Friday, February 27, 2015

Cursing Leadership -- Exodus 22:28


“You shall not curse God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”
 
 It is interesting that this verse with its two distinct thoughts consists of only one sentence spoken by God. A closer look is warranted.
I like the Free Dictionary’s definition of the word ‘curse’:
·       An appeal or prayer for evil or misfortune to befall someone or something
·       A source or cause of evil
·       A profane word or phrase; a swearword
·       Ecclesiastical – A censure, ban, or anathema; to excommunicate.
God is saying, “Do not pray or wish for evil to harm Me – that’s a non-starter. And do not use profanity or swear in conjunction with My name. And do not try to excommunicate me from your life as that is not in your power to do.”
Many today try to do some or all of these things. Satan worshippers live their lives trying to defeat God in the power of the Devil not unlike how those of us who believe in God want Him to defeat Satan or to help us defeat him, at least in our lives. Many get very angry at God thinking He is the root cause of their woes and swear at Him.  (You will remember that later on in the Old Testament, Job’s wife encouraged him to “curse God and die” – that is, “Blame Him for all your calamities and then just die.”) And of course, entire societies or cultures have tried to ban God from their presence today – we have taken Him out of our politics, our education system, our legal system, and our moral foundational basis – in short, we have tried to cut Him off.
But God is saying, to use the modern phraseology I hear from my grandchildren, “Not going to happen.”  He is in charge and He has the last word.  Take any of these actions at your own peril.
And then this sole sentence in this verse continues, “nor curse a ruler of your people.”  What may God be saying here by joining these two possible “curses” in the same sentence?  I believe He is making a statement about authority.  He is the ultimate authority. But He has also set up authorities for us down here on earth.
We can debate the grammatical purpose of the phrase “of your people”. Is it that we are not to curse “rulers” (if they are bad) or is it that we are not to curse “rulers of our people”? And does “our people” refer to “the children of God” – the Israelites in those days and those who are part of the Body of Christ today, i.e. the Church?  Or is it the political leaders that we have in place regardless of their own relationship with God?
We do know that in the New Testament, there is more written on this.  In I Timothy 2:2 it is clear we are to pray for kings and all those in authority over us.  There’s no avoiding that.  So while this may have referred to the magistrates and judges and perhaps priests that were in authority under Moses and Aaron during Exodus, today, through the New Testament, God has expanded this to mean all rulers that are in authority over us.
But what if that ruler is our worst nightmare? I honestly do not know. I must admit that we are called to love all men and women and to pray for their salvation. We must separate the individual from what he/she proposes or does. To me that means that I believe I can openly speak out against what a prime minister or a president does or proposes, but I cannot stop loving him/her as an individual sinner, just like me. The more important issue is whether or not I am allowed to say that individual is not suited for his/her position, as one would with an employee’s performance review.  I believe I am.
My wise son pointed out to me that God’s direction in this verse comes in the context of His magistrates and judges acting in good conscience and under His leadership, and thus to oppose them in their actions against evil people or things, would reflect upon God Himself who placed them there – a thought that Matthew Henry shared in his commentary on this verse. And God is warning us against that. 
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