Posts Tagged 'Israel'

Panic Podcast: The Story of the Old Testament, Part 4

Today, I want to take a look at the 19 kings of Israel and the 19 kings of Judah.  Just kidding.  Faster than the speed of light, we’ll look at how the united kingdom of Israel collapsed into the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and we’ll look briefly at a couple of kings.

 

ISAIAH, Part 4

One spoiled kid!

Woe to Rebellious Children

Isaiah 30

Chapter 30 of Isaiah presents another “woe,” this one issued by the Lord to Judah. These “woes,” beginning in chapter 28, contain both promises and threats to various people. The “woes” proclaimed went out to:

  • the leaders of Ephraim and Judah (ch. 28)

  • the City of David (ch. 29)

  • Judah, the stubborn nation (ch. 30)

  • those who were relying on Egypt, (ch. 31)

After all that God had done for His people, for some reason, instead of turning to Him for help in times of crisis, they continually turned away from Him and sought the help of other nations. This time, they turned to the now-feeble nation of Egypt. It was a ridiculous idea; Egypt was weak and getting weaker. What help could they possibly offer to Judah? Turning to them made no sense whatsoever, but that fact didn’t stop Judah from doing just that.

Like all sin, this rebellious act had no thought behind it. It would only harm Judah. When sin is looked at from God’s perspective, it never makes sense. It always harms the one involved in it. But that is the nature of rebellion. Like the spoiled child who, though hungry and thirsty, screams and throws his bowl of food on the floor and spits out his milk ends up with nothing to eat or drink, when the believer stubbornly refuses to turn to God, preferring to turn to others for help, he ends up with nothing.

While time and again God’s people turned a deaf ear to the prophets, this time Judah actually listened! The Southern Kingdom listened to Isaiah and did not join with Egypt in order to be delivered from the Assyrians. However, the Northern Kingdom of Israel ignored the prophet’s warning and the result: they were utterly destroyed as they were taken into captivity.

Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up to attack Hoshea, who had been Shalmaneser’s vassal and had paid him tribute. But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, for he had sent envoys to So king of Egypt, and he no longer paid tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore Shalmaneser seized him and put him in prison. The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes. (2 Kings 17:3—7)

1. Like rebellious children, verses 1—3

This is the fourth “woe,” and it was an unmistakable warning. Essentially, this woe is simple: Don’t go to Egypt for help.

One thing is certain, a person never wants God to pronounce a “woe” against them! Generally speaking, when God pronounces a “woe” against a person, nation, or group of people, it’s already too late for them.

a. The nature of this “woe”

Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the LORD, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.” (verses 1, 2)

The proposed alliance with Egypt occasioned this “woe.” The TNIV’s translation “obstinate” can also be translated “rebellious.” Either is correct, but “rebellious” might convey Judah’s attitude better. Judah’s rebellion against Assyria was also a rebellion against their God. A rebellious child of God never pleases anybody; not God, not the world, and never themselves. Sin never satisfies.

Judah’s idea of aligning themselves with Egypt was not only a rebellious action against God, it was a cruel, in-you-face manifestation of self-will. Judah, though, had a bad habit of manifesting self-will, since we are told this latest idea was one more sin, piled high on an already high pile of sin.

The Jews were not being led by God’s Spirit in this venture. This alliance was not His idea, therefore it was a bad idea. God was not angry just because the Jews strayed from His will, He was angry because His people were so spiritually dull they couldn’t see how harmful this alliance would really be.  This reminds us of James’ “double minded man.”  Here is a spiritually dull believer who can’t muster the faith to receive anything, including direction, from the Lord.

Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:7, 8)

It was dangerous to seek help from Egypt because at this point in history, they were far into their state of decline. Isaiah rightfully referred to the kind of protection Pharaoh could offers as merely “shade.” Indeed, his protection would have been an illusion.

Whatever any sin promises the one being tempted, it is in reality just an illusion. It is true that sin can make the sinner feel good; that’s why even good Christians struggle against it. But whatever good feelings sin provided, they are temporary. Sin never satisfies because it can never deliver what it promises. God is the Author of joy and happiness, peace and prosperity, not sin. Do you know why sin cannot satisfy any human being? The answer may surprise you:

…you were dead in your transgressions and sins… (Ephesians 2:1)

A corpse is incapable of any feelings whatsoever. Judah, on the verge of committing this dreadful sin, would get nothing in return for jumping in bed with Egypt, a corpse.

b. The result of this “woe”

But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace. (verses 3—5, verse 3 cited)

In spite of Pharaoh’s friendly reception of Judah, their trust in his support would result only in disillusionment and disgrace. Just as Judah got themselves into deeper trouble by turning to others for help and rejecting the Word of god, so believers, when they seek anything from any source other than God find themselves in spiritual quicksand.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each of you is tempted when you are dragged away by your own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13—15)

The outcome for one involved in sin is never good. James gives us the “gestation of sin.” Sin and sinning have consequences: ultimately ending in death. One way or another, the sinner will die; he will die in his sins and he will die spiritually. But there is another law at work here. Jeremiah 17:5 is a frightening verse for anybody considering yielding to temptation and sinning:

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who trust in mortals, who depend on flesh for their strength and whose hearts turn away from the LORD.”

