The AMI QT Devotionals from October 1-7 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves as the Fenway site pastor of Symphony Church in Boston. Shan, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Jenny; and they are the proud parents of Tyler.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Jeremiah 41:1-3 (We return to our study of Jeremiah to chapter 41.)
In the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, one of the chief officers of the king, came with ten men to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah. As they ate bread together there at Mizpah, 2 Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the ten men with him rose up and struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, with the sword, and killed him, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor in the land. 3 Ishmael also struck down all the Judeans who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldean soldiers who happened to be there.
The rebel is glorified in our culture today. Maybe it’s because of America’s revolutionary history or because we’re so enamored with stories like Star Wars or Robin Hood, but someone who takes on established authority and radically fights or protests against the status quo is a hero in our day. On the other hand, people who follow orders and do what they’re told to do seem to be boring and uninspiring. Our culture’s heroes are the rebels.
Perhaps this is how Ishmael thought of himself. In this passage, Ishmael takes on the established authority and murders Gedaliah—the governor of Israel appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon—and also massacres all the people and Babylonian soldiers who were with him. Ishmael may have felt like a hero after this, since he was taking on the big, bad guys and wasn’t just accepting a life in subjugation to Babylon. But the reality, though, is that he wasn’t just rebelling against Babylon but he was in rebellion against God’s will, since God had told His people through Jeremiah that His will was that His people be subject to Babylon. Ishmael’s rebellion leads to tragic consequences, not just because he rebelled against Babylon—but he rebelled against God.
There is still something to be said about being a rebel. We’re not to just follow along with what the culture dictates. Christians should at times go against the established authority and against the status quo, but instead of focusing on the excitement and glory of rebellion, the heart of a Christian is to follow Jesus, follow His will, and seek His glory—this is why we call ourselves “followers of Jesus.” And even if we feel it to be boring or unfair, we, as we follow God’s will, are called “to be subject to every human institution” because “this is the will of God” (1 Peter 2:13-14). This doesn’t mean we should never rebel or protest against established authority, but even when we feel the need to do so, the heart behind it should be that we are being subject to God’s will and authority.
Let us submit ourselves to Jesus this day and be followers of Him!
Prayer: God, I pray for a heart of humility and submission to You and to Your will for me. Help me to not just respect and submit to the authorities You have placed over me but to pray and bless them. Help me to follow You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 5
Lunch Break Study
Read Matt. 22:15-22: Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Questions to Consider
- How were the Pharisees trying to “entangle” Jesus with their question?
- What was Jesus’ attitude towards Caesar and the Roman authority?
- What does it mean for us to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and give to God the things that are God’s?
- If Jesus said that it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, then the Jewish people would feel like He was pro-Caesar/pro-Rome, but if He said, it was unlawful to pay taxes to Caesar, then Jesus could be accused of insurrection and rebellion against Rome.
- In saying, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” Jesus was displaying an attitude of submission to Rome. Submitting to Caesar was not antithetical to submitting to God. Rather, by submitting to Caesar, Jesus was submitting to God’s authority through Caesar. Jesus was not concerned with competing with Caesar’s rule, because Jesus’ kingdom was not to be one of the political realm.
- As people submitting to the kingship of Jesus, we are called to submit to the human and political authorities. We should pay our taxes, obey the laws, and also pray for and bless those with authority over us. Being subject to human authorities is part of our submission and obedience to God.
There are most certainly people in our lives whom we find it difficult to submit to. The solution is not rebellion but submission to the authority of Jesus. Pray for a heart of humility and love towards all of the human authorities above you.