sermon: Ecclesiastes Resumed (Part Twenty-Nine)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 01-Aug-15; Sermon #1279; 72 minutes
John Ritenbaugh reflects on two recent news items in which individuals foolishly initiated altercations with police and lost their lives in the process. As a matter of common sense, it seems the height of idiocy to challenge constituted authority. Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 8:17 that we are not privy to God's operations under the sun, but we must nevertheless leave room for God's operations, realizing that He has the prerogative to impose both blessings and calamity, the latter as a response to man's disobedience. God wants us to witness difficulties and the natural consequences of sin. In these difficult times, we need to be mindful that God is carefully watching us. As we yield to God, and apply godly wisdom, analyzing, calculating, observing, etc., our knowledge increases and we add an extra dimension of character as we morph into God's offspring. One of the difficult lessons we must process is that God backs up constituted authority, regardless of the governmental structures that placed it into office. We must realize that whether we are dealing with federal representatives, city council members, the policeman on the beat, our employer, our teachers, or our parents, we owe them the same deference and respect we would give to God. The human family was given by God as the building blocks of all governmental structures. As the beginning of wisdom is fear of Almighty God, we humans learn to fear, giving deference and respect to our parents, and then transfer this deference to civil government and other governmental structures of society. We must continually remember that we are strangers, pilgrims, and sojourners in an alien land. Even if we consider ourselves ambassadors of a heavenly kingdom, our latitude to participate in the governmental structures in this world has been greatly restricted. Nevertheless, we are obligated to render respect, deference, and h
A couple of national news events were broadcast in the past month upon which the subject of Ecclesiastes 8 has direct bearing. If the people involved directly involved in these events had obeyed what the Bible teaches, the events would have ended far differently.
The first involved the young woman in Texas who was stopped by a policeman because she either did not make a signal when making a turn, or she signals wrongly, thus arousing the policeman's attention. So he stopped her and when he approached she very stormily refused to co-operate. He then hauled her off to jail where she continued to constantly bicker and was subsequently jailed. A couple of days later she apparently committed suicide in her cell. The question is: why did she resist? Apparently cameras did not show the patrolman mistreating her.
A second incident occurred in Cincinnati when a university of Cincinnati security guard stopped a man driving through the campus with no front license plate on his automobile, (apparently you have to have one on both ends of the car in Ohio). The security guard stopped him and inquired about it and also asked to see his driver’s license. The man refused and began driving off. The security guard pulled out his service revolver, took one shot, hitting the driver in the head, and killing him. He died at the age of 42, because he would not produce his driver’s license.
Why did he resist? Why did he not just co-operate? Where was the wisdom these people needed at this time?
As we moved into Ecclesiastes 8, I moved all the way to the end of it to verse 17 first because I felt the need to have us armed with a biblical fact that must be a part of our memory bank. After Solomon's strong example to us for gaining wisdom, we must not assume that it is always the answer to every circumstance in life.
Ecclesiastes 8:17 Then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.
This statement does not deflect from any of the preceding wisdom’s value, rather understanding this verse in its context allows us to live our life knowing that we must leave room for God and His operations. In other words we can do everything right and still have great difficulties in our life, as did Jesus and the apostles. This is because God in His purposes may want the difficulties to be witnessed against those who do not believe in Him, or He may desire certain trials to be faced by those involved in bearing them in order to create character or understanding God desires that they have.
Despite using wisdom, difficulties will surely come because there is a God in heaven creating a family in His image. So do not let discouragement overtake you because the chances are high that, despite doing most everything right, unexpected troubles still come anyway. God is working too. Be thankful instead that He is not overlooking you.
Ecclesiastes 8:1 contains a nugget that can be encouraging to say the least.
Ecclesiastes 8:1 Who is like a wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom makes his face shine, and the sternness of his face is changed.
It is a metaphorical way of explaining, as wisdom solves it turns discouragement into encouragement. He is saying it in another way that wisdom is transforming for good. You might remember how God pictures this in Daniel 1, by showing how Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego used wisdom eating only the food that God would approve of and at the end of the experiment they appeared in far better condition than the Babylonian trainees.
In a way this shows what verse 1 means. Their faces, their appearance, bore evidence of wisdom's effect, and God made sure that it was noticed. The difference was that obvious between them and what they had to go through, though it was somewhat difficult and brought them a lot of unwanted attention, the trial must have focused on them.
Ecclesiastes 8:2-4 I say, “Keep the king's commandment for the sake of your oath to God. Do not be hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand for an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him.” Where the word of a king is, there is power; and who may say to him, “What are you doing?”
