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When The Righteous Are In Authority - Rev Funke Ewuosho
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” Prov. 29:2. The phrase, “are in authority”, also could be rendered “become great”. Therefore, one could safely say, “When the righteous become great, the people rejoice...”
What then does it mean for the righteous to be in authority or to become great? To understand what it means, one could look at it in three dimensions.
1. When The Righteous Become Physically Or Materially Prosperous
Proverbs 11:10 says “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices...” Also in Ps. 35:27, we are told that God has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant. It is God"s will that we prosper in all things and be in health, even as our soul prospers (3 Jn. 2). The LORD"s blessing makes one rich. (Prov. 10:22). God told Abraham: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.” (Gen. 12:2). And the Bible tells us that God blessed Abraham greatly, “and he has become great; and He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold…” (Gen. 24:35). God blessed Abraham and made his name great, so Abraham should be a blessing. When Joseph became great in Egypt he became a blessing to his father and brothers, the nation of Egypt and even to the posterity of Israel. (Gen. 45:7-11). Truly, when the righteous become great, the people rejoice!
God said His cities shall again spread out through prosperity (Zech. 1:17). God wants to raise His people into the place of financial strength also for the purpose of advancing His kingdom on earth. “Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of fools.” (Eccles. 9:17).
2. When The Righteous Comes Into Political Or Governmental Positions Or Places Of Influence
God gave Joseph favour in the sight of Potiphar, his master and he made Joseph overseer of his house and put all that he had under Joseph"s authority. And the LORD blessed Potiphar"s house for Joseph"s sake (Gen. 39:4-5). Even in the prison, the LORD was with Joseph and gave him favour in the sight of the prison warden; and he committed into Joseph"s hand all the prisoners and put them under his authority. (Gen. 39:21-23). Joseph was eventually brought before King Pharaoh to interpret the King"s dreams. He said to Joseph: “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” (Gen 41:39-40). Pharaoh set Joseph over all the land of Egypt. Joseph"s promotion in Egypt not only brought huge blessings to Pharaoh and the Egyptians but also to the nation of Israel. He told his brothers that God sent him ahead of them to preserve a posterity for them in the earth and to save lives (Gen. 45:7).
Daniel, Esther and Mordecai are also examples of people who rose into places of influence in the government and many truly rejoiced because of what they were able to accomplish from that position of authority. Esther rose to become King Ahasuerus" queen in the place of Vashti. She was positioned in the palace before Haman"s plot to wipe out all the Jews in the Kingdom. Through her courageous intervention, the lives of the Jews were preserved. The King asked Esther and Mordecai to write another decree concerning the Jews in the name of the King, as they please and sealed the King"s signet ring no one can revoke. By the new decree, the Jews in every city were permitted to defend themselves and to destroy anyone that would attack them and also to plunder their goods. (Es. 8:11). Everywhere the new decree was read, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday; and many others even became Jews! (v. 17). The Bible says when Mordecai was promoted, the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad; the Jews had light and gladness, joy and honour. (v. 15-16). Truly, the people rejoice when the righteous are in authority!
Take note that Joseph was in authority at different levels. You don"t have to become the president or prime minister of your nation to be in authority. You can start from where you are, in your office, in your school, in your area, in your field, etc. God"s covenant says you shall be the head and not the tail. (Deut. 28:13)
3. When The Righteous Come Into Spiritual Authority Or Take Their Place In Spiritual Authority
This is where every believer comes in “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right (or authority) to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12). Believers need not be rich or be in political power or authority, to walk in this dimension of authority because it is a spiritual one. Jesus gave His disciples the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy. (Lk. 10:19). He said those who believe in His name will cast out demons, speak with new tongues; take up serpents and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18). Philip preached Christ to the city of Samaria and the multitudes heeded the things he said, hearing and seeing the miracles he did. Unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many; and many who were paralysed and lame were healed. “And there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:5-8). Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, cleansed lepers, cast out demons, and did a lot of miracles that brought joy to the people. He said in Luke 4:18
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed”(or downtrodden).
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38).
