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March 4, Day #64 – Truth Is Its Own Authority

Today’s readings focus on the topic of “authority,” which needs to be understood biblically. In Leviticus 1-8, we have read about all the various offerings – confusing though they may be – and now we come to Leviticus 9, where we see in action exactly how the prescribed sacrifices are designed to work to bring about atonement for the people. By God’s authority, Moses directed Aaron to offer up sacrifices for himself, his sons, and the people. In verse 4, Moses said, “For today, the LORD will appear to you.” Aaron simply obeyed – he did what Moses commanded him to do. He followed the instructions laid out for him in this book. We read, that upon obedient and faithful completion of Aaron’s tasks, “the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people” (verse 23). The road of faithful obedience is what leads us to the blessings and the appearance of God. It is that simple.

However, by horrible contrast, we come immediately to the sin and sorrow of Leviticus 10, where we see that Aaron’s sons – Nadab and Abihu – “offered unauthorized fire before the LORD” (verse 1). Whatever possessed them to do this? Clearly, they mishandled their priestly authority, for which reason, they were straightway put to death. Recently installed as priests, Nadab and Abihu engaged in and experimented with profane worship which violated the holiness of God and dishonored Him. God tells us, “Among those who approach me, I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored” (verse 3). In verse 10, which outlines the purpose of the book of Leviticus, God says, “You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean.”

In Psalm 29, we are commanded to “ascribe” to God all authority. The word “ascribe” means “to give [written] credit to” someone or something - specifically - “to honor” by recognition or acknowledgement the one to whom credit is due. Self-seeking authority, together with its honor and recognition, is foreign to biblical admonition and is tantamount to pride. All authority belongs to God alone; we are not meant to desire it or to possess it. We are to respect it and its Source.

Mark 11:27 – 12:12 ties in perfectly with Leviticus 9-20 and with Psalm 29. In Mark 11, the real issue is not from where Jesus received His authority (He demonstrated His authority by His unmatched actions). The real issue focuses on the pride of the Pharisees. They were authority-seekers - jealous of Christ’s authority because they “feared the people” (Mark 11:32) and were afraid of losing their authority before them. This is usually the problem among those who desire the power that comes with authority, and it continues today. Authority-seekers desire to lord it over others and to use their authority to glorify themselves. Biblically, we must eschew both motivations by avoiding the desire for positions of authority. Whether we are of low or high estate - whenever we speak the truth (i.e., the Word of God), we are already speaking with all the authority and finality of God - because truth stands as its own authority; it needs no external support. We don’t need to wonder if we have authority or not. Truth is able to support and sustain its own weight, so we must never “seek” or “desire” authority. To do so lacks trust in the truth and its Source, and it borders on pride.

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