WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MAY 18, 2021
TOPIC: ABUSE OF POWER
BY T. O. BANSO
“Then Jezebel his wife said to him, ‘You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite’” (1 Kings 21:7 New King James Version).
Hardly is there any human being who has not abused his power one way or the other. It is easier to point out the abuse of power by others than for one to admit one’s abuse of power and repent of it.
English historian, John Emerich Edward, popularly called Lord Acton, in his letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Abuse of power is common among human beings. It is disturbing that someone who complains today of being a victim of power abuse may tomorrow go and use his power to oppress an inferior person. So it appears it is in the fallen nature of man to abuse his power and oppress others. This is why it is important not to just hate abuse of power or oppression but to ensure that you don’t practise what you claim to hate.
Don’t abuse your power. Whether it is political power, ecclesiastical power, management/administrative power, or whatever power God has given you, don’t abuse it. See yourself as a steward of the power God has given you and be accountable to not just the superior authority over you, but also be accountable to God. You must give account to God on Judgment Day (Hebrews 4:13).
When we serve men, we are serving God. Therefore, don’t abuse the power you have over men to oppress, victimize, or exploit them. Don’t let God say to you on Judgment Day that you oppressed Him, If you ask Him when you did, He will answer you that since you did it to another person, you did it to Him.
See the power given you at home as a spouse and parent at home and in the church, office, society, and so on as a trust from the appointing authority and the Almighty God. Ensure you use it as expected of you. Don’t be intoxicated with power. Don’t go beyond the limit of your power. Don’t get carried away by the obedience or submission of your subordinates or followers that you forget your power or authority is not absolute. It is relative. There is someone above you: God and/or man.
Whether you are a parent, pastor, Chief Executive, employer, politician, student leader, or community leader, don’t abuse your power. Peter said to the elder/pastors, “Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example” (1 Peter 5:3 New Living Translation). Everyone entrusted with power, should stay within the limit of his power and not oppress anyone under him. Don’t provoke God to rise in their defence. That could, sometimes, be more than humiliating.
In Matthew 20, Jesus called His disciples together and said, “You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant” (verses 25-26 New Living Translation). Becoming a tyrant is tantamount to abuse of power. No king is given the power to become a tyrant. Tyranny begins when leaders begin to abuse the power given them.
2 Chronicles 16:10 says of Asa king of Judah that he was angry with Hanani the seer for prophesying against him because he relied on Ben-Hadad king of Syria and not on God when Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah. Asa took silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the LORD and of the king’s house and sent to the king of Syria
to break his treaty with the king of Israel so that he would withdraw from him. Asa abused his power by imprisoning the seer and oppressing some of the people.
Nadab and Abihu, two sons of Aaron, who were serving as priests under their father, died prematurely because they abused their power. They died before their father – their father was still alive; they had no children (1 Chronicles 24:2 ). They offered strange, profane, or unauthorized fire before the LORD and died before Him (Leviticus 10:1-2; Numbers 3:3-4).
The Bible does not tell us more about this strange fire and what prompted them to offer it. But their action was so serious that God punished them with death. Fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. As a servant of God, don’t abuse your power. God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3; Hebrews 12:29). Use your power in the fear of the LORD, not recklessly. You are under His authority.
The sons of Eli were priests, serving with their father, but they abused their power. They treated God’s offerings with contempt by arrogantly taking meat from the people while it was still boiling. The servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. This was wrong. They acted contrary to the law. The priests were not to take just anything they wanted. The priests’ rightful share according to Leviticus 7:34 was the breast and the right thigh of the animal sacrificed.
Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and tell the man sacrificing to give meat for roasting to the priest because he would not take boiled meat from him, but raw. This was contrary to God’s law in Leviticus 3:3-5. They took it by force despite the people’s protest (1 Samuel 2:12-17). They put their interest ahead of God’s.
They also abused their power by sleeping with the women serving at the entrance of the Tent of meting (verse 22). Because they abused their power, God judged Eli and his family. In addition to the death of the sons of Eli and Eli, God withdrew the priesthood from Eli’s family (1 Samuel 2:27-36; 4:12-15).
In the days of Jeremiah, the prophets in Israel abused their power by prophesying lies. They told the people all was well when disaster was approaching. They prophesied by Baal and strengthened the hands of the evil-doers (Jeremiah 23:13-14). They led the people astray, and they and the people later came under the judgment of God. Jerusalem was attacked by the Babylonians and the people were taken into exile.