When believers begin to walk in this dimension of spiritual authority, we will put big smiles on the faces of people. One of the ways God designed for His Kingdom to expand is through the working of miracles. Jesus said to the sceptical and cynical Jews “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Lk. 11:20) Casting out demons is one of the ways we overthrow the kingdom of satan. One could imagine what happened when Jesus healed the woman with the spirit of infirmity. Jesus said “So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound (think of it) for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” (Lk. 13:16). Sicknesses and diseases are a form of bondage or oppression. (Acts 10:38). I am yet to see anyone who truly enjoys bondage or oppression. Can you imagine what it meant for someone to be bent over and not be able to stand up straight for eighteen years? And can you imagine the sense of freedom and the unspeakable joy she felt when she was made straight? Jesus said, “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36). Jesus told His disciples “And as you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:7-8). Every believer can exercise authority in the Kingdom of God and over the Kingdom of darkness.
The Church is here on earth to exercise the authority of Christ. Jesus disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in His cross. (Col. 2:15). God worked His mighty power in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. God put all things under the feet of Christ and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body. (Eph. 1:19-23). Jesus is the Head and the Church is His body,
Jesus said “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:18b-19). The Amplified Bible says: “...whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven.” What an awesome responsibility and authority given to the church! We are here to occupy till He comes. (Lk. 19:13). Jesus taught His disciples to pray “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt: 6:10).
The church has the authority and the responsibility to replicate on the earth what obtains in heaven: to bind and to loose, and to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth. This is another dimension of spiritual authority that has the potential to affect every facet of life and human existence. God wants His Kingdom to permeate everywhere “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.” (Ps. 103:19). Saints of old who walked in this dimension of spiritual authority affected governments, territories and generations.
Daniel did not only have political authority, he also exercised spiritual authority as he influenced kings and the nation of Babylon through his prayer life. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which none of the wise men could interpret but when Daniel and his friends prayed, God revealed the secret to Daniel. He said to the king: “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets...” (Dan. 2:27b-28). After Daniel told the dream and gave the interpretation, the king fell on his face, prostrated before Daniel and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” (Dan. 2:46-47). The church is to make known to principalities and powers, the manifold wisdom of God. Daniel could reveal the secret whereas the other wise men could not, because he was in touch with God. Daniel truly knew his God “but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Dan. 11:32b). Daniel indeed carried out great exploits in Babylon, he subdued the kings and that nation under the authority of his God. In the time of Belshazzar, Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall. The king was greatly troubled at the mysterious appearance of a man"s hand, writing on a wall. None of the wise men could read or interpret it. The queen then advised that the king send for Daniel, “There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him...” (Dan. 5:11). Daniel was then sent for and he read and interpreted the inscription on the wall. In the time of King Darius, a decree was made that anyone who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except the king, be cast into the den of lions. This was aimed at Daniel but the Bible says that when Daniel knew that the decree had been signed, he went home and in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down and prayed three times a day, as was his custom “since early days”. He was caught and was thrown into the lions den but God miraculously delivered him. Then King Darius made a decree that in every dominion of his kingdom, men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. (Dan. 6:26). Hebrews 11 talks about elders who obtained a good testimony by their faith, some “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions” (Heb. 11:33).
Elijah was another example of a man who exercised spiritual authority that shook the land of Israel. He declared to King Ahab: “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” (1 Kg. 17:1). The secret of all the exploits he did was his prayer life. We are told that he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and it didn"t rain on the land for three years and six months and when he prayed again; heavens gave rain and the earth produced fruit. (Jas 5:17). Elijah declared to the four hundred prophets of Baal before the children of Israel: “and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” (1 Kg. 18:24). Elijah called on God and God indeed answered by fire!
God is looking for more righteous people who will be bold enough to step out in authority; and He will show himself strong in the earth. The Apostles prayed after their release from the prison “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word” (Acts 4:29). God is looking for the Esthers, who will say “Go, gather all the Jews... and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Es. 4:16). God is looking for the Shadrachs, Meshachs and Abed-Negos, who will refuse to bow to the image of gold and declare boldly to the king “But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Dan. 3:18) God is looking for the Mordecais who will not bow to Haman, even when everyone around them is bowing. (Es. 3:2). God is looking for the Daniels who cannot be stopped from praying by the decree of man or king. (Dan. 6:10). God is looking for people like the Apostles, who will say to religious leaders, when they are commanded not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20).
