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Now the man who acts presumptuously and will not heed the priest who stands to minister there before the Lord your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously. (Deuteronomy 17:12-13)

In the previous devotion, we emphasized the importance of not acting presumptuously when it came to following — or not following — the judgements that those authorized by God had handed down. As we said, the person who reacted in such a way was most likely fueled by pride and a rebellious nature. While we feel it is important to honor and respect those in authority, what are we to do when those in power are obviously wicked and administering unjust and unrighteous decisions? How do we reconcile the expectation upon us to respect authority and, at the same time, honor God’s standards of righteousness? In short, are we to always obey the laws of the land?

To that, I would say, “Yes” but to a certain point. On one hand, Paul instructed God’s people “to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1). Paul has more to say on the matter, making the argument that, by respecting the authority God has allowed to be over us, we stand a better chance of leading a more “quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:2). Yet, at the same time, we do see there are scenarios where we are expected to disobey man that we might not disobey God. For instance, the San Hedrin leaders strictly forbade Peter and the other disciples to teach in the name of Yeshua. Peter’s response to that order was, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). I would contend that Peter did not act presumptuously nor challenge their authority to interpret the Scripture. He simply acknowledged that, when it came to preaching, he answered to a higher authority.

The point then is, we should not walk around looking for opportunity to disobey those in authority, even when they are in the wrong. However, if those men and women present us with an untenable situation, whereby obedience to them means disobedience to God, there is no choice but to obey God. We exist in this world to sanctify His Name in the earth. Mind you, there are those who would stretch that principle into a pretzel in order to make their own point, but those who are spiritual and mature in the LORD, you know what this means. So allow me to leave you with this reminder: Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego did not show contempt for Nebuchadnezzar or his authority as king, rather, they showed great respect. However, being given no choice, they politely and respectfully said, “No! We won’t bow to your gods.” As a result of their testimony, the king of Babylon honored the God of Heaven.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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