God actively campaigns against those who willingly and knowingly turn from Him and get involved in things not His will. So sin carries with it natural consequences and supernatural consequences. Does sin make any sense? Of course not! But that doesn’t seem to deter many Christians from committing them.

c. Reaction to this “woe”

The people of Judah were so bent on going their own way according to their own plans, they wanted nothing to do with Isaiah and the Word of the Lord.

For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. (verse 9)

It seems as though the more Isaiah preached the truth to his people, the more his people became filled with antagonism. The Word of God sometimes has this effect on people. We frequently hear about the “drawing power” of the Word, but sometimes for stubborn, obstinate, rebellious believers, who know full-well their sin, it has the opposite effect. It arouses feelings of anger and bitterness within, usually toward the one giving them the truth.

See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” (verses 10, 11)

In other words, “Either make us feel good with your preaching, or take your God and go!” Is it possible to fall so far from God that a Christian can adopt that attitude? One only has to watch the “sermons” that are broadcast on so-called Christian TV these days to realize how watered down the Gospel has become. Christians would rather feel good than feel God.

2. God’s ever-gracious response

In spite of Judah’s stubbornness, God never stopped longing for His people:

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (verse 18)

Isaiah’s “therefore” and “because” of verse 12 begins a series of startling expressions of “the law of relationships.” Thousands of years later, the apostle Paul expressed Isaiah’s “law of relationships” this way:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; those who sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7, 8)

The Jews were sowing the wind and were about to reap the whirlwind!

Historically, the alliance with Egypt never happened. This was one instance where God’s people heeded God’s Word. Judah, because of that obedience, was spared the destruction that was the fate of Israel.

(c)  2011 WitzEnd

UNEASY LIES THE HEAD THAT WEARS THE CROWN

1 Kings 12:26—33

One of the things we notice as we study the historical books of Kings and Chronicles is the obvious connection between immorality and idolatry; where you find one you will eventually find the other for they go hand-in-hand.  Thanks to Solomon’s idolatry, caused by his immorality, the united kingdom of Israel was on the brink of splitting up.  Solomon’s sin would be repeated over and over in successive monarchies for generations in the remnants of his kingdom, both north and south.  While the southern kingdom of Judah had a series of very godly and strong kings, the evil and wicked ones led to its downfall.  The northern kingdom of Israel, on the other hand, had not one godly king and the kingdom suffered greatly until it was assimilated into the great Assyrian Empire in 722 B.C.  The ten tribes that made up the northern kingdom of Israel literally vanished from the face of the earth.

God’s people, the Hebrews, struggled with both of these sins through most of their existence as a nation(s) because their kings, with few exceptions, were just like themselves.  Fortunately, some time in our future, the last Son of David will come and He will restore Israel to its former grandeur.

While Rehoboam, Solomon’s son had become king of the two tribes to the south, sitting on his father’s throne in Jerusalem, God’s choice to rule the ten tribes to the north was Jeroboam.  Jeroboam, the son of Nebat was a real piece of work; he had it all, including a stunning and surprising promise from God found in 1 Kings 11:27—39.  Essentially, Jehovah would rip ten tribes from Solomon’s son and give them—literally give them!—to Jeroboam in a covenant that sounded a lot like the Davidic Covenant—

If you (Jeroboam) do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you.  (verse 38)

Jeroboam’s kingdom—the ten tribes north of Judah—would endure forever, as would Jeroboam’s dynasty, if he would simply live in obedience to the Word of the Lord.  That is quite a promise!  However, despite the fact that Jeroboam had all this going for him, and despite the fact that Jeroboam was a descendant of Joshua, Jeroboam would fail because of religion.

1.  His problems began in his mind, verses 26, 27

Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”

As Jeroboam set up his kingdom and his throne at city named Schecem, he soon took steps to provide for the religious needs of his people.  To his credit, he felt it vitally important to have a strong religious society. But, he had a problem:  the Temple where the people were to worship was in Jerusalem and Jerusalem was in the southern kingdom and Jeroboam concluded that if he let his people go south to worship, they may never come back.