But the major thing that would stop us from being such a people is fear; the fear of man, the fear of losing our face or our reputation before people, the fear of losing our position, the fear of lack, the fear of death, etc. Fear is very much part of the fallen human nature. When Mordecai asked Ester to go see the king, her first reaction was No! She knew the consequence of going to the king uninvited unless the king stretched his sceptre towards her. The fear of being eaten up by the lions or even the fear of losing his position could have stopped Daniel from praying when he heard of the decree! The fear of being killed by the fire would have made Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego to bow to the image of gold. The list is endless.
Proverbs 29:25 says “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” Jesus told His disciples not to fear men, who can only kill the body and not the soul, but rather to fear God. He said they were of more value than the sparrows and the very hairs on their head are all numbered! (Matt. 10:26-33). Jesus, through death, overcame death that He might destroy the devil, who had the power of death, and released those who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Take note that the fear of death, like other fears, keeps one in bondage.
Fear could be very real and legitimate. Fear is part and parcel of our human nature but very foreign to our recreated spirit. Right after the fall of man, Adam said to God “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid...” (Gen. 3:10). But when we got saved we received another spirit: For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” (Rom. 8:15). We must confront our fears. We must overcome our fears by trusting in the Lord- in His presence with us; in His promises; in His power; in His love; in His protection and in His Word. Psalm 27:1 says “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 46:1, 2 says “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear”. And in Ps. 23:4; “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;”
The antidote to fear is trust! “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” (Ps. 56:3). God promised never to leave nor forsake us. He said, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Is. 43:2)
God is truly a very present help (‘an abundantly available help") in trouble! The Bible says God will help us just at the break of dawn (Ps. 46:5). His help is always timely! God was a very present help for Esther; she found favour with the king and he held out to her the golden sceptre, so she didn"t perish. (Es. 5:2). God came through for the three Hebrew men in the fiery furnace. The king said “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?... I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Dan. 3:24, 25) What of Daniel in the lions den? He said “My God sent His angel and shut the lions" mouths, so that they have not hurt me” (Dan. 6:22). The list is endless about God"s timely intervention in the lives of those who trusted in Him. God didn"t mean for us to be food for the devil and his cohorts. The three Hebrew men didn"t bow and they didn"t burn! Jesus gave us the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and power over all the power of the enemy, “and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Lk. 10:19). We therefore don"t need to be afraid of satan"s backlash or counter attack. Jesus said He will build His Church and the dates of Hades shall not overpower it or be strong to its detriment. (Matt. 16:18). We must therefore learn to walk in, and exercise our God given, blood bought authority. You don"t have to be wealthy to exercise spiritual authority- the Bible says, the poor are rich in faith and also are heirs of the Kingdom. (Jas. 2:5). Nor do you need to be in political power to exercise spiritual authority. Rather, you should seek to determine things that happen in the government on your knees. Prayer is moving the Hand that rules the world. God said, if His people would pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, He will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron. 7:14).
The Bible says Elijah was a human being like us, yet when he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months; and when he prayed again; the heavens gave rain and the earth produced crops. (Jas. 5:16-18). Remember, Elijah was not in the government, but he influenced the government by his life of prayer. He forced the king to listen to him!
However if we would walk in authority, there are three major adjustments we must make because nothing changes, until we change!
1. We Must Be Concerned
We must stop being indifferent about our environment, about things going on even in different parts of the world; about the sufferings of other people; about how the affairs of our nation or nations are being run, etc. Whatever goes round, comes round; and besides that, Jesus said we are the salt of the earth and also the light of the world. We must stop being selfish. Though Moses was raised in the comfort of the palace, as the son of Pharaoh"s daughter, a time came when it came into his heart to go and see his brethren, to see their burdens. (Ex. 1:11; Heb. 11:24-27).
Nehemiah was in exile in the king"s palace in Shushan as a cup bearer. But he was concerned about the state of Jerusalem and the survivors. When he heard that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down, and its gates were burned with fire and that the survivors were in great distress and reproach; he broke down, wept and mourned for many days, fasting and praying before God. (Neh. 1:1-4).
