Might does not make right!
Might often usurps right and destroys those who have the right. But might never makes right. There is a tremendous difference between power in the sense of ability, force, strength to accomplish and power in the sense of authority, right to rule. And it is because man today has such a potential, such a power to disregard and defy those with the right to rule that we have the chaos which is so evident in today’s world of revolution and riot, revolt and rebellion. What the individual could never do without being apprehended and punished, the mob can do today. You just cannot arrest a whole city of evildoers and put them in jail. Crime punishment has become just too expensive a matter to make it possible for the authorities to pursue it except for the isolated case of an outstanding evildoer. You just cannot for financial reasons imprison a whole city that disregards the law. And men are quick to learn this. The mob gets away with that which the individual fails to “pull off” with impunity.
This is so evident not only in race riots but also in the many strikes that plague our nation. Both, of course, are taking the law in your own hand and proceeding from the premise that might does make right. You have the ability to do it, and therefore it is proper to do so. You have the other “over the barrel,” and there are so many with you performing the same evil practice that the authorities are going to “let you get away with it” because they have not room enough in their jails, and it would cost too much to feed and lodge you till the trial. Right then bows before might.
Now both come from God. Let us bear that in mind. The right to rule comes from God, but so does the power wherewith men seek to overthrow right. No, it is not given them with the calling to disobey and to overthrow the authorities. It is given man in order that he may serve the Living God in a walk that honors those in authority, and therefore in order that they may walk in His fear. God has one purpose with every gift which He bestows upon man. He declares through the mouth of Solomon in Proverbs 16:4, “The Lord hath made all things for Himself; yea even the wicked for the day of evil.” That last phrase may raise some questions and even objections, but there it is nevertheless. Our concern at the moment is with the first part of the verse. God has made all things for Himself. And that means that when He gives us physical power, abilities and talents, position and office, it all is that you may serve Him therewith. When, then, He has also appointed men over you to rule in His name, He commands you with this physical power, ability, talent, position and even office to be subject to Him through honouring those whom He has placed in authority over you.
The right to rule does not of necessity imply sin. Authority over others is not a temporary arrangement of God from the fall of man until the return of Christ. Adam was king by virtue of his creation; and Eve, although there was no evil in her yet, nor yet in Adam’s soul, was in subjection to Adam. And so were the beasts of the field and all the earthly creation. Genesis 1:26does not look at a point after the fall when it declares, “And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Did you ever go fishing? And they would not bite! What could you do about it? Very plainly after the fall man has no such dominion over the fish of the sea. Did you every try to rule a balky mule? Try to load a truck with cattle? The right may have been there, if they are your cattle, but the might so often is sorely lacking. Today we have no dominion — either as physical power, nor right to rule — over all the earthly creatures. Certainly we have no right in ourselves. For we are sinners who have forfeited the right even to live in God’s glorious creation. We do not deserve to live, to be born, to beget a family, to breathe God’s air and eat His food. We have it, and the human race receives these, because in God’s counsel there is a particular work for each of us to do. But we certainly do not deserve these. We deserve only the wages of sin, which is death.
Adam was created as the head of the whole human race. But he was also created as the king of the whole earthly creation. And to this Genesis 1:26 refers. God created him in His own image to have the moment he came into being, dominion over all the earthly creatures. He was king of the earthly creation as well as its priest who must dedicate and consecrate it all to God, must live from the principle: The Lord hath made all things for Himself.” Further, if we wish to argue thatGenesis 1:26 looks to the new creation in which man will have such dominion with Christ over the new earth, we do no violence to Scripture; but let us remember then that exactly thereby we establish the truth that authority and the giving of authority do not imply sin necessarily. There will be no sin in that new creation; and yet there are some shall “rule” over ten cities and some over five. Luke 19:17-19. Besides Christ will be on the throne in the new Jerusalem. He is our Eternal King and will never give up His throne.
