In my last post, I wrote about my understanding of The Man of Lawlessness. In this post, I’m going to share some thoughts on the opposite end of that spectrum: The Man under Authority.
In Luke 7, we are told of the story of the Centurion, who describes himself as a man under authority. In describing how the people under him do as he directs, the centurion implies that he does as he is directed by the authority over him. In response, Yeshua says the following to those who were with Him:
“I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.”
Why would something as simple as admitting you are under authority reflect a great faith? I never really understood this, and I still might not, but this is where I’m currently at: I was a U.S. Marine for nine years, so maybe, the idea of being under authority, and being in a position of authority over others just comes natural to me, so I don’t see any great act in obeying and expecting orders to be obeyed? Then again, maybe it’s something else all together.
I listen to Glenn Beck. I heard him on the radio explaining his notion of common ground. During the course of his explanation, he said that he has nothing in common with Muslims who think they are authorized to cut off the heads of those who refuse to convert. But then he said, he has other Muslim friends who do not believe such things, so he has common ground with those Muslims. How does this relate to being under authority? Well, those Muslims who feel they have the authority to kill anyone who refuses to convert are actually following the commands of Allah, as given by Muhammad. Now, Allah is a false god, but that is not the point. If a person claims to believe in Allah and to follow the commands of his prophet, Muhammad, then that person is under the authority of Muhammad’s commands. In that case, Muhammad commanded jihad until their is only Islam, and hence, his followers are commanded to kill those who refuse to submit. So, where does Beck get the authority to re-write the Islamic Scriptures for his Muslim friends so that some are wrong for following the commands of their religion, and others are correct to break them?
Maybe, this has something to do with Beck and his Mormon religion. He believes that the Scriptures were corrupted, and that some angel in a cave gave the restored Scriptures to Joseph Smith (by the way, this is almost identical to how Muhammad received the Qur’an). According to Beck, the Scriptures are only the Word of God when they are read correctly, and they are only read correctly when they are read as Joseph Smith commanded. So, then, who gave Smith the authority to change Scripture? By what authority did he do that? And by what authority does Beck then tell others that the Scriptures are false unless we read them his way? Is this not the work of men claiming to have authority over the Scriptures, which are the Word of God? And, if so, are those people not saying to themselves that they are gods? It would seem to me that this is exactly what they are doing. Incidentally, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we now know — definitively — that Mormonism is a false religion, and that the ‘scriptures’ Smith gave his people are his work and his alone (or the work of a fallen angel).
But Mormons are not alone in the belief that they have authority over the Scriptures. The Catholic church actually boasts that they have authority over them:
“Sunday is our mark of authority… the church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact”
(Catholic Record of London, Ontario Sept 1, 1923).
By what authority is the ‘Church’ above the Scriptures? The Scriptures are the fixed, eternal Word of the Living God. The only way to claim authority over them is to claim to be over YHWH. Wouldn’t that mean that the Church does not recognize itself as under authority? And wouldn’t that place the Church squarely in the cross hairs of the Man of Lawlessness who exalts himself as god?
Let’s go back to the material world again. People who refuse to confine themselves to the laws of logic reject the authority of those laws. People who refuse to accept the laws of economics refuse the authority of those laws. Others refuse the authority of language. This results in people who believe a man can become a woman and a woman can become a man; that Socialism can work; and that you can change the way a person thinks by changing the definitions of words. All of these things are forms of trying to speak a new reality into existence which, in the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) world view, would mean they believe they are god(s). Is that not what the Scriptures call lawlessness? And is it not lawlessness because it rejects the Authority of the Creator?
Returning to Scripture once again: How can a person call themselves a believer, let alone a teacher of Scripture, but still accept abortion, homosexuality and ‘collective justice?’ All of these things are in direct opposition to YHWH’s Laws. To reject these Laws is to reject the Authority of YHWH. If one does that, one cannot claim to be a believer in YHWH — not as the term is usually understood, anyway. The only way one can reject YHWH’s Authority and still claim to be a believer is if one chooses to openly rebel against Him. But, if you are openly rebelling, then why would you claim His name, or that of His Son, the Messiah?
All of these things are lawlessness, and they are all the direct result of refusing to bow to the Authority of God, and to His Laws. Why is this so difficult for people to understand? Or is it? Do they understand, but then decide to worship YHWH their way, and not His? Because, if that is what they are doing, then they are telling themselves they are above YHWH, and they are back in the seat of the Man of Lawlessness yet again (not to mention placing themselves squarely in the cross-hairs of Matthew 7: 20-23!).
I think — maybe — this is why Yeshua said the Centurion had such great faith: because he did not question, he just accepted and obeyed the authority of God.
I recently read a book about the Hebrew concept of sin. In this book, it explained something I had never understood. Scripture says that TORAH is freedom. How? How can it be freedom when we find it so difficult to follow? You see, that is the wrong question. The question should be, how does God wish me to worship and serve Him? Without the Scriptures, we wouldn’t know the answer to that question. But God gave us the Scriptures, so we know how He wants to be worshiped and served. There is the source of our liberty: the Scriptures provide the target for which we should aim. What’s more, we don’t have to try to guess, or risk placing ourselves in the seat of lawlessness by making up our own ways of worshiping. By simply accepting and then working to live by TORAH, we are placed under God’s Authority; we become servants of the Living God.
I never understood, but now I do; and now, I count it freedom to be under His Authority. His yoke truly is easy on my shoulders.