So, in an effort to keep his people at home, the king overstepped his authority and went way beyond God’s plan for him.  It has been correctly observed that there are only two religions in the world:  one that has its origin in the “I will” of God, and the other has its source in the “I think” of a man’s mind.  Jeroboam saw what he thought would become a problem, and thought of a solution that was outside of God’s will.  Isaiah 55:8 makes it plain—

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

Jeroboam seemed to forget that he had a promise from God!  There was no way he could fail if he remained faithful.  He had the promise of an everlasting kingdom and dynasty that depended on nothing he would plan and scheme; only on obedience to the Word of the Lord.

Sadly, because the heart of a man is deceitful and evil at its core, he is incapable of devising a religion on his own that meets the demands of God and the needs of man.  Only God can establish a religion that can do that.  Jeroboam is about ruin the future of his ten tribes almost before it begins, all in the name of religion.

2.  His religion was basically selfish, verses 28—30

After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”  One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there.

Jeroboam established what amounted to an alternate religion and a far more convenient religion for his people.  Jeroboam sought advice, though we are not told from whom, and the best he could come up with was the establishing of temples in Samaria and Bethel.  The despicable thing about this was that these temples housed golden calves!  Why golden calves?  Was he really wanting the people to worship them?  It seems almost inconceivable, but we have a small glimpse into this man’s heart.  Notice what the king told the people:  “Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”  What kind of man can hear from God, be given a promise from God, then turn around and betray that God?  He was a selfish man, and he was the king of selfish people.  He established a religion for his people that he created in his own mind, ostensibly for his people’s good, but really it was for his own good.

A religion that comes from a carnal heart and that appeals only to the flesh will produce only soulless hypocrites.  Jeroboam produced a religion of selfish expediency, not of sacrifice.

3.  His religion was godless

This is obvious, is it not?  Worshiping a golden calf cannot be a good thing and certainly God had no part in it.  God’s command was clear—

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  (Exodus 20:4)

Yet here is a king and whole nation of people on the cusp of establishing a religion exactly contrary to the Word of God!  How can that be possible?  One thing we learn, not only from Scripture, but from our own experience, is that the carnal mind wants to walk by sight, not by faith.   The carnal mind cannot come up with a system of worship acceptable to God because it will always be based on sight, not faith.  If you don’t like the word “sight,” we may substitute “feeling.”  A worldly worship will always be based on our senses, not on faith.  The Bible is replete with examples of men who “thought” they should do certain things but their minds were carnal and their plans godless.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 16:25)

Jeroboam didn’t know it, but his plan for an alternate, convenient religion would lead to the northern kingdom’s fall.  Verse 30 is so sad—“this thing became a sin.”  It started out as a thought, but it became a sin.  The golden calves, not evil in themselves, became a sin.  Have you noticed that human beings are always very likely to esteem the things they themselves create?   The products of man’s imagination always seem to be more interesting to people than Godly things.  The song, the praise band, the prayer book, the liturgy, all of these things come from the creative mind of man and sadly, far too many Christians feel that they need these things to worship.  But whenever anything takes the place of God, it “becomes a sin.”

4.  His religious leaders were lowlifes, verse 31

Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites.

Really, the people Jeroboam made priests came from the “lowest of the people.”  This is characteristic of all “man-made” religions; there is no premium placed on those who lead it.  In fact, some religions and even churches seem proud to be led by men or women “just like themselves.”  Jeroboam had no interest in choosing his priests as prescribed by God’s law, he picked the men he wanted, regardless of their qualifications or lack thereof.

To their credit, the Levites would have nothing to do with Jeroboam’s sham religion, and instead, they chose to leave their homes and journey south to Rehoboam’s southern kingdom where the true Jewish faith was retained and practiced.  In fact, many true believers from the north did exactly the same thing when it became apparent that the northern kingdom was going downhill fast, led by a godless and clueless king.

5.  His religion was deceptive, verses 32, 33

He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made.  On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.

Notice the phrase, “like the festival held in Judah.”  Jeroboam instituted many celebrations and feasts of his own invention, but he patterned his religion after the true religion; it had the appearances of being right, but it was a pale imitation; it was a mockery and lifeless image of the real thing.

What was really going on in the northern kingdom?

Jeroboam was nothing if not clever.  His golden calves (literally they were bulls), as well as many other features of his “religion” were all carefully crafted and instituted to remind his people of their past.  And this was very appealing to the Israelites who were now facing an uncertain future.  In reality, the golden bulls—an idea he probably imported from his time in exile in Egypt—were probably meant to be a representation of Jehovah, and not meant to be worshiped as gods themselves.

