Are we to submit to Government authority?

Written by Schalk_and_Elsa on. Posted in Training in righteousness

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columns_med“Whenever a nation needs healing, it’s usually because God’s people aren’t obeying and serving Him as they should. We like to blame dishonest politicians and various purveyors of pleasure for a nation’s decline in morality, but God blames His own people. “If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14)1

2 Chronicles 7:13–14
13 “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Is this not what we are experiencing to varying degrees in every country among YHVH’s people? Droughts, locusts devouring the land and pestilence?

Are we obeying and serving YHVH the way we should? Do we keep the commandments, to the best of our ability, including the seventh day Sabbath, the land Sabbath and all the other, in our eyes, less important” commandments? Commandments, like the ones we discussed in a previous article “Mix not…what does this mean? Alternatively, do we choose the commandments we want to obey and justify it with our “interpretation” of Scripture. It is easy enough to justify anything you want to believe; you just remove it from its original context. In this way, the mind will justify what the heart desires and even finds Scripture to support it. Everyone is doing what is good in his own eyes…(Judg 21:25)

We are all guilty of this; I can only speak for myself and pray for strength to do YHVH’s will. The question is: do we want to change? Can we say that YHVH is with us as a nation? Does He hear our prayers? Will He hear our prayers, if we choose to willfully disobey Him? Will He listen to us if we do not fear Him?

Proverbs 28:9
9 He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.

Psalm 66:18
18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, YHVH will not hear;

Proverbs 1:27–33
27 When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. 28Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, 29Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of YHVH. 30“They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof. 31 “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices. 32 “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. 33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

How long will we continue like this? How long before we realize that WE have to change in order to affect change. Most will scoff at this, believing they know better. Who are we to tell you what to do? However, it is not us speaking in these verses; it is YHVH. You can disregard our words, but don’t disregard His.

We are in the situation we are in, because we chose it, not only us, but our fathers before us. Dear friends, this is only the beginning. Things are going to get a lot worse. Would we listen, would we change? Will we have time later, or will it be too late?

We need to change our thinking about YHVH’s commandments. To be obedient and do YHVH’s commandments is not a burden, but a blessing. We as believers in YHVH get to be obedient. His Torah is wisdom; it is wise counsel; it teaches us how to live. It teaches us how to raise our children, what to eat, how to conduct ourselves, how to love our neighbor. Does that sound like a blessing or a curse?

When we buy a new electronic device, we get an instruction manual with this. We can choose to read it and apply the knowledge, or we can try to figure it all out. Some of it, we may be able to figure out, but if something goes wrong, we quickly pull out the manual, and occasionally we can rectify the situation, however, sometimes we are too late. Our lack of knowledge has caused us to destroy that new device. It is the same in our lives, if only we choose to read and apply YHVH’s instructions…

YHVH uses governments for His purposes

government_smallOne of the consequences of disobedience and sin is having a government that is wicked, ruled by corrupt politicians. This is YHVHs will, believe it or not (1 Sam 12:14). YHVH uses this government to discipline His people, to turn them back to Him. Just like He used Babylon and Assyria and many others before them. You can read of many more examples in the book of Judges. In the book of Isaiah, YHVH calls Assyria the rod of His anger …

Isaiah 10:5–6
5 Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hands is My indignation, 6 I send it against a godless nation And commission it against the people of My fury To capture booty and to seize plunder, And to trample them down like mud in the streets.

Assyria’s fulfilling of God’s will (10:5–11). Isaiah described Assyria’s mission (vv. 5–6) and her motives (vv. 7–11).

10:5–6. God had commissioned Assyria to chasten Israel as the rod of His anger and the club of His wrath. Because Israel was godless and had angered God with her sin, Assyria would plunder her cities and ruthlessly trample her people. God often uses unlikely instruments to accomplish His purposes in the world (cf. His using Babylon against Judah, which puzzled Habakkuk, Hab. 1:6–17). Isaiah was not claiming that Assyria was godly or that the empire even knew that God was using it to do His bidding. In His sovereignty He directed Assyria to be His tool for vengeance.2

We are Israel; we are as this godless nation! We are, as a nation, killing our unborn children, defrauding our neighbor, lying, stealing and YHVH knows what else. We may not all physically participate in this, but we sanction it with our silence.

As we said before, YHVH can and will use a wicked government for His purposes (Ex 9:16).

We are now in this situation, what are we to do about this? There is no easy answer and unless the whole nation changes, there will be no change. Unless YHVH’s people repent and start walking in obedience, this will continue. However, we can start with ourselves. We can learn from Scripture what to do in a situation like this. Here are five main points…

  1. Pray for the authorities above you
  2. Do not curse your rulers
  3. Be faithful
  4. Be loyal
  5. Submit unless it is against YHVH’s Word

We shall now look at each of these in more detail:

Pray for the authorities above you

Pray for the authorities above you. For in their welfare you have welfare.

Jeremiah 29:7
7 ‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to YHVH on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’

1 Timothy 2:1–4
1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of Elohim our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Do not curse your rulers

What does it mean to curse your rulers?

