Today, as we continue our journey through the book of 1 Peter, we come to a passage that probably wasn’t a favourite memory verse for any of Peter’s original readers and it probably isn’t a favourite verse of anyone today – because it’s a passage that talks about how we are to submit to our governments – how we are to honour and respect those in authority over us.
And I don’t think it matters what country you live in, where in history you find yourself, what parties you support or any of that – I think for most people, it is a real challenge to submit to our governments.
I read an article this week that talked about how the United States official seal came into being.
I’m sure you’ve seen this seal before – it was designed back when the original 13 colonies of the United States were declaring their independence from Britain. And on the front side of the seal there is an eagle holding an olive branch in one claw and 13 arrows in the other – signifying how they were seeking peace, but they were willing to go to war to defend their liberty.
Then on the flip side of that seal, they have the pyramid with 13 layers and the all-seeing Eye above that – signifying that God was watching over them as they built this new nation.
Well, when they were coming up with these designs, Benjamin Franklin had a different proposal for the reverse side. And I think it perhaps reflects some of our negative views of submitting to government. This is what he wanted to see – imagine this:
Pharaoh sitting in an open chariot, a crown on his head and a sword in his hand, passing through the divided waters of the Red Sea in pursuit of the Israelites. Rays from a pillar of fire in the cloud, expressive of the Divine presence and command, beaming on Moses, who stands on the shore and, extending his hand over the sea, causes it to overflow Pharaoh. And the motto: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”
That’s the seal and the motto that Benjamin Franklin would have liked to see. The article went on to say how Americans live in a country that was founded on a revolution and in which defiance of government authority is viewed as a basic constitutional right.
And based on what I see in politics today, I think many Americans and many Canadians and many Albertans would quickly adopt that same proposed motto. “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God!”
But you know, as you read through 1 Peter, I’m not sure that Peter would agree with that statement. But I’ll let you be the judge of that yourself as we go through this passage together this morning.
And of course, my purpose today is certainly not to speak into politics, but rather, my purpose is to share with you an accurate understanding of God’s Word and how He wants us to live as strangers and foreigners in this world. And I think we’ll see that the application for this passage has a far greater reach than just politics – so I’ll leave the specific applications up to you and you can come to your own conclusions.
Our passage today begins in 1 Peter chapter 2, starting at verse 13. It goes like this: