Posts Tagged ‘Nebuchanezzar’


VATICAN CITY, Oct 24 (Reuters) – – Pope Benedict called on Monday for sweeping reforms of the world economy and the creation of a ethical, global authority to regulate financial markets as demonstrations against corporate greed continued to spring up in major cities across the globe.

Caritas in Veritate,” or “Charity in Truth,” is Benedict’s third encyclical since he became pope in 2005. He said the financial downturn had revealed behaviours like “selfishness, collective greed and hoarding of goods on a great scale,” adding that world economics needed an “ethic of solidarity” among rich and poor nations.

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday Oct 26th 2011 called for a radical rethinking of the global economy, criticizing a growing divide between rich and poor and urging the establishment of a “true world political authority” to oversee the economy and work for the “common good.”

The Vatican called for the establishment of “a supranational authority” and a “true world political authority” with worldwide scope and “universal jurisdiction” to guide economic policies and decisions and work for the common good.

Such an authority should start with the United Nations as its reference point but later become independent and be endowed with the power to see to it that developed countries were not allowed to wield “excessive power over the weaker countries”.

This startling announcement brought back to my mind teaching I heard in the late 60’s that the Pope was the Antichrist. Then I started thinking “ What if this idea gets traction, and the Pope succeeds in getting the world leaders together to put this plan into action. Then some of what is written in the Book of Revelations would make perfect sense.

Revelation 13:17 (ESV) so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.

How easy would this be if we have only one world bank and money?

Then what happens in Revelations 18 would make sense as well:

Revelation 18:1-3 (ESV) After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Many teach that the Antichrist will come from ‘Babylon’. Revelation 17 says he will carry Babylon, but then he will carry out its destruction.

I can see the world’s financial collapse leading to such a plan as the Pope is proposing. One of the great supporters of it will be the Antichrist. But after the plan is in place and he comes to power, he will turn on the religious power of Babylon, destroying it (Rev 17) and then turn on the political power of Babylon (Rev 18). This is because all power will belong to him!

So much for conjecture…

Regardless of who or what Babylon is, it plays a prominent role in the events of the Revelation of the end times.  This brings me to the deeper issue…

I.   What Does Babylon Represent in Scripture?

To understand Babylon, we need to go way back, to the time just after the Great Flood. As we examine Babylon’s place in history, we will find that it represents the Best that Man can do and be. Babylon is man exalting himself to God, and even above God.

Babylon represents man’s efforts to replace God with himself!

A. The First Sin of Babylon

The First Corporate Sin that Manifested itself after the Flood took place on the planes of Shinar, the sight of Babylon. Here a mighty ruler named Nimrod built a tower that reached to the heavens.

Genesis 10:8-10 (NIV) Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar.

The Sin of Nimrod and his subjects was seeking to Minimize God’s place in their lives.

  • They were seeking to exalt themselves above God.
  • They were seeking to take God out of their lives. They were also seeking a guarantee that God could never destroy them by a flood again. They would simply go into their ‘tower’ of escape!

Genesis 11:4 (ESV) Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

Babylon represents Man’s efforts to MINIMIZE God. They wanted a God whom they could control. The attitudes revealed in their actions indicate how they sought to accomplish this.

What we glory in reveals the god(s) of our lives.

  1. Glory in Splendor – a beautiful city
  2. Glory in Status – the tower that reached to the heavens
  3. Glory in Success – make a name for ourselves

Man wanted to make a name for himself, through the work of his hands. He wanted recognition for what he could accomplish. So man built a tower on the plains of Shinar, at Babylon. The very first place in the post-flood world that man exalted himself above God was at Babylon. Indeed Babylon became a symbol for the greatness of man!

In his book, Structures or why things don’t fall down (Pelican 1978–1984), Professor J.E. Gordon considers the height of the Tower of Babel. He wrote, ‘brick and stone weigh about 120 lb per cubic foot (2,000 kg per cubic metre) and the crushing strength of these materials is generally rather better than 6,000 lbs per square inch or 40 megapascals. Elementary arithmetic shows that a tower with parallel walls could have been built to a height of 2.1 km (1.3 mi) before the bricks at the bottom were crushed. However by making the walls taper towards the top they … could well have been built to a height where the men of Shinar would run short of oxygen and had difficulty in breathing before the brick walls crushed beneath their own dead weight.”[1]

This desire to rob God of His glory is so entrenched in mankind, that no matter what God does to mankind in the tribulation, mankind will curse God and refuse to repent and give Him glory!

Revelation 16:8-9 (ESV) The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

Indeed, Psalms 2 reveals this intrinsic attitude toward God in the heart of man:

Psalms 2:1-4 (NIV) Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.

God had the last laugh:

Genesis 11:6 (ESV) And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

Where Does Man Get this desire to rob glory from God?