After telling us how wisdom looks, that is, how the transforming quality appeared, Solomon proceeds to tell us how wisdom acts in a not so very narrow area of life. The principle underlying his instruction here is what is normally called, ‘facing the divine right of kings.’ That title seems on the surface as something we do not have to face. However that assumption is not entirely correct. It is indeed modified somewhat for the Christian but a difficulty with life is the existence of both evil and good, and the Christian must deal with them both in his life's experience, and sometimes he has to deal with them both at the same time.
Some people can find no satisfactory answers to the reality of evil, and the existence of a good God, so they become either agnostic or atheistic. In reality, they are concluding that if there is a good God He would stop the evil. The evil does not stop, therefore he concludes there is no God. So he just eliminates one of the perimeters of this problem. Not wisdom at all.
The Christian does not have that choice. He knows better and therefore he must face the evil. Sometimes the evil turns up in the king, or the person who bears a great deal of authority. It is understanding Ecclesiastes 7:25 that is helpful. It makes clear that mankind sins deliberately and that is the cause of the evil. Each Christian at least has one insight into where the evil comes from. The unconverted person probably does not have that at all.
I once heard a story of a Christian being asked, why does God not stop the evil? Why does God not stop wars? The Christian man’s answer was, because He did not start them. That is not a complete answer but it is at least a fair start. Ecclesiastes 8 does not answer it either. I believe the best way to get the most out of chapter 8 is to know that Solomon wrote it regarding how he perceived events in his life and times. That is all he had to go with, what he could see in his area of life.
God made sure that what he wrote down, what he taught was true, although it is timed for his period. But it applies to us as well. All we have to do is make a few transitions interpreting what he said. The subjects that he teaches on in these next two paragraphs in chapter 8 all exist in our day and age, but sometimes how they apply is vague. The subjects that he touches on but does not directly name are these: authority, disobedience, desertion, defiance, discernment, inequity, and mystery. You will find none of those words specifically but they are all there within the context when we update into modern times what he was talking about.
We are dealing with something that has to be somewhat interpreted and updated. Before we go into this full bore I will first remind us of something pertaining to wisdom. Wisdom has a foundation, it has a beginning point, and that beginning point is knowledge. If we have no knowledge in some area we do not have any wisdom about it at all.
The beginning point is knowledge, knowledge that is analyzed and evaluated correctly as it pertains to a given situation. So often times, one answer—or one way—does not cover everything.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Gaining knowledge is something that is a lifelong pursuit for a Christian. It is not that we have to be burning the midnight oil all of the time, but we are always seeking to better understand our knowledge and therefore our grasp upon situations, circumstances, as they arise in our life. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
The hearing puts knowledge into our mind, and faith arises from hearing the Word of God, and as we hear, knowledge increases, specifically in regard to faith. It is knowledge of God and His way of life.
The help that we receive when we begin to put these together is understanding that wisdom is obtained through a process. In other words, it is something that must be built. This is why Solomon, in the previous chapter, stressed so much how hard he had to work at seeking knowledge. He had to think about them, he had to analyze them, he added, subtracted, as we saw all through that, and all the while he was analyzing in order to come to understanding the kind of circumstances that he found himself involved in. Then he had the equipment to begin to make a wise decision.
God did not just pour wisdom into the top of his head, He made Solomon work at it. Solomon wrote it down so that we would understand that he too went through the process of accumulating wisdom. He had to work at.
I gave you two parts of a solution here. The third part is this: we mentioned the fear of the Lord. Psalms 34, a psalm of David, tells us that the fear of the Lord, like knowledge, must be learned. We do not possess it by nature and from these three truths a formula arises that goes something like this for dealing with some of lives problems. Faith in God and His Word, which is believed, knowledge plus the fear of the God, provides a wisdom that is the solution to most of the spiritual problems that arise in life regardless of the age that one lives in.
This is why faith in God and the fear of God must be part of our wisdom solution. If we just turn aside from the knowledge of God we are not going to come up with the wisdom of God. It is the first step in building a process by which wisdom is the end result.
For us the most important area is dealing wisely in our relationship with God. We accomplish this by submitting to His counsel. Bluntly, in practice this means obeying God's counsel, and this wisdom, when you do that, it is because you already have a respect for God, a fear of God, some knowledge of God, otherwise you will not do it by nature. So it is beginning to build within us.
Knowledge of what we are going to be dealing with is becoming more needful as time moves on. The overall subject we are dealing with here is authority. The wise person is he who has a true spiritual knowledge and who makes that knowledge the guide of his life. That is wisdom. The world does not do that. They may do it in business, but they do not do it in relation to God.
