Get Under It
August 20-21, 2005
I hope you guys have been thinking about the umbrella this week. We talked about the umbrella last time, and umbrellas are pretty cool. I don’t like to carry them around that much, as I told you, but they’re very, very important—especially in this new series.
We’ve been saying around here that we have to get under what God has put over us so we can get over the things He’s put under us. And most of us live our entire lives without ever understanding or processing or realizing the incredible stuff that God wants to put under us. But for us to get above the stuff, we need to get under God’s authority.
There’s a guy in the Bible named Saul. Saul was a unique individual. Very handsome, 6’ 6” tall, long, flowing black hair. He was the toast of the town, a great warrior, and very articulate. He was the King of Israel. That meant he led in all the battle strategies, and he was the man who was the point person for all of the fighting and all of the politics and the economy of Israel.
Well, King Saul was under the authority of God’s spokesperson named Samuel. And before King Saul could lead his troops into battle, he had to wait for God’s man, Samuel, to make sacrifices. One day, Saul was at a place called Micmash. Maybe you’ve felt you were up to your eyeballs in Micmash, I don’t know. But the Philistines were pressing on Saul, and Saul’s men were freaking out; they were getting very nervous.
Saul waited seven days for God’s man to show up to sacrifice. On the seventh day, Saul couldn’t stand it any longer, so Saul dissed his authority figure, Samuel. Saul dissed God. And Saul made the sacrifices. After the sacrifice was over, guess who showed up at the last moment? Samuel, God’s man. And Samuel said, “Saul, what are you thinking? Have you lost your mind?”
If you have your Bibles, turn to the book of 1 Samuel 13:11-12. “‘What have you done?’ asked Samuel. Saul replied, ‘When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor. So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
Doesn’t that sound familiar? When I rebel against authority, when I do the Heisman and do the pushback and jump in my kayak and paddle where I want to paddle, when I paddle away from authority, what do I say? I say, “I saw…I thought…I felt….” I’m under God’s authority and I say, “I saw…I thought…I felt….”
I look at what Ed wants to do. I look within myself. I survey the situation visually, then mentally and then emotionally. And I say, “Well, I’m going to do what I have to do. I’m the master of my own universe. I sovereignly rule over my life. I call the shots. I know what’s best for me. I saw…I thought…I felt…. I saw…I thought…I felt….”
Saul got away from God. Saul got away from the authority of God. Why does God have authority in our lives? It’s for our greatness. Don’t miss that. God has placed authority in our lives for our greatness. God always, always, always works through authority. It’s who He is. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. That’s the Trinity—three in one, one in three. They’re co-existent and co-eternal. They’re equal in form but different in function. For example, when Jesus came to live on planet earth, He voluntarily submitted himself to the will of his Father. While Jesus was here, the Holy Spirit voluntarily submitted himself to the will of the Son.
So, in the very nature and character of God, you have submission and authority going on. God always works through authority. Always. When we have authority issues, ultimately our issue is with God.
This sounds very interesting, doesn’t it? Very peculiar. But also very common. “I saw…I thought…I felt….” That sounds like what Satan said in Isaiah 14 when Satan tried to elevate himself above God. Check him out. Isaiah 14:13-14, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
Is that wild or what? Satan wanted to make himself like God. Go back to the first temptation, way back in the Garden of Eden. What did Satan say to Adam and Eve? “If you eat the Sunkist orange (that’s my interpretation), you can be like God.”
The first temptation was not a step down, it was a step up. Satan simply said, “Hey Adam and Eve, you’re under God’s authority. You can be like God.” “I saw…I thought…I felt….” They stepped out from underneath God’s authority. They began to get hammered by hail, pelted by rain. And you know the rest of the story.
Saul, a man who had so much going on. Saul, so articulate, so many skills, yet he got out from underneath God’s authority and tried to run the show himself.
