By Elizabeth Prata
*I wrote this in 2015. by March of 2019 we were all pondering these things more immediately…
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:29-32).
I heard a good sermon on the aspect of Jesus as Prince. On Expositor.fm my usual morning line-up to which I dedicate some time in the AM includes wonderful sermons from Barnhouse, Boice, MacArthur, Lloyd-Jones, Sproul and more. A sermon from Acts 5:29-32 delivered by Martyn Lloyd-Jones struck me. Two Lines of History, looked at Jesus as Prince over governments.
We must obey God rather than men is not a license to run amok and freely break the law and become rebellious, of course. God instituted Governments. He is sovereign over them. What is meant here is that where a choice comes to obey God OR man, we obey God. That was the choice given to Peter and he chose wisely.
The concept is, Jesus is savior but also Prince- Governor of nations! He is the Prince of the Universe, the only one who can govern, the only one who has a right to govern, the only one who is going to govern. But the world rejects this. It needs to be convinced of this, convicted of it.
Of man’s history, man’s government, what are the characteristics of this? It is quite clear in history and in the Bible that God’s government has been rejected by man who rejects the voice Divine. Despite all of man’s efforts to produce order, the jungle is always encroaching. Man sweats, labors, cuts back the jungle of immorality and yet strife, lawlessness, dictatorships, wars always encroach.
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon is a monumental work. He listed five reasons why civilizations decline and fall.
1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.
2. Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports are becoming more and more exciting and brutal every year.
4. The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was within the decadence of the people.
5. The decay of religion–faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, and becoming impotent to warn and guide the people.
(Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1787).
Geographically, Paul was a resident of Jerusalem but a citizen of Rome. Spiritually we are residents of Georgia (or Kentucky or Washington) but our citizenry is in heaven. We owe respect and allegiance to those whom God has set over us in government, but our highest loyalty is toward the Prince of Governments.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Let us sort out out our loyalties and allegiances. Let us look inward in order to prepare for a moment which may come to us as it did to Peter, and make our decisions regarding God and man.Will we obey man, or will we obey the Prince of Government?