Today’s readings.. (Exodus 9), (Psalms 62,63), (Romans 13,14)

The first part of our reading today, Ch. 13 of Romans, needs to be understood in the context of the whole Bible.  Paul tells his readers, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities … those that exist have been instituted by God.  Whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed … for rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.”  [v.1-3]
This was written because some Christians thought they could ignore the laws of the land in some situations, that they were ‘above’ human laws.?  There have been such “Christians” throughout history, for example the practice of polygamy in the USA, following Old Testament practice and not the words of the followers of Christ. Jesus spoke of “one wife” [Matt. 19 v.5], as did Paul, see Eph. 5 v.31.33, 1 Tim. 5 v.9.
Some see Paul’s comments in Romans as a problem when there are bad rulers.  That is an understandable query and the answer is seen to some degree when we look for examples of this.  The end result of bad situations, if God’s will is involved, is good for the spreading of the Gospel.  Paul and Silas were thrown into jail in Philippi and sang hymns and God caused an earthquake and the jailer and his family were baptised. Think of other bad situations like the time Paul spent several years in detention, but notice that several of Paul’s letters were written from prison which demonstrates believers seek opportunities in every situation in their lives.
Religious authorities are regarded differently.  When Peter and John were told by the religious authorities “to speak no more to anyone”, they replied “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of the things we have seen and heard.” [Acts 4 v.18-20]  And ourselves – to speak and write of what we have read!  Let’s make sure we do.
Our Exodus reading today is most interesting in what the LORD tells Moses to say to Pharaoh in warning him of the plague of hail, “for this purpose I have raised you up to show you my power, so that my name (reputation) may be proclaimed in all the earth” [Ch.9 v.16]   So God brings bad people and nations into positions that influence the course of events so that his will is done. He raised up enemies for Israel for this purpose.  We must always aim at seeing situations from God’s perspective.  This is often not seen until we look back on events and see the chain reaction of situations they set in motion. This is seen in the outworking of the lives of such as Joseph and David..
God also uses bad people, by allowing them to succeed in certain ways (at first) because they trigger off events, some of which aid in fulfilling his purposes: consider the effects of Hitler’s career!  But most important of all – consider your own calling before God – has he used you?  Will there be ways he will do so in the future?

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