SATAN

What man was saying was eerily similar to something Satan (Lucifer) had said centuries before:

Isaiah 14:13-14 (ESV) You said in your heart,

  • ‘I will ascend to heaven;
  • above the stars of God I will set my throne on high;
  • I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;
  • I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
  • I will make myself like the Most High.’

We all know what happened to Lucifer: Luke 10:18 (ESV) And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”.

B. The First Sin of the Promised Land

The first Sin that spoiled the Promised Land for the Jews was the pride of wearing a Babylonian Garment.

Joshua 7:21 (KJV) When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

Achan just had to have that babylonian garment…

Joshua had warned the people

Joshua 6:17-19 (ESV) And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”

Jericho, an evil city, full of evil inhabitants, so evil that Lindey Lohan could have been a priestess, was dedicated to God for destruction. It was so evil that everyone in it was to be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah. The silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron was to be given to the treasury of God.

Achan cheered at Joshua’s decree. Yeah! Everything is wicked! We’ll destroy it all!

But there he was, checking out the spoil of one of his victims, and his eye was attracted to this snazzy Babylonian garment. The material was so soft, the design was so intricate. The beading and jewels adorning the garment took your breath away. This garment took a year to sew.  He had seen something almost as nice in the latest issue of Babylonia Today! If his friends would see him wearing such a garment, they would be so jealous! He could go anywhere in the Kingdom wearing such a garment. It was fit for a King!

Actually, that garment was fit for destruction. It represented Man’s Pride in his accomplishments, accomplishments made apart from God!

Achan was seduced and brought trouble upon Israel:  “then I coveted them and took them”.

The life of Achan ended in a heap of stones.

Joshua 7:25-26 (ESV) And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.

C. The First Sin of the Church

Acts 5:1-4 (NIV) Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Ananias, in lying to the church, embraced all the sins of Babylon. He wanted the splendor that the money could by him. He wanted to status of appearing to be such a giving saint. He wanted to appear successful in the eyes of the church and his friends. Satan filled his heart with the spirit of Babylon. Ananias tried to minimize God, and exalt himself. God had the last laugh once again.

D. What is the Danger of Babylon?

  • Nimrod built one tall building
  • Achan took one fancy robe
  • Ananias told one little lie

Yet their small act of sin represented a danger to what God wanted to accomplish.

  • Nimrod looked at the Tower of Babel reaching to the sky and said, wow, look what we did!
    • God saw the Tower and changed the course of Mankind!
  • Achan looked at the Shiny Robe and said, Wow wouldn’t I look like somebody in the Robe?
    • God saw the robe hidden in his tent and changed the course of Achan’s life! (In a dramatic fiery heap of stones!)
  • Ananias told a partial truth but still gave the church a lot of money
    • God saw his heart and startled the church

What is so dangerous about Babylon? What dangers was God wanting to protect His people from?

The Best Way to understand the danger of Babylon is to understand what the Babylonian Garment represented. This garment pictures Babylon far better than the silver or gold that Achan also took. That is why it was mentioned.

This Babylonian Garment represents Three Things that are a Danger to our love for God. They are seemingly innocent things, things that we all need and appreciate and even desire. But the Seduction of these three things will work their way into our lives until they minimize our need for God.

The Babylonian Garment Represents:

1. Splendor

We all appreciate beauty. We are drawn to it. Whether it is a car, a woman, even a horse, we love beautiful things. Advertisements shout this loud and clear. Television shows, even reality TV shows, shout this. Women (and men) spend billions of dollars to make themselves beautiful. Architects design buildings, even stadiums, to display the splendor and beauty of their imagination.

King Ahasuerus, reigned from India to Ethiopia, and in the third year of his reign, he gave a feast for all of his officials and servants and nobles and governors that lasted 180 days. All the days of the feast he displayed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness.

We love to display our splendor and glory-whether in our clothes, our car, our home, our possessions.

America is a land of BLING! We even do it with teeth fillings, piercings and tattoos! We trick out our trucks, our cars, our motorcycles, we wear our jewelry and accessorize!

a) Even Satan was all about BLING!

According to Ezekiel 28:13, a probable reference to Lucifer, we learn that he is an amazing being to behold: “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created”.

Splendor is seductive. It lured Lucifer into rebellion. It lured David into deep sin. It lured the wisest man on the earth into committing unspeakable acts against his God, whose very wisdom he possessed.

b) Nebuchadnezzar:

Daniel 4:29-30 (NIV) … as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

God Had the Last Word. Immediately a voice came from heaven:

Daniel 4:31-32 (NIV) “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

c) Israel:

Hosea 2:11-13 I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days –all her appointed feasts. I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers; I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them. I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,” declares the LORD.

God and Splendor

1. Inner beauty and splendor matters to God

    • 1Pet. 3:1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.