One of the reasons this particular slice of knowledge is growing in importance is because the government on all levels is becoming evermore intrusive in our life. We will reason to see where we stand. We want to make certain that our guidance is based in the knowledge of God.
In Daniel 1:9-10 Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taken as captives to Babylon, but then God opened up a way for them to become trainees in a choice position.
Daniel 1:8-10 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king”
The first thing I want you to notice is pretty obvious. Without doubt Daniel and the other three, used faith in God and His Word, and the fear of God, as the basis of their actions. They were taking the knowledge of God, their relationship with God, and because they feared God, they took a wise step although on the surface it looked like it was going to endanger their reputation and the kind of position they had been blessed with.
The next thing I want you to notice is the concern expressed by the chief of the eunuchs. There is no doubt that the chief of the eunuchs feared what he was about to have to tell Nebuchadnezzar. Why? Because he might lose his life, or maybe at the least his job.
Daniel 2:4 Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, “O' king live forever! Tell your servants the dream and we will give the interpretation.” But the king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut into pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap.”
He gave them something that, without the help of God, was something they absolutely had no way of answering correctly. This is why the eunuch reacted the way he did before Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He knew he had to face a king with absolute authority. The king had a mercurial temperament and the eunuch was afraid for his life.
Daniel 2:6-9 “However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and the interpretation.” They answered again and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will give its interpretation.” The king answered and said, “I know for certain that you would gain time, because you see that my decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, there is only one decree for you! For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the time has changed. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.”
I think that you agree that we do not have to face that kind of situation, at least up until this time, anywhere in our life, anywhere in our employment, a club we might be in, or fraternity. Nothing will reach that height of absolute authority that the king demanded of those men, because these men wanted to have the right to be in the close presence of the power and authority on the throne. But to be given that was dangerous, to say the least.
I go into this because I want you to understand the kind of situation that Solomon lived in. The kind of situation that he personally operated. He had that kind of authority. How much he used it I do not know. I do know that he put Joab to death, just like that. He might have done it on the testimony of his father David, but just that quick—there was no trial, there was no appeal, there were no lawyers involved—Solomon said to Benaniah, put him to death. Joab ran to the Temple and grabbed hold of the horns on the altar, but he died anyway, because Solomon had spoken.
We can get a picture that at least under certain circumstances Solomon had that kind of authority, but in most cases that was not the way it was in Israel. They had a system that was not too different from what we had in the United States before it became so corrupt.
In Ecclesiastes 8, Solomon is directly addressing wisdom during a time in mankind's history when kings often did have absolute life-and-death authority. Today in western nations the governments are representative in form and that greatly limits the circumstances shown in Daniel.
Romans 13:1-7 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore, you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due; taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
I think that we can title Solomon's approach in Ecclesiastes 8, when combined with this New Testament instruction, as being that the spiritually wise person must clearly recognize his God-assigned duties toward constituted authorities. This is part of our knowledge of God, the key factor for the Christian is God's involvement. We will first clarify ‘constituted authority.’ This is a term I use, what I used it on was correct. Those who are in authority in this chapter are constituted authority.
Do we owe respectful deference only to those we consider constituted authority? Another way of putting that is, is my definition of constituted authority the same as God's? Please turn to Exodus 20, this is the Ten Commandments.
Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
Is that not saying that everybody who is a child must honor his father and mother? Turn to Deuteronomy 21. Exodus was given about forty years before what we see here in Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 21:18-20 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil person from among you, and all of Israel shall hear and fear.”
We will go back to Exodus 20:12 in thought. To honor is to give high respect to, it means to defer to, in most cases in that context it means to obey. Right in the commandments we are to defer to, give honor to our parents. Would you begin to say that they are a constituted authority over the children? The Deuteronomy law describes an extreme instance of stubborn rebelliousness, which in the face of the commandment in Exodus 20, is not showing honor, so the death penalty could be passed simply by not deferring to a parent.
There is no example of this penalty literally being carried out in the Bible. The law though, the very fact that it is there, does help clarify what God sees as constituted authority within the home. That is not taken away.
Parents are constituted authority in that sense, the same as the king. Who put the king in office? God did, and the parents, who put them in that office? God did, and in both cases it was God that established them as constituted authority.
This gets interesting because we live in a day and age in which humanists are constantly, bit by bit, through government department regulations, judicial decisions by judges in the courts, and sometimes by means of outright enacted laws, diminishing parental authority and transforming that authority to humanistic state governments. Thus the child learns this information rather than a proper balance of truth regarding deference. This is significant to what is happening in this nation because God intends that it is the family that we should learn fundamental practices of proper respect that contributes to good community life.
