11 January 2011 (Shleshi/Bikkurim)|
Day #301, 5934 AM
Grounds, Privileges and Responsibilities
I am sure most of you have a fairly good idea what authority is. My dictionary defines it as "the power or right to control, judge or prohibit the actions of others". Human beings are rather fond of exercising it and the more they get, the more apparently they want...especially politicians. Someone once said that to test someone's character, give them power. How right they were.
The righteous exercise of power is perhaps the greatest challenge of humankind. Many religious and political philosophies have been offered as a framework in which to exercise it. And it doesn't seem to matter whether such authority is wielded in the hands of politicians or priests - too much of it seems to corrupt. In the 21st century, in our supposed 'age of enlightenment', man still doesn't know how to use it righteously.
The uniform biblical witness is that the only rightful authority or power (elohim) within creation is, ultimately, the Creator's. Such authority as men have is delegated to them by Yahweh, to whom they must answer for the way they use it. Because all authority is ultimately Yahweh's, submission to authority in all realms of life is a religious duty, and part of our service to Yahweh.
Yahweh-Elohim's authority is an aspect of His unalterable, universal, and eternal dominion over His world:
Yahweh's regal authority over mankind consists in His unchallengeable right and power to dispose of men as He pleases (Rom.9:21; Jer.18:6) plus His indisputable claim that men should be subject to Him and live for His glory. It matters not one iota whether we agree with this or not by any sudden professed declaration of atheism or agnosticism because throughout the Bible, the reality of Yahweh's authority is proved by the fact that all who ignore or flout this claim incur divine judgment. The royal Judge has the last word, and so His authority is vindicated. It may be delayed in the coming (to give man the opportunity to repent, not because He is impotent), but come it assuredly does.
"Yahweh shall reign forever and ever" (Ex.15:18, NKJV).
"Yahweh sat enthroned at the Flood, and Yahweh sits as King forever" (Ps.29:10, NKJV).
"Yahweh reigns, He is clothed with majesty; Yahweh is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting" (Ps.93:1-2, NKJV).
"For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation" (Dan.4:34, NKJV).
Yahweh has always exercised His authority through the agency of authentic judges, prophets, priests and (latterly), kings, whose respective work it was to proclaim His messages:
"When all Israel comes to appear before Yahweh your Elohim (God) in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law (torah) before all Israel in their hearing" (Deut.31:11, NKJV).
"For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law (Torah) from his mouth; for he is the messenger of Yahweh of hosts" (Mal.2:7, NKJV).
Obviously the priest or minister has to be teaching the correct law or he is not an authentic priest or minister. The written Scriptures we have, that form (at the very least) the Protestant Canon of the Bible, are acknowledged by Yahweh as coming from Him and therefore authoritative, both as instruction (torah) to teach Israelites their Heavenly King's mind (Ps.119) and as the statute-book by which He rules and judges them (2 Ki.22-23).
The authority of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is also an aspect of Kingship because He is the bona fide King of Messianic Israel, being both the Son of Elohim and the Son of Man (the Messianic Man). As man and Messiah, His authority is real because it was delegated to Him by Elohim at whose command He does His work (remember, He applauded the Roman Centurion for seeing this - Mt.8:9ff.). As the Son, His authority is real because He is Himself Elohim. Authority to judge has been given Him, both that He may be honoured as the Son of Elohim (for judgment is Elohim's work), and also because He is the Son of Man (for judgment is the Messiah's work - Jn.5:22ff,27). In short, His authority is that of a Divine Messiah: of a God-man, doing His Father's will in the double capacity of:
I don't propose to list all the evidence of this authority which is self-evident to the student of Scripture other than to briefly mention the finality and independence of His teaching (Mt.7:28ff.), His power to cast out demons, his mastery over storms (Lk.8:24ff.), and His claim to be able to forgive sins - with the proof - which only Elohim can do (Mk.2:5-12; cp. Mt.9:8). After His resurrection He claimed that He had been given all authority in heaven and on earth - a cosmic messianic dominion, to be exercised - not randomly - but in such a way as effectively to bring the elect into His kingdom of salvation (Mt.28:18ff.; Jn.17:2; cp. Jn.12:31ff.; Ac.5:31; 18:9ff). The New Testament proclaims the exalted Yah'shua (Jesus) as "both Master (Lord) and Messiah (Christ)" (Ac.2:36) - divine Ruler of all things, and Saviour-King of His people, Messianic Israel. The Gospel is, in the first instace, a demand for assent to this estimate of His authority. Until that is acknowledged, all religious profession or activity is vain and useless.