Exodus 22:28
28 “You shall not curse Elohim, nor curse a ruler of your people.

Here is what the Dictionary of Biblical languages have on the word curse:

826 אָרַר (ʾā·rǎr):

curse, place a curse, i.e., invoke harm or injury by means of a statement, by means of the power of a deity (Ge 12:3); (qal pass.) be cursed, be under a curse (Ge 3:14); (nif) be cursed (Mal 3:9+); (piel) bring a curse (Ge 5:29; Nu 5:18, 19, 22, 24,27+); (hof) bring a curse upon one (Nu 22:6+), note: some parse as qal pass.3

Here is some wisdom from King Solomon:

Ecclesiastes 10:20
20 Furthermore, in your bedchamber do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound and the winged creature will make the matter known.

A different word is used here and here is a quote from the Dictionary of Biblical languages for more understanding

7837 קָלַל (qā·lǎl):

  • recede, grow smaller, i.e., be in a state of a mass becoming less and so lowering in elevation (Ge 8:8, 11+);
  • disdain, despise, be vile, i.e., be in a state of contempt for an object, showing little regard or value to the object (Ge 16:4, 5; 1Sa 2:30+); (hif) humble, treat with contempt (2Sa 19:44; Job 40:4; Isa 8:23; 23:9; Eze 22:7; Na 1:14+);
  • be swift, i.e., move in a sudden or rapid manner, as a figurative extension of being of light weight and so able to move quickly (2Sa 1:23; Job 7:6; 9:25; Jer 4:13; Hab 1:8+); (nif) be swift (Isa 30:16+);
  • become trivial, be not serious, i.e., not be of value according to an estimation or evaluation (2Sa 6:22; 1Ki 16:31; Isa 49:6; Jer 6:14; 8:11; Eze 8:17+);
  • be easy, i.e., pertaining to that which is not difficult and so not as much of a physical or emotional strain to endure (2Ki 3:18; 20:10; Pr 14:6+); (hif) lighten, make easier (Ex 18:22; 1Sa 6:5; 1Ki 12:4, 9, 10; 2Ch 10:4, 9, 10+);
  • curse, blaspheme, revile, i.e., invoke divine harm to an object, implying anger or great displeasure toward the object (1Sa 17:43), note: when the focus is on slandering or insulting the reputation of another (even God), see also domain LN 33.387–33.403; (pual) be accursed (Job 24:18; Ps 37:22; Isa 65:20+);
  • make lighter, i.e., make an object relatively less heavy (Jnh 1:5+)3

 

Be faithful

We may sometimes want to justify our wrong behavior by saying the government is corrupt, therefor, we shall do likewise. Daniel was in captivity under the authority of a pagan ruler, yet he wascorruption_med faithful. He continued to do what was right.

Daniel 6:4
4 Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.

Be loyal

Daniel was also loyal to his ruler, but we know from Scripture that His obedience and loyalty was to YHVH first. We shall get into more detail about this later.

Daniel 4:19
19 “Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while as his thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, ‘Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.’ Belteshazzar replied, ‘My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you and its interpretation to your adversaries!

Submit to the authority over you

1 Peter 2:13–18
13 Submit yourselves for YHVH’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of Elohim that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of Elohim. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear Elohim, honor the king. 18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.

Peter admonished believers to submit to the authority, he calls it “doing right”. This applies even to servants whose masters are unreasonable.

This kind of conduct would win others to belief, silence the tongues of foolish people, and bring commendation from God. 4

Paul also had something to say about subjecting to authority.

Romans 13:1–7
1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from Elohim, and those which exist are established by Elohim. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of Elohim; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of Elohim to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of Elohim, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of Elohim, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Y’shua taught this:

Matthew 22:21
21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to Elohim the things that are Elohim’s.”

We know that YHVH is in control of everything, there is no authority except from YHVH and those which exist are established by Him. He is the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and calamity.

Isaiah 45:7
7 The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am YHVH who does all these.

When not to submit to authority

Do we always have to obey authority, even when it contradicts YHVH’s Word? What does YHVH teach us through His Word? There are several examples in Scripture to guide us; we shall first look in the book of Exodus.

Exodus 1:15–17
15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; 16 and he said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared Elohim, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.

YHVH blessed them

Exodus 1:21
21 Because the midwives feared Elohim, He established households for them.

Now to the book of Daniel…

Daniel and his three friends were taken captive and were given the king’s choice food, which would have included food that was not in accordance with YHVH’s commandments. Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself. Take note of how he handles the situation and how YHVH helps him in this by giving him favor with the commander…

Daniel 1:8–9
8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials,

They were allowed a trial for 10 days, during which they ate in accordance with YHVH’s instructions. YHVH gave them favor and they were allowed to continue to eat according to His instructions.

Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego disregarded the kings decree to worship the image he set up.

Daniel 3:12
12 “There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”

They were brought before him and given another change to worship the image or else pay with their lives…

Daniel 3:15
15 “Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”

Did they now obey? No!

