Sermon – May 7, 2017
Deuteronomy 16:18-18:22 – Honor Authorities (mp3)
As we have worked through Deuteronomy, looking at how Moses has explained the 10 Commandments to this point, many of the links between the commandments and the explanations have been clear. Not necessarily today, however. How do instructions for submission to judges, a future king, the giving to Levites, and the determination of true prophets relate to honor your father and mother? The family is the basic structure of society, and therefore the most basic and natural form of honor is due to parents. But Moses implores us to see that this honor naturally extends to other authorities in society. If we are to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10), let us be people who are:
1. Submissive to authorities
While the command to honor your father and mother means more than “you need to listen to me!” it certainly doesn’t mean less. While we need to understand the limits of authority provided from God to humans, we must recognize that he has indeed given it. The people were to be “careful to do according to all that the judges directed them to do (Deut 17:10) much like God (cf. Deut 5:32).
2. Humble in authority
God is well aware, however, of humanities ability to twist and pervert all the good gifts that he gives to them, including authority. Therefore, he warns both judges (Deut 16:18-20) and future kings (Deut 17:20) that they serve a greater purpose than just their own aggrandizement. Especially in light of the great authority of the king, God commands them to maintain humility that they might rightly serve their brothers.
3. Generous with authorities
In Deut 18:1-8 God calls for his people to give generously to the Levites, who serve as priests over them. Is it not enough that we simple submit to authorities in our life, however, as though what God desires is just duty from us. Rather, God desires us to provide richly to those who are in authority over us, sometimes in material things (Mark 7:1-13) or in the quality of our work (Col 3:22-24).
4. Wise in recognizing authority
Given that authorities have these great privileges over us, we must be careful and wise to appoint them well. This means that we judge those who are worthy by God’s word and revelation to us. Do not give yourselves over to men or women who are content to speak for themselves. Listen to the Lord!
We are given many authorities in our lives: parents, bosses, police, politicians, pastors, umpires, judges. Yet, our only true authority is King Jesus, who is both the voice that we are ultimately responsible to listen to and follow, and our great example of a submissive, humble, and generous life lived before authority. Let us do all we can to have his mind as ours, ultimately giving him glory in doing so!