2. God Looks on the Heart

    • 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

3. God Must be our Splendor

    • Psalms 96:9 (ESV) Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
    • Psalms 104:1 (ESV) Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
    • Psalms 111:3 (ESV) Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.

4. We are to make Known His Splendor to our Children

    • Psalms 145:12 (ESV) to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

5. In the End Times, Men will seek to hide from the splendor of God!

    • Isaiah 2:19 (ESV) And people shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.

6. The Splendor of Babylon will be no more

    • Isaiah 13:19 (ESV) And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.

7. The Church will be presented to Christ in Splendor

    • Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

2. Status

Tradition has it that this robe was a priestly robe, used in worship to the Canaanite gods. This robe not only was beautiful, it represented power. It represented standing. It represented status.

Whoever wore this robe was always on the “A-List” party invitations. This robe granted its wearer access to the power people of Jericho and Canaan. The wearer was somebody. Nobody messed with whoever wore this robe. If they did, they found themselves being sacrificed to Baal!

Status is very important in our world.

  • Satan began it all by saying “I will be as the most high”. He wanted the status of God himself.
  • Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit because they wanted to be like gods.
  • Lot chose the well watered plains of Sodom and Gomorrah, and instead of hating the sin, he became enmeshed in it, even becoming a man of ‘status’ a judge at the gate.
  • Judas followed Jesus for the status he thought it would bring him. When it became apparent that Jesus was not going to become King, he set out to betray the Son of God!
  • Aaron and the Levites set out to worship God in the Tabernacle. But by the time of Christ, the High Priest had become a perverted, corrupt institution motivated by power and status.
  • Ministry today is often corrupted by a pursuit of ratings and donations and status. Pastors focus their efforts on the Four “B’s” – Building Size, Budget Size, Number of Baptisms, and Number of Bodies. Spiritual growth and Character growth are not emphasized, because they do not build the churches ‘status’ as far as the world is concerned.

Focus upon STATUS is PRIDE!

There is no room for Pride in God’s Kingdom: Mark 9:35 (ESV) And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

3. Success

Nothing says success like Excess. Or a Rolex, Cadillac, or ___________.  You name it, we’ll wear it or drive it as long as it makes us look successful!

I can just see Achan trying on that shiny robe. Oooh he felt so good. He couldn’t wait to be seen wearing it. Everyone would be jealous of his apparent success!

Daniel 4:4 (ESV) I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace.

Look at America. We are swimming in debt, but we still consume and charge and buy our way into success. Just a few months ago the politicians were encouraging us to consume more to get this economy going.

We trade our souls for stuff. Stuff to show our success. Stuff to make us feel secure at night. Possessions, Money, those are things we can rely on. Our future is secure if we have money. We don’t have to worry about growing old, or caring for our loved ones, if we have money in the bank.

Man’s Success is Failure before God

Mark 8:34-36 (ESV) And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

Revelation 3:17 (ESV) For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

 This is God’s Plan for Success:

Joshua 1:8 (ESV) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

E.The Splendor of Babylon Will Vanish

  • Revelation 18:10 (KJV) Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
  • Revelation 18:14 (NLT) “The fancy things you loved so much are gone,” they cry. “All your luxuries and splendor are gone forever, never to be yours again.”

When Babylon Falls, there will be the greatest Hallelujah ever!

Revelation 19:1-3 (ESV) After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

F. The Solution for A Heart Infected with Babylon

Joshua 7:19 (ESV) Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

To counter the effects of the Babylonian Garment, Joshua told Achan to give glory to the Lord God!

When we do what we want, when we go our own way, when we place our confidence in splendor, status and success, we are robbing God of His Glory. God wants His people to give all praise and glory to Him. Everything in our live depends upon God!

We are Losing a Generation of Young People because we are wearing Babylonian Garments

The Millennial Generation or Generation Y consists of young adults born after 1980. The latest research from Barna indicates that this generation is growing up without a Biblical Foundation of Jesus Christ. Only 15% of Millennials profess faith in Jesus Christ. Yet their parents, the Baby Boomers, profess a 65% Christianity.

What happened?

The Garment of Babylon is what happened. We have put on our Sunday Faces and Clothes at Church, but throughout the week we wear our Babylonian Garment. We pursue our splendor, our status and our success.

We embrace the spirit of Babylon in our homes and work. We display a MINIMAL DEPENDENCE upon God in our homes, our work and our lives.

Jude 1:11 (ESV) Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.

We have danced with Cain, we have partied with Balaam and we have colluded with Korah. And so Babylon has infected the hearts of our families and children.

  • Cain wanted to seek the God in his own way. He thought his splendor was good enough.
  • Balaam was divided between pleasing God and having the status of the King’s Prophet. So he corrupted the message of God, and gained the status of the King, but lost his soul to the ways of Babylon.
  • Korah wanted to make his own success, apart from Noah and God. He had enough of Moses, and told him, everyone is holy enough. He wanted to go his own way and be successful apart from Moses and God.