Don"t get so used to what is going on around you that you do not see any need for a change. The Bible says Lot was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked people he was living among; he tormented his soul by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds. (2 Pet. 2: 7-8).
The world is trying to squeeze us into its mould, by trying to force us to accept evil as good and even to change our concept of good and bad/ right and wrong. The Bible warns us not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, so that we could prove the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2).
Note, however, that we can"t be concerned if we are not accurately informed. You must know your world, you must know what is going on around you. Esther did not even know that a decree to destroy all the Jews had been written; thank God for Mordecai who was informed. Sadly, a lot of us church folks are like Esther, locked up within the four walls of the Church, locked into our own comfort zone. Jesus said we are the salt of the earth; as salt we are of no use as long as we remain in the salt shaker. We are to go out into all the world and preach the gospel. Daniel knew about the decree that was written; Moses went out to see how his brethren lived. Ananais the disciple knew that Saul had a letter from the chief priests to arrest the Christians. (Acts 9:13-14). Nehemiah found out from those who were visiting from Judah about the state of Jerusalem.
We can make contact without contamination. We need to interact with our world, if we would influence and change it. Daniel and his three friends also learnt the language and literature of the Chaldeans (Dan. 1:4). “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.” (Acts 7:22). You would be surprised at how much information, connection and resources, God will bring your way when you start being concerned!
Your concern should lead to prayer and where necessary, coupled with fasting. Esther asked Mordecai and all the Jews in Shushan to pray and fast for her, and she and her maids did likewise. (Es. 4:16). Nehemiah prayer and fasted before God.
You couldn"t be genuinely concerned and not pray, especially as you recognise your own inadequacies and the enormity of the challenge before you. When Jehoshaphat was told that a great multitude was coming against him, the Bible says, he “feared and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast...” (2 Chron. 20:3). Jehoshaphat admitted they had no power in themselves against this great multitude that was coming against them nor did they know what to do, but their eyes were on God. (v. 12).
In prayer, we admit our own weakness and helplessness and look to God"s strength and ability to help us. In prayer, we position ourselves accurately; to bind and to loose (Matt. 16:19); to receive wisdom and direction from God (2 Chron. 20:14-19); to initiate and direct the needed changes; to receive mercy and forgiveness of sins, so as to avert God"s judgement or satan"s destruction (e.g. Abraham"s intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah, Gen. 18:20-33; 2 Chron. 7:14); to receive God"s favour, protection and strategy. (e.g. Esther in Es. 5; Nehemiah in Neh. 1:11, 2:4-8); to stop the plans of the enemy (Acts 12:1-11), etc.
The list is endless, but there is no limit to what we can achieve through prayer. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available (dynamic in its working). (Jas. 5:16 Amp).
3. Take The Necessary Action!
It is not just enough to pray; we must pray and also do something. Esther said: “My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the King...” (Es. 4.16). When the king asked Nehemiah what his request was, he said “I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers" tombs, that I MAY REBUILD IT.” (Neh. 2:5).
What are you concerned and praying about? It is time to begin to do something about it! Are you concerned about the huge breakdown in family structure in the nations? What then are you going to do about it? Are you concerned about the abuse of children? What are you going to do about it? Are you concerned about the way schools are being run? Then do something about it!
Don"t be intimidated by the enormity of the problem. Use what you have! Be like a David, who when he saw and heard Goliath didn"t say, “what can little old me do” rather he asked, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam. 17:26). Elisha told the widow of the prophet, “What do you have in the house?” (2 Kings 4:2). God said to Moses, “What is that in your hand?” (Ex. 4:2). You must begin to use what you have in your hand no matter how insignificant it is and God will bless it. Jesus blessed the five loaves and two fish the little boy had and fed five thousand men (besides women and children) and there were still leftovers. (Matt. 14:17-20).
In closing, hear the words of Jesus: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16).
Psalm 82:3-4 says: “Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; Free them from the hand of the wicked.”
Remember, if you and I don"t do anything about the wrongs and the evil we see around us, somebody else will take advantage of them! Jesus didn"t come to bring another religion to the earth, He said, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” (Jn. 12:46).