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Grace Bible Church

Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.

The Tree of Life for week ending 12/23/01.

The Importance of Authority. Gen 16.

 We have completed GEN 16:7-8 and the corrected translation says  "Now the angel of the Lord [the Lord Jesus Christ] found her or confronted her by the oasis in the desert, by an oasis on the way to Shur. And He said, Hagar, Sarai's maid [or Sarai's female slave], where have you come from and where are you going? And she said, I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai."
Here we see the difference between grace and justice, the grace of God is found when The Lord Jesus Christ said "where have you come from and where are you going?"
The Justice of God we will see in verse 9, "Then the angel of the Lord [Jesus Christ] said to her, Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority. Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority."

Grace reaches out and touches us, while Justice tells us the right thing to do.
In verse 9 the word return is the Hebrew verb shuwb and it is a command to return and go back to that place of authority even though the authority is wrong and out of order.  If she is ever going to solve the problem, she must obey the command and return to the problem. Notice she is also told to submit to the authority of Sarai.

First of all, the divine solution does not include running away from the problem or the scene of adversity.  Some people spend their entire lives running away and that is never a solution. 

Secondly, the divine solution recognizes the principle of human authority even though that authority has been abused and distorted.  Human authority is never perfect but it is something established by God for the purpose of the human race surviving, ROM 13:1, "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God."
Divine solutions do not reject human authority. 

Thirdly, abuse of human authority comes from neglect and apathy of authority [Abram] or lack of capacity for authority accompanied by mental attitude sins [such as Sarai had toward [Hagar].
Human authority is abused where there is arrogance, jealousy, pettiness, implacability, which results in some form of retaliation or persecution. This is what happened in the case of Sarai.
Here the Lord Jesus Christ is actually teaching that running away from authority is never the answer to anything. The Lord's command to Hagar is to go back to Sarai, because all divine solutions take cognizance of authority.  God never solves problems outside of established authority.  This is why Christian activism and civil disobedience is so evil.  There is no such thing as escaping from authority.
When God says, "Go back", as He does here, He provides the logistical grace support to return to the scene of adversity.

Remember this whole mess started when Abram ran away from the problem, ignoring the problem in hopes that it will disappear and when it didn't he turned the problem over to his wife for a solution.
Ss we have noted HOS 8:7 "For they sow the wind, And they reap the whirlwind, the whirlwind has  intensified."
A principle here is that no one learns how to live until they can identify and respect authority, regardless of the person in authority.  This is one of the reasons why The Lord Jesus Christ is sending Hagar back to Abram and Sarai.

Lack of authority has led to a lack of discipline and integrity in Abram's household, instead of being under sound rulership, it has become full of envy and strife.  Therefore, this situation demands that the supreme court judge, The Lord Jesus Christ comes in and judges the situation!
The point for Hagar and a lesson for all of us is: authority isn't always going to do the right thing by us.  But no matter how unfair it is, you don't rebel against it.
All of us live under authority and we all will for the rest of our lives.  Authority can be abused because we all have old sin natures.  But authority must always be recognized, the principle of authority has never been changed by its many abuses or its many violations.  Criminals have their own system of authority, they don't recognize any authority except their own.  Their problems like anyone else's will never be solved by running from authority.

1Pe 2 deals with this subject of authority as it related to our passage, 1PE 2:13-3:1 "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority or to governors [meaning state law or the laws of the state] as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right [submitting to authority] you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.  Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all men [respect their privacy]; love the brotherhood [royal family], fear God, honor the king.  Servants [in our day and age, employees], be submissive to your masters [your employers] with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle [virtuous and gracious], but also to those who are unreasonable [actually the Greek says those who are warped].

For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.  For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. In the same way, you wives, be submissive [or obedient] to your own husbands."

We all have to learn how to stay under authority.  That's why it is so great for young men to get into a military organization that's tough and hard nosed, because it teaches them this principle.
In Act 23 the apostle Paul, who was a leader of the church, brings out the importance of respecting authority even if the authority is wrong.  ACT 23:1-5 "And Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.  And the high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth.  Then Paul said to him, God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! And do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?  But the bystanders said, Do you revile God's high priest? And Paul said, I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, you shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people."
Authority should be honored and respected, even if it's wrong.

In GEN 16:9 The Lord commands Hagar to go back, if Hagar is going to have a solution to the problem, she must return to the area of the problem.
"Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority."
Notice the word submit, it is the Hithpael imperative of the verb "anah" which is the reflexive stem in the Hebrew, and it means that she personally, from her own volition must return.
The Lord can advise, but He does not coerce.  The advice is given and we can either respond negatively or positively.  This is a principle that we still have today, we will always have in human history, it must come from our own volition.

