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The Mark of True Authority - The Book of Revelation
Week 3, 2017
Last week we covered the twenty-four elders around the Lord’s throne in Revelation 4 and what they represent. The twenty-four elders are mentioned four more times in Revelation, and each time they fall on their faces to worship the Lord. This is a crucial picture of godly authority—they are worshippers. The greatest prophetic model of the Messiah in the Old Testament is King David, also one of the greatest worshippers in Scripture. Being devoted to worship is fundamental to those who would walk in godly authority.
These twenty-four elders are also humble before the Lord. They bow before Him—the basic nature of all true spiritual authority. Because of the truth that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (see James 4:6 NKJV), humility is a basic characteristic of godly authority. Certainly we have many examples of godly character in leadership today, but we also have many blatantly arrogant, boastful, dominating, and overbearing authorities in the church today with significant influence. How is this? The Apostle Paul lamented this in:
2 Corinthians 11:19-21:
For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly.
For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face.
To my shame I must say that we have been weak by comparison.
It is shameful the way weak, undiscerning Christians so easily fall to this kind of carnal authority. If someone exalts himself or herself to gain influence, it is a sure sign that they are not the godly authority the Lord sends. If they take advantage of God’s people, this is also a sure sign that they have not been sent by God. What good parent would send someone like this to take care of his or her family? How much more will God only send those who are of His nature to serve His family?
If we are called to any level of authority in the household of God, we must keep in mind whose children we serve. I recognize a ministry or position in the church when I see the Lord in them. For example, I have gotten to know the Lord as my Shepherd. I know His voice as my Shepherd. The way I recognize a true shepherd sent from God is not by their knowledge, degrees, or even who ordained them. Although these carry some weight, what I’m looking for is my Shepherd in them. The same is true of a teacher. I recognize them as a teacher when I see my Teacher in them.
The church at Ephesus was commended for putting to the test those who called themselves apostles, but were not. If we are true, faithful shepherds or watchmen for God’s people, we have a responsibility to test any who claim to have been sent by God. I would take it as a pretty good sign that one has not been sent by God if they are offended by the test. Those who know they are sent by God will not be so insecure.
As we proceed through the Book of Revelation, one of the main lessons is the difference between the authority of God and the counterfeit authority of the devil and how it is deceives many. This will become increasingly important as we proceed toward the end of the age.
next week 4