives all an equal right to freedom of speech and to keep our statesmen and politicians accountable.  Our voice may be ignored, but that doesn’t dissolve us of the responsibility of speaking up.

It is no secret that the poor and needy are easily trampled upon. People take advantage of them constantly. As Christians we ought to speak up and defend their rights. One usually does not see a city or county declaring eminent domain upon the rich (I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s rare). It tends to happen upon the poor. And it is claimed that it is for the greater good, but it is not for the greater good of the person losing their home.  Casinos do not seem to ever be taken by the government, but little old widows’ home of 50 years are. Should a Christian ignore such a plight? Who’s going to listen to a little old widow? Not very many; but if Christians who believe in justice band together, their voices could and would be heard.

I have been studying Isaiah lately.  And I try to be careful not to equate the nation of Israel with the U.S., however, I do see a connection with the Church. Sadly, we can find that the way of Israel is followed by Christians.  Read carefully the scathing words of God to Israel in the first chapter of Isaiah.  God has just told the people that he abhors their sacrifices and their festivals and will not listen to their prayers.  Why? Because of their lack of care for justice.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
    correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow’s cause.
Isaiah 1:16-17, ESV

Your princes are rebels
    and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
    and runs after gifts.
They do not bring justice to the fatherless,
    and the widow’s cause does not come to them.
Isaiah 1:23, ESV

This was the condition of the city of Jerusalem–Zion!  The people ignored the plight of the poor, the destitute, the orphan, and the widow.  They said nothing and they did nothing.  And God saw their silence as complacency and complicity. Is the Church guilty of the same? I’d say it often is. We tend to “mind our own business,” rather than open our mouths for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute, and judge righteously, defending the rights of the poor and needy.

The Queen Mother wanted to make her son Lemuel a good king–a just king.  She tells him not to get distracted with promiscuous women, not to give himself to drinking and drunkenness, and to act with justice, sticking up for those who cannot stick up for themselves.  Imagine what kind of county and what kind of world we’d live in if Christians would act like this king.

Submit to God

This week, I want to spend four of these days looking at the four points of my sermon on Sunday, and draw it out a bit more than I was able to then.  Today’s blog is on what it means to be submit to God.

The Greek word for submit is hupotasso.  It simply means under (hupo) place (tasso).  We place ourselves under.  So when James wrote that we are to “submit yourselves therefore to God,” we could rightly translate it, “Therefore, place yourselves under God.”  This word is used throughout the New Testament toward various people.  Children are to submit to parents.  Slaves are to submit themselves to their masters, citizens are to submit themselves to government, wives to husbands, and church members to leaders.  It is a military term, though not always used militarily.  Soldiers submit to their generals.  One could use its synonym as well: subject.

There are two writings that help me grasp this concept a bit better.  One is from Scripture and the other is not.  In Second Maccabees 9:12 it is written, “And when he could not endure his own stench, he uttered these words, ‘It is right to be subject to God; mortals should not think that they are equal to God.'”  Here the writer is giving an account of the evil Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  In his last-ditch effort to make Jerusalem a cemetery of Jews, this once great ruler was brought low by God.  He was in such pain, and his flesh began to rot away.  There was such a horrible stench that no one could get near enough to him to carry him away to safety or help.  This is the verse preceding the one just read: “Then it was that, broken in spirit, he began to lose much of his arrogance and to come to his senses under the scourge of God, for he was tortured with pain every moment,” (2 Mac 9:11, italics mine).  Humility and repentance, brought the confession that he was mortal.  Until this time he claimed to be a god.  Now he realized he was mortal and had no right to think he was equal with God, but should submit/subject himself to God.

What a lesson for the Christian to learn!  When we receive Jesus, we become sons of God.  We become slaves to righteousness.  We become citizens of heaven.  We are the bride of Christ.  We are the body of Christ, part of the universal church with Christ as the head.  We are not equal to God.  We are not autonomous, nor are we sovereign.  God is.  To submit ourselves to Him, is to place ourselves under his leadership.

Which brings us to the second passage.  “Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them.  Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live,” (Hebrews 12:9, ESV)?  In this passage, the writer of Hebrews is referring to the discipline of God being painful and difficult.  But it is because he loves us.  But the case that is being made is that we submitted ourselves to our earthly fathers who were flawed and would discipline out of anger at times, and sometimes were too harsh and other times too lenient.  God is just and only disciplines out of love and care.  If we were willing to submit (put ourselves under the authority) to sinful fathers, should we not submit all the more to the perfect Father?

One of the amazing things about Jesus that is so often overlooked, is when He would say things like: “What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me,” (John 12:50, ESV) or “but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father,” (John 14:31, ESV).  That’s submission right there.  Saying and doing what the Father has instructed.  We cannot be like Jesus 100% of the time.  We can, however, grow in our submission.  We can get better at it.  We have gone from being a rebel to a son/daughter, and so our rebelliousness diminishes little by little as submission grows.  The more we willfully go against our rebellious nature (and thus willfully submit), the weaker our rebellious nature gets and the easier submission becomes.  Another way of saying it is that God’s desires become more and more our desires, and the desires of this world–our sinful flesh–become less and less.

God is higher and greater than we are.  He is our King, our General.  We follow Him as soldiers. He gives the marching orders and we march.  He gives the strength and grace and we utilize them.  In such a way, we submit to God and have the power to resist the devil.  The very idea of putting ourselves under God’s authority carries with it the very truth we can resist the devil.  Satan lost all authority over us when we came under God’s authority.  As long as we live by that authority, we have God’s power to resist the devil when he attacks.  Our Father is the one with the weapons to fight and the instructions as to how to rightly fight.  Remember, we have been given complete armor, a way out of every temptation, and a battalion of fellow-believers for reinforcements.  All those are available to us as we submit to God.  So let us submit therefore to God.