When I think of authority, I think of leaders, rulers, and kings. I think of those in charge and those who (hopefully) have my best interest at heart. I think of those who can help and provide solutions. While those thoughts may be a little too old-fashioned for 2019, I believe they still ring true for most people. We want to be led by those who are right, honest, and genuinely good. We want to trust those we put our faith in. We want to respect authority.
The scandals and in-fighting between government officials leaves a bad taste in my mouth. How about you? Do you long for the day when we can respect our officials again? Do you long to be led by someone, anyone, who’s noble or worthy of respect?
If so, I’d like to encourage you to explore Job 38-39. In those passages, God corrects Job after the ancient patriarch challenged His ways. In a world where the pious prospered and the sinners suffered, Job knew God had messed up by bringing pain and suffering to his house and he subsequently argued for his “day in court.” Job, like many of us, believed he knew better than God and longed to prove it. Ironically, it was Job’s misguided view that led to God speaking in the first place. This was Him moment to correct once-and-for-all the false doctrine of retribution.
Most of the time, when someone challenged God as Job did, our Creator remained silent. Job’s story is the exception, the moment He used to declare something emphatic, something eternal, something lost on too many of us still today.
For all intents and purposes, He said, “the buck stops here,” long before the 33rd President of the United States could make it his catchphrase. When God spoke, He set our ancient example straight and had it recorded in the words of that book so we’d hear them and see them as well. In 38:4-7, He asked the troubled man:
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
He went on to ask in 38:34-38 among many other questions pertaining to nature:
Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?
Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?
Who has put wisdom in the mind?
Or who has given understanding to the heart?
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
When the dust hardens in clumps,
And the clods cling together?
In all of these questions and all these answers, God declared an eternal truth we must remember today – all authority resides in Him and Him alone. Everything that has authority in this world has it from God including the leaders of our land (see Romans 13:1-7), our congregations (see First Peter 5:1-4), and our families (see First Corinthians 11:3; First Timothy 3:4).
It may be easy to think God is being sarcastic to Job (and by extension, all of mankind), but I can’t see any evidence to suggest that’s true. He’s merely being emphatic. Job’s response is telling when he says in 42:2-6:
I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Will our response to the Divine be the same as Job’s? Will we humble ourselves in the presence of the One who knows better? Can we, if we believe the world revolves around us?
In a world full of cynical people and unreasonable leaders, I urge you to see the difference between God and all the cheap imitations we often serve. I pray we’ll all be willing to see the wonder of the world around us, respect the authority of God, and as Job said, see God amongst the beauty of His creation. I truly believe his thoughts are echoed by Psalm 19:1 which says:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
It’s an awesome sight when we realize everything we know is God’s handiwork, His masterpiece, and only here because of Him. That wonderful truth can’t help but imply authority and the kind of power you just have to respect.
All Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.