Romans 13, Part 2
Jan 03, 2011
Paul writes in Romans 13:2 and 3,
(2) Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. (3) For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
There is a difference between lawful authority and misused authority. Lawful authority is when the one authority has been appointed by a higher power and really does occupy that seat of authority. Someone who lawfully holds a position of authority may either use it according to the will of the higher power, or else misuse it for his own benefit.
In the case of misused authority, it is the responsibility of the higher power to make the correction or to remove his servant from his position. Those who are subject to authority have the right to appeal to that higher power, but they cannot revolt without revolting also against the higher power.
This issue becomes more complex when we believe that God is the highest Power and Sovereign. God claims ownership of the earth by right of creation (Jer. 27:5; Lev. 25:23). He invented the idea of authority in the earth (Gen. 1:26). He appointed Moses to his position of authority over Pharaoh, saying in Ex. 7:1, "See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh." The term god literally means "strong authority."
God appointed Joshua after him (Deut. 31:14), and many years later God chose Saul (1 Sam. 10:1) and then David (1 Sam. 16:1). Though imperfect, David did not abuse his position of authority, and when he did, he repented. On the other hand, Saul misused his authority without repenting. In both cases, God took the credit for anointing them as kings, and God judged both kings in His own manner.
Solomon, too, was genuinely called to be king, but he greatly misused his position of authority. When he died, the Israelites revolted against his son over high taxes without representation (1 Kings 12:14-16). This caused a breach in the Kingdom. God called Jeroboam to rule the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 11:26-31), while Rehoboam was called to rule two tribes in the southern kingdom of Judah (1 Kings 11:36).
This revolt was fomented by God Himself, because He had decreed judgment upon the house of Solomon. Here is where the idea of submitting to lawful authority becomes complex and difficult for most people to understand readily. When is a revolt not a sin? The biblical answer is simple: It is not a sin when God Himself has decreed it, because in such a case the people are merely obeying the voice of God.
The tricky part is in knowing that God has indeed authorized such a revolt. It is too simplistic to claim that a ruler has misused his position. There will always be some who feel this way, no matter what a ruler does. Furthermore, God always gives men and rulers time to repent. Men do not usually know anything about timing, so they do not know the proper time to revolt, much less IF they should revolt at all. Apart from hearing God's voice, such things cannot be known, and in Scripture a revolt is to be determined, not by individuals hearing God's voice, but by the word of prophets who are recognized by the people and even by government as having that position.
From the standpoint of the people themselves, most of them function on a lower level of awareness and are motivated largely by their own political or economic interests. Believers generally look at some higher standards of right and wrong. Few of them understand the purposes of God or the divine plan. For example, Solomon's son did not understand the divine plan to strip him of ten tribes, for we read in 1 Kings 12:15,
(15) So the king did not listen to the people [in their appeal for lower taxes]; for it was a turn of events from the Lord, that He might establish His word, which the Lord spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
In other words, God hardened the heart of King Rehoboam in order to cause the people to revolt. The people were concerned about high taxes without proper representation. God was concerned about the sins of Solomon.
America's Revolt against King George
The breach in the kingdom occurred when Solomon died in 931 B.C. It represented a split between Judah and Joseph, and between the Scepter and the Birthright. Many years later (13 x 210 years), God raised this issue once again. It occurred in the year 1776, when the Americans (representing Joseph) revolted against King George III of Britain (representing the throne of Judah/David) over high taxes without representation.
America won this conflict, and the kingdom was split once again. The Americans felt justified in revolting, because their petitions had gone unheeded. It was a virtual repeat of the situation in 1 Kings 12. America won their independence, and thus Americans have settled on the idea that revolting against the misuse of authority is righteous in the sight of God.
But is it really? It is only right if God decrees such a thing. Obviously, God did make such a decree in 1776, for the outcome proves it. The parallel found in 1 Kings 12 provides us with the double witness. But we see in the biblical story that the northern tribes of Israel were no more righteous than the southern tribes, nor was Israel's king more righteous than Judah's. Israel's success was not based upon their own righteousness, but rather upon the fact that God had judged the king of Judah.
So also was it in 1776. The Americans were no more righteous than their counterparts in England. Yet it was in the divine plan to bring judgment upon the king of England for his misuse of authority. Stepping back even further to look at the bigger picture, it was God's intent to re-create the breach in the kingdom--the same breach that He created in 1 Kings 12--in order to resolve the ancient breach and to unite the Scepter and the Birthright under one Head at the appointed time.
I do not expect to see America and Britain reunited under the British monarchy, nor yet under an American president. I believe that when this breach is repaired, it will be under the headship of Jesus Christ, as Hosea 1:11 prophesies:
(11) And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one Leader. . .
The timing of this comes in the context of the manifestation of the sons of God (vs. 10), which is our great Hope today. God has a greater plan in mind, but the foundations of that plan are seen in the representatives of Judah and Joseph today--Britain and America. To these, I am always quick to add Canada, because, as you know, Joseph became two tribes while separated from his brethren. I believe that America and Canada are a picture of those two tribes.
In my view, these are the nations that will lead the rest of the world into a greater earthly manifestation of the Kingdom of God. The Stone Kingdom of Dan. 2:35 will start with these and then grow until it fills the whole earth with Kingdom nations, all under the headship of King Jesus. Both Joseph and David (of Judah) were types of Christ. The two comings of Christ reunite the two patterns of prophecy for The Age to come.
This is the second part of a series titled "Romans 13." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones