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Sunday: Respecting Authority — 40 Comments

  1. Question: I live in Nigeria where power is abused. There is so much corruption and impunity amongst government officials. After going through Sunday lesson, I can't stop thinking. Is Nigerian government ordained by God? If yes, then how can a righteous and fair God ordain heartless and selfish people to rule over His people?

    • Maybe this will help, Emeka. It is from the Teachers edition notes...
      "However, we have to acknowledge that not everything worldly leaders
      do is part of His plan. They, like the rest of us, have the power to make
      their own choices. So, while He allows them to have power, He’s not
      responsible for what they do."

    • Hi Emeka. I've prayed that the words I type be not mine own but God writing through me. I'm sorry for the corruption going on in Nigeria as well as other parts of the world but we cannot blame God for the sins of others. God is indeed righteous and fair and that will never change -it can't. He's even fair to us when we're unfair to Him.
      When I read your comment, my mind wandered and I wondered if I were to respond, what would I say? Then God led me to Saul in the Old Testament. I read 1 Samuel chapters 8-10, 12 & 15. God had done so much for Israel. In ch 8, we learn that Samuel's sons become corrupt judges. So the elders, instead of asking God to change the hearts of Samuel's sons or to deliver them from the judgement of the sons and get "better ones" decided that they wanted a king to judge them. Never mind the fact that they had the King of kings from heaven over them; they wanted an earthly king like the other nations. Because God is fair, He listened and gave His people what they asked for. In verses 11-18 God had an outline for how the king should reign, but the people did not want to hear it. Now in my opinion, I feel like they were saying, "Okay God. We don't need your rules for the king. Just let us have one and we'll let him decide what should be done and we'll let him, not You, go out and fight our battles like the other nations do." It's like Israel got amnesia about all the battles God had fought for them in the past. I know this had to be like a slap in the face to God, but because God is fair, He listened to His people and had Samuel to get a king (Saul) for them.
      You asked if the Nigerian gov't is ordained by God, then how can He ordain heartless and selfish people to rule over His people. Read ch 9 of the same book. Verse 2 says that "there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person" than Saul. God chose the best person for His people. Saul was from the smallest tribe (Benjamin) and his family was the least of all the families within that tribe (v21) but God anointed him anyway.
      Even after the people were aware that they were being wicked in asking for a king, in Ch 12, Samuel told them to not turn away from following God. v22,24-25: "For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people... Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. BUT if ye shall STILL do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king." So God was still loving and gracious unto His people but he was also concise.
      In ch 15, God ordered Saul to destroy ALL the Amalekites and ALL that they possessed. However, Saul did not obey God. Saul even admitted that he feared the people and listened to them rather than to God. Hence, he later lost the kingdom to David.
      Okay, so I've written all of this to say what? God does not ordain heartless, selfish people. God anoints good people. God gives us free-will so if our officials are consumed by power or allow themselves to be ruled by darkness, it's not God's fault. That's why we, as the children of God, need to continually pray for our leaders that they may be governed by God and not give into the evils of this world. Saul said he feared the people and chose to hearken to their voice rather than to obey God's word. We must also pray for ourselves, that we won't be the ones telling our leaders to do things that aren't aligned with God's word.
      If you want another example, take a look at Satan. God created Lucifer, but he got full of himself and thought he could be like the Most High or even greater. How simple-minded can one be?
      So the old time question is, if God knew that Lucifer was going to turn into satan, why create him in the first place? Or if God knew that Saul would disobey Him, why anoint him? My belief? Because that's the kind of loving, righteous, & fair God He is! We may be a little too tainted with sin to fully grasp the love of God. Even when our free will leads us astray, we still have a chance to repent and continue to live for Christ. Yes, we may still have to suffer the consequences for our actions but God is with us through it all. But even if haven't "done something wrong" and we're faced with trials, adversity, temptations, etc we must "count it all joy" (James ch 1).
      I pray that this helps you, Emeka and anyone else dealing with a similar situation. I will be praying for you, and I hope you, me as we look forward to Jesus' return. Even if our final breath is taken before He returns, let us continue to follow God and lean on Him for understanding. May we not get amnesia and forget all that He has brought us through. God bless you all! <3

      P.S. If there's anything that I, in my human nature, have failed to mention, may God bring it to your attention.

      • Saul was ordained and installed by God as king, but there was a time in the reign of Saul that the Holy Spirit abandoned him and still God allowed him to rule Israel.

        The truth is (according to Daniel), it is God who installs leaders. Whether they become good or bad, that's their choice. Bad or good, our duty is to submit ourselves to their authority except on rules that contradict God's. The principle is always, God first before man.