We have two choices…

Allow Babylon to Steal our Love for God or

Give Glory to God in everything,  Seek His Glory through Everything and most importantly, allow our lives to display His Glory to those around us!

We Can Live Hallelujah Lives or Crying Lives!

  • The World cried at the downfall of Babylon. It had become their life!
  • Those Saints in Heaven Shouted Hallelujah!

Revelation 19:1 (ESV) After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

When we seek satisfaction in the Splendor, Status and Success of this world, we will end up miserable, dissatisfied, on medication for depression.

Or you will come to the Salvation that only Jesus Christ offers, accept the misery of sin, and fall into the Love and Hope that Jesus Christ alone offers.

When Jesus Christ becomes your Savior, then God can say to you:

Jim, you are the most wretched and hopeless man, and in yourself you will never be anything else. But I have looked upon you through your faith in My Son as though you never sinned at all. I chose to see you in my Son by your faith!

Glory! God alone is worthy of Glory! My Joy, my happiness, my accomplishments are all in Him!

What Does that Babylonian Garment offer me that could even compare? It is temporary, it is fading, it will be soon eaten or destroyed or lost!

We need to embrace Christ with our children. We need to quit putting emphasis on the Babylonian Lifestyle of self effort and success, and focus on the splendor, the standing and the success that come from putting on the Lord Jesus Christ!

Isaiah 43:7 says we are created for God’s Glory! Isaiah 48:9 says God will not give His glory to another.

So God did not create us so that He would become more glorious, for His beauty and perfection are complete. He is already Glory defined. God cannot become more God by making something that is not God.

No, God created us to display His Glory! This world is to KNOW God’s Glory by our lives! We are not to seek our own glory through splendor, status or success. No, in all our lives we are to display God’s glory to the world, not our own glory!

Babylon is man-centeredness. It can be in our churches, our worship, our work, our families, our lives.

God will give His glory to no one. We cannot make God more glorious by accumulating stuff and bringing it to Him. But we can bring our lives and all we have to HIM and ask Him to use it to bring glory to Him.

Never hold on to stuff if it starts to become more important than God or worshipping Him! We are to display God’s Glory to the world with all our lives, with all our being, with all our STUFF!

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slide1One problem has caused more people to stumble in their walk with God than any other situation I know. We encounter harsh and cruel authorities at various times in our lives. How should we react to cruel and harsh authorities when they mistreat us or abuse their authority? Most people ask the question this way: Why Should I honor an authority that I don’t respect and even dislike?

The attitude of dishonor runs deep within our American Society. We believe it is our right to speak out against those we do not like, think are wrong, or disagree with us. I was in the lunch line with my mentor student last Tuesday. The lunch ladies had the Presidential Inauguration playing on a radio. President Obama was giving his acceptance speech. I overheard a fifth grade girl say “I don’t like him”. The boy behind her said “I wish he wasn’t our President”. I immediately turned to them and said, but he is our President. We need to honor him and the office that he represents. The girl said, but he’s not a good man, my dad didn’t want him to be President. I said “that doesn’t matter, he is our President, and it is our duty to honor and pray for him” The kids kind of had a shocked look on their face and then changed the subject.

I challenge you to live this next week and not hear one instance of dishonor. I can guarantee that you will hear someone say something negative about a politician, a bank official, a boss, a spouse, a teacher, someone. Dishonor is rampant in America.

As I look at the question of Honoring Cruel and Evil authorities, I want to relate a true story, as told in 2 Kings 6. As I tell the story I will draw out few points which will form the foundation of the answer to our question.

The Sunken Axe Head

pick-the-axe-head-up2 Kings 6 opens with a group of young prophets coming to Elisha. They have been meeting with Elisha, but there are so many young prophets, they have outgrown the meeting place. So they suggest building a bigger place. Elisha being a man of few words says one word: “yalak” which means Go. But they want him to come and upon asking Elisha to come he says “yalak”. One way means you go, and another way means I go. So they go to the Jordan and start cutting down trees. All of a sudden one guy is chopping real hard when his axe head flies off and sinks to the bottom of the muddy Jordan River. He starts crying out: “What am I going to do? I borrowed that axe”. Elisha goes over and cuts off a branch and throws the stick in the river where the axe fell. All of a sudden the axe head floats to the surface and floats over to the guy who lost it. Elisha tells him to pick it up. He picks it up and goes about chopping the wood.

You say “That’s a cool story” but what does it have to say about cruel authorities?

1. This world is under a curse.

That curse is sin. That curse resulted from our disobedience to the one True Authority. God was good and kind and man still rebelled. We became cursed because of sin. We are condemned to sink under the weight of our sins. We are all hopelessly drowning, whether you are a boss, a King, a President, a father, a mother, whatever authority you may have, you are condemned to drown in your own sins, condemned to eternal separation from Holy God in a literal burning fire of Hell.

