Today, there are plenty of sources trying to control us. It may be our boss at work, the government, or the police officer who pulled us over for speeding. Even our own children “think” they are in a place of power when they try to manipulate us into doing what they want. All of these “authorities” play a role in our daily lives. How we respond is up to us. Peter suggests we “submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed.” Did you catch those final words? The ones God has appointed.
Does that mean all who serve in an official capacity as an “authority” are appointed by God? Or does that mean that we need to submit to the ones God has appointed and not all the other ones? If the latter, how do we know who is who?
Is he talking about us? Verse 14 says he’s talking about the evil nations seeking to harm Israel. They are not God’s chosen ones. God’s fury is settling in on Israel and Judah, but what about the rest of the world?
We know from the other messages Jeremiah has been sharing that God will use other nations to bring destruction. But in this reading, the prophecy switches to give hope to other nations as well. The instruction is there for how they can find favor with God, too.
Our final readings for the theme, “Seeking the Kingdom of God” come from both the Old and New Testament. Each are beautiful glimpses into what we’ll see when God’s kingdom is fully revealed. These images should be enough to whet our appetites to not fear that day but look forward to its revelation.
We’re living now in the “in between time” waiting for the big reveal! We’re anxious and we want more! We can only imagine the ultimate splendor God will one day reveal. That’s why Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33 ring out to us as a clear reminder of what we need to do while we wait. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
When you imagine what it was like to have God’s voice thundering from the fiery mountain, what do you feel? Did you just read the words and not really put yourself in the moment as if you were there, too? I know I did when I read it the passage the first time. Take a moment and re-read the passage. The people were afraid. They wanted Moses to risk his life, so they’d be safe. Yet, they did said they’d obey God.
Sometimes it’s easy to let someone else take the heat in our place. Do you remember “drawing straws” to see who would have to do the dirty work? Most people tend to want to avoid confrontation. Sure, there are plenty of risk takers out there these days. But fear can paralyze us from taking action. These people in our reading today were clearly fearful for their lives. How cool was it that God spoke to all of them?
There are some interesting truths shared in today’s reading.
I’m sure I’m missing some of the intended meanings due to cultural differences
and such. What spoke to me most is the counsel on envy in verse 17, with the promise
in verse 18. “Don’t envy sinners, but always continue to fear the Lord. You
will be rewarded for this; your hope will not be disappointed.”
How many times have you wished for something your neighbor
had? One of my childhood memories is longing for a horse of my own when the
neighbor girl across the street got hers. She would ride this majestic creature
from the pasture where she kept him into our suburban neighborhood. She would
brush him and give him a bath… right there in her driveway! Of course, I
would be glued to the window watching her every move, wondering when my day
would come to have a horse of my own. That is still a bucket list item for me –
to have a horse of my own.