        Look at Israel, their kings were directly chosen by God, they received instructions directly from God but have we seen a king who consistently was good in leading his people spiritually? None. Many of them started good but ended evil.

        Daniel and his friends are examples to follow on how to live under a "bad" leader/government. These were young people but their faiths were admirable/remarkable, even unto death they did not compromise.

    • We must believe the bible and interpreted it in the right way. The bible says the Lord set up kings and bring them down. He allows things to happen when the people reject him and turn to other Gods. We can go through the bible from book to book, chapter to chapter, story to story. The Lord said we shall have no other Gods before him. There are over 10.000 religions in this world who do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord and over 30.000 Christian religion in this world. The question is asked, can all of these be right. People have forsaken their God. It is only by the grace of God we are still standing today. In Daniel- Nebu lifted himself above the throne of God and felt the consequences. What about all those kings of Judah and Israel. The were wicked and ruled the people with an iron fist. I can talk about kings after kings and story after story, but remember the closing paragraph in Sunday lesson.

    • [Moderator's note: Please use your full name when commenting as it helps maintain the integrity of the blog.]

      I guess God doesn't want us to get into conflict with Rulers of this earth, He will judge one day, but He rather wants us to keep focus on what is really important! Our relationship with God and to prepare for his second coming. We are not from this world, we are foreigner, and as foreigners the least thing we want is to get in trouble with the government of the country we are living in.

  2. Family is the basic form of a society.It is the first agency in which parents should guide children in developing and understanding God-approved values or principles which include respect for authority. According to Thomas Jefferson, “The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.”However,some people in authority tend to disregard their principles and abuse their power because of selfishness. As Christians,and as members of the society, we are advised to study God's word for ourselves everyday so that through the power of the Holy Spirit,we may be guided to the right path...to discern which government claims are according to God's will and which are not.

  3. The book of Daniel is so relevant to oppressive governments. Selfish, arrogant, abusive, oppressive, governments were not set up by God, but instead, by their position as rulers, emperors, kings, queens etc., they become corrupt, forgetting that God allowed them to rule. God had to bring Nebuchadnezzar to his knees to worship Him and acknowledge that ''the Most High rule in the affairs of men''. I am sorry for rulers who treat their fellow humans as 'animals'. God has a special fire for them unless they repent. Please pray for the people of North Korea, that God will intervene in their government.

  4. When I read the bible I noticed a pattern. The bible teaches there were men who the Lord called to be in government e,g. (Joseph, Moses, Daniel, etc), or some was in government and the Lord used them to do a mighty work for him.

    I never noticed the Lord had called anyone to be in politics, it is two different things because politics blind the eyes of people then you start to take sides. You start hating one and loving the other.

    As Christians we MUST respect the authority the Lord had place in position and also call them by their rightful name. We should not be involved in riot, fraud, misconduct, stealing from the government, DRIVING SPEED OR ABOUT THE REQUIRED SPEED LIMIT, pay our fair share in taxes etc etc. We should be at peace even through we are right. In Matt 17:24-27, Peter was asked if Jesus not paying like all the rest of the folks. Peter said yes, whereby Jesus was not suppose to pay. Jesus had a discussion with him and sent his to get the coin from the fish mouth and pay for the two of them. You might be right but still give up to live at peace in this world. Jesus stated blessed are the peace makers for the shall for the shall be called the children of God.

  5. Don't blames your government's leaders, Blames why me and you we are not surrended totally our life to Jesus. It was not the GOD's plan for us to have under the World kings or Governments, These pegs begins to happen when Israelites reglets God as their King, And to command Samuel to appoints another king who will leads Israelites after Samuel prophete's death [1SAMUEL 8:4-22].
    All cruels and brital things which appears unto our world' governments is caused by us, [1SAMUEL 8:10-20]

  6. When the government is opposing the principles of God will, we are not obligated to honor those type of man made rules!

  7. I think if we follow our governments rules that don't conflict with Gods word others will notice our sincerity to obey. When laws are made that conflict with Gods laws those same people will know that we usually follow laws and investigate why at this time we do not.

  8. Dear Nigerian friend - I hope by the end of this week you will find some good answers to your question about corrupt governments today. It is a very relevant concern and one which many people have to face every day. God bless you.