- a. Human servant, in whom meet the saving offices of judge, prophet, priest, husband, father and king; and
- b. Divine Son, co-Creator and sharer in all the Father's works (Jn.5:19ff.)
Next we come to apostolic authority which is delegated messianic authority - for the apostles were Yah'shua's commissioned witnesses, emissaries, and representatives (Mt.10:40; Jn.17:18; 20:21; Ac.1:8; 2 Cor.5:20) given authority by Him to found, build up, and regulate the Universal Messianic Community (2 Cor.10:8; 13:10; cp.Gal.2:7ff.). And so we find them giving orders and prescribing discipline in Yah'shua's Name, that is, as His spokesmen and with His authority (1 Cor.5:4; 2 Thes.3:6). They appointed shammashim or deacons (Ac.6:3,6), zaqqenim or elders, and Pastors (Ac.14:23). They presented their teaching as Messiah's emet or truth, Ruach(Spirit)-given in both content and form of expression (1 Cor.2:9-13; cp. 1 Thes.2:13), a norm for faith (2 Thes.2:15; cp. Gal.1:8) and behaviour (2 Thes.3:4,6,14) which they always aligned with the Torah (e.g. 1 Cor.13:44). They expected their ad hoc rulings to be received as "the commandment of the Master" (1 Cor.14:37). Because their authority depended on Yah'shua's direct personal commission, they had, properly speaking, no successors, though other apostles have since followed of lower rank subject the the original teachings and rulings of the first ones directly commissioned by Messiah.
As modern believers we must show the continuity of apostolic authority of the first generation and our allegiance to Messiah by subjecting our own faith and life to the norm of teaching which Yah'shua's appointed delegates provided and put on record for all time in the New Testament if we are to make any sort of claim to delegated authority ourselves. Anyone who therefore deviates from this teaching immediately disqualifies himself of any pretence to authority in the Messianic Community (Church) because this apostolic authority has been made a permanent reality by Christ.
The Christian world is full of Christian and Messianic claimants to 'apostolic authority'. Thousands of men and women style themselves as 'apostles' and some even claim to have exclusive authority to organise a church which alone is the true Body of Christ on earth (the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Mormon (LDS) Church, United Church of God, Restored Church of God, Apostolic Church of God, and dozens of others). In many cases, their history of attrocities and abuses of power testify against their claims, not to mention their false teachings, which completely disqualify them. Yet millions continue to believe and follow them as "blind guides" (Mt.23:16,24).
Mormons and others claim special 'divine revelation' to establish exclusive churches, assemblies and ministries, using as their claim the calling of Aaron by Yahweh:
Unfortunately for them, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) was Himself the last High Priest to be called by revelation in this fashion, He being the Eternal High Priest who interceeds for us at the Throne of Yahweh in Heaven. No one, then, may be called as Aaron was any more, at once ending the claims of legalistic apostolic succession claims made by Catholics, Mormons and others. For the second generation of apostles were - as they are today - called as was Sha'ul or Paul of Tarsus. He was authorised by Yahweh for adhering to three essential truths:
"For every Cohen Gadol (high priest) taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to Elohim (God), that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also beset by weakness. Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honour to himself, but he who is called by Elohim (God), just as Aaron was" (Heb.5:1-4, NKJV).
