The Catholic Defender: God's Authority Handed Down
To really understand the Chair of Peter, we must start from the beginning when God called Moses to lead the people out of bondage.
The Lord God shows His Authority through the Covenants He has made with His people. Jesus Christ is closely identified through the history of His coming from Heaven to Earth for the salvation of mankind.
Isaiah 11:1-2 states, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord”.
What Isaiah is giving in a prophetic inference here is that from Jesse, Father of King David, would come from his Seat of Authority, from the loins of David, a successor.
Consider Matthew 23:2, where Jesus is saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses”.
The Chair of Moses, as an Authority Seat to be handed down as an "office", is not reported in the Old Testament as such, but it is found in the Jewish Tradition kept in the “Mishna”. This is very important because Sola Scriptura never was the accepted revelation.
Opponents might refer back to Exodus 18:13 where Moses sat in judgment over the people of Israel. The text does show that Moses did in fact sit in judgment. The scripture itself does not speak to or address an office based on this “Chair” from which Moses sat from. It does however give foundation of the authority God gave to Moses.
It is interesting to note that Jethro, Moses Father-in-Law, gave Moses advice saying, “But you should also look among all the people for able and God-fearing men, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain, and set them as officers over groups of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens”.
Jethro is giving us a perfect example of a “Chain of Command” concept.
This gives the foundation that even today, the Bishops, Priests, Deacons, those who are the ordained of God, are in union with the Bishop of Rome.
I've been asked by some where in the bible does it give any successor to Moses? In the past I've responded with Deuteronomy 31:14 that says, “The Lord said to Moses, the time is now approaching for you to die. Summon Joshua, and present yourself at the meeting tent that I may give him his commission…”
Verse 23 continues, “Then the Lord commissioned Joshua, son of Nun, and said to him, Be brave and steadfast, for it is you who must bring the Israelite into the Land which I promised them on oath. I myself will be with you”.
Deuteronomy 34:9 states, “Now Joshua, son of Nun, was filled with the spirit of wisdom, since Moses had laid hands upon him; and so the Israelite gave him their obedience, thus carrying out the Lord’s command to Moses”.
Joshua 1:6-9 the Lord says, “Be firm and steadfast, so that you may give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers I would give them. Above all, be firm and steadfast, taking care to observe the entire law which my servant Moses enjoined on you. Do not swerve from it either to the right or to the left, that you may succeed where ever you go. Keep this book of the law on your lips. Recite it by day and by night, that you may observe carefully all that is written in it: then you will successfully attain your goal. I command you: be firm and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you where ever you go”.
Clearly, Joshua is the successor of Moses. At the end of Joshua’s life, it is interesting that the nation of Israel “served the Lord during the entire lifetime of Joshua and that of the elders who outlived Joshua and knew all that the Lord had done for Israel” (Joshua 24:31). Joshua would be a bridge between Moses, the placing of the Israelite in the land of milk and honey, and the time of the Judges.
With Joshua’s death, the Elders of Israel consulted the Lord about the Cannaanites who had attacked them.
The following time period Israel is ruled by whom God chose to lead the Armies of Israel.
The Tribes of Jacob were setting up their townships, they were clearing the land for the people of Israel.
Several battles were waged with the Canaanites and Perizzites, Caleb was one of Israel's leaders. Caleb is a Pre-Judge figure that led the people during this time of war.
Judges 3:10 says that “The spirit of the Lord came upon him (Kenaz), and he judged Israel".
From Joshua to Kenaz, the Israelite had a series of infidelities and offended the Lord. It is important following Scripture that God worked through those who served Him.
Tradition plays a historical role establishing or rather showing that the “Seat of Moses” Jesus referred to can be shown using scripture. It is clear that God chose men to lead the Nation of Israel from Moses, Joshua, Caleb, and then Kenaz.
The Elders of Israel would continue the Lord’s will until about a generation later when new blood succeeded them and this is when Israel first began to serve the false god of Baal (related to Dagon, the god of the Philistines) abandoning the Lord. Notice that the Lord does not forsake his promise to Moses, that he keeps faith with Israel despite the peoples unfaithfulness.
God continue to raise men to lead the people. Ehud, Shamgar, Barak would be the earliest Judges. Barak had a unique helper that the Lord tremendously worked through in Deborah. Even though the Lord was clearly working through Deborah, she submitted to Barak’s authority. Barak was wise to have Deborah to be with him. Judges 4:8 says, "If you “Deborah” come with me, I will go; if you do not come with me, I will not go”. Deborah responded, I will certainly go with you, but you shall not gain the glory in the expedition on which you are setting out, for the Lord will have Sisera fall into the power of a woman”.
To Baraks credit, he didn’t care, he put God first and Deborah joined Barak and journeyed with him to Kedesh.
Then the call of Gideon, Samson, Micah were among those who Judged Isreal.
During this time, God clearly moved through the authority given to Moses through the Priesthood of Levi, the Judges, the Prophets, and the Kings.
Consider what the Scripture reveals during an episode where authority is passed down during the period of the Prophets, as we seen the authority given to Joshua, 2 Kings 2:7 states, “Fifty of the guild prophets followed, and when the two (Elijah and Elisha) stopped at the Jordon, stood facing them at a distance. Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up and struck the water, which divided, and both crossed over on dry ground. After Elijah was taken in a fiery chariot into heaven through a whirlwind. Elisha picked up Elijah’s mantle where it was dropped. Elisha struck the water as did Elijah and as before, the water parted as before and Elisha crossed back to the other side of the river. “
The guild prophets in Jericho who were on the other side saw Elisha and said, "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha”.
What a powerful anointing that the Lord demonstrates in this text. Clearly, Elisha succeeded Elijah. Finally, the people wanted a king and thus the story of the appointment by God for Samuel, the current Prophet, to anoint King Saul.
From here it is easy to follow the Keys given to the household of David (Isaiah 22:22) and the transfer of those Keys to St. Peter (Matthew 16:19) by Jesus Christ Our Lord.
What I hope to have demonstrated here, from Moses to Pope Francis (the 266th successor of St. Peter), God has ruled his people through the Authority of the Covenants (Jeremiah 31:31-32, Matthew 26:25-28) that were in place in accordance to God’s revelation and his love for his people.
Man’s unfaithfulness to God never broke the Lord’s promise. We see the Lord establishing His Apostles to be His Church with authority that has been handed down through Apostolic Succession.
The laying on of hands and the anointing of the Lord upon men (1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6, Titus 1:5) throughout the ages to proclaim God’s word, to administer his justice, to care for the sick, to lead to salvation the people of God.
So, In comparison, the Catholic Faith was founded by Christ, His Apostles, the Priesthood of Christ. Just as the Lord instructs Joshua to “be firm and steadfast”! St. Paul writes, “Therefore,my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast,always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).