Authority; September 12, 2017

Nehemiah 2:20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”

Nehemiah’s confidence was in Whom he served. God had prepared him for this work by having him serve as an official of one of the most powerful absolute monarchs in human history. Here he proclaims that he is serving One even more powerful than Artaxerxes. He had a lot of hard work ahead of him, but his success was guaranteed by the Creator of the universe. He fully understood delegated authority. This puts him in the category with the Roman centurion whose faith was praised by Jesus. (Luke 7:1-10) If we don’t grasp being under authority, we won’t know how to exercise authority. People often crave authority, but they don’t understand the responsibility that goes with it. Politicians and bureaucrats are often guilty of this, failing to grasp that they are under the authority of the constitution and the citizens of the nation. They are responsible to exercise wisely the authority they have been given, in all humility, and are to be held accountable to the people of the nation. Nehemiah was not operating in a democracy by any means, but he was not arbitrary in exercising the authority he was given. Rather, he held himself open as a channel for the power and authority of God to flow through him. That makes him a magnificent example for us.

I am finding enormous applicability and encouragement in the story of Nehemiah. In our case, the one who is against us is the devil, and he keeps lying to us and to others to try to discourage us. Like Nehemiah, we need to be firmly fixed on the One we serve, and so refuse to hold back or be discouraged. It’s just like James said: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) I still prefer the way the Japanese puts it: “Submit yourselves to God. Then, resist the devil and he will flee from you.” It does no good to try to resist the devil in merely human strength, because he will twist our own thoughts and actions against us. We cannot rely on what we have already been given, but rather walk in humble, moment-by-moment obedience. If we will do that, the God of heaven will indeed grant us success.

Father, I didn’t expect to read such an extremely applicable Word this morning. Thank You. Help me communicate this truth effectively to all the believers so that we may be united in faith. I do ask for wisdom, just as You gave it to Nehemiah. May we neither run ahead nor lag behind, but follow Your schedule in full obedience, working faithfully but being anxious about nothing, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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