2. Jesus Came to Reverse the Curse

Elisha took a stick and put it in the water at the exact spot that the axe head had sunk. Jesus died at the precise time and place needed to satisfy God’s demands of payment for our sin. What Jesus did was exactly what was needed to REVERSE THE CURSE

Jesus Christ, God’s son, holy, without sin, came to this world to REVERSE THE CURSE. He died upon the cruel stick of the cross of crucifixion. When Elisha took that stick and through it into the River of Death (which the Jordan symbolizes) he was painting the picture that the Cross of Jesus reversed the curse. Our sins have been forgiven and we rise above the curse. We are free. God is actively at work in this world reversing the curse upon man. That curse affects our leaders, our authorities, our husbands, our wives. The only way to reverse that curse is by Jesus.

3. We’ve Got to Honor God’s Word

Elisha said “Pick it up”. The man had to honor the commands of Elisha to reverse the curse and get the axe head. Christ may have won the victory but you have to pick it up! When we honor God, when we honor God’s structure of authority, when we let the reality of the Cross live in our daily lives, our daily inter-reactions with those around us, we have amazing power to reverse the curse!

King of Syria Seeks Elisha

Look at the next happening: in Verse 8 we read about the King of Syria and how he was trying to capture and kill the King of Israel. He heard the King might be over at the Wal-Mart in Raymore and he sent his troops over there, but he had already left. Then they heard he was going to be at the Home Depot in Belton, but by the time they got there, he had already left. Then they knew he was going to go to the ground breaking ceremony of anew manufacturing company. So they waited along the route he would have to take, but lo and behold he took another out of the way route.

So the King of Syria gathered his top men and said “Which one of you is the traitor?” Who is telling the King of Israel about my plans? But a servant stepped forward and said; No one is my Lord, for there is a prophet Elisha who tells the King everything you are going to do. Why he even know what you say in your bedroom!”

The King is angry and says “Where is this Elisha?” They spy out the land and word comes back that he is living in a little shack down in Freeman. SO the King sends his vast army to go get this one man Elisha. This is no scouting party. We are talking about tanks, jets, armored personnel carriers, 2000 infantrymen. This King wanted Elisha, dead or alive! So they march and late that night get within a couple thousand yards or so and decide it’s best to wait until the daylight in the morning.

open-his-eyesThe next morning Elisha’s servant goes outside to get wood for a fire and he sees this vast Syrian army and it looks like their guns are all pointed at him. So he runs inside and says Elisha, get up, the whole Syrian Army camped outside and I think they are after you! What do we do? Elisha says “Don’t be afraid! There are more on our side than on theirs!” And before the servant can dishonor Elisha with a wisecrack, he prays, Lord, open His eyes and let him see! Sure enough, his eyes are opened up and he sees an army that you can’t even begin to imagine. The hills surrounding Freeman were filled with millions of army men, tanks and blazing fire power. They must have outnumbered the Syrians 100 to one.

elisha-leads-the-blind-armyAs the army and the tanks advanced on Elisha’s little shack, Elisha prayed. He prayed that not that the Lord’s army would intervene. He prayed that the Syrian army would be made blind. And they all get stricken with blindness. Elisha runs out to them and says yoo hoo, guys, you are in the wrong city. Follow me and I’ll take you to the man you are looking for. So all these soldiers start following Elisha. He leads them up Richards Gebaur where the King is meeting with Ike Skelton. Then Elisha prays God, open their eyes. Their eyes are open, and they find themselves surrounded by the marines, and the King of Israel is there. He cries out to Elisha, Father, what do I do, Do I kill them? “Of course not” Elisha cries. Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them on their way to their master. So the King of Israel prepared this huge feast, and after they had eaten and drank, he sent them home to their master.

OK, another cool story, but what does it mean?

lessons-from-army

1. Pray To See The Power Of God!

No matter how mean and cruel your authority may be-they are outnumbered by God!

2. God Is Greater Than Any Harsh Authority (Enemy) In Your Life.

God uses these encounters to show us His Power, if we let him open our eyes.

3. Honor Every Harsh Authority As A Prisoner Of War.

God told the King of Israel to honor his enemies. He did.

4. Enjoy a Feast With Harsh Authorities!

(Isn’t that what David wrote-Thou prepares a banquet table before me in the presence of my enemies)

5. Pray That Harsh Authorities Will See That Their Master Is The Devil!

Sometime the only way that someone will do right or turn to God will be when they realize just how mean low down and dirty the devil is. When they see how black and heartless their life has become.

  • The prodigal had to get eye level with those ugly pigs before he thought to return home.

If you treat evil authorities with evilness or dishonor you will never show them the love of God, you will never put them in a place where they can even see that they are following an evil master.

