Genesis 12: Subject Of Authority In The Christian Life
We are in Genesis Chapter 12 where last week we saw that the “Lord said to Abram: 'Go forth out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of thy father's house, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.'”
We read that God had told Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldees and to go where He would lead him. But in Chapter 11:31 we read that it was Terah (Abraham's father) who took Abraham and moved out of Ur. But what had God told Abraham? Leave “thy kindred, and thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:” Abraham went like God had said, but he took his father and his nephew Lot with him.
Then instead of going until God told him to stop, Terah took Abraham, and they came as far as Haran (11:31) and settled there. That was not God's will. Why did they settle there? That was Terah's idea. Haran perhaps had good pasture land for the flocks. But it was not God's place. And Abram settled down there with his Daddy! Abram was a man who made mistakes. And the first mistake he made was to listen to his father, when God had already told him to do something else. God took away Terah through death. (11:32)! Then, “Abram went out as the Lord had commanded him”. (12:4)
So how do you handle those who are in authority who are telling you to do opposite of what you know God desires of you?
Last week we discussed 3 basic purposes for authority.
1.To Grow in Wisdom and Character
2.To Gain Protection From Destructive Temptations
3.To Receive Clear Directions for Life Decisions
We also discussed that there are four basic structures of authority
- (Church)-Pope-Bishops-Priest-Members of the Church
- (Government)-National Leaders-Local Officials-Citizens
So this week let us continue on the subject of Authority in the Christians life.
The man that with a stiff neck despiseth him that reproveth him, shall suddenly be destroyed: and health shall not follow him. (Proverbs 29:1)
If we continue to reject the reproofs of the authority God has put in our lives, He warns that there will be irreparable damage to the potential in our lives.
Scripture records that on three major occasions King Saul rebelled against the word of the Lord, and on each occasion there was a specific consequence.
1. His children would lose the heritage they could have had.
(1 Samuel 13:13-14) And Samuel said to Saul: Thou hast done foolishly, and hast not kept the commandments of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee. And if thou hadst not done thus, the Lord would now have established thy kingdom over Israel for ever. But thy kingdom shall not continue. The Lord hath sought him a man according to his own heart: and him hath the Lord commanded to be prince over his people, because thou hast not observed that which the Lord commanded.
When we rebel against the disciplines of the Lord, we fail to learn the spiritual insights and character which God intended. Thus, we are not able to pass these on to our children.
2. His own ministry would suffer.
(I Samuel 15:28) And Samuel said to him: The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to thy neighbour who is better than thee.
The very lack of character and wisdom which we have due to rejecting authority will greatly diminish the potential which our own ministry could have had.
3. His physical Life would be shortened.
(I Samuel 28:9) And the Lord also will deliver Israel with thee into the hands of the Philistines: and tomorrow thou and thy sons shall be with me (The soul of Samuel was speaking to him ): and the Lord will also deliver the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.
The Church teaches a direct correlation between obedience to God and a long and healthy life:
(Ephesians 6:1-3) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is just. Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with a promise: That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest be long lived upon earth.
(Proverbs 3:7-8) Be not wise in thy own conceit: fear God, and depart from evil: For it shall be health to thy navel, and moistening to thy bones.
(I Corinthians 11:27-32) Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep.
The root of the unworthiness was rebellion. Any unworthiness before God is because of rebellion in our lives. And because of this rebellion there were some who became sick and some even died because while in rebellion to God they partook of the body and blood of Christ.
We need to understand that Human Authority is in the Hands of a Skillful God:
Each of us has a multitude of character deficiencies that need to be perfected. God uses those in authority to do this.
"Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, and the rod of correction shall drive it away." (Proverbs 22:15)
God assures us that the heart of one who is in authority is in His hand, and that He turns it in the same way He does a winding river by using the pressure of the current and time.
"As the divisions of waters, so the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: whithersoever he will he shall turn it." (Proverbs 21:1)
God is even more concerned that our character become like Christ Jesus then He is in which "instruments" He uses to accomplish this. Therefore, if we push away or get out from under the reproofs and authority of our parents, husband, or any other authority we have mentioned already, God only has to raise up new "tools" to chip away at the rough edges of our character.
