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Psalm 80: 7-15
When we are children and learning in life, what is the one thing that we are really good at to help direct us in our learning process? We defy authority. We test the boundaries for what we can and cannot get away with. Through this defiance we begin to develop our world view for what is good and what is bad. If we are really smart, we can recognize that this defiance is and example of how far sin can take us away from the standard of holiness that God has put before us. When we defy authority, we are making a willful decision and action against our creator. Because of that we are in need of grace through the death of the messiah.
Isaiah speaks about God’s vineyard in which he planted. Planting a vineyard is no small task. It takes years to put together a vineyard before it begins producing a crop. Isaiah points out the work that the Lord has done and yet his vineyard is producing nothing. Therefore, judgment will be passed on that vineyard and it will be destroyed as there is no need to continue working a vineyard that is not going to produce a crop. Israel is referred to as this vineyard and for us today it would be considered the church. God makes all this effort to produce something great in the church. However, when we his vineyard start trying to go our own way it is like we are producing briars and thorns for the Lord and we are not producing the fruit that the Lord seeks. This is because we are defying His authority by trying to go our own way or add our own little buds on top of what the Lord has set out for us as if we know better than the Lord.
Paul describes to the Philippians his days in which he thought he knew better than the Lord too. He said that he was the Pharisee of Pharisees. He was circumcised on the eighth day just as the law required and he was from the tribe of Benjamin. This is significant because after the exile the tribes were all mixed up and very few would be able to say that they were from this tribe or that tribe. However, Paul was special in that he knew his tribe and was a true and pure blooded Benjaminite. He was totally bought in to the Pharisee way of life and their religious agenda. As a result, he ended up persecuting Christians thinking that this was the Lord’s will. However, he calls all of that as a loss now that he found his way in Christ. He went from defying Christ’s authority to obeying his authority.
In Matthew 21 one of the last parables that Jesus told before he was crucified was about a land owner who planted a vineyard. He did all the work to prepare his vineyard to produce a great crop. He built the walls of protection around it and dug out a winepress and then built a watchtower to help keep his investment secure. He rented the vineyard out then to some farmers who he had hoped would care for his vineyard in his absence. When the harvest time was near, he sent his servants to collect his share of the harvest as the owner of the vineyard. However, the tenants he had staying their mistreated the servants and even killed one. He sent even more servants and they did the same. He then sent his own son and they tortured and killed him as well. These tenants were disrespecting and defying the authority of the owner because they wanted their own way and to have everything for themselves. They had no desire to share with the owner. As a result, it is said that the owner will come and bring an end to those tenants and find new and better tenants in their place who will respect and honor his authority.
This story of the vineyard is a lot like Paul’s life before he was shown the light. He was on the path of those tenants before the truth of his error was revealed to him. He thought he was doing the right thing however he was instead he was zealous for the wrong reasons. When we go our own way and our own path, we often end up defying authority. The entire hippy movement was about defying authority as well. The Atheistic theory of evolution is also defying the authority of God. Even some Christians defy the authority of God through their view of scripture and the creation of the world.
Many Christians today question the Genesis account of creation. They are told that dinosaur bones are millions of years old and that the earth is billions of years old. They then succumb to this theory and develop a theistic view of evolution saying that God used evolution for his creation. They compromise their faith this way to make peace with the rest of the world to be more relatable with the rest of the world. This belief in millions of years is not a new concept. This belief was accepted long before the theory of evolution was invented. People could not understand or accept how God could create everything in creation within 6 days. It just seemed impossible with man’s limited thinking. Therefore, the theory of millions of years began as well as the building blocks of atheism. The church therefore compromised the authority of scripture in an effort not to argue with the so called “science” of the day. Since then the authority of scripture is continually under attack and compromises are continually made. However, with each compromise we are defying the authority of God. They do this by defying the authority of scripture. They may not deny the existence of God but they fail to trust in the authority of scripture. When we defy the authority of scripture here at the foundation of our faith then the rest of our faith crumbles as well. From here we begin defying the authority of the Word in other areas as well. We then change what the scripture says about homosexuality, abortion, drunkenness, adultery, and all forms of sin in general. We find ways to rationalize our sin to make it feel that it is ok and acceptable. However, by do this we are no different than the tenants who defied the authority of their land owner.
Sometime defying authority is necessary to help us learn as a child learns. However, eventually there is a time when we must stop being a child and defiance is no longer accepted. I believe as a nation and a world we are nearing those days in which the owner of this vineyard called life is going to return and demand his share of fruit from us. When that day comes, I wonder whether we are going to be caught in obedience and acceptance of the Word or in defiance of His Word. Anytime we try to change, compromise, or reinterpret the meaning of scripture we are in defiance of authority. Whenever, a child defies their parent’s authority they receive discipline. What do you think will happen to us believers when we defy the Lord’s authority? We need to be careful not to make compromises with scripture that defy the authority of the Word. If we are not careful the owner will eventually return and bring justice into the world. The next question is what side of justice and authority will we find ourselves on?