The Amalekites were some evil people, man. They were terrible. And God told Saul, “Hey, Saul, wipe them out. I’m talking about play ‘Wipeout’ on their bucket heads. Take them out, Saul. And Saul said, “Yes, sir.”
Do you think Saul did what God said to do? Do you think Saul did what Samuel told him God said for him to do? Well, let’s see what happens.
Samuel looks at Saul after supposedly wiping out the Amalekites and then he says, “What are you thinking?” And check out Saul’s response in 1 Samuel 15:20-21, “But I did obey the Lord…” Well, 95% obedience is 5% short, isn’t it? “…I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag, their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”
Whoa! Saul is lying. He’s playing the blame game. “I would have done it, Samuel, but the soldiers, you know, they took the best. I mean, I know I was supposed to wipe out everything and everybody, but the soldiers…. And plus, we’re going to take this good stuff and give it to God.”
We love to blame, don’t we? Go back to the garden. When God confronted Adam and Eve about their sin, what did Adam do? He blamed the woman. What did Eve do? She blamed the serpent. What did the serpent do? Well, he didn’t have a leg to stand on! (Some of you might get that later on today.)
But in 1 Samuel 15:22, Samuel says, “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
Most of us, and this is myself included, most of us are educated above our level of obedience. One more time. Most of us, myself included, are educated above our level of obedience. If we just obeyed, if we just did the stuff God wants us to do, then we’d be way ahead of the game.
So we need to get under the stuff that God has placed over us so that we can get over the stuff He wants to put under us. And most people live their lives never understanding that.
Why does God give us authority? Why does God want us to submit to his authority and the authority structures he’s placed around us? Why? It’s for our protection. Why? It’s for our purpose. Why? It’s for our uniqueness. Why? It’s so that we can get the most out of this one and only life. Yet we play the blame game. We blame all of these things.
And here’s what’s so funny about human beings. Are you like this? We demand an explanation all the time. Is that hilarious? We walk out here away from God’s authority [Ed steps out from the umbrella] and we demand God to tell us His reasoning and rationale behind everything.
In a couple of days, I’m going to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. The hygienist will do her thing. The dentist will walk in and talk to me about my teeth. What if I said this when I go to the hygienist, “Hold it! Don’t touch my teeth. Don’t think about cleaning them, scraping them. Don’t think about flossing them until you bring Mr. Dentist in here. Both of you sit down and explain to me everything you know about oral hygiene. Just unload it. I want to know everything you know about it.” How long would I be in that office? Years!
When I want an explanation for everything, when I want an explanation for every authority figure in my life, I have an authority issue. With God, we say God, “Explain it to me. God, why? Give me the whats and the whys and the hows.”
What if God sat down and explained to you and me the whys, the hows, the whats behind everything He does in our life. We would die with Him still sitting there and explaining stuff to us. We’ve got to trust God. We’ve got to have faith in God. That doesn’t mean we check our intellect at the door. We trust God, we get up under, beneath, God’s authority. We get under it and we understand God’s placed it there. And we can ask some questions, but basically, we obey. Because when we trust and obey—there’s no other way to have the ultimate life. That’s it. We trust God. Look at God’s track record. It’s pretty strong!
When I go to the dentist in a couple of days, they’re in authority over me. The hygienist is in authority over me. The dentist is in authority over me. And God has placed them in authority over me, either knowingly or unknowingly in their lives, to help mold and make me into the kind of person God wants me to become. I don’t know how they’re going to do it, but they’re there.
So every time I live my life, every second of every day, I’m a link in God’s chain of command. God always works through authority. I find where I fit. I place myself within that chain and then my life will surely, surely click. But if we don’t, if we get out here away from the umbrella; if we diss God and diss God’s authority structures, we’ll never discover the greatness that God has for us.