Lastly, before we continue in our study in Genesis, let me say this:
The way a child responds to his parents' authority will soon be the way he or she will respond to them when they are teenagers. The way a teenager responds to his parents' authority will be the way he responds to God's authority.
So we see God continually testing Abrahams obedience. As we have already said god had told him to leave his kindred and instead he took both his father and his nephew with him.
And then God tested Abraham again. God tested Adam, and He tested Abraham, and he will test you and me too. This time the test was through a famine in the land. (12:10). What do you do when God has told you to go to Canaan and there is a famine in Canaan? You either live by the witness of your senses or you live by what God has told you through His Spirit. There is a lovely verse that references Jesus that says, “He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.” (Isaiah 11:3-4). But that is not the way man lives. If we hear about or see a famine in Canaan, we lake a decision immediately, by what our eyes and ears and our clever brain tell us. We decide that Canaan is certainly not the place to be in now. We need to move on. We don't have to consult God, because we are living by our senses! That was what Abraham did: chapter 12:10 says “So Abram went down to Egypt” Who told him to go to Egypt? Not God, but his senses!
Can't God preserve a man during a time of famine? Certainly. “Blessed be the man that trusteth in the Lord, and the Lord shall be his confidence. And he shall be as a tree that is planted by the waters, that spreadeth out its roots towards moisture: and it shall not fear when the heat cometh. And the leaf thereof shall be green, and in the time of drought it shall not be solicitous, neither shall it cease at any time to bring forth fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)
He will not be barren even in the time of famine. The man who trusts the Lord will not move until God tells him to. That was what our Lord told Satan in the wilderness when He was tempted. Satan told Jesus to turn the stones into bread. There was a famine there in the wilderness and there were no mini marts around. But Jesus replied, “It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
But Abraham did not live like that. He decided to love by bread alone. So, since there was bread in Egypt, he went there. That is how a lot of Christian ministries is done today too. They don't go where the Lord tells them to go. They go where they can get a good salary, where bread is available in plenty. They join organizations where there is no famine of money. “Egypt” may be a comfortable place to be in-during a famine. But the question is whether that is the place that God wants you to be in. If God has called you to be in “Canaan”, you should not move to “Egypt”. If you don't hear what God is saying to you right now, you may do the same thing when you are tested. Live by the words that come from the mouth of God, like Jesus did. His attitude was, “Yes, bread is necessary for life. But to obey God is more necessary for life.”
If Satan tempted even Jesus like this, don't you think he will tempt you too-to go where there is plenty of bread? If you are serving god and facing financial trials, Satan will tell you that you can get more money in another organization, or another parish and make you discontent, and get your eyes off of where God has put you . May God have mercy on you at such a time, that you don't listen to Satan and thus ruin your life.
What was the result of Abraham's going down to Egypt? He had to tell a lie there, that his wife was his sister. You can get into a lot of problems when you go to 'Egypt'. You have to tell lies, write false reports, state things that are not 100% true, compromise your conscience etc.
Sarah was about 65 or 70 years old. But she must still have been a very attractive woman, for Pharaoh the king of Egypt to want her in his harem. The sad thing is that even when Abraham saw his wife being taken into the harem to be corrupted, he still loved his own life so much, that he didn't tell Pharaoh the truth. It is when we are in a tight spot that we discover whether we love the truth or not.
So we see that the great Abraham was a man who made serious mistakes. At first, he held his Daddy's hand and disobeyed God. Then he told a lie to save his life, even when it meant losing his wife. Such was the man whom God chose-a weak and selfish man. Abraham was just like us. And that is our encouragement. God can use us too.
God saved Abraham from both situations. God delivered him from Haran and God delivered Sarah from Pharaoh. And God will deliver us too, even when we have made mistakes, if He sees that our heart is sincere, like Abraham's was. That should be what encourages us.
It was Pharaoh who rebuked Abraham for telling a lie (12:18). Can you imagine a heathen king rebuking a prophet of God for telling a lie? Sometimes God's people get into compromising situations where worldly people have to correct them. That is what happens when we go to 'Egypt'.