by: FCC Staff
Our society has an interesting relationship with rebellion. After casting off the tyrannical rule of King George and the British Empire, our fledgling republic was soon put to the test by the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. While taxation without representation was a key factor in the revolution, the idea that the newly formed representative government couldn’t tax whiskey wasn’t a given. After all, the US had considerable debt after the war, and paying it off was a priority of the government, how to do so, such as a tax on a luxury item, became a matter of principle for some people. These events gave rise to a new opposition party: The Republican party.
And while rebellion over taxes on whiskey may seem like a silly thing to take up arms over today, it was still a matter of principle in the early years of our nation. However, at some point there is a delineation between standing up for what’s right and simply being rebellious.
Too often we reject authority when we simply aren’t getting what we want, when we want it. No matter what the case may be, when we have a sinfully rebellious spirit, we reject even the authority that is placed over us for our own good.
In the book of Hebrews, we read, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17) This is speaking of the spiritual leaders God has placed in each of our lives. Yet when we don’t get what we want from our “church experience” we can be tempted to just walk away and find another fellowship where we think we will. And when that fellowship untimely exercises some authority over us… it’s on to the next one.
The result of such rebellion for rebellion’s sake, our proverb tells us, is “and a cruel messenger will be sent against him.” Given the context of this phrase, it most likely refers to a messenger from a civil authority. Refuse to pay your taxes? Knock knock, the IRS has agents at your door. Yet the Hebrew word for “messenger” is the same word that is used for “angel” throughout the Old Testament. There is an implication therefore that when we have a sinfully rebellious heart, not only will we answer to the civil authorities, but that divine justice may be on the table as well. Some English translations even render this idea as "a messenger of death" to help us notice the connection.
Not that we should fear the wrath of God when we wander into sin and error. No, it was to a hard-hearted Pharaoh and his nation that the Lord sent his destroyer to strike down their first born. If we have strayed into error, but our hearts are set on God, he will come to our defense. There is a beautiful example of this in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Zechariah:
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.
And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”
This is a beautiful peek “behind the scenes” into the happenings in the heavenly realms as it refers to our salvation and deliverance from sin. Satan, (which literally means, the accuser) has his heart set on sinful rebellion. He wants to bring accusations against God’s high priest, but the Lord is having none of it. “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” This harsh rebuke is fitting for the Father of Lies who at every turn seeks to rebel against God and bring harm and destruction to his children.
God declares the high priest Joshua justified before him, and then turns to Joshua to declares, “I will bring my servant the Branch. For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.”
God says that this Joshua is a “brand plucked from the fire” that is, a branch that has been spared from the flames. But one is coming, THE Branch who will remove the sins of God’s people in a day. Jesus. Whose Aramaic name is Yeshua… the same as the high priest Joshua we see God forgiving, and plucking from the flames.
So today, let us set our hearts on God, and when we fail, repent. God will defend us fiercely when our accusers come, when we are united with Christ as God united the high priest Joshua with Christ. If we set our heart on wicked rebellion, the messengers who God allows to be sent to us will not be to our liking.
Prayer for Today
Father, search my heart and expose to me any seed of rebellion against you and your will. Humble me so I may accept your correction. Jesus, unite my heart with yours so that I may seek to do the will of your Father. By your Holy Spirit, encourage me in my walk today, assuring me of my salvation, and keeping a sinfully rebellious sprit far from my heart. Amen.