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
How many women here have a diamond on? If you have a diamond on, lift your hand. Maybe on your ring, your ears, your nose, your belly button. I don’t know. Look at it for a second. There’s nothing like a diamond. “Diamond girl! Diamond’s are forever.” Diamonds are something. They’re beautiful. They catch our eye. “Wow! Look at that diamond. Unbelievable!”
A diamond in the rough, though, is U-G-L-Y you, ain’t got no alibi, ugly. Say it with me. U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly. It’s a blob of mud and gross-looking rock. But someone who knows what they’re doing with diamonds takes instruments, and they chip away all the junk and they make a beautiful diamond. Half carat, one carat, ten carat, whatever you want. They can do it.
I’m a diamond in the rough. I’m fallen and fallible and ugly in my natural state. I’m sin-stained and so are you. God is our authority. He’s placed authority structures in our lives—governmental authority structures, educational authority structures, spiritual authority structures. These people are used, either knowingly or unknowingly, as instruments to mold us and shape us into beautiful diamonds. Even at the dentist’s office.
So if I have this anti-authority vibe going on in a couple of days, I’ll miss what God wants to do through those people. Because God wants to always teach us and mold us and make us, every time we do anything. Because, remember, God always works through authority.
Well Samuel is still whacking on Saul, check him out. He says in 1 Samuel 15:23, “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.” “Divination” means “witchcraft.” Now why is Samuel bringing up witchcraft? That’s weird. Saul has dissed God. He’s messed around with authority. And now he’s bringing up witchcraft. What’s witchcraft? We learned it last time; witchcraft is trafficking with the devil.
What makes the devil the devil? Rebellion. So when I’m rebellious, when you’re rebellious, we’re like the devil. And Saul was like the devil.
Enter David. Every time we rebel against God’s authority; every time we move from underneath God’s authority, what does God do? God always brings the replacement to do what we should have done in our lives.
Saul blew it. He missed it. He had opportunity after opportunity. God, though, tapped another guy on the shoulder—that Hebrew hick, that kid from Canaan, God’s appointed and future anointed King of Israel—David.
David’s career starts blowing up. He took out Goliath. He killed the lion and a bear. The Bible says David was walking into town and all the women began to sing this: “Saul has killed his thousands, David his tens of thousands.” Scripture tells us that Saul looked at David with an eye of envy; he was eaten up by jealousy. King Saul—is this crazy?—went psycho. And David was number one on his hit list.
So what did Saul do? Saul recruited about three thousand Navy Seals, three thousand of the best troops in the world. And all they did was track David. Their agenda was to take David out.
David and his men fled. They were hiding in some caves near the Dead Sea. I’ve been in these caves and they’re pretty intricate. The Bible’s a very straightforward book, and the Bible says that Saul had to relieve himself. Here’s Saul in the desert near the Dead Sea, and Saul has got to relieve himself. So Saul walks into a cave to take care of business. Take a wild guess at who was in the cave hiding with his men. You guessed it—David. His eyes had already been adjusted to the light and to the darkness and he could see a little bit. And David’s men say, “David, oh man, you got Saul with his pants down! This guy’s trying to kill you. This guy is psycho. David, you’re a warrior. You’re the man. Take him out now!”
The text records that David snuck up on Saul and cut off a piece of his garment, a little piece of garment. Saul didn’t even realize it. Then Saul cruises out of the cave and David waits a couple of minutes. And then David stands at the mouth of the cave and calls across the chasm, “Hey, Saul, I had a chance to kill you! Here’s a piece of your robe!”
Is that phenomenal? Here David is, this warrior, a guy who’s a military genius, a guy whose military strategies West Point still studies today. And he didn’t kill the King. Saul was an unworthy king, an unworthy authority figure, totally wheels off, totally nuts, and totally unfair. But David didn’t take him out. He just cut off a piece of his robe.
Come on, David, are you going soft? Are you going weak on me? Are you caving in, in the cave?