In my commentaries I mentioned to you that Rousseau, for example, advocated behavioral systems that destroy this family cohesion and gradually moves people apart from one another, making each person a stand alone entity who answers only to himself. We saw this amplified in this commentary today regarding Bentham who said, “If it feels good to you, do it.” What if what you do does not feel good to the person who is next to you? That is what is happening and that is why this culture that we are living in is being torn apart by children who do not know any better.
Those children become millennials, they become young adults, and the young adults become parents themselves, and all the while along the way we are creating chaos, because the deference is not taught—God's way of life—within the home. The means that those philosophers teach, in small increments, build pride into the child so that he tends toward overvaluing his importance. And rather than seeing himself as merely a tiny part of the whole, he is moved toward thinking of himself as the one around who all is circulating, as various degrees of narcissism are developed. We are in a rat trap in terms of child discipline, because parents are not looked to as the authority in the home.
We will go back to the New Testament. We will expand on this thing about constituted authority out and see that it is something that is far more required of us than maybe we would tend to think. Please turn to Ephesians 6 where God makes this very clear.
Ephesians 6:5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart. . .
In regard to deference and attitude toward one another, we are dealing here with employee-employer interaction and as we can begin to see the respectful attitudes and conduct according to God should flow in both directions.
Ephesians 6:6-9 . . . as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
In verse 6, make sure that we grasp that God is concerned about the sincerity of the deference we give as well as it implications. In verse 7, it is important showing the same principle we find in Romans 13. We owe the attitude as though it is given to God Himself. That is a tremendously high standard.
We are dealing with authority all over the place. It is not just in the courts, it is at home, it is on the job, it is at school, and as we are beginning to see, God expects that we give deference to, honor to, all that we meet whether they appear in power or down below us. God expects us to give them deference because in God's eyes they are fellow human beings, they are a child that He has created in some way. Because of Him we owe them deference.
God is involved in our life, not just through the king but the people that we work for, the people we interact with on the job, even our friends.
Verses 8 and 9: acting the way God instructs us is glorification of Him. He promises us a blessing for rendering this glorification of God in His ways, in these heartfelt actions. He does not say when the blessing will be given. Some commentaries feel that this blessing will not be given until we are in the resurrection and God will remember the way we treated others with kindness and deference, and that will glorify Him. Anytime our children do something good, meaningful, and upright, we are pleased. That is the way God is too, because they are glorifying you and the teaching and training that you are giving them. God feels the same way with us.
God desires that mankind live under constituted authority from birth. Why would He want that? When we put Ecclesiastes 3 together with Romans 13, and the kind of things that we are reading in other portions of the Bible, there is a reason. Not only does it glorify God, I think that it is partly because that is the very sin that spun off Satan's pride, that tripped him up, and we have to pass that test. He was so arrogant toward God Himself that he did not respectfully submit to Him. Instead he went to war with Him, and we see interaction between those two as to what He is eventually going to carry out with Satan. He is going to put him to death! That is what He says in Deuteronomy 21.
Matthew 17:24-27 And when they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes” and when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their own sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.
That person was a person of constituted authority, the one taking the tax, and Jesus was concerned that you did not offend that person.
Matthew 18:4-7 “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!”
This was in a relationship regarding brethren in God's church. This word ‘offenses’ is a little bit more powerful than just somebody having their feelings upset. This will happen from time to time even though wisdom is used in revealing something to someone or maybe even gently correcting some. But this is an offense that is strong enough to create something that causes the person to stumble. In other words to sin. The root word that is translated offense is the same word as we get our English word scandalize. Scandalize in Greek means to cause or to place a stumbling block before someone.
In Matthew 18, it is not just a mere feeling a little bit bad because somebody was corrected, but the offense was strong enough to cause the person to stumble.
We can summarize at this point that God, through places like Ecclesiastes 8, Romans 13, and Ephesians 6 (and other places as well), made the need for respect clear in our daily interactions in life. In things regarding government, that is also very clear, and it is God Himself who introduced this very early in His relationship with the Israelites. He actually began doing it right when they were making the covenant in Exodus 20-23. God made the covenant with Israel and God became Israel's king.
The formation of government did not end with Him becoming King, He also appointed human rulers between the Israelites and Himself, so that they would have an opportunity to deal with government from the bottom up, and something that they could do on a daily basis. He appointed human rulers in Exodus 18 even before He literally became their King by making the covenant with them.
Romans 13:2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
Here in verses 1-7 we have a labeled ordinance of God. An ordinance is a written law showing us God's will. Combining Romans 13 with Exodus 18:20, it makes it clear that God is the author of civil government, but as we will see not necessarily either the form or the quality of that government.