This command from our Lord is not for the battered wife, she has every right to leave and never return.  When The Lord Jesus Christ tells any of us to go back and face the music, and we obey Him, He will act on our behalf.
1SA 17:47 "the battle is the Lord's"
Or EXO 14:14 "The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent." 
Or ISA 54:17 "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their vindication is from Me, declares the Lord."
2CO 13:8 "For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth."
Always give any situation of antagonism and hatred from others over to the Supreme Court of heaven and let the Lord handle it.
Let's note some principles from this verse.

1. Our Lord told Hagar to go back and submit to the authority because authority needs to be honored and respected even when it's wrong.

2. Authority is the legal power delegated by God under the laws of divine establishment whereby certain members of the human race have jurisdiction and responsibility over others.  Authority exists in both temporal and spiritual realms.

3. Authority was an issue at the fall and a part of man's fall.  At the fall in the Garden of Eden, there was the rejection of authority on the part of the woman.  She rejected God's authority, she rejected man's authority, and this contributed to her fall.  When Satan dealt with her in his dialogue he was very strong in appealing to her arrogance.  So he set up in her mind a system of inordinate competition whereby she started to compete with God and the competition reached consummation when she partook of the forbidden fruit.  The woman failed in the garden under two principles of authority, the word of God as taught by Jesus Christ daily, the man who was both divinely commissioned as the ruler of the world as well as the ruler of the woman under category two love, 1TI 2:11-12.

There are many areas of authority in life that need to be recognized and submitted to, God's authority which today is Bible doctrine.  There is also authority in the spiritual realm, the pastor of the local church.  Since the death of the last of the apostles in AD 96, there is no God ordained authority beyond the local church.  Denominations who have authorities beyond local church are completely out of line.
The Holy Spirit places the individual with a particular group of believers, JOH 10:2-3, ACT 20:28; 1PE 5:3. The Holy Spirit establishes the Pastor with right congregation over the years, 2CO 1:21.  The Holy Spirit has one pastor-teacher per congregation,
Rev 2-3.  The pastor-teacher has one right congregation; 2Co 10:13-16, 1PE 5:3, ACT 20:28.
Pastors who are in line with this principle do not exchange pulpits, and sheep who are adjusted do not follow strangers, Joh 10:5; 2TI 4:3.
Your right pastor teacher does not have to be face to face,
PHI 2:12, 2Jo, 3Jo. The believer's right pastor-teacher does not have to be present for the believer to grow under his ministry.

4.  There is also the authority of divine institutions, our own volition for self-discipline, husband over the wife, parents over the children and Government over the people.  This failure by the way, is emphasized in I Timothy 2:11 and 12.
In business there is the authority of the executives or the employee.
In the military there is the authority of the superior officers.
We have noted that commandments from God directed to believers are designed for obedience and these commandments stem from the omniscience and the sovereignty of God and are executed by the believer through the daily function of perception, metabolization and application of Bible doctrine.
There is even authority in nature.  Divine laws that have been established over nature, and nature obeys God saysMAT 8:27, Mar 4:41, LUK 8:25.
In fact, The Lord Jesus Christ controls the universe through His authority and power, HEB 1:3, JOH 1:3 and COL 1:16-17 "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."
Authority is vital!

As we saw in PRO 30:21-24 "Under three things the earth quakes or disorder and confusion and chaos results, And under four, it cannot bear up: when a person with no capacity is put in a position of authority, when a fool is satisfied with his self-indulgence, When a woman, who is hated or despised by others, rules her husband or when a female slave tries to take the place of her mistress."
Without authority you have anarchy, the earth quaking, there is disorder and confusion. One cannot have a right conception of God unless we think of Him as all-powerful, having all authority. Gen In GEN 16:9-10 "Then the angel of the Lord [The Lord Jesus Christ] said to her, Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority. Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they shall be too many to count."

Remember that God is omnipotent.  Omnipotence means all-powerful and limitless in ability.  This is why He is called "God Almighty," as in GEN 17:1.
This is why were are told that nothing is too difficult for Him, GEN 18:14.
The point is that whether we understand it or not, He is in control and He has the final say and He is the 
ultimate authority.

When someone asks "why is there so much evil and sin in the world?"
The answer is because of freedom and because of free will.
But there will come a time when sin and evil and wickedness will never function again, REV 21:4.
In PSA 24:8 we see this principle of authority;  the Lord mighty in battle.  In one day in ISA 37:36, He went out and personally killed 185,000 soldiers of one of the greatest military's in the world.
In ISA 37:35, for a city that was apostate at the time, our Lord said through Isaiah the prophet, "For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake. Then the angel of the Lord went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, all of these were dead."
Remember PSA 33:12 "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance."
PSA 144:15 "How happy are the people who are so situated; How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!"
The power and the authority of our God is that ability and strength whereby He can bring to pass whatsoever He pleases, whatsoever His infinite wisdom may direct, and whatsoever His justice may resolve.

As David said power belongs to the Lord.

PSA 3:8 "Salvation belongs to the Lord;"

PSA 62:11 "Power belongs to God;"

With His power or omnipotence, He rules and upholds all things. 

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