Whenever I talk to a wife who is living with an, insensitive, unloving, unspiritual husband, I tell her, why don’t you go to your husband the next time he does such and such and you want to ring his neck or such and such and instead of dishonoring him or rebelling, just say to him, honey, I love you, and I am praying about my attitude. God has led me to start praying for you that you would see yourself the same way God sees you. I want to draw closer to God and I have learned that God uses you to get me to see Him. So I will be praying that you will see God in a clearer way, so that I can see Him through you.

Now this is not the end of the story. The Bible says the Syrian army went home and didn’t bother Israel for a long while. I think they got reformed. They got a little bit of heaven scared into them. Elisha could have had God’s Army kill them, but no one would have learned anything. Jesus could have had the Roman Soldiers killed, Pilate Killed, Annas and Caiaphas killed, but in that little victory the whole world would have been lost.

You may rebel or do something to prove a point. You may even embarrass the authority or win a lawsuit, but at what price comes your victory? When you chose to dishonor even an ungodly authority you are closing your eyes to all that God wants to do. You are closing your eyes to God’s Power!

Our story doesn’t end there.

Ben-Hadad Besieges Samaria

A new King takes over. His name is Ben Hadad. He doesn’t know about what happened and so marches on Samaria and lays siege. His army camps out for months. Things get so bad that people are willing to pay 5000 for a donkey’s head to eat. One day the King is walking along the wall of the city, and a woman calls out to him from the streets below.

help-meShe says “Help me King!” He says, “If the Lord doesn’t help you, what can I do, I don’t have any food! But she says, that not what I want King. A few days ago my best friend Betty said, hey, things are so bad, let’s make a pact. If we eat your son today, then when all that food is gone, we can eat my boy Johnnie over there.” So I killed my little boy and we’ve been eating him for the last week or so, but he is all gone. So I look for Betty to remind her that it’s Johnnies turn, and now she is gone away and Johnnie is nowhere to be found.

The King of Israel got so upset that he started tearing his clothes. He yelled “God strike me dead if I don’t cut Elisha’s head off this very day” He took his despair and anger out on Elisha. Why hadn’t Elisha done something? Why was there all this suffering because of the evil Ben Hadad? Why didn’t Elisha call the Army of God or strike them blind? He had done it before?

Remember, we need to have our eyes open at all time to see God, to see what He is doing. God intervened the time before, because He wanted to show His glory in a certain way. But this time God was silent, Elisha was silent, there was suffering going on. Why” I don’t know, but God was clearly allowing it!

murderous-captainWe get a glimpse into why when we look at verse 32. We find that while the King is fuming, Elisha is sitting in his house with the elders of the city. He says, “Guys, by the way, the murderous King we have is sending his Captain to cut off my head”. Keep the door shut so he can’t come in. Sure enough, as Elisha was talking, there was a knock on the door. No one budged except to lock the door.

They hear someone yelling at the door: “This disastrous siege is because of God! How can we trust God anymore?”

  • (You may have been tempted to say just that when you endured a harsh authority)

Elisha yells back: “Hear ye the word of the Lord: About 3 o’clock tomorrow afternoon in the city of Samaria you will be able to buy a 12 ounce Filet Mignon for one dollar and a 15 piece bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken for fifty cents!

Listen what happens next: The Captain, the Kings right hand man yells out “Even if God could open the windows of Heaven, this would never happen” So Elisha yelled back: You will see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat any of it! The Captain made a terrible mistake. He dishonored the word of God! He dishonored God! He dishonored God’s messenger.

four-lepersThe rest of the story is that 4 lepers decided it was better to die by the Syrians than to starve to death, so they go into the enemy camp. No one is there, because God had let them see His great army and hear the sounds of His Army and they got scared and ran away. They left their filets and fried chicken out. It was a feast. The lepers went back and told the people and you would have thought it was Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Everybody started running to the enemy camp to get food. Sure enough, the Captain who dishonored God and Elisha was trampled to death before he could get one bite!captain-trampled-to-death

God allowed evil to happen to His people. He allowed an evil authority to cause things to get so bad that horrible horrible things were done. Why? I can’t tell you, but I can tell you that it was His plan. If anyone dishonors God’s plan, God’s authorities, they will get trampled.

If You Want to Feast, Honor God’s Word & Wait For His Power! (Always Give God One More Day)

feastGod has a feast prepared for us, but we must learn to Honor even evil authorities, because no authority is in place against God’s will.

Now with this foundation, we are able to answer the question before us:

Question: How could a Righteous God appoint cruel people to positions of authority?

God is the originator of the authority, but He is not the author of the cruelty. Man is responsible for his cruel actions, not God. All authority is of God, but not all authority is godly.

MAJOR QUESTION: Are we to submit to authority when those in authority mistreat us?