The moment you get two people together, one must have authority over the other, be they ever so sinless. We read also, therefore, of ranks and degrees in the world of holy angels. Michael is called the Archangel, that is, chief messenger. But even then, this indicates an authority over other angels. The host of holy angels needs rule and regulation, authority and dominion. All the singers or orchestra players who will readily agree to have a conductor to tell them the exact moment when to start singing or playing, at what speed to sing or play, when to come in with their part, with what volume to come in so as to let the melody sing through, and all that which makes for a perfect and pleasing rendition. Does that mean that such a conductor implies that they all hate each other and want to spoil the rendition? Of course not! Whenever you get two or more people together, one has to have the right to say what they will do. How much more mandatory is this when you deal with sinful men. Adam and Eve were created facing God. One joint and mutual desire they had: To serve and glorify God with all His earthly creation. Eve needed Adam’s leading and authority to tell her how they could perform this joint work. They were to dress and keep the garden. But Adam had the right to decide in what corner of the garden they would do this today and in what corner tomorrow. And there was no argument from her, for she was without sin. Her might she did not try to use to usurp Adam’s right. His love for her she did not try to use to get her own way. They had no children yet to honour their father and their mother. But Eve had Adam to honour. And it cannot be denied that much of the failure of children today to honour their father and mother is learned in the home where the wife does not honour her husband. But let us leave this for later. The point here is that after the entrance of sin into the world, there was an added need for rule being invested in men to make laws, enforce them and punish the evil doer. This is evident in the little dialogue that followed in paradise when God came and spoke to Adam and Eve. Eve did not honour God nor her husband but blamed the whole sorry mess on the serpent. Adam did not honour God Who had made him king over such a vast domain but blamed God for giving him this woman. Plainly both had lost their true knowledge and their fear of the Lord. They did not stand in awe and reverence before Him; and they were still walking in rebellion. That is no way to talk to God! God must put enmity in their hearts against the devil and his works, and love into their hearts for Himself, before they will again behave in His fear. But now, as this dialogue also shows, each and every individual goes his own way and seeks his own flesh. Each now seeks self. Each behaves proudly and becomes a law unto himself. The unifying element in the life of man was gone! The human race was so very small yet at that time: a man and his wife. But they no longer sang together the praise of God. They no longer tuned their instruments to make sweet music unto Him. They wanted no “director” because they wanted to go their own selfish ways. Eve wanted to be like God, and so did Adam want to be like God. Eve wanted the ability to decide for herself and the authority to determine for herself what is good and what is evil. Adam threw off the “yoke” of having God tell him what is good and what is evil. He wanted that right and ability for himself. Satan succeeded masterfully in detaching man’s love from God to turn it into love of self.
And so we are born today as individuals not only but as individualists who have each of us our sinful ambitions and desire to decide for ourselves what is good and what is evil. There is such diversity of opinion on all things in the world today on every subject, because man is not united in his thinking concerning God. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” It is one thing that two people need one of them to have the right to decide what they will do and how they will do it, when they are agreed that it ought to be done and that they want it done. It is quite something else when they have a calling to do it but do not want to do so. And God Who appoints those with authority over others in the sphere of holiness among the sinless angels, also appoints and ordains men to rule over other men, that all things may be directed in the way of His sovereign and unchangeable counsel.
He is the One Who gives all authority. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power (authority) but of God: the powers (authority) that be are ordained of God.” Romans 13:1 And there is added the warning in the next verse, “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.” The fifth commandment addresses this to the children in the home. But it applies to all, as the passage inRomans 13 indicates. The wife is under subjection to her husband; and Scripture nowhere suggests, advocates or approves of a fifty-fifty proposition. And the woman was not created in any such relation to the man. She has authority in the home with her husband over the children. She is and should be an help meet, that is, an help fit and suitable to his needs. She was created physically and psychically to be the counterpart of man, that which is necessary for the full and complete man. But being an help in itself condemns the fifty-fifty idea and shows that she is in subjection to one with authority over her. It applies also to the servant in respect to his master, to the working man in respect to his employer, the citizen in his calling before the ruler of the land, the pupil in the classroom before his teacher.
We do well to take note of the history recorded of Israel in the days of Rehoboam. They that resist the power resist God; and they that resist shall receive for themselves damnation. There can be no question about it that Rehoboam did foolishly. His taxation wasunjust. The temple and his palace were built. There was not the need for taxes that there were in Solomon, his father’s day. There surely was no reason to double it as he threatened. All this did not change the fact that the Israelites were to honour him as their king and to submit themselves under his foolish and cruel reign. In fact Romans 12:17-19 applies here as well, “Recompense to no man evil for evil…. Dearly Beloved avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” And it is only a few verses later that we get that warning in Romans 13:1 ff. against resisting the authorities. But the ten tribes that rebelled here began a swift journey to oblivion. They rebelled against God, the giver of all authority, and The Authority over Rehoboam to Whom they should have committed their cause. But the flesh wants vengeance. The flesh moves us to resist God. The fear of the Lord keeps us honouring all those whom God has placed over us, the just but also the unjust, the thoughtful but also the cruel, the easy taskmaster but also the greedy and tyrannical employer. If we have the fear of God in our hearts, we will wait for The Authority to recompense, yea we shall forgive and pray for grace to be found faithful ourselves in the trying circumstance in which He has placed us.