  9. Unfortunately our beloved SDA Church is currently disrespecting governmental authority in regard to the international dateline. Our South Pacific Division leadership have been tenaciously holding to their position that Seventh-day Adventists around the dateline live according to their own, self-appointed dateline - the 180 Meridian - while the rest of the global community observe the international calendar. Tongan SDA Church members have, for 120 years, kept Sunday as the Sabbath. Then in December 2011, when Western Samoa's government realigned their nation's time-keeping to better fit their trade with Australia & New Zealand by moving the dateline to the other side of the country, the SDA Church in Samoa, on the recommendation of South Pacific Division leaders, refused to respect the realignment. Their reason? The seven day cycle cannot be broken so you cannot "skip" a day to adjust for the international dateline realignment. So the SPD recommendation, which Samoa-Tokelau Mission agreed with, meant that the majority of SDA Church members in Western Samoa now keep Sunday as the Sabbath. The Division leaders came up with the term "legitimate ambiguity" to describe their keeping of both Saturday and Sunday as the Sabbath.

    • I do not know much about the situation, but what I know you cannot have two days to be the Sabbath, the true and the false day. We are told with the passing of the Sunday law, God's people will be keeping the Sabbath and going about doing missionary work as if the are keeping Sunday holy. But as of now, Sunday is like any other day, and so it shall be until Jesus comes.

    • John, from all that I have read and understand about the Samoan issue the SPD and the mission have created three wrongs. First is the usurping of legitimate civil authority which you have explained very well. The second is the abuse of authority by requiring their congregations to violate their conscience knowing full well that for traditional Samoans their relationship to church authority is very much like an imperial system where there is a lord and vassal or a king and subjects. And the third was to save face in a very embarrassing situation by legitimizing what has been going on in Tonga for 120 years which to me is nothing more than pure selfishness.

      It wouldn’t be so bad except that the General Conference has chosen to remain aloof of the problem and has even indirectly supported it through at least one member of Biblical Research Committee.

      Further, I believe a very big danger lies in accepting what was done as a precedent. If the SPD is correct then a very real question can easily be raised concerning the rest of the world church because a lot of the churches along the International Date Line depend on our understanding and relationship to that conventional line. If Samoa is now worshipping on the correct day then New Zealand and Australia are worshipping on the wrong day and if that is the case for them then we all are in big trouble.

      • Thank you for your comment, Tyler.

        I believe the Samoan Sabbath Dilemma has demonstrated that some of us are weak in a number of areas. And these need to be addressed thoughtfully.

        1) What is the significance of the Sabbath commandment and Christ's saying that the Sabbath was made for man? (Mark 2:27) Is the Sabbath tied to the ground of this planet, or is it tied to human society? Is it a mark of distinction for God's people, or is it a tied to the ground under our feet so that the Sabbath may Sunday which other churches celebrate in honor of the resurrection? (This appears to be the South Pacific Division position.)

        2) The church in Samoa needs to address the question of authority as brought up in this lesson. Who has the authority to determine what calendar a country follows? Who has the authority to determine on which side of a country the date line should run? If the government of the country has such authority, it would seem that Seventh-day Adventists should keep the seventh day of the calendar of that country.

        If the government has no such authority, who does have the authority? In the case of Samoa, the SPD appears to have arbitrarily decided that, for Sabbath-keeping purposes, the 180th Meridian is the "correct date line." But for the rest of the week, Samoan Seventh-day Adventists use the local calendar, going so far as to close the local mission offices early on Friday. Then the members go on to do their shopping on Saturday in order to "keep Sabbath" on Sunday (according to the SPD recommendation).

        3) The members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Samoa need to decide for themselves whether they should study the matter out for themselves, or whether they should just follow their leaders, believing that they are doing the right thing because they are doing what the leaders are doing.

        The question becomes this: Does a matter become right just because a leader does it? Are we automatically safe in following the leaders? Millions of German citizens believed that following their leader was the right thing to do. And many millions of people died because the citizens lacked the will to oppose an immoral leader.

        We might think we would never do that. But most of the Seventh-day Adventist members in Samoa just followed their leaders, and now they are worshiping with the Catholics, the Baptists, the Methodists and the Mormons on Sunday, while they claim that Sunday is the "real" seventh-day Sabbath. Only about 300 Seventh-day Adventists have taken a stand in favor of keeping the seventh day of the local calendar as a mark of loyalty to God's commandments. The other 8,000 or so either go to church on Sunday or no longer go to church at all.

        • This brings up the frightening thought that we probably never really understood what the Sabbath means as a church.
          If we did, we wouldn't have so much confusion--and we certainly wouldn't be keeping Sunday in some places.

          But you see, if we teach people that God is arbitrary, then our worship of Him does not have any outward dimension (only upward: after all God is *very* particular--as some saints like to say--and we wouldn't want to get *Him* mad).

