“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”
The purpose of Israel’s time at Mount Sinai was to develop as a nation upon the foundation stone of the Word of God. Moses went up the mountain alone, and came down the mountain with clear and detailed instructions from heaven regarding how the people should live. These instructions are referred to simply as “the Law” and can be divided into three groups. The Moral Law is a list of unchanging standards God set upon mankind. The Religious Law was designed to instruct the people regarding relationship with God. The Civil Law was created to keep order. Since God was forming this traveling band into a nation, it would be necessary to also establish leadership, and because of the nature of men, it would not be long before the people would begin to complain about those who are in charge. Knowing this was coming, God declares,
Exodus 22:28 “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”
Simply put, God made it illegal for the people to curse their rulers. This is not because the rulers would always prove to be faultless, nor did it mean they were above the law, or their actions could not be questioned. In fact, God always puts a higher standard on rulers, than he does on the rest of the people. What this law was designed to do was point out the folly of sitting around complaining about those who are in charge.
Instead of grousing about our leaders, the laws, or the direction the nation is heading, the Bible gives us a far more productive way to handle poor leadership, and a declining culture. God instructs us to pray for our leadership, and to infiltrate culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I wonder what would happen, if we took half the time we spent complaining about the condition of our nation, and invested that time in prayer and seeking effective ways to bring the Gospel message to others.
“Then it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and at all the appointed seasons of the house of Israel. He shall prepare the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel.”
Recently, I was captivated by the different titles given to political leaders. In one news segment, I saw references to presidents, kings, prime ministers and even a supreme ruler. It is interesting the view men have of rulers. In some settings, they are seen as gods, while in other settings, servants of the people. Here, in Ezekiel, we get a glimpse into how God views those who rule over men. He sees them as representatives of Himself, and expects them to set an example for the people of what it means to be committed to Him. In God’s economy, a ruler of the people must first be a follower of YHWH. Israel’s greatest leader was described as a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22). This evidenced itself in a desire to please God and properly represent Him to the people.
What the world needs today are men and women who will lead others by being committed to the Lord. This kind of leadership will transform a nation, a business, and especially, a home.
“For they have committed adultery with their idols, and even sacrificed their sons whom they bore to Me, passing them through the fire, to devour them.”
Ezekiel points out that the sins of the parents resulted in the sacrifice of the children. When they stopped following the Lord, their decision impacted the next generation. I think it would do us good to keep in mind that we have a much greater influence on others than we might think. Jesus compared us to a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). Paul explained, the whole world is watching the Christian as though we were on display. When we decide to commit ourselves to the Lord, living to please to Him, that decision will impact others. People will take notice and decide to further their commitment to Christ. On the other hand, if we wander from the Lord, we will have a domino effect upon others who may fall along with us.
Remember, after the death of Christ, when Peter decided to return to fishing? He was distraught over the events that had transpired, and he seems to have stepped backwards in his relationship with Christ. I find it interesting, he was not fishing alone, other men were drawn away with him. This always seems to be the case. The decisions we make, for or against the Lord, will always create a current, pulling others along with us.
Let’s make sure to keep pressing toward the Lord.
“Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates!”
As king of Judah, Zedekiah was afforded certain privileges and responsibilities. His seat, or throne, gave him authority that others did not have, and this authority made him culpable before God for his actions and how they impacted the nation.
While very few of us have a seat that gives us authority over a nation, we have all been afforded certain privileges and authority. For some it is the position as a father. This role grants us the responsibility of instructing our children in the word of God, guiding them in the ways of the Lord, and setting a godly example for them. Others have been given a position as co-worker, where we are able to establish relationships with others and be a witness of Christ to them. It is through these relationships that we are able to exemplify what Christianity really looks like, and help to guide them to Christ. Still others, have been given a position of influence as a teacher, leader or role model. Whatever our seat may be, it is important that we recognize it to be God given and use it for His glory. Zedekiah’s failure was, he never saw that his position carried with it a responsibility before God. Membership not only has privileges, it also has responsibility.
2 Kings 2:14
“Where is the Lord God of Elijah?”
Looking back, we see that the ministry of Elijah was remarkable. He came out of obscurity, and was powerfully used as the voice of God for a nation. His ministry impacted kings, and stirred revival in a morally collapsing Israel. As he aged, the world knew it was losing one of the greatest men who ever walked its soil.
Elijah had taken the time to invest in a younger man named Elisha, who no doubt, would be filled with emotion as he watched his mentor pass through the heavens. What would happen to him? What would happen to Israel? Was there any hope for this falling nation? It is in this situation that Elisha speaks, and his words reveal to us the ways of God. “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” Elisha realized that the success behind the ministry of Elijah was his Lord; so the cry of his heart was for more of God. As Elisha made his way back to the other prophets, they saw something in him that had not been as noticeable before, “The Spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha”.
If the work of God is going to continue in our day, as it has in the past, we need the God of Elijah. If we are going to experience revival that transforms lives and turn the course of a town, city, county or nation, we need the Spirit of Elijah. If we are going to see our families impacted, and our children walking with Christ, we need the God of Elijah. When Elisha was asked what he wanted, (an open ended question, which would reveal the depths of his heart), he replied “Let a double portion of the Spirit be upon me.”
What does your heart cry for? If you could have anything, what would it be? It is time we take a page from the book of Elisha and cry for the Spirit of God upon us, and a work of God around us.
2 Samuel 10:12
“Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.”
It is easy to become weary in the service of the Lord. This is especially true when it seems we have failed. David sent a group of men as ambassadors of Israel to King Hanun of Ammon. He desired to show kindness to the king after the loss of his father, Nahash. What seemed to be a relatively easy mission, turned out to be an embarrassing failure. Instead of being met with kindness, these men were treated with contempt. King Hanun’s men shaved off half their beards, and cut their robes so that their buttocks hung out, then sent them home in shame. Ammon’s actions were such as to incite war and Joab led the charge. As the battle was about to begin, Joab encouraged the men, by reminding them what they were fighting for.
“Let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God.”
When things become difficult in our walk with the Lord, it is important to remember why we are in the battle. Although our battle is not against flesh and blood, it is no less of a battle. We are fighting for the furtherance of God’s kingdom, and for the sake of our family. Each time we resist temptation, or speak out on behalf of the Gospel, we are doing it for the Kingdom and for our family. Each time we overcome the works of the flesh, we are one step closer to having a positive impact upon others.
If you are weary of resisting the flesh, remember you are not fighting for yourself alone. Do it for your spouse, your children, your church, and His kingdom.