The existence of these rules, as in Romans 13, lets us know that God has in no way backed away from being the Sovereign over the church of God, or from being Sovereign over all of the kingdoms of the earth as well. We are in a peculiar position in relation to Romans 13, because as His children, we are witnesses of Him, and at the same time citizens of His Kingdom, but we are aliens in a land that is no longer ours. Romans 13:1-7 and Ecclesiastes 8, still applies to us in spades.
The reality is, we are pilgrims just passing on through. God made this clear even to the Israelites. We will look at some of those so that we kind of understand our position a little bit clearer. We all believe that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, but God began to make sure that the Israelites understood that there were limits regarding what they were living in there in their time.
Deuteronomy 2:3-5 You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward. And command the people saying, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brethren, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. Therefore watch yourselves carefully. Do not meddle with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as one footstep, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession.
I read this specifically because I want you to see that there were limits to what the Israelites were permitted to do, even as they approached the Promised Land. God drew lines that they had to respect in regard to them and others.
Deuteronomy 2:9 “Then the Lord said to me, do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.”
They were not just free wheeling wherever they went. God as their King was establishing things that they could and could not do. The same principle is true with us. We are living in a land that is no longer literally ours, in the sense of our citizenship. Our citizenship is in the Kingdom of heaven and our citizenship forbids us from doing anything but as visitors and pilgrims in the land that we were born in.
We are not to participate in their governments, that is denied us, even though we may have the wisdom to do the right thing, even though we may have the righteousness and that we will really live it. We live it only unto God, and those to whom He wants us to witness to as we pass through.
He does tell us very clearly that if we go before constituted authorities we have to treat them as if we were treating God. That is an awfully high standard! It is this way because for us He is always in the picture. This completely agrees with Solomon in Ecclesiastes, where so many times he has said, do not leave God out of the picture.
He wants us to represent Him in the best possible way. He is the Supreme Sovereign over His creation, and just as He did in Exodus 18, He has appointed human beings under Himself to deal with humanity on a daily basis.
I mentioned Romans 13:2 says that this is an ordinance of God, and I want to pick that up more accurately so I do not mess this up.
Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities, For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
That clearly makes God a part and parcel of every government that we come in contact with regardless of where it is on earth. This extends all the way from Satan to everyone that he has put into office, where he has been given the permission by God. Even Satan as the god of this world is assigned by God to that responsibility.
John 12:31 and John 14:30 confirm that regarding Satan. But I want us to look at John 19, because it is something that might be a surprise to some people regarding appointments by God.
John 19:11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power of all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
Even Pilate was appointed to that responsibility that he had. The human authority, though unconverted and not citizens of His Kingdom, are an extension of God's personal rulership.
Why? Because He appointed them to serve Him and us. This does not mean that He literally appointed each and every one of them personally. In Exodus 18, we will look at the appointment of those people who became part of the civil government of Israel. This occurred even before the covenant was made.
Exodus 18:18-26 “Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.” So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people: rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. So they judged the people at all times, the hard cases they brought to Moses, but they judged every small case themselves.
What I wanted you to see there is there is no indication that God chose even one of those people. According to the context there, Moses simply appointed them. I will show you an expansion on this very thing but it does not occur until Deuteronomy 1 where we get a little bit clearer explanation.
Deuteronomy 1:9-12 “And I spoke to you at that time, saying; ‘I alone am not able to bear you. The Lord your God has multiplied you, and here you are today, as the stars of heaven in multitude. May the Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times more numerous than you are, and bless you as He has promised you. How can I alone bear your problems and your burdens and your complaints?’”
Who is speaking here? Moses is speaking to the Israelites, watch what Moses does.
Deuteronomy 1:13-15 ‘Choose wise, understanding and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you.’ And you answered me and said, ‘The thing which you have told us to do is good.’ “So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and knowledgeable men, and made them heads over you, leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens, and officers for your tribes.”
Do you see what that says there? The Israelites elected their own leaders That was a republic in the making, it is almost like a democracy. In neither case did God object to the people’s request that these people be our leaders between us and you, He just accepted them. That is why I said earlier that God does not necessarily appoint everybody that is in office. He does pass on them, that is different. As the ruler over all, He is sovereign and He has ultimately the responsibility.
We can see here that there is a pretty good chance that He is going to give these people a chance to do right, even though it not a government of His. He did not appoint it, He even allows the people to have a part in saying who will be their leaders.
Once He accepts them, they are now constituted authority. They may have been good old Joe my next door neighbor, but now he is a councilman, a senator, a representative, a policeman, school principal. I have to respect him, and that is good. Deference is due to these people and that is the lesson for this day.