Last week we saw from David’s life that yes, we are to honor even evil authorities, even when they abuse and mistreat us.

Now let me just say this now: Our government has enacted laws that govern the treatment of minors and spouses. I believe they are fair and equitable laws. We need to submit to and honor those laws. So when you know of an adult who is abusing children, or a husband or wife abusing their spouse, you are duty bound to come to the aid of the one being abused and placing them under the proper authority. If this happens to your self, you should certainly seek the help of the proper authorities. They are there by God to punish evil and reward good. So do not misinterpret what I am teaching to mean you should put up with abuse. If your direct authority is not doing right, you are to utilize the chain of command. And you should always feel free to go directly to the top! (Boss tells you to steal, falsify documents etc)

But lets look at New Testament writings in 1 Peter 2:

Servants (employees, students, civilians, church members), be submissive to your masters (employers, bosses, teachers, church leaders, civil authorities) with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 1 Peter 2:18 (NKJV)

Peter says we should also submit to the harsh.

What does harsh mean? Mildly irritating? Difference of oppinion? No, it is worse than that. The Greek word is skolios which means:

skoliós; Crooked, bent or warped from dryness, such as wood. Has the picture of one who is crooked, perverse, wicked. A Master who is perverse and unjust. [Complete Word Study Dictionary, The]

Well, maybe that is just one interpretation of harsh. So I looked at Vines:

tyrannical or unjust masters—Vine’s

The New Living Translation says it this way, as if there was any doubt as to the meaning of harsh:

You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 1 Peter 2:18 (NLT)

The Living Bible says:

Servants, you must respect your masters and do whatever they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are tough and cruel. 1 Peter 2:18 (TLB)

  • But Jim, if spousal or child abuse is wrong, why would God allow His own born again children to be abused by harsh authorities?

God does not want His children to be abused. He does not even condone child abuse. He is the most loving father in the universe. God doesn’t just love, God is love. And in His Loving ways that are higher than my ways, God tells me to be submissive to harsh, cruel, crooked, perverse, tyrannical, unjust and dishonest leaders.

God’s Way vs. Man’s Way

Understand what God considers EVIL:

  • For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:13 (KJV)
  • Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. Jeremiah 7:24 (NKJV)
  • “For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, But to do good they have no knowledge.” Jeremiah 4:22

Being evil before God is not murdering, not stealing, not lying…Being evil involves two things:

  1. Forsaking God (Not obeying Him)
  2. Following Your Own Plans (following the counsels and dictates of your evil hearts)

God wants us to depend upon Him. Whatever happens in our life is to draw us into greater dependence upon Him. Even that which you consider evil is meant to draw us into God’s presence. When we rebel against authority, when we dishonor authority, we are closing our hearts to God and His Divine plan.

WHY SHOULD WE SUBMIT TO HARSH AUTHORITIES?

There are Three Personal Benefits of Submitting and Honoring Harsh Authority.

1. Submission to Harsh Authority places our case in the hands of God who judges justly

(For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 1 Peter 2:21-23

  • If we take matters in our own hands, God steps back and lets us be on our own.

Say we rebel and win, we divorce and find a better husband, we quit the cheer leading squad in a tiff, we hang the phone up and vow to never talk to them again, a wound or root is left in our spirit that is not Christ like, and eventually will bring trouble and even defilement. God Hits a Lot of Straight Licks With Crooked Sticks

2. We receive a blessing

Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)

When we walk after God, and not after the evil imaginings of our heart, we receive a blessing.

I did not want to get real personal with you, but God said I had too, because this is something God has been teaching me over the last thirty five years. My Brothers in August 1988 voted to fire me from Tompkins Industries, Inc, where I was President. Dad had retired in 1986 and gave us different responsibilities, but made us equal in ownership. But we didn’t get along. And Dad didn’t intervene.  So I found myself without a job, with no savings, and a wife and six children to provide for.   The next three years were incredibly hard. We struggled financially, my relationship with Mom and Dad and my brothers was non-existent, until my grandmother passed away. I had just been fired from an Asphalt Paving company that I had been hired to manage. My brothers asked me about starting my own paving company. I said yes, I could start one, and they agreed to loan me $80,000. I started Tompkins Pavingy on March 21, 1991, having had only 6 months prior paving experience. My office was back at Tompkins Industries, the place they fired me from in August of 1988.

I have kept a journal the last 35 years, and I wanted to share some journal entries with you that might help with this issue of submission and harsh authorities.

April 7, 1991: “When I think of all that was taken away from me at Tompkins, and how now monetarily the boys are doing so well, and I am struggling…, it is very hard not to be bitter. Especially now that I am officing with them. But Father-You did exactly what I needed, for you will work a far greater eternal glory. Please keep reminding me of that… I gladly accept your fire of suffering-knowing that my family, my children, my grandchildren are better for it! Teach me thy way O Lord and I will walk in your truth.”