          As a result of this, the Sabbath witness is now obliterated in parts of the South Pacific. It literally has *no* meaning and *no* witness to the public at large in those countries anymore because it's been subsumed into the legitimate calendar Sunday.

          I'd like to know how to conduct a Bible study on the Sabbath in those regions now!

        • I think Andrew made a rather interesting insightful comment under Jennifer’s article concerning the role of abusive authority in that context. I see this problem in marriages, politics, schools, and quite often in religion, even in science and academia where one would think that they should know better. The problem of the bully that thinks that “might makes right” seems to be the rule all too often employed to get one’s way.

          Somehow I don’t think the church, as a whole, has a good handle on understanding the relationship we have to authority. Concerning the proper use of authority I am brought back time and again to what Jesus said on the subject:

          But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mat 20:25-28 NKJV).

          The context of this passage is also interesting because the disciples were saturated with the idea of who was going to be first in the kingdom and who was going to sit in the most important place in Heaven. Jesus addressed this problem in another place also, “So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them . . . For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:7-11 NKJV). The idea in all of this doesn’t seem to say that we should live in poverty or be a continual doormat but that our relationship with one another should be such that we, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phi 2:3 NKJV). That seems to me to be the essence of what love is all about and what Jesus is calling us to be.

        • Sister Inge,
          You have posed some searching questions and made pertinent points. There are other considerations such as, when the SDA church members travel to other countries along and on either side of the IDL or further away which accounting do they apply? As well Bearing in mind re-alignment was done more than once (apparently in 1892 as well) how much confidence can one place in the strict seven day count? And more strikingly, what will these people do when their brethren elsewhere across the world and the remnant in Samoa are being persecuted under a global Sunday law? Will they be sheltered by a technicality and be spared the question of the mark?

          At some point one might expect the Holy Spirit to bring clarity. Yet not all may be attuned to the impress of the Spirit and their self-confidence might be too much to overcome.

          Could it be that the Spirit sometimes leaves us in the 'dark' on structural issues so we may submit to Christ and become more like Him? And then with christlikeness comes revelation?

  10. My question is: What did God think of the Civil Rights Movement?

    Was the "March on Selma" sinful?

    What about the other civil disobedience actions? Like Rosa Parks?

    Should she have remained seated? Or obeyed the local ordinance? Would Civil Rights have passed if it weren't for these things? (Attempting to vote etc.)

    Or was there another way?

    • It is not right to ask a question with a question? After 430yrs the children of Isreal came out of Egypt. Was Moses rebellious to the Government? If no, why not? The same answer might go to Martin Luther, Huss, Jerome, Wesley, Jerome, The Waldersee's, Rosa Parks and all the civil right movement leaders, etc.

    • For most of our current government systems it appropriate that we take part in the decision making process. That does not mean to say that we should be involved in politics, but when we see our governments making decisions against the best good we should make our opposition to those decisions known. I admire those folk like Deitrich Bonhoeffer who stood against the rise of National Socialism in Germanny and ultimately paid the price for their opposition.

      There is evil and injustice in this world and our job as Christians is to oppose that. We are not here just to get ourselves a nice retirement villa in Heaven.

      Back in the 1980s when Lindy Chamberlain had been released from jail, an eminent legal person made this challenge to Seventh-day Adventists. He said that he had noted that we have mounted an incredible campaign with well supported information to challenge public opinion and ultimately secure a reevaluation of the case and Lindy's exoneration. He asked if our involvement in injustice extended beyond our own self interest and were we willing to apply the same sorts of resources to other cases where injustice had been perceived to be done. Twenty-five years later his words still challenge me.

      • "He asked if our involvement in injustice extended beyond our own self interest and were we willing to apply the same sorts of resources to other cases where injustice had been perceived to be done."

        Sadly, I think we know the answer.

        • Andrew,
          There is another side to the the call for activism against injustice. There are more than enough good cases to drain the church's resources, and if not careful the object of God's supreme regard, the church, could be reduced to a social activist entity or a civil rights organization.

          In some cases, or perhaps many cases, it may be better for the church to avoid direct involvement, and focus on the Gospel as the solution to all ills. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world,...Then my servants would fight..." (John 18:36).

          While concerned about all injustices we have to bear in mind our primary purpose is not to fix this world, but to point people to a another one, a better kingdom; and more than that to introduce them to the King.

        • Sometimes I think that is all we are known for: waxing lyrical about a place and time far removed from anyone's imagination.
          Jesus' primary recorded activity was meeting people's current needs. That was front and centre even as he preached about a kingdom to come.