Saul now is camping out. He’s still trying to find David, but he’s camping out, doing in the KOA thing. Saul and his general, Abner, are in this circle of men and they’re all asleep. David and Abishai see them, sneak up to Saul and Abishai, and Abishai said, “David, I can take this spear right now and take Saul out. Let me do it, brother.”
David said, “No. Don’t touch God’s anointed, don’t do it.” And Abishai, who understood authority, did not do it. Well, let’s pick up this dialog at 1 Samuel 26:9-11, “‘Don’t destroy him, for who can lift a hand against the Lord’s anointed and be blameless?’ David added, ‘As the LORD lives, the LORD will certainly strike him down: either his day will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. However, because of the LORD, I will never lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed.’”
Because of the Lord, David said, I’ll never lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed.
“But, Ed, my teacher’s unfair.” Submit. Why? Because of the Lord.
“You know, my husband….” Submit. Because of the Lord.
“Well you don’t know, this cop….” Submit. Because of the Lord.
“Well you don’t know my situation at work.” Submit. Because of the Lord, because of the Lord.
“Well my parents are saying this….” Submit. Because of the Lord.
“Well, they’re telling me to do this….” Submit. Because of the Lord.
“Well man, I don’t respect the leader.” Too bad.
Most of the people in authority are people we’re not going to respect. And if we wait to respect and love their personality and then say, “Okay, now I love you. Now I’ll submit,” that’s not submission. That’s not submitting ourselves to authority.
Saul was trying to kill David, yet David submitted to him. He understood authority. David got under the stuff that God was over. And because of that, David was over the stuff that God put under him. David became the greatest king of Israel, a true warrior, a true man of God.
Why did he do it? Because of the Lord. Why do we submit to authority? Because of the Lord.
“Well Ed, what if I get out from underneath God’s authority and do my own thing? What if I get out from under it and what if I get hammered by hail and pelted by rain? What will happen to me?” Well here’s what happened to Saul.
CONSEQUENCES OF REBELLION
Saul missed it with his kids. He had an opportunity, had he stayed under God’s authority, to press into his kids’ lives the seeds of authority, seeds of respect, seeds of submission. Because he dissed God’s authority and dissed Samuel’s authority, though, he missed it.
Hey parents, what are you doing with your kids? Are you sewing seeds of rebellion? When you have lunch today, or dinner tonight, are you having fried teacher, poached pastor, and boiled police officer? If you are, you’re sewing seeds of rebellion. And one day you’ll come up to one of us and say, “Man, why are my kids so rebellious? Why have they turned away?” Seeds of rebellion.
Saul missed it with his kids. Secondly, Saul’s life is a tragedy of what might have been. So many gifts, so many opportunities, so many things he could have done for God; but because of his rebelliousness, he missed it. And what did God do? God brought in David, a replacement.
Here’s something else, another thing that happened to Saul. Because of his mentality, because of Saul moving out from underneath the umbrella—and I hate to tell you this—his life was shortened.
“Now wait a minute Ed. That’s pretty heavy. Are you telling me there’s a correlation between being anti-authority and a short life?” Yes. “Are you telling me there’s a correlation between respecting authority, submitting to authority and long life?” Yes, I’m telling you that’s what the Bible says.
Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’… that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy a long life on the earth.” Moms, you might want to put that on your refrigerator.
Proverbs 3:7-8, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”
Romans 13:2, “He who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
Here’s a good question: Is Fellowship Church a church that preaches judgment and condemnation? Sometimes people will ask me, “Ed, do you judge people; do you condemn people?”
You know what my answer is? “No.” I cannot judge anyone. I cannot condemn anyone. As a believer, I can’t do that because a judge, a just judge, must have all the facts. You can’t judge anybody. You can’t condemn anybody.