The brothers started to get nervous about their money. Sales were slow at first. They were refusing to pay vendors until they got their money. They refused to let me have any say so with the check book. They had become a “Harsh” Authority to me very quickly. What I though had been a restoration of our relationship seemed to be a ploy to ruin me further. So one day, one very bad day I wrote:

July 21, 1991: “the thought that has come to me is that Job’s afflictions came all at once (or do it seems). He was strong in his resolve not to curse God and die. But what would have happened if your afflictions came slowly, over a period of several years. Slowly, methodically your will to live, your hope is chipped away. Finally something happens, and any hope left is finally dissolved. You are left with no way out, but to take your life. The thought to end my life has been on the top of my mind-it just seems there is no hope anymore-that I’ve boxed myself into a hopeless situation-one which will lead to ruin for my family. It’s been tough the last 4 or 5 years-the afflictions have slowly eaten away at my love for life, my love for others-my love for God. I’m to the point where I have no hope, no confidence in my own strength, or friends, or family-I don’t know what to do.”

February 19, 1994: “What a difference 2 years makes-(91-92) winter was very discouraging. 94 winter I am very thankful for the way God has given. It would take several pages to list all the ways.”

March 21, 1994: “How headstrong and self confident I am by nature. So confident of my intellect and abilities to make things happen. God had to take all that away-to show me His strength and ability to provide in the face of my inability to do what is right. Only as I give over to Him my confidence for success am I allowed to receive His great gifts.”

“When God desires to deal with a particular man, He does not leave Him until He has brought him through to a clear place. God does not leave us in darkness for long. He will reveal His will. He waits until He is finally free to speak, and our attention is focused on Him. Trials issue in triumph. Clearly it is not the number of trials which is important, but that we reach God’s goals through them.”

March 21, 1994: Insight from 2 Samuel 12:20: So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. This is the Mark of a Man after God’s own Heart: “When we realize God’s way with us without resentment or regret. “UPON SEEING GOD’S WAY, WE BOW AND WORSHIP THE WILL OF GOD.

I know first hand the blessings that you receive when you honor even harsh authorities.

3. In trusting God, Rather than vindicating ourselves, Godly Character is built within us.

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 1 Peter 4:1 (NKJV)

The suffering of Christ was mistreatment by authority. We are to arm ourselves with the same mind. WHY? We are called to honor authority even when it mistreats us. Peter says if you do this well you will cease from sin. This means we grow in our character. Paul writes:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)

The Bible instructs us to unconditionally submit to authorities, however, it does not tell us to unconditionally obey authorities.

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. Romans 13:1 (NKJV)

Submission deals with our attitude, obedience deals with our actions.

Isaiah 1:19: If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.

We must be willing AND obedient. The fear of the Lord resides in our heart, and honor is an outflow of Holy fear!

  • God wants to reward your Submission to His Ways and His heart…
  • It is not about obedience, it is about your attitude…

Obey (Peitho-Be Persuaded) those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give an account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:17)

We must have unconditional submission. But not unconditional obedience. Case in Point:

Nebuchadnezzar: Mighty Ruler, Brute Beast, Servant of God

submissive-honorShadrach Meshach & Abednego decided it was more important to fear God rather than worship Neb. They had honored Neb, and he had made them governors of Babylon. But when he commanded them to worship the golden statue, they politely refused. They confessed their obedience to God.

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 (NLT)

Shadrach Meshach & Abednego honored both God and the Kingthey-honored-the-king

  • They Honored God by refusing to sin.
  • They honored the King by submitting to his authority and speaking respectfully to him.
  • God gave them a Full Reward
  • The King promoted them

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:13-17 (NKJV)

pressure-enlarges-usWhen we submit to harsh authorities, we bring God into our situation. God uses that pressure to enlarge us! Look at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The three became four! God enlarged them as they honored Him and the harsh authority He had placed over them.

Bottom Line: In learning God’s Ways, we must learn to Honor the Authorities God has placed in our lives. Honoring requires that we submit-and that requires a heart attitude. Obedience without the right attitude produces no reward. God values your heart above all else.

1. We must LEARN the value of submission and honor

2. We must OBEY God first, but when faced with a harsh authority, we must have our eyes OPEN to see God’s Power.

3. We must correct our heart ATTITUDE.

4. We must APPEAL in the right spirit. (Esther)

5. We must COMMIT the matter to God if we suffer.

6. We must SEE the authority as a Prisoner of War, and treat them with dignity.

7. We must PRAY that the authority will see himself as God sees him, praying for their repentance and ultimate blessing from God.

Remember, Nebuchadnezzar came to see himself as he really was, a brute beast.brute-beast

Have you dealt with any Brute Beasts in your life?

Any Harsh Authorities?

Did you react you way, or God’s way?