Jeroboam, in fact, took on the appearance of a religious reformer; basically using religion to further his political agenda.  In troubled times, people seem to crave two things:  they want more religion, true or false, and they want change.  Jeroboam delivered both.  He gave his people their religious fix and he turned his ten tribes upside down.  He completely gutted the nation as it was established by David and Solomon.

It was this idolatry or near-idolatry that gave rise to the severe condemnation of him in the repeated vindictive expression “the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat.”

May the Lord help Christians walk by faith, and not by sight.  May our “religion” be based on the objective Word of God, and not our feelings and certainly not on flowery words and promises made by religious charlatans and/or political leaders.

(c)  2010 WitzEnd

SAUL: The anointed

1 Samuel 10

The word “anointed” has different meanings depending on who is using it or who hears it.  Francis Havergal’s hymn, “Take My Life and Let it Be,” gives us a good sense of what “to be anointed” means:

Take my life and let it be, Consecrated, Lord, to Thee; Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

One cannot be “anointed” of God until they are consecrated and devoted to God.  A preacher’s preaching cannot be anointed until he himself is dedicated to God.  And a preacher’s message cannot be anointed to those hearing it until they are consecrated and dedicated to God.   To be “anointed” is to be set apart for God’s purposes.  It is not some tingly, warm feeling a person gets when they hear a good sermon.

Sir Edwin Arnold wrote in The Light of Asia, Book Four:

While life is good to give, I give.

Too bad so many Christians have never read The Light of Asia.  Too bad many so Christians give the left overs of their lives to God, keeping the good parts for themselves.  Too bad so many Christians put off serving God in their youthful, young, and energetic years, deciding in their declining years to “get serious” with Him.  What a waste of good years.  No wonder so many church members leave a Sunday morning service not feeling a thing when they, in fact, met with God; they were there in body, but their minds were far away.  They were not “anointed.”  The preacher may have gone through the motions of preaching, but that sermon did not come from his heart and soul because his was not “anointed.”  That “anointing” is something we all want, but we do not want to do what is necessary to obtain it.   I may call myself a “Minister of the Word and Sacrament,” but that in no way anoints my words.

We expend so much of our time and energy chasing our dreams and building our little “empires” that very little is reserved for God.   We may be engaged in worthy and worthwhile endeavors, but that does not mean they are done in God’s Name and for His glory.

Saul and David were all chosen or anointed by God while they were young.  They served a great master, and that great master deserved great servants.  In young Saul, we see a “choice young man.”   And while we all know how Saul’s life fell apart, at least early on we see a life full of promise and potential.  Saul had everything going for him as a young man.

1.  He was separated by anointing, verse 1

Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?”

The process of making Saul Israel’s first king necessitated two main steps:   First was a private ceremony, which is described here.  The second step was the public choice followed by a public coronation.

The flask of oil Samuel used contained the all-purpose olive oil, but here it was designated as “sacred” oil.  Psalm 89:20—

I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him.

This is God speaking; God, through Samuel, anointed the kings of Israel, beginning with Saul.  It was God Himself who set Saul apart from crowd to fulfill His purposes for His people.  A monarchy was not God’s will for His people, but He was the One who allowed men to ascend the throne.  In ancient Israel, both priests and kings were called out and anointed like this.  This anointing of God set them apart from the general population.

All of God’s servants, in fact, are chosen and anointed like this, spiritually if not actually.  1 John 2:27—

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

John was writing to church members, not church leaders.  Believers—people in the pew—are all anointed of God, whether they realize it or not.  What does that mean?  It means that believers—true believers—are set apart by God for a purpose.  Are you set apart? Or from God’s perspective, do you just blend in with the hordes of sinners all around you?  Christians should be separated from the world around them; you are anointed, like Saul, and you should live anointed lives; lives that are markedly different from your unbelieving neighbors.

In the case of Saul, he was informed of God’s will, and shortly thereafter the sacred anointing oil was applied.  In our case, as soon as we know the will of God as revealed in His Word, we should be separated from the world to Him.  Paul wrote to the Ephesians, reminding them of this very fact—

Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.  (Ephesians 1:13b)

2.  He was encouraged by promises

God had anointed Saul but He did not leave him high and dry; God, through Samuel, gave His new king a three-fold promise concerning:

  • His immediate concernsWhen you leave me today, you will meet two men…They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found.  (verse 2) When God anointed Saul He met one of Saul’s pressing needs.  Remember, Saul was out looking for his father’s donkeys and was worried about his father.  God anointed Saul and promised to care of that routine, everyday problem immediately.
  • His physical needs“Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine.  They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.”  (verses 3, 4) God anointed Saul and God made sure Saul was would be well fed and his physical needs would be taken care of. 
  • His spiritual needsThe Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power.  (verse 6a). God promised to give Saul the depth of spiritual insight he would need.

