April 11, 2016

Politics and Providence

There is a mystery to God's providence. We cannot fully understand what God is doing in the world simply by observing what is happening in the world.

Scripture:  Ecclesiastes 8:1-15

Sermon Notes:

  1. Wisdom literature teaches us how to live wisely in the world, and how to understand what we see around us.
  2. Solomon reflects upon unjust political authority and the prosperity of the wicked (Ecc. 8:9).
  3. In this sermon, we will examine the following points: (1) Submit to authority, but do not retreat; (2) Fear God; and (3) Rejoice.
  4. Authority is simply a fact of life. Political, church, school, work, family, etc. In every area of life, we encounter authority. God made society with a hierarchy.
  5. The Bible tells us we need to submit to the political authority in our lives (1 Pet. 2:13-17; Rom. 13:1-7).
  6. There is also authority to be obeyed in the church (1 Thess. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:17).
  7. We tend to resist authority and accountability. We don’t like to be told what to do. We don’t like to submit. Our instinct is to find a way out.
  8. Scripture never says we need to give absolute subservience or render blind obedience. The wise heart will know the proper time and the right way to resist unjust authority (e.g. Joseph, Daniel, Esther, Peter). (Ecc. 8:5).
  9. Keep the king’s command (Ecc. 8:2-4). Submit, but don’t retreat.
  10. We should be law-abiding citizens. Early Christians lived under the unjust Roman Empire, but submitted to it.
  11. The apologists (e.g. Tertullian, Justin Martyr) wrote letters to the emperor defending the Christians, pointing out that they were good, law-abiding citizens.
  12. Watch your attitude towards authority. Be humble.
  13. Solomon says, Do not be too hasty to go from the presence of the king. He is referring to the etiquette of the court.
  14. We must not retreat from the political sphere, or the public square.
  15. Christians are caricatured in the media. The church has attempted to retreat from the public square. But we need to stand and wisely engage.
  16. Christians are the yeast; but yeast doesn’t do much good if it’s not in the dough (Matt. 13:33). Canada needs the yeast of Christian hospitality to work its way through society.
  17. Solomon observes the wicked prospering and getting away with evil. The righteous seem to suffer (Ecc. 8:10-14; cf. Psalm 73).
  18. There is a mystery to God’s providence. We cannot understand it. We can ask why, but ultimately we can’t know. You cannot fully understand what God is doing in the world simply by observing what is happening in the world.
  19. Solomon says he knows it will be well with the righteous, because they fear God, but it will go ill with the wicked (Ecc. 8:12-13). Solomon is alluding to the final judgment.
  20. To fear God means to trust and obey Him. When we do fear Him, we will find a deep-seated confidence. When we fear God, we have nothing else to fear.
  21. Solomon’s final word is there is nothing better than to eat and drink and be joyful.
  22. Exercise hospitality. There are 1,500 references to food in the OT. Think also of how much Jesus’ ministry centers around meals. Meals were central to the early church.
  23. Every meal is a celebration of the risen presence of Christ with us. The meal table is sacred because Christ is there.
  24. There is a connection between hospitality and the growth of the church. Table fellowship is a means by which the Gospel spreads (Acts 2:46-47).

Application Questions:

  1. How should we as Christians understand the seeming prosperity of the wicked?
  2. How are we as Christians supposed to respond to unjust authorities?
  3. How is the kingdom of God like yeast? What is the meaning of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13:33?
  4. How can I spread the Gospel through hospitality this week?
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