Declaring Dependence

Are you faithful to God? If you consider yourself faithful, then what do you mean by “faithful”? Does that mean that your faith is so full that you are humbly submissive and eagerly obedient to your Creator?

Do you only serve God periodically, or during special times? Do you love and obey Him in good times and in bad times? Consider the following cycle of faithfulness/unfaithfulness in the early life of the Israelite nation:

Point #1: Failure (Judges 2:10-13).
Point #2: Fight/Fear (Judges 2:14-15).
Point #3: Freedom (Judges 2:16).
Point #4: Faithfulness (Judges 2:18b).

The people would cry out to God during their times of “terrible distress”, but they did not fully give up their idolatrous practices or their lack of real love for Yahweh (Judges 2:17-19). You will find this pattern or cycle repeated multiple times throughout the book of Judges.

Do we ever fall into a cycle of faithfulness/unfaithfulness? Is such a cycle even faithfulness at all?

What was the ultimate problem during this period of Israelite history? The answer is given four times in this book: Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:5. The heart of the problem is often stated right before some horrible atrocity is described (see 18:1; 19:1). The very last verse of Judges explains, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

But what does that mean? Is that simply a reference to the fact that there was no civil king like Saul or David sitting on a throne in the land?

The real problem was that Yahweh, who was their rightful king, was not king in their hearts and lives. They had rejected Him as their Sovereign Ruler (cf. 1 Samuel 8:1-9; 12:12; Luke 19:14). Yahweh had chosen them as a treasured nation for Himself, but now they had abandoned Him and His Word (cf. Deuteronomy 7:6-11; Judges 2:12-13).

Do we ever strive to be “good” so God will give us good things? Are we serving Him because of how great He is, or because of how great His blessings and promises are? Do we ever treat Him like a Genie in a bottle that we rub whenever we need something?

We should pray to God and seek His help in times of trouble (cf. 1 Peter 5:6-7), but we must be careful that we are not engaging in “mourning cloud religion.”

When times are good, some begin to think that they do not need God because they're doing just fine by their own abilities (cf. Revelation 3:17-19). When times are rough, some begin to think that they do not need God because He has not kept them from trouble and pain. Both of these forms of inconsistent faithfulness manifest a lack of dependence on and delight in God. Both forms of unfaithfulness declare, “I do not need/want God.”

So what is the solution to this problem of inconsistent service to God? The solution is making God king on the throne of our hearts (see again Judges 21:25). If we are in the reign of God by submission to immersion into the Messiah (Colossians 2:11-12), then we must live each day as loyal subjects in the kingdom of the Messiah. If King Jesus is sitting on the throne of our hearts, then we are declaring that we are totally dependent upon Him and His will.   

Remembering the Reign

There is a lot of turmoil and confusion in our world today. One does not have to look very far to see battle lines being drawn and emotions running high in the world of politics /culture. From the upcoming presidential election to the issues regarding public bathrooms, there are a lot of a heated discussions and impactful actions occurring. It can be easy to get caught up in such, and it is fairly easy to begin to be either pessimistic and downtrodden or angry and confused....or possibly some combination thereof.

As followers of the Messiah, we are to live in this current world, but not to be of this world. Let us keep ever in our hearts that the kingdom we have joined is not “of this current world” (see John 18:33-38; Matthew 6:10; etc.). Knowing the nature of the reign of God should instill confidence, contentment, and courage in our hearts...if we belong to Him.

“Be subject for the Master's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor (president) as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as slaves of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor (president)” (1 Peter 2:13-17; compare with Romans 13:1-7).

It should to be clear that we are to honor and submit to our governing authorities...whether we personally agree with their decisions (or like them) or not. But if submitting to a civil authority ever conflicts with Divine commands, then we also know how we ought to respond: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; see also 4:18-20).

Some more important reminders/observations:

Spiritual liberty is far more important than civil liberty (liberties). I am unaware of any passage of Holy Writ discussing the merits of civil liberties. It is righteousness that exalts a nation (read that somewhere in an old book with lots of wisdom)...not political function, structure, or liberty. As odd as it may seem to some, a lack of civil liberty actually breeds commitment among God's holy ones. History (both inspired and non-inspired) abundantly testifies to the way persecution fans the flames of spiritual and numerical growth within the body of the Messiah. Read Acts 4:1-4; 5:41-6:1, 7.

Individual repentance brings a nation back from ruin, not leaders or voting booths. Hearts changed by the good news leads to changed lives – all of which then leads to a changed people. The good news of the King is the Divine power to save and make people right before God (Romans 1:16-17). We will never truly change any nation by our vote (or any kind of political effort)...the only way to truly change a nation is to live within and to proclaim the rescuing reign of Deity.

If Jesus is to truly be our Master, then He must be the Master of every arena of our lives – including the workplace, the grocery store, and the voting booth. May the Messiah be the Master of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  

End of the day truth: Jesus is King of kings...let us strive to be His loyal subjects! May we never be ashamed of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, for it is the Divine power for deliverance to everyone who believes.    

For His infinite worth,