Monthly Archives: February 2018

Free will Choice Again

In I Samuel 8, God told Samuel to listen to the people that were asking for a king to to rule over them. They had specifically said, ” Give us a king to judge us.” (I Samuel 8:6). Samuel prayed to God and God said they were rejecting him and not Samuel. They didn’t want God to reign over them. Additionally, God wanted Samuel to warn them what would happen if they had a king:

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” I Samuel 8:10-18

The Hebrews had decided that the ‘king’ system was what thy needed. They moved away from a theocracy (being governed by God)  and put their trust in the the way the nations around them functioned. That kind of power usually corrupts. Money power and prestige lures rulers away from what’s best for the people. They start living for themselves. It was not so for Samuel. Samuel told them what would happen and they answered:

19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; 20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

God had Samuel lay it out before them and gave them the opportunity to choose. The results were not God’s fault, the blame squarely lay on the shoulders of the people.  God gave them freewill choice. There is no blaming God for any misfortune; nor was Samuel to blame. God loves his people and does not want them hurt and forgives them when they are sorry, but if people don’t listen, there is nothing he can do.

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Listen, Stretch Out and Keep

Proverbs 4:20-22  My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

The word ‘attend’ in this verse is pretty straightforward.  It means simply: to listen. God wants us to listen to his words and sayings.

In the book of first Samuel, the children of Israel did not always listen to God.  God spoke to them through the judge Samuel. In the Old Testament that is the way it worked. People did not have the spirit of God working in them and so often they did not recognize God’s workings. When they were frustrated by the Philistines attacks on them they went to Samuel for help:

8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines. I Samuel 7:8

Samuel spoke the word to them and sometimes they listened and carried out what was necessary to defeat the enemy.  When they succeeded in thwarting the Philistines, Samuel set up a monument and called it Eben-ezer or ‘stone of help’ as a reminder of what God can do for his people. Reminders are always good if we want to pay attention to them.

The word ‘incline’ means to stretch out, extend or bend.  There is some effort involved in getting to know God’s words. God’s victories just don’t drop out of the sky. However, his words energize the right actions in our hearts to apply to any situation.

In I Samuel 8:4-8, Israel decided they needed something else other than a judge (oops) to rule over Israel. They decided they wanted a king like all the nations around them:

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. 7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

Under the new agreement with God in the New Testament we have the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord.  We are connected to him via the spirit. He isn’t literally seated at the right hand of God, he is figuratively at the right hand of God. ‘Figuratively’ is a metaphor to make a point.  He literally is the Lord of the people called out in Christ. He is not just sitting up high on some cloud waiting for some future event. He is God’s right-hand man. He is at work in us, with us and among us. He is building his church, but his church is not a building made out of mortar and brick. It’s the group people who love God. It is his church (singular).

When Israel followed the examples of the cultures around them and acquired a king, they rejected God. Today we push aside the gods of the culture (and there are many) to follow Jesus Christ, through the Word and with the connection line of the gift of holy spirit. That is the way God has set it up. To understand how this works we need to attend and incline our ears to God’s Word. We have all the resources to do that.

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