I realized something when I was working on the chiastic structure for the book of 1 Timothy, which was posted yesterday. This passage stood out to me:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting … 1 Tim 2:1-8
This section forms its own chiastic structure, which I did not see before:
1 Tim 2:1-8
1a) 1 Tim 2:1, Let supplications, prayers, intercessions, giving of thanks be made for all men;
1b) 1 Tim 2:2-3, For kings + all in authority, that we may lead quiet lives in godliness (civil authority);
1c) 1 Tim 2:4, God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth;
central axis) 1 Tim 2:5, There is one God + one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus;
2c) 1 Tim 2:6, Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time;
2b) 1 Tim 2:7, Paul, appointed preacher, apostle, teacher in faith and truth (church authority);
2a) 1 Tim 2:8, Therefore, men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
The bookends of the structure, the A pair, concern the prayers of the men, and the B pair concern those who are in authority. On the front side, the prayer is for those in civil authority or government. On the back side, the focus is on church authority, for Paul was appointed a preacher, apostle, and teacher … he was five- fold minister of the gospel.
The church is called to pray for kings and all in authority, so that we might be left in peace to live quiet lives in all godliness. Many of us are not being left in peace today to live quiet lives in all godliness, but kings and those in authority are meddling with our daily life, passing laws and imposing expenses which make living our lives in peace difficult.
Church, I wonder if we have spent more time using our mouths to complain about and dishonor kings and those in authority, rather than intercede for them before the throne to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Out of our mouth comes cursing, not blessing.
Paul instructs the church to let the giving of thanks be made for all men, especially for kings and those in authority. We have not done this. We can thank God that He is on His throne directing the affairs of men and nations, and turning the king’s heart like water in His hand (Pro 21:1). He is smarter than we are and all things serve their purpose. Let us thank Him for it.
Paul also instructs the church to lift up holy hands in prayer without wrath or doubting. On the front side, we are to pray for those in authority, giving thanks; and on the back side, we are to pray without wrath or doubting. There is a lot to be upset about today, but beloved, perhaps we are in this mess because we have made it our business for the past generation to speak ill of kings and those in authority rather than to speak blessing and thanksgiving for them. Perhaps for the past generation we have used our mouth to speak wrath and doubting, instead of using our mouth to intercede for salvation and the gift of wisdom for them in their deliberations.
Yes we need change in this country … and I think it needs to begin with us. Let us repent of our disobedience to the Scriptures, and to the wise instruction for the church. Let us repent of fostering a culture of dishonor for our leaders (Israel did the same in the wilderness against Moses, and this did not please God). Let us forgive sins done against us by those in authority, and speak life over our leaders and our country. If God’s people, not the atheists, unbelievers, and ungodly, will humble themselves and pray and seek His face, and repent of our sin of dishonor, wrath, and doubting, and disobedience to His Word, and turn from our wicked ways, then God will hear us, and forgive US our sins, and heal our land (2 Chr 7:14).
For further reading: roadmap to national restoration (2 chr 7:14)