Authority

Day 33

Prayer for the day

When your word goes forth it gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

Scripture for the day

Exodus 29-30, Matthew 21:23-46

Who’s in charge here?

This is the question asked when something goes wrong just as much as when something goes right. Authority and responsibility rest hand in hand as humans govern one another. It’s easy to see in our world when someone has authority…there is often a marker of some kind, whether they are elected or appointed. But what is it that truly makes a person authoritative?

The directions God gives for the consecration (the setting aside for special service) of the priests in the book of Exodus make very clear what is going on: the people create the oil, the outfits, the ceremonies, the sacrifices, and the altar. This is a very human event. There is blood and stone and wood and cloth. There is flesh and earth. The anointing of the priests is the conferring of authority by humans onto other humans. But it is a very specific authority that is conferred, and the giving of that authority, though it comes through human agency, comes straight from God.

The Scriptures are clear in this passage that the authority by which the priests perform their duty, and the authority by which the people of Israel acknowledge the authority of Aaron and his line as their priests, comes from the God who first appointed them priests.

Jesus is asked a question about where his authority comes from as well. While he doesn’t give a clear answer, it’s clear from his discussion that his authority comes from God.

Both the priests and Jesus wielded authority, but this was an authority that, while acknowledged by people, was designed and truly given by God. It was because of this authority that Jesus and that the priests were able to spiritually lead God’s people.

There are all sorts of leadership books containing umpteen leadership principles that may very well be good and important. There are also all sorts of great leaders out there using all kinds of different leadership techniques. And they may all be very good and important. At the end of the day, however, the one we should follow may not be the most charismatic, or educated, or even well-versed in his/her technique. The one worth following is the one who has been given authority by God, and whose authority is acknowledged by people.

May we be wise as leaders and followers, seeking the best God has for us.

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