Walking in Authority Part 2

Obviously to walk in authority we need to have authority. To take this further I will look at how we have authority or authority becomes operational in our lives by coming under authority. In a future post I will look at the connection between authority derived from ‘love for’ and ‘commission from.’ Now to coming under authority.

A great example of authority gone awry is Saul, the first king of Israel. If you are not familiar with the story, Saul was anointed king by Samuel the prophet at the Lord’s command. He was positioned for success. However things went terribly wrong when Saul ignored Samuel’s commands regarding sacrifice and bowed to the people. Saul was insecure, and whether consciously or not, he saw his authority as coming from people liking him and following him. When Moses was under pressure from an unhappy nation he responded by seeking Yahweh’s face. When Saul was under pressure from unhappy people he acquiesced. A brief summary of Saul’s response is in 1 Samuel. Here Saul was waiting as per Samuel’s direction but when Samuel did not show up on time and the people were leaving him Saul took upon himself the role of priest, Samuel’s role, and offered the sacrifice. He went beyond his sphere of authority and while it did satisfy his insecurity it brought a rebuke from Samuel. The event is laid out below.

Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him.

11 And Samuel said, “What have you done?”

Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12 then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.”

13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 1 Samuel 13:8–14 (NKJV)

Saul’s decision that day eventually cost him everything because he never got back on the right path.

In great contrast we have Jesus only doing what He saw His Father doing, walking in continual submission to His Father’s authority.

19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19 (NKJV)

30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. John 5:30 (NKJV)

To be clear, Jesus as part of the Trinity is not less than the Father or Spirit but in His mission on earth as fully God and fully Man the testimony of scripture is that somehow He denied Himself access to His divine attributes and knowledge and walked in dependency on the Father and Spirit. This is a subject books are written about. Suffice to say for our purposes that we see it in scripture and Jesus said in Matthew 28:18 that all authority had been given to Him as a result of His obedience. Jesus authority was derived from submission to authority. That is also in scripture.

23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”

24 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?”

And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.”

And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. Matthew 21:23–27 (NKJV)

Jesus was directly confronted by the religious leaders as to the source of His authority and seemingly never answered their question – or did He? There is a direct connection to John’s baptism. When Jesus was baptized the Spirit descended and the Father spoke audibly and affirmed Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17). At the same time John was offering a baptism symbolizing repentance from sin. John recognized that Jesus had no sin, and that in fact he needed to be baptized by Jesus. Yet John submitted to Jesus request based upon what Jesus said.

15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. Matthew 3:15 (NKJV)

Jesus told John that his baptism of Jesus would ‘fulfill all righteousness.’ We might logically wonder how and the answer is that John was the last in the line of Old Testament prophets. His was a transitional ministry and he represented all those who had gone before. In essence Jesus was telling the religious leaders who confronted Him that His authority came from submitting to, coming under, all of the prophets who came before Him and pointed to Him.

Thus, given that even Jesus in His humanity derived authority from coming under authority who are we to think that we could arrive at authority any other way? Let us submit to those He has placed over us and come under the authority of His word.

Walking in Authority Part 1

In my last two posts I wrote about praying for Israel. Now, whether we are praying for Israel, a family member or our neighbour our effectiveness is governed by our authority. If we have been born again we have been given spiritual authority and have a responsibility to use it wisely. 

4 Where the word of a king is, there is power; And who may say to him, “What are you doing?” Ecclesiastes 8:4 (NKJV)

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18–20 (NKJV)

While we have been given authority, our authority is only found within the sphere of our responsibility. Paul said it this way.

13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you. 2 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

Paul recognized that he had authority and used it. Yet he also recognized that it was limited. A reading through the book of Acts shows that while Paul went to Jerusalem or more than one occasion he never tried to exercise authority there as it went beyond his sphere.

As a practical example, prior to retirement my last jobs in the public service, in a Ministry, then in a Legislative Office, were Provincial in scope. That meant I had authority to make decisions on that level. However, I had no authority to make decisions related to neighbouring provinces or territories. When I led a team coordinating a national conference and people from across the country came I had authority in relation to other jurisdictions because it had been delegated to me by the national steering committee. However my authority extended only to decisions related to the conference. Now, I obviously have no authority in any of these matters given I am retired.

Spiritually the same principle holds. Jesus delegated all of us to make disciples so we can speak into the lives of others to accomplish that task. That is an authority to pray for, encourage and build up. It is not an authority over. Though I don’t know everyone who reads what I write, I am using the authority Jesus has given me to point others to a deeper relationship with Him. I do it through teaching because that is a calling on my life. There are people that I uphold in intercession at their request. Their request gives me specific authority to stand in the gap for them and to speak into their lives. If someone asks me to pray for person named Fred I can pray for them but I have no authority to speak into their lives in any authoritative way without their permission.

So, we have a general authority from Jesus for specific tasks and at times we have specific authority for specific tasks. A few days prior to writing this I did some teaching at our local House of Prayer. I am on the board and was asked by the Director to deliver some teaching on a specific subject. Yet I taught under the authority of the Director and had he placed limitations on the subject area I would have had no authority to teach beyond those limits.