Frankly I find very few if any claimants to the apostolic office doing all of these today, and the reason why, I believe, is that Yahweh has not called them yet even if they may be in preparation. Therefore I urge believers to treat with great caution anyone claiming to be an 'apostle' of the kind we find mentioned in the New Testament who alone set the standard of ones possessed of Christ's true authority. What I do see is many false apostles, wolves in sheeps clothing, teaching both false doctrines and manifesting occultic-type, counterfeit supernatural powers, or having no spiritual power whatsoever. Whence, then, shall we find authentic authority?
- 1. He taught Yahweh's eternal Torah (in spite of being misunderstood to have been opposed to it);
- 2. He abided by the teachings of the original commissioned apostles (minus Judas, plus Mattias/Mattityahu); and
- 3. He brought forth the unmistakable and indisputable supernatural signs of the apostle in his ministry.
To answer this question, we must consider two other spheres of authority that Yahweh has given. The first of these is critical for the survival and well-being of the true Body of Christ in the days before true apostles are finally anointed and revealed. For the first line of divinely recognised authority is in the home or family where husbands have authority over their wives (1 Cor.11:3; cp. 1 Tim.2:12) and parents over children (cp. 1 Tim.3:4,12). Hence, wives must obey their husbands (Eph.5:22; 1 Pet.3:1-6) and children their parents (Eph.6:1ff.). This is Yahweh's order. Thus the husband is the sovereign priest of his home under Messiah Yah'shua and must govern it accordingly for the messianic community or church properly consists of such families, as anciently, and as for ever. Without the proper patriatchal order at home there is no 'Church' or 'Messianic Community'. In the absence of the Theocratic Nation of Messianic Israel, which must await Yah'shua's return, this is where proper divine authority is exercised. During this time of diaspora or dispersal, it is then up to families to voluntarily assemble together as congregations and to establish deacons, elders and pastors by prayerful consent, until the return of the apostles and the final gathering.
The second sphere of authority - in the absence of the Theocratic Nation of Messianic Israel - is the civil government of each nation-state - which, though far from perfect and in many (if not most) cases oppressive, are still Yahweh's servants (however good or evil, and however good or bad their laws) to punish evil-doers and encourage law-abiding (Rom.13:1-6). Believers are to view the 'powers that be' as Elohim-ordained to prevent anarchy (Jn.19:11) and upon occasion to exercise divine judgment on disobedient believers, and to dutifully subject themselves to civil authority (Rom.13:1; 1 Pet.2:13ff.; cp. Mt.22:17-21) so far as is compatible with observance of Yahweh's direct commandments (Ac.9:19; 5:29).
A great deal of responsibility therefore falls upon the heads of husbands and fathers in these days. A family with a bad husband or father is therefore in dire straits. Getting the family in order is therefore of the highest importance. It is verily critical which is why this ministry lays such a heavy emphasis on the restoration of true, godly marriage and families. Indeed the family is supposed to present a picture of what the true Body of Messiah should look like. If families, then, are in disarray, how can we know what the true Messianic Assembly is supposed to look like? We cannot. Where Yahweh's order is not followed in the family, so it is not followed in the churches or messianic assemblies either, and is why there is so much chaos and lawlessness in them.
Authentic, spiritually-empowered authority (and not just the legal rights - both are important) will only return to the Messianic Community or Church as it returns to the home. And that kind of authority, given to the man, will always be in direct proportion to his surrenderedness to the Ultimate Authority, Yahweh - not merely in word but in very attitude and deed. This will in turn be parallelled by a wife's surrender to her husband just as the Body of Messiah as a whole (men and women) surrenders to Messiah. The survival and prosperity of the end-time messianic community or church hangs on this and doctrines that contradict the plain Word will render both family and Body of Christ impotent in the face of persecution and tribulation.
This, then, is a clarion call to husbands and fathers to totally surrender themselves to Yah'shua in everything and for wives to surrender themselves to their husbands, as it is written. Until this has been done, there will be no authentic revival and all other revivals will be counterfeit, built as they will be on the wrong foundation of divine authority.
May you find grace and peace as you work these things out.