Daniel 3:17–18
17 “If it be so, our Elohim whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

As you know, we are commanded not to worship other gods. They decided to be obedient to YHVH even if it cost them their lives…

Exodus 20:3
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.

We find another example in the book of Daniel:

Daniel 6:7–10
7 “All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den. 8 “Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction. 10 Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his Elohim, as he had been doing previously.

This is bold of Daniel, knowing what would happen to him if he disobeyed the King’s statute. Yet, he chose to obey YHVH rather than men.

We find the apostles being just as bold, continuing to proclaim the gospel even after given orders not to go on teaching of Y’shua.

Acts 4:19
19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of Elohim to give heed to you rather than to Elohim, you be the judge;

Also:

Acts 5:29
29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey Elohim rather than men.

Let us just back up one or two verses

Acts 5:27–28
27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

They, the Council, gave peter and the apostles strict orders not to continue teaching about Y’shua. Why could they say they must obey Elohim rather than men? What was their commission? This is Y’shua’s words:

Mark 16:15
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Were they justified in disobeying orders from the high priest?

Does this mean that believers should obey the wicked laws of an evil government—the Nazis, the Communists, other totalitarian regimes? No, because this rule does not stand by itself in Scripture; it must be set against Ac 5:29 (“We must obey God, not men”) when the will of the state and the will of God conflict (see v. 7). The early Christians refused to offer incense to statues of the Roman emperor because such idolatry would have been disobedience to God; they paid with their lives. Jews too have been martyred ˓al kiddush haShem (“for the sake of sanctifying the Name” of God; see Ac 7:59–60N) when they refused conversion to a Christianity which was incapable of communicating either its truth or its Jewishness, with the result that Jews perceived it as idolatry. The implications of Scripture for civil disobedience in the modern sense—that is, for a moral cause, presumably also a selfless one—deserves attention that cannot be given here.

7 Compare Mt 22:21 (KJV), “Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” Richard Wurmbrand, a Jewish believer in Yeshua who was imprisoned and tortured for his faith for fourteen years in Communist Romania, says that what such an evil government should be rendered is a hard kick in the pants. But, he adds, the officials of that government should be loved, since they are created in God’s image, the Messiah loves them, and we are to imitate the Messiah (1C 11:1). (His ministry consists in smuggling Bibles into countries that restrict their production, import or use—a good example of obeying God rather than man.) 5

There are many examples, throughout history, of people who risked their lives and many who lost their lives, refusing to compromise their obedience to YHVH. You can read the book of Maccabees, it recounts the history of the Jews in the time of Antiochus Epiphanies. He was an evil ruler who made it illegal for them to follow YHVH’s commandments. It truly is amazing to see how many times YHVH has delivered them, while they stood steadfast in their obedience.

There are also many books written about people, men and women, who risked their lives spreading the gospel to all corners of the world. Men like Richard Wurmbrand and many more. Truly amazing people who did not compromise. They may not have had all the truth, but the part they had, they shared with boldness.

Conclusion

YHVH is our highest authority! We are to obey Him first and foremost. However, we are instructed to obey the authority over us, for YHVH has set it in place for His purpose. We are to submit to government authority as long as it is not in conflict with the Word of YHVH. If it does, we have to continue to do what is right. We must ask YHVH to give us favor and strength in such circumstances, for we could not do it without His help…

Meanwhile, we can affect change by changing ourselves first, repenting of our sin and returning to YHVH’s ways.

To conclude the matter of government authority, this is all that remains to be said…

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.6

References

  1. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be decisive. An Old testament study. (106). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
  2. Martin, J. A. (1985). Isaiah. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), . Vol. 1: The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck, Ed.) (1055). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  4. Raymer, R. M. (1985). 1 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), . Vol. 2: The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck, Ed.) (846). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary : A companion volume to the Jewish New Testament (electronic ed.) (Ro 13:1–7). Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications.
  6. 2 Chronicles 7:14
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Comments (2)

  • Mary Jo Elliott

    |

    Really enjoyed reading your artical. Very educational. I’m Christian who does not accept Avery thing just because I’m told that is the way it is. I strongly believe in the scriptures, although I am aware they have been pulled and pushed to fit how people want to, or do, believe they should be. I do not see trinity any where in the scriptures and do believe calling YHWH just plain god in the scriptures is beneficial to those who really want to learn the truth. I have problems with using term Jehovah. Yet if we are going by the meaning of the word rather than trying to pronounce I can understand how that might work. I really felt good seeing it just written as it is. Yhwh It seems so much more clear. What is the name of the bible you use and does it use YHWH through the bible.

    Reply

    • Schalk_and_Elsa

      |

      Hi Mary Jo,

      We use the NASB Updated. It does not use the correct names, but we substitute when we put the verses in our material.

      Regarding the divinity of Y’Shua, I will recommend you study this book. Very insightful.

      Shalom!
      Schalk & Elsa

      Reply

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