Because we have a sin nature that seeks to ruin us, we consistently chafe at the concept of submitting to God, God’s parents, God’s husbands, God’s governors, and God’s elders. Even when we outwardly fall in line, inwardly we are filled with a rebel spirit that despises those God has ordained to lead, govern and discipline.
In the thirtieth chapter of Numbers, Moses addressed the making of vows. Integrity was to mark the true worshiper of God. When a person entered into a contract, whether it resulted in their good or harm, they were to perform that which they promised. However, there were two exceptions given in this chapter. There were two situations in which a promise made could be proclaimed null and void. A daughter living in the home of her father had to receive his blessing before the contract became valid. In a sense, he had to sign-off or co-sign. He needed to approve or disapprove his daughter’s vows (Numbers 30:3-5). The same stipulations applied to a bride. As the daughter was under the supportive leadership of her father, so the wife was under the servant leadership of her husband. He too needed to safeguard his bride and their marriage by validating contracts made by his wife (Numbers 30:6-15).
Can’t you hear them now? Such passages make feminists want to shave their hair and burn their bras. For them, this is just one more example of wicked, intimidated, power-hungry men striving to keep their wives in the kitchen. To them, this is an assault on a woman’s dignity, value, intellect and personal freedom.
However, when one understands the two underlying principles found in this chapter, one will see it is not only women’s rights advocates who are protesting and proclaiming such admonition to be archaic, patriarchal folly. There are many men and women who value not the wisdom pronounced by God and proclaimed by Moses. So what are these two underling principles?
- Leaders are responsible for all that takes place under their sphere of authority.
- Wise worshipers are to find safety in submitting to their God-determined leaders.
Children are to rejoice and find safety in submitting to the loving care of their parents. A wife is to find similar joy in following the leadership of her knight in shining armor. But additionally, citizens are to submit to their God-determined governmental chiefs, and congregant members are to obey their ecclesiastical elders. All Christians — men and women, young and old — are to obey the authority figures elevated by the Lord.
Therefore, how are we doing in keeping the 1st Commandment? Do we really love, worship and obey God? The answer to this first question will depend upon our answer to the following four questions.
Second, how are we doing in keeping the 9th Commandment? Are we falsely testifying? Are we men and women who lie? Are we breaking the vows and contracts we have made to our neighbors? Satan is the Father of Lies, and his children are abhorred by the Lord. (Proverbs 6:16-19) God does not take vow-breaking lightly.
Third, how are we doing in keeping the 5th Commandment? Are we honoring, respecting, submitting, reverencing, obeying, and rejoicing in our fathers, mothers, husbands, governors and elders? Or are we disobedient, foolish and reckless children, wives, citizens and congregant members? Are we hypocrites; are we looking at our children and spouses and demanding their submission while looking at our governors and elders and refusing to offer them the same?
Fourth, how are we doing in leading those placed under our authority? Are we harsh? Are we foolish? Are we passive?
You see, many of us are bra-burning insubordinationists. Because we have a sin nature that seeks to ruin us, we consistently chafe at the concept of submitting to God, God’s parents, God’s husbands, God’s governors, and God’s elders. Even when we outwardly fall in line, inwardly we are filled with a rebel spirit that despises those God has ordained to lead, govern and discipline.
Therefore, since we are all guilty of numerous transgressions and rebelling against God’s commandments, let us run to Jesus Christ. He is the one who valiantly and lovingly fathers his children, adores his bride, runs the nations, and rules his church. He is the good leader who models submission to his Heavenly Father. And he is the loving leader who died upon the cross to atone for our sins of lying and insubordination. Today, before the throne he prays for our spiritual growth in this regard. He has also sent his Holy Spirit into our hearts to perfect our vow-keeping and submission. It pleases him so when he sees his children leading well and respecting those he has placed in authority. So, let us now, again, confess and renounce our sins of apathetic leadership, wicked leadership, insubordination, dishonesty, and failure to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Let us submit to God’s good commandments and ordinances.
Joseph A. Franks, IV is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Palmetto Hills Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. This article first appeared on his blog and is used with permission.