Friday, 20 December 2013
For it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me, Romans 14:11
Again we begin with the conjunction “for” to show us that this verse is tied to the previous discussion. Because it is, it has to be evaluated from that context. Therefore, the quote which Paul now gives from Isaiah 45:23 is given not so much for the truth that all people will pay obeisance to Jesus (which is still true nonetheless) as it is to acknowledge that every person is accountable to Jesus rather than to the arbitrary judgment of others.
In other words, Romans 14:1-10 has been talking about other believer’s accountability to Christ, not to us. We are to refrain from judging others based on matters which Christ has not specifically defined (using foods and the observance of certain days as examples). Understanding this quote from this context will help us to keep it in that intended train of thought.
And so he now states, “For it is written:” Paul is reaching once again back to Scripture to justify his previous thoughts. Returning to his often-cited prophet, Isaiah, he gives a general idea of 45:23, not a direct quote. Here is the exact verse for comparison –
“I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath.”
It must be noted for the sake of doctrine that this quote is preceded by these words in Isaiah 45:22, “I am God, and there is no other.” And then, immediately following the quote, this is read in Isaiah 45:24, “He shall say, ‘Surely in the Lord I have righteousness and strength.'” In other words, Paul is showing us several very clear things –
1) There is one God.
2) Jehovah is that God. 3) Jesus is Jehovah incarnate; the one God.
To come to any other conclusion would be to state that the God presented in the Bible is confused. With such a conclusion the only logical subsequent conclusion is that the Bible is not true and that the God of the Bible is not truly God. But He is. Paul is clearly identifying Jesus as the one God, the true God, and the only God. And this conclusion then must support the concept of the Trinity – not a triplicity or a triad, but one God in three Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the Bible elsewhere confirms.
This God, now cited by Paul says, “As I live, says the Lord…” The equivalent of this statement is “I have sworn by myself.” The two expressions are conceptually a one-to-one comparison as is noted elsewhere in the Old Testament. As there is no one greater than God, to swear by Himself means that the statement is certain. This is explained in Hebrews 6:13-18. And the oath He swears is that –
“Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.”
There is no person who has ever lived who will fail to recognize this truth. Jesus is the Lord God who will be so acknowledged by every son of Adam. Every knee will bow in homage and in submission to Him and “every tongue shall confess to God.” In other words, God will be exalted through their confession that Jesus Christ is, in fact, Lord. This is the intent of the words as Paul states them, but let us now return to the context of those words. We have been given ten verses of instruction concerning accountability to the Lord. Our allegiance is to Him, not to the whims of others. Our responsibilities are those defined for us in His word, not in legalistic additions by those around us.
If God has a prescription for us in His word, then we are subject to that directive and those around us may hold us accountable to what is stated. But if there is freedom within a precept (such as eating meat or eating only vegetables) then we are accountable to the Lord only for what we do; others have no say in our decisions. Remember this before you point out a supposed fault in another or when you are supposedly faulted by another. God’s word is the authority. Stand firmly on this and remember that you will bow to Jesus, not to anyone else.
Life application: By keeping Romans 14:11 in its proper context, we can see how fervently God feels about His word. We are completely accountable to it and not to the external pressures of others who feel differently about disputable matters. And the only way we can know what God expects of us or what liberties God has granted to us is to know our Bible and properly apply it. Know your Bible!
Lord, You have given Your word to us in the pages of the Bible. If I don’t know what that word says, then how can I be obedient to You? And if I don’t know what Your word says, then how can I avoid being pressured by someone who claims that I should be doing this or that to be pleasing to You? In the end, I will either stand or fall based on what Your word says. I think I’d better get my nose into the pages of the Bible. Be with me as I do! Amen.