However, we talk about judgment and condemnation regularly here. Why? Because as a Christian, especially as a Christian leader, I am held responsible to preach and teach the full council of God. And God is a God who judges. And God is a God who condemns. And for someone to say, “Well that’s not my God,” well you know what? That’s the God of the Bible. Because you cannot talk about sin without talking about judgment and condemnation. You cannot talk about the grace of God and the love of God and the mercy of God without talking about the judgment of God and the condemnation of God and the holiness of God.
So, no, as a believer, I never judge. I never condemn; nor should you. But, we point people to a God who does. If we roll the dice and say, “I saw…I thought…I felt….” If we say, “Yeah, Lord, I did obey you,” but we’re not really doing the real deal; we are out in the elements, and we can get pelted by rain and hammered by hail.
Now some of you are thinking this—I know what you’re thinking—you’re thinking, “Okay man, what if someone in authority over me asks me to do something that’s illegal, immoral, or against God’s word? What about that?”
Now, that happens about five percent of the time. Don’t focus on the five percent so much that you miss your own Micmash, that you miss your own Amalekites, okay? But let’s do talk about the five percent of the time because here’s what some people have told me over the years about their boss or manager asking them to do the wrong thing.
One of the deals goes something like this: “Hey, Ed, my boss tells me I have got to take my clients to gentlemen’s clubs. I’ve got to entertain them there, because that’s where we do real business. And if I take them to gentlemen’s clubs, we’ll make more money and we’ll have more clients. What should I do, Ed?”
I go, “Man, that’s easy. Just take them to Hooter’s!” No, I’m kidding. I woke a couple of guys up, “What?” No, don’t take them there. What do you do as a believer? That’s a good question. Or what if your boss says, “Lie about the product. Tell them the check is in the mail. Kind of exaggerate a little bit.” What do you do?
Number one, pray for your boss or manager. Usually you have enough time to pray and say, “God, change their heart.” It might have to be a microwave prayer, time cook, 30 seconds—beep-beep-beep. I mean, it might be a quick one, but you have got to pray for them.
Number two, explain your personal convictions—here’s the caveat—without condemning them. Don’t say, “I’m a Christian, and you’re not. I’m going to heaven; you’re going to hell.” No, no, don’t do that. Do it with love and humility.
Number three, present a creative alternative. “Sir/Ma’am, I, before God, cannot go to this gentleman’s club or Hooter’s. So how about playing golf or going to a restaurant? How about neutral turf?”
But here’s what is going to happen in some of your lives. Some of you will do what God wants you to do and you will suffer for Christ’s sake. You don’t hear a lot of messages about suffering, but did you realize suffering is part of the will of God? We have an opportunity to suffer for Christ’s sake. The disciples suffered. Many Biblical characters suffered. Jesus suffered for your junk and my junk, for your sin and my sin.
Do you have authority issues? Do you? We all do. We all, many times, do life like this. We’re diamonds in the rough. God wants us to get under the stuff He’s over so He can mold us and shape us into the kind of people that He wants us to be, so we’ll be protected. So, positionally, we can be in a place to be blessed, to understand our uniqueness, to hit on all cylinders, and to mark the lives of others. That’s what is at stake.
Don’t put it off. Don’t wait four or five decades and look back on your life and go, “You know, man, I should have lived under God’s authority. I bucked God’s authority at every interchange, at every turn. I became Saul-istic and I missed what God had for me.”
SAUL vs. SAUL, DAVID vs. DAVID, YOU vs. YOU
What was going on in these stories? Was this an epic battle between Samuel and Saul? Saul and David? No. You know what the battle was over? Saul versus Saul and David versus David. Saul lost. David won.
David was one of the greatest warriors of all time, a military genius. But I would say the greatest battle he ever won was the battle over himself. The biggest battle that I’m involved in is right here in my heart. It’s with me. And if you’re honest before God, your greatest battle is with you.
Based on God’s word and His truth, I beg you, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, to get under the stuff that God is over. So He, in his sovereignty and in His will, will put you over the stuff that needs to be beneath you. And once we understand that, we will have true kingdom authority.