“You might even be found opposing God!” [Acts 5:39]
In my various travels around the internet this week, I came across some very similar words to those above. It can be curious how different that declaration can sound depending on who is saying it, and at whom it is being aimed.
The words as they are found in Scripture, are spoken by Gamaliel, a Pharisee, and a very respected teacher. The words are being spoken to a council of Jewish religious leaders including the high priest.
In other words, Gamaliel was speaking to men with authority who had every right to believe that they were favored men of God.
These words spoken to them were a warning.
They had all seen what Jesus had done, and now some of these odd occurrences, some might call them miracles, were cropping up around those who had followed him.
They weren’t about to start jumping on the “Jesus for Messiah” bandwagon, but there was enough of the fragrance of Yahweh in the breeze that a wise man rose up with a message of caution about these men. God may be working through them in a way that they do not yet understand.
In short, the words of Gamaliel were a caution to those in authority to be very wary of exercising it. There is at least a momentary admission that their authority is delegated to them, and that there is a higher authority that must be answered to if they were to abuse this authority.
These words from Gamaliel have a very different flavor when they are being spoken by men who claim authority, in order to strengthen their grasp on power rather than to temper their own lust for it.
Gamaliel could have just as easily have said;”We are men of God. The Lord himself has chosen us to be his leaders. If these disciples of Jesus choose to oppose us, they are truly opposing God!”
He would have ruffled exactly zero feathers in doing so.
Those are not the exact words that I came across earlier this week, but the sentiment present in them is the same.
These men do not have authority delegated to them, they take it by force. They are men who use the name of God for their own vain purposes.
Greek mythology tells us that Prometheus stole fire from Mount Olympus as a gift to mankind.The type of men who utter such phrases steal into the holy mountain of God to seize power for themselves in order to lord it over God’s own people.
‘But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”’ [Matthew 20:25-28]