Jeremiah 52:28-30 says, “These are the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Jews; in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem eight hundred and thirty-two persons; in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Jews seven hundred and forty-five persons. All the persons were four thousand six hundred” (New King James Version).
The prophet Ezekiel also wrote about the abuse of power by the prophets, priests, and princes. “The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst” (Ezekiel 22:25 New King James Version). In verse 28, he added that the prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, “Thus says the Lord GOD” when the LORD had not spoken
As regards the priests, God said, “Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them” (verse 26 New King James Version).
God said Judah’s princes were like wolves tearing the prey to shed blood, destroy people, and get dishonest gain. In addition, the people had used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy, and wrongfully oppress the stranger (verses 27, 29).
Be careful how you use your power. Instead of serving the people, the self-serving political leaders of Israel made the people serve them. They abused their power (Ezekiel 34:1-10; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Isaiah 56:9-12). This is contrary to what Jesus later taught His disciples that whoever wanted to be a leader among them must be their servant. In other words, they should be servant-leader (Matthew 20:26). Jesus exemplified this before them.
I should not conclude without mentioning the abuse of power by David and Jezebel/Ahab. David abused his power by impregnating the wife of Uriah, Bathsheba, setting him up to go and sleep with Bathsheba, and getting him killed on the battlefield. He thought he had successfully concealed his sin with the death of Uriah and his marriage to his wife. But God exposed him through the prophet Nathan.
He admitted his sin, God forgave him but he suffered the consequences for his sin (2 Samuel 11; 12:1-14). God’s forgiveness does not automatically mean annulment of the consequences of sin. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7 New King James Version).
In 1 King 21, Jezebel and his husband, King Ahab is another example of abuse of power. Because Naboth refused to give the inheritance of his fathers, the family land, to Ahab in exchange for another or sell it to him, which the law forbade, he was upset and refused to eat. When the wife tried to find out the reason for this, he said it was because of Naboth’s vineyard which he refused to give him or sell to him.
1 Kings 21:7 says, “Then Jezebel his wife said to him, ‘You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite’” (New King James Version). Did you see that? Who was the king? Jezebel or Ahab? Abuse of power!
Jezebel plotted Naboth’s death. The vegetable garden Ahab wanted to use Naboth’s vineyard near his house for was more valuable than Naboth’s life! She wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and to the nobles in the city where Naboth lived. She instructed them in the letters to find two false witnesses to accuse Naboth of cursing God and the king and then cause him to be stoned to death. They did exactly that and sent a report back to her. Abuse of power!
After Naboth’s death, Jezebel told Ahab to go and take possession of Naboth’s vineyard because he was dead. There is no record that he asked Jezebel how he died. He gladly went there to take possession. He was on that land when the prophet Elijah whom God had spoken to went to confront him with his sin, as in David’s case.
He delivered God’s judgment upon Ahab’s house. But because he humbled himself before the Lord, He exempted him from the punishment. The evil was brought upon his house in his son’s days. God’s judgment came to pass. Hear this sad commentary: “But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up” (1 Kings 21:25 New King James Version).
When Ahab died from the injury he sustained on the battlefield and was buried in Samaria, someone washed his chariot at a pool in Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood while the harlots bathed, as the LORD had spoken (1 Kings 22:37-38). Similarly, after Jezebel had died and Jehu thereafter ordered that she should be buried, only her skull and feet, and the palms of her hands were found. Apparently, the dogs had licked her blood and eaten her flesh, as the LORD had said (2 Kings 9:34-37). Jehu also executed God’s judgment on the house of Ahab.
Learn from these examples. There are more examples in the Bible and in contemporary history that you can learn from. Don’t abuse your power. Remember that power is transient and there is Judgment Day. God is watching you. He will repay everyone according to his deeds (Revelation 22:12). Beware of the abuse of power.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, forgive me for the ways I have abused my power. Holy Spirit, help me not to abuse my power henceforth. Help me to use my power in the fear of God and for the good of humanity. Deliver me from the temptation to use my power contrary to what is expected of me. Save me from the arrogant use of my power. I receive a heart of compassion as I use the power You have given me. Deliver all victims of tyranny and bring all tyrants to repentance.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T.O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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