In our individualistic western culture I don’t think that we have a good grasp of the relationship between having authority and embracing submission to authority. I will explore that further in my next post.  

Praying for Israel Part 2

In my last post I established that Jesus is not returning until the leadership of Israel welcomes Him as their Messiah. Here I use prophetic scriptures to highlight some of what Paul had to say about Israel in terms of salvation and the Lord’s purposes. First, think about this, we refer to the scriptures and speak of the Old Testament and New Testament. Another way of referring to them is as old and new covenants, which they are. This begs the question, for those of us not ethnically Hebrew or Jewish, did we have an old covenant? No, we did not. The Lord’s plan was to bring salvation to us through the covenant He made with Israel. Some expressions of that covenant are below.

1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1–3 (NKJV)

5 “And now the Lord says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and My God shall be My strength), 6      Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” Isaiah 49:5–6 (NKJV)

1 Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. 2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. 3 The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1–3 (NKJV)

Salvation came to those outside of ethnic Israel through the Servant above, Jesus. He broke down all the walls and barriers and opened wide the door of salvation to all (Ephesians 2:14-20). The final process is outlined in Romans 9-11. Here Paul lays out that the rejection of the gospel by Israel led to it going to the Gentiles, bringing the light of salvation to the Gentiles. At the same time Paul sees a future where Israel is brought to salvation. He is clearest about this in Romans 11:26-36. This is summarized in 11:26-27 where Paul quotes from Psalms and Isaiah.

26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Romans 11:26–27 (NKJV)

I believe this will be fully fulfilled in the future as prophesied.  

11  It shall come to pass in that day That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea. 12           He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:11–12 (NKJV)

8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and the one who labors with child, together; a great throng shall return there. 9   They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble; for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.

10 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’

God is going to return the people to the land and again open up the fountain of salvation in a national way prior to His return.

And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. Zechariah 12:10

In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. Zechariah 13:1

I pray regularly for these things to fully come to pass and hold to what Jesus said.  

28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28 (NKJV)

Praying for Israel Part 1

I am providing some teaching on praying for Israel as it is an important but often neglected responsibility the church needs to embrace. I begin with a focus on the why, next I will focus on the how. I recently read a long post someone did on Facebook regarding all the signs of the end times and how we should be prepared for Jesus any moment return. There was not a single word of encouragement there, no faith for the harvest, and nothing regarding Israel. Yet when I look at scripture Isaiah 19:19-25 tells me that before the end there will be a great harvest of souls in Egypt and they will turn to Yahweh and worship Him. That is just one thing that needs to happen prior to Jesus return. While it is a significant pending event, even more significant is the end time role that Israel plays.

We begin with the timing of Jesus return. Psalm 118 was one of the Hallel Psalms sung at Passover. Here is verse 26.

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord. Psalm 118:26 (NKJV)

This was viewed as a Messianic Psalm, looking forward to the coming Messiah. The Israelites knew the significance and we see the recognition by the crowd when they proclaim it over Jesus as He enters Jerusalem prior to Passover.

Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9 NKJV)

Thus we have the promise in the Old Testament and the fulfillment in the New Testament. The psalm was about the coming Messiah and the crowd welcomes Jesus as the promised Messiah. This happened as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He was welcomed as the messianic deliverer and His next act was to cleanse the temple and declare that it was to be called a ‘house of prayer.’

Jesus then tells a parable about the wicked vineyard keepers which He summarizes by quoting an earlier verse from Psalm 118.  

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Matthew 21:42-43 NKJV)

Thus far we have the people worshipping and welcoming Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus receiving their praise, then cleansing the temple. Right after that He confronts the religious leaders of the nation over their rejection of Him and says what they thought they had was going to be taken away. We now come to Matthew 23.

33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” Matthew 23:33–39 (NKJV)

This is a huge accountability passage. There were always some righteous in the history of national Israel. Yet over and over again the leadership rejected the prophetic voices the Lord sent to them. In referencing Abel to Zechariah Jesus is covering the entire Old Testament period. So we have Jesus pronouncing judgement over their rejection of Him, which in the next chapter leads to His declaration of the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in 70 AD. What is significant is we have an end time timing event woven in here. Jesus publicly declares that even though the people had welcomed Him as the Messiah the leadership of the nation had rejected Him, as they had all the previous prophets. Now judgment was imminent and the nation would not see Him again until the leadership welcomed Him as the Messiah.  

I think the significance of this is generally missed. Many are expecting Jesus to return at any moment and looking for a rapture prior to tribulation. I for one am not. I welcome and look forward to His return. I also recognize that it isn’t going to happen until some other events take place. One is multitudes from Egypt worshipping Him, as I noted at the beginning, but of much more significance is Israel recognizing Him as their long awaited Messiah. So, not matter how much I may long for Jesus to return now, if I want Him to return I would do well to intercede for the salvation of Israel.  

I will take this further in my next post but for now I encourage you to join me in being a watchmen on the wall for Israel and praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
They shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent,
And give Him no rest till He establishes
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:6-7 NKJV)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
Prosperity within your palaces.” (Psalm 122:6-7)

 (Isaiah 62:6-7Psalm 122:6-7).