Job 9 & Romans 13

Job 9 

    Then Job answered and said:

    “Truly I know that it is so:
        But how can a man be in the right before God?
    If one wished to contend with him,
        one could not answer him once in a thousand times.
    He is wise in heart and mighty in strength
        —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?—
    he who removes mountains, and they know it not,
        when he overturns them in his anger,
    who shakes the earth out of its place,
        and its pillars tremble;
    who commands the sun, and it does not rise;
        who seals up the stars;
    who alone stretched out the heavens
        and trampled the waves of the sea;
    who made the Bear and Orion,
        the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;
    who does great things beyond searching out,
        and marvelous things beyond number.
    Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not;
        he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
    Behold, he snatches away; who can turn him back?
        Who will say to him, ‘What are you doing?’
    “God will not turn back his anger;
        beneath him bowed the helpers of Rahab.
    How then can I answer him,
        choosing my words with him?
    Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him;
        I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.
    If I summoned him and he answered me,
        I would not believe that he was listening to my voice.
    For he crushes me with a tempest
        and multiplies my wounds without cause;
    he will not let me get my breath,
        but fills me with bitterness.
    If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty!
        If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?
    Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me;
        though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.
    I am blameless; I regard not myself;
        I loathe my life.
    It is all one; therefore I say,
        ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
    When disaster brings sudden death,
        he mocks at the calamity of the innocent.
    The earth is given into the hand of the wicked;
        he covers the faces of its judges—
        if it is not he, who then is it?
    “My days are swifter than a runner;
        they flee away; they see no good.
    They go by like skiffs of reed,
        like an eagle swooping on the prey.
    If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint,
        I will put off my sad face, and be of good cheer,’
    I become afraid of all my suffering,
        for I know you will not hold me innocent.
    I shall be condemned;
        why then do I labor in vain?
    If I wash myself with snow
        and cleanse my hands with lye,
    yet you will plunge me into a pit,
        and my own clothes will abhor me.
    For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him,
        that we should come to trial together.
    There is no arbiter between us,
        who might lay his hand on us both.
    Let him take his rod away from me,
        and let not dread of him terrify me.
    Then I would speak without fear of him,
        for I am not so in myself.

(Job 9 ESV)

Romans 13

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

    Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

(Romans 13 ESV)

Romans 13: In describing the Christian’s relationship to the state, the apostle sums up our responsibility by declaring our submission to worldly authorities as submission to God’s authority who has established their rule in the first-place. He declares that governing authorities are “God’s servant for your good”. However, it should be stated that in painting governing authorities in such a positive light, the apostle is stating the intended ideal and not necessarily the always experienced reality.

The apostle Paul of all people can attest to the negative injustice that can occur under evil governing authorities. There may be situations and circumstances that call for resistance. However, we must resolve that we can’t simply resist a governing authority because we disagree with them or dislike them.

The general rule for the Christian’s submission to the state is that we submit all the way up to the point where continuing to submit would become disobedience to God. If a government is commending those who do evil and punishing those who do good or commanding what God forbids and forbidding what God commands then the requirement to submit is no longer reasonable. Peter and the apostles agree, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5) There are several examples of resistance found throughout the Bible:

  • Hebrew women refuse to kill their newborns as ordered by Pharaoh (Exodus 1). 
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to obey the order to worship the image set up by King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3).
  • Daniel refuses to obey King Darius’ order that all citizens were to only pray to him for an entire month (Daniel 6). 
  • The apostles refuse to obey the Sanhedrin’s order to cease preaching the gospel of Christ (Acts 4). 

We must carefully and cautiously discern when a governing authority has crossed the line from its role as a servant of God into the realm of being an instrument of Satan. The state’s role is to promote and reward good and punish and restrain evil. “For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer”. This is the ministry of government institutions and the authority given to them by God. Therefore we are to honor the authority given to the state out of our obedience to God and a clear conscience to do what’s right and honorable.