Obey Rulers or God?

Daniel in the Lions Den - Briton Riviere - 1872

Daniel in the Lions Den – Briton Riviere – 1872

Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

Daniel 6:13

Earthly princes deprive themselves of all authority when they rise up against God, yea, they are unworthy to be counted among the company of men. We ought rather to spit in their faces than to obey them when they… spoil God of his right.

John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Daniel

The Answer is Always Jesus – Christ in every part of Scripture

Pick a page, any page, Jesus will be there.

Pick a page, any page, Jesus will be there.

It’s a cliche that if you doze off in the midst of a Bible study, and the leader asks you a question (that you didn’t quite hear), just blurt out “Jesus” and you’ll be ok.

My daughters opt for a similar tactic when we read the Bible and pray before bed.

But there is something to the idea that Jesus is always the answer to the question.  <insert Karl Barth joke here>  If what Christ says is true, that all the Scriptures bear witness to him, and that all the Scriptures (Moses and the Prophets) can be interpreted in light of him, then we should expect to see Jesus pop out of the pages.

This is especially helpful when we look at the Old Testament and harder passages to understand.  John Calvin was a master at finding the Christ focus in every story, law, and prophecy of the Old Testament.

Therefore, when you hear the gospel presenting you Jesus Christ in whom all the promises and gifts of God have been accomplished, remember this:

He [Christ] is Isaac, the beloved Son of the Father who was offered as a sacrifice, but nevertheless did not succumb to the power of death. He is Jacob the watchful shepherd, who has such great care for the sheep which he guards. He is the good and compassionate brother Joseph, who in his glory was not ashamed to acknowledge his brothers, however lowly and abject their condition. He is the great sacrificer and bishop Melchizedek who has offered an eternal sacrifice once for all. He is the sovereign lawgiver Moses, writing his law on the tables of  our hearts by his Spirit. He is the faithful captain and guide Joshua, to lead us to the Promised Land. He is the victorious and noble king David, bringing by his hand all rebellious power to subjection. He is the magnificent and triumphant king Solomon governing his kingdom in peace and prosperity. He is the strong and powerful Samson who by his death has overwhelmed all his enemies.

John Calvin, Commentaries

Be A Good Neighbour

We must love our neighbours.  This is a foundational command of Jesus and an obligation of every one of his followers.  It has always been so but maybe today it is especially important.  Our world is broken and full of hostility.  We live in an age where people, via social media, are so quick to give offence.  Or to take offence, and then quickly tell the world, via the same social media, how offended they are.  So we must love our neighbours.  Really love them.  But what does that require?

I could expand on this myself but in situations like this I like to defer to one greater than I.  Here is John Calvin’s encouragement to love our neighbours:

John Calvin by Titian (whom my wife insists is pronounced 'Tish-ian' but I prefer 'Tij-ian') was born July 10th, 1509.

John Calvin by Titian (whom my wife insists is pronounced ‘Tish-ian’ but I prefer ‘Tij-ian’)

“God not only forbids us to be murderers, but also prescribes that everyone should study faithfully to defend the life of his neighbor, and practically to declare that it is dear to him. . . . There are, consequently, two parts in the Commandment, — first, that we should not vex, or oppress, or be at enmity with any; and secondly, that we should not only live at peace with men, without exciting quarrels, but also should aid, as far as we can, the miserable who are unjustly oppressed, and should endeavour to resist the wicked, lest they should injure men as they list.”  

John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 5: Harmony of the Law, Part III

 

Think carefully on what is explained here.  How are we to love our neighbours?

-We must not murder them.

-We must defend their lives and their right to live in safety.

-We must be heard to say (declare) that their lives are dear to us.  We have to be vocal in our culture about the value of each and every human life.

-We shouldn’t antagonize or hold grudges.

-We must not pick fights with them.

-We must assume the best of them.

-We must help them, as much as we can, to be free from what holds them back (oppresses them).

-We must protect them from those who would hurt them (the wicked).