March 4, 2007
THE RULE OVER YOU
"Remember them which had the rule over you, who spoke unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation" (Hebrews 13:7).
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Heb. 13:17).
They were to remember the one and obey the other. At first reading it might not be apparent that the first group were leaders of the past while the second group are their present leaders. Though flawed and sinful, God has always has leaders over His people. Their leaders of the past would include all those mentioned in Hebrews 11 up to and including those recently departed.
The features of leadership are presented in both verses. They spoke the word of God. For Israel, their church was their state, and the principles that guided their social government also guided their spiritual life. Their lives were not divided into the sacred and the secular as ours seem to be. They were not to just follow, but to imitate their faithfulness. These leaders were God appointed role models. The "end of their conversation" was not when they stopped talking. They were to reflect upon the result of their conduct. How did it all turn out?
Living leaders were to be obeyed, and the obedience was not to be that of eye-service, only when being watched. It was to be submission to those who "watch for your lives." These leaders served with the knowledge that they would give account to God as to how they led. Obedience was to be rendered voluntarily so their work would be joyful and pleasant, "and not with grief, for that is unprofitable for you" (13:17).
"Pray for us," for the writer and their leaders, who were to take the lead and give guidance for the issues now facing the nation. Would they, like those of chapter 11, "go on to perfection"? Or "draw back unto perdition"? Would they be like those with "whom He was grieved forty years?...them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?" (Heb. 3:17). "We are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation."
Ivan L. Burgener