          Questions of mission and identity have their place, but who (in the West in particular) is willing to listen to our philosophy anymore?

        • Andrew,
          A distinction is to be made between what Jesus did in meeting the needs of individuals, which the church should emulate, and getting involved in civil or politically charged activism to address real or percieved injustices.

          See if the following EGW quotation from Desire of Ages p. 509 helps:

          The government under which Jesus lived was corrupt and oppressive; on every hand were crying abuses,—extortion, intolerance, and grinding cruelty. Yet the Saviour attempted no civil reforms. He attacked no national abuses, nor condemned the national enemies. He did not interfere with the authority or administration of those in power. He who was our example kept aloof from earthly governments. Not because He was indifferent to the woes of men, but because the remedy did not lie in merely human and external measures. To be efficient, the cure must reach men individually, and must regenerate the heart.
          Not by the decisions of courts or councils or legislative assemblies, not by the patronage of worldly great men, is the kingdom of Christ established, but by the implanting of Christ’s nature in humanity through the work of the Holy Spirit. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

  11. i live in zimbabwe as a christian can i l take part in rallies organised by politians .should christians vote? if yes whats the point of voting if you know the out come before you vote ie rigging

    • My dear beloved brother, as we near the end of time the battle will not be between parties and politics but between good and evil, right or wrong. Personally for this reason, I do not involve in politics. You asked "should Christians vote" please read: www.whiteestate.org/issues/voting.html
      some of us might feel strongly different, but this is how the church stand on the issue. Pray and ask the Lord after reading what should you do.

      • The end of the days' lesson states,It’s easy, from our position today, to look back in wonder at the blindness and hardness of these men. How, though, can we make sure that we ourselves, seeking to protect something that we don’t want to give up, don’t close ourselves to more light from God? Why is that easier to do than we might think? Now that many of us had gotten more truth, are we willing to change or give up our old ways?

  12. [Moderator's Note: Please use your full name on all future comments.]

    God created man in His Image and gave him chance eat all that were useful to him but man ate the forbidden fruit. So brethren, God is merceful and He puts all governments but He does not aothorise these gov'ts to do evil. Like He did in the garden of Eden, He is allowing the leaders to practice fairly but they instead do otherwise.Remember as followers of christ we are not meant to complain but rather pray for our leaders to have rule lawfully following God's command. Intercession is very important in transform the way our governments injustices.
    So my brother/sister Emeka from Nigeria, I say to you that it was by God's will that you gov't existed and all that is happening there God Knows. I refer you to Psalms 125 and better read it in your language. You will find that God will protect the rightful.

  13. It's hard to believe that a nation full of corruption, impunity and such magnitude of evil like my country would be having leaders governed by God. I respect Gods will and pray Christ comes back soon to get us out of this bondage

    • My brother, after being in the church so long I have grown realized the devil is busy. Wherever he can take us down and out he will us It because he does not play fair. We must hold on to the bible and the bible only. Right now I am told our ways and Gods ways are different. Have you ever read about Eli two sons how they were terrible yet the Lord allow them to function as priest. Have you heard about Samuel two sons how the were evil, yet the Lord allow to rule. What made those evil kings of Judah and Israel different from modern day rulers? "Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey"

  14. We as Christians need to be like Jesus and know this earth is not our home, respect the laws where you live treat all men honorable as much as possible and do good. Live by the golden rule following Christ teaching, and be lead by the HolySpirt... as Adventist live what you believe.

  15. sunday lesson made it clear to me that we should respect the authority of the land. in nigeria, i have a little problem. national examinations are done on sabbath, elections are conducted on sabbath, environmental sanitations are done on sabbath and so many things. how can i violate the sabbath because i want to obey the authority. many adventists have been arrested by law enforcement agents over failure to take part in environmental sanitations. many of us have been disenfrachised on this basis. what do we do? obey man rather than God? No.

  16. What I believe is that we need to be responsible as citizens of the country and contribute to the government running the country Once more pray for the government officers and leave politics to politicians

  17. It's so sad that you are in bad situation and a decision has to be made against or with the existing rules and laws of the government. In such a case where the laws of the government have become into conflict with God's requirement, I would urge you to join Peter and the other apostles in saying,"We ought to obey God rather than men" Acts 5:29

  18. In SDA church leader systems, some of them thought their position is given by God as Old Testament . But we voted to elect the leaders , but some of them act like king, worldly authority.
    We have to vote leaders by the church member directly, not current way to select one among one candidate, that is same method of North Korean voting system.


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