Obedience the gateway to authority

Judges17,11:29-35

Last week, we saw how Micah, a man from Mt.Ephraim, “did that which was right in his own eyes”. This man without seeking God, independently built his own “church”. This is unlike others whom God had impressed or told to build him a house of worship.

While I lived in Jamaica as a child I remember my grandmother overseeing the building of a church on a parcel of land that she had donated to the building project. It was a temporary structure, made of thatch roof and had a capacity of about 60 persons. These people were hungry for a relationship with God and my grandmother saw the need for them to assemble for worship and offered the land until a better building was available. Eventhough she had heard from God, she moved cautiously until God softened my grandfather's heart before the project began.

Our first pastor was a woman from Porus; a town about 5 miles away and when she was unable to be there my grandmother would fill in.

We had no images, no statues of Mary or anyone else, just the word of God. God had impregnated their spirits with a passion to build a place to meet the Lord, the sovereign God.

These people wanted an outlet to worship and some place where they could teach their children about Jesus, therefore they were obedient to the unction of the Holy Spirit and became involved in true service to the Lord.

To my young memory, that little building was to become my first entrance into Sunday school.

But we see in Micah’s case he tried to imitate the temple at Shiloh, making his own temple elements and consecrating his own priest, one of his young sons, as father and the one who took care of temple sacrifices.

However, that was not true service, even though he went out of his way to build and to establish  this "house of worship". Micah had gone against God's plan and was setting up his own place of worship.

  1. True service is initiated by God - Serving God and offering strange fire are not the same, even though they are performing or exercising labor. Strange fire originates from man; it’s acting independently of God’s government; without God’s authority. One just doesn’t start a church because he feels like it or because it seems good in his own eyes.

In Leviticus 10:1 we see Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu took censers, put incense in them, and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord contrary to His command.

God Takes Obedience Seriously

Each one here has been called into true service – you have been called and anointed by God for a particular assignment. Obedience is especially tantamount for those in leadership positions because you have the potential to lead God’s people away from their God given assignments; church, family, job, career, etc..

God’s divine assignments are without negotiation. When a man is used to pour the anointed oil on one’s forehead for a particular assignment, God considers it is a sacred act. An action that says to the one being anointed; you are now God’s property, you belong to him. It is such a sacred act that God would not allow His anointed vessel Aaron, to be distressed when God slew his sons, Nadab and Abihu by a blast of fire. In other words, God doesn't want you to grieve over something or someone who he has judged as sinful or illegal.

Let’s look at Leviticus 10:6-11, as Moses addresses Aaron,

And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled.
7 And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you”.

God says, don’t act like you are sorry for them because they have rebelled against me, lest I think you my anointed ones, are with them to undermine my covenant with Israel.

You should be committed to His kingdom after you have been anointed for His service. You should be saying, God, I am in your service now 24/7 to do as you will. You should be saying, “I am ready to work! You should be saying, “I will be obedient and do true service” and not offer strange fire.

Therefore works that are not initiated by God becomes dead works – Here we continue from last lesson where we saw Micah building a temple to the Lord to which he had been given no assignment from God.

Therefore, he was in rebellion and thus doing an unsatisfactory, disappointing, inadequate, and unacceptable, incompleteness, disorganization, lawlessness, and disorderly service (Judges 17:2).

Solomon says that, unless the lord builds a house (Psalms 127) the workmen worketh in vain, his work is useless. He began by laying the foundation of his life with God, but failed to follow through in his later years, prefering the luxury of exotic splendor than to continue building a relationship with God..

Ultimately, he lost everything for it is not enough to a start right in building a church, marriage, career on God’s principles; we must remain faithful to God to the end (Mark 13:13). “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved”.

Solomon did not balance obedience with authority and so rebellion was the end result.

  • The believer has authority to say unto yonder mountain be thou removed and cast into the sea
  • He has authority to use the keys of the kingdom; to bind and to loose.
  • He has authority to rearrange and replenish the earth – but he must be obedient lest his works be branded as strange fire.

I remember when I began the bookstore several years ago, Apostle came by and before he left he said to me, “Bro. Audley what are you now, an elder or a bookstore manager? The question caught me by surprise and I said both. It was the wrong answer.

What I should have said was that I am crucified with Christ yet I live, and the life which I live I live by the Son of God who loved me and gave His life for me. This bookstore was a means to an end.

What I should have said was that, I was a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ presently serving as an elder. My craft or profession is selling books.

In the book of Romans 1:1, we hear Paul saying, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.”

We never hear of Paul glorifying tent making but he glorified God.

  1. Obedience follows faith not reason

Micah and his mother reasoned themselves into building a “temple of idols” to the Lord. Some of you have begun to follow reasoning and have left off seeing the vision of the house.

You are saying, “It seems fit in my own eyes”. You have stopped believing because of

  • the persecutions,
  • the trials, and
  • the loss the ministry has endured

You have said in your heart, could it be that God has forgotten about Liberty?

But remember that because of unbelief the children of Israel could not enter the Promised Land.

But obedience follows faith not reason. God usually calls us to reason with Him when we are in sin for He desires to bring us salvation.

But the man that walks in faith is in need of God to give him no explanation, neither does God owe him one because he is walking in the providential purpose of God.

But for that man who needs an explanation God says, come, let us reason together, even though your sin be as scarlet I will wash them whiter than snow. God says, I can change your sin nature but after I change it, there will be no more reasoning; just obeying.

Jephthah’s reasoning

Was it not Jephthah the son of a harlot and a mighty man of God who tried to reason with God and lost his daughter (Judges 11:30 - 35) because reasoning led him into the making of a rash and unnecessary vow.

Jephthah had left faith and ventured into doubt, but God blinked at his ignorance and Israel was saved.

I think that God will bypass your weakness for a greater good – in fact He said to Paul, (2Cor.12:9) “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”.

In verse 29 the scripture clearly states that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah so from then on his relationship to God should be one of total obedience.

There was no need to allow finite mind to gain ascendancy, no reason to give performance apart from the Holy Spirit injunction.

In other words, God had already ruled and Israel’s victory was an after-thought.

Matthew Henry affords us with several important lessons to be learned from Jephthah’s vow. He says,

1. There may be remainders of distrust and doubting, even in the hearts of true and great believers.

2. Our vows to God should not be as a purchase of the favor we desire, but to express gratitude to him.

3. We need to be very well-advised in making vows, lest we entangle ourselves.

4. What we have solemnly vowed to God, we must perform, if it be possible and lawful, though it be difficult and grievous to us”.

  1. Obedience is higher than work – subjection to authority is absolutely necessary.

Jephthah had not completely subjected himself to the sovereign authority of the Holy Spirit for he thought it would be necessary to do something to make sure that the intended favor over Israel would be given.

Jephthah failed to see that the authority in him was just being obedient to God.

Still God had mercy on Israel and blinked at man’s ignorance.

  1. To be filled with Christ is to be filled with obedience; for to us who are saved; Christ has become the first fruit of obedience. He is our standard that will be lifted up when the satanic atmosphere comes in as a flood. The scripture says that Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered, so therefore, he who accepts Christ accepts the principle of obedience. Hebrew says, Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher

Through the church the nations become God’s kingdom. In Revelation 11:15 says, “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of Hs Christ.”

The harvest is ripe – there is a plentiful harvest but the labors are few...

As the church obeys the kingdom message of our Lord and Savior then the Holy Spirit will take us into the next move of God, and the victorious church will go through out the world fulfilling the great commission as given by the Lord, saying; “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations..: and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”

To be cont’d

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