Saturday, October 16, 2010

True Authority

Revelation 13:7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

7 καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ ποιῆσαι πόλεμον μετὰ τῶν ἁγίων καὶ νικῆσαι αὐτούς, καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ ἐξουσία ἐπὶ πᾶσαν φυλὴν καὶ λαὸν καὶ γλῶσσαν καὶ ἔθνος. 8  καὶ προσκυνήσουσιν αὐτὸν πάντες οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, οὗ οὐ γέγραπται τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ ἀρνίου τοῦ ἐσφαγμένου ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου.

It's tempting to get sidetracked with interpretive questions here.  Who is the beast?  Is it the President?  I don't think so for a lot of reasons.  Some thought it was Kennedy.  Others thought it was Hitler.  Pope John Paul II was another candidate.  We can speculate forever about this and in fact there are many folks who love to do just that.  I do not want to venture any guess about that.

But what I do know for sure is that any evil only exists through authority given by the Lord.  The phrase ἐδόθη αὐτῷ (literally translated "it was given") is an aorist passive.  In other words, all of these abominations could not happen apart from God's will.  He does not necessarily will each specific evil act, but He does give authority to this beast.

We've seen this before in Scripture.  The same thing happens in Job, which makes some skeptics see the whole book as little more than a bar bet between God and Satan.  But where we see this most significantly is at the cross.  There are references throughout Scripture that it was God's will for Jesus to die on the cross.  Therefore, in a sense God willed the most heinous act ever committed.

Does this mean we should throw in the towel when it comes to God?  By no means!  Instead, it should comfort us that nothing happens beyond His control.  I can't speak for you, but I always like to have a sense of what is going on.  I can handle a certain degree of chaos if I know that the important things are taken care of.  Knowing that God is ultimately in charge gives me great comfort.  All sorts of terrible things happen to Christians every day.  Yet God is in control and has a plan to make it all work out for His glory.  Therefore, if we focus on the Lord and the glory of His name as our greatest good then we can weather anything that comes our way.

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