And so God promised that Saul would be given everything he would need to be anointed.  He could easily be set apart from the world to fulfill God’s purposes because God Himself would give Saul whatever he needed; Saul would never again need to be a part of the world around him.  This three-fold promise has also been given to Christians according to Romans 8:32—

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

If only Christians could practice the faith they profess to have.  We claim to believe in the Word of God, yet we live like we are the ones who have to provide “all things” for ourselves.  If we had faith in and trusted God more, we might spend less time in spurious pursuit of “all things” and more time in pursuit the things of God.   It is easy to  object to that way of thinking, claiming the “Protestant Work Ethic” demands the majority of our time and effort.  God can take care of that, too, as He did with Saul, with the next point.

3.  He was changed, verse 9

God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.

It is impossible to live the kind of anointed life God demands without being changed in some way.  God changed Saul’s heart—a kind of regeneration—and God gave Saul new desires and new motives.  God can do that for all believers; this is what regeneration is all about.  David prayed to God—

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  (Psalm 51:10)

Do you find living a dedicated and consecrated life daunting?  Do you find the prospects changing your habits, hobbies, and attitudes distasteful?   Does the thought of forsaking certain people or pursuits seem unreasonable to you?  Do you find the demands of Scripture unreasonable?  The reality is not a single Christian can live a holy, separated  life—which God demands—on his own.  The good news is that God will make it possible for you to do so.  He gave Saul a changed heart, meaning Saul was made “another man” when the revelation of God’s purposes were made clear to him.  A very similar thing happens to us when we are born again—

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  (2 Corinthians 5:17—18)

Nobody can be the same after the Kingdom of God has been birthed in their souls!  God makes us new people, as He made Saul a new man.  It is completely an act of grace; something done for us for our benefit to make living the anointed life possible.

4.  He was given assurance, verse 9

…all these signs were fulfilled that day.

The blessings of God become obvious to those whose lives are yielded to Him.  When our outward circumstances are made to conform to and confirm the thoughts and intents of our new inner lives, everything will change.  For Saul, when God regenerated his inner man, all His promises came to pass.  For us, when we make the effort live by faith according to Scripture, when we make the effort to live like the “new creatures” we are, God will make all things work together for our good; our whole perspective on life will change.  When God’s will is made known to us, and we willingly yield ourselves to the fulfillment of His will, we will see many “signs and wonders” coming into our lives as tokens of confirmation that God is pleased with us.  As one commentator observed:

The outer wheels of our circumstances never move contrary to the inner workings of the Spirit of God.  There may be wheels within wheels, but they are “full of eyes,” and so cannot err.

5.  He was empowered by the Holy Spirit, verses 10, 11

When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying.  When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”

When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit and they yield themselves to Him, signs are sure to follow.  Notice that Saul looked like a prophet and joined in with the prophets; and why not?  Was he not filled with exactly the same Spirit as they were?  If you are born again, then you also are filled with the same Spirit that indwelt not only the prophets, but Jesus Christ as well.  Not only that, God’s blessing is contagious.  When Christians yield themselves to the Spirit of God within them, the move of the Spirit within them will touch others close by and they will yield themselves, just as Saul did in the company of the prophets.  This is, perhaps, one reason why so many of churches seem devoid and bereft of the power of the Holy Spirit:  nobody, including the pastor and elders, are willing to let go and let the Holy Spirit take over.  The tragic thing about that is we are robbing each other of something very precious:  a transcendent spiritual experience that will not only take us to new levels of spirituality, but our congregations as well.

6.  He was humbled, verses 21, 22

But when they looked for him, he was not to be found.  So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?”  And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”

The kingdom of God had come to Saul, not because he asked for or sought after it; it was given to him as a gift from God.  He could have been swollen with pride; instead he was humbled to the point of hiding from people.  He remained small in his own eyes despite the great blessings showered on him.  Sadly, this humility would leave him later in life, but for now this humility was real and was a part of his character.

7.  He was despised by some, verse 27

But some troublemakers said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

The Hebrew calls these “troublemakers” “sons of worthlessness.”  There will always be those who doubt and make no allowance for the call of God or the move of God.  A lot of us, who serve the Lord, find this a reality in our own lives.  We are excited about God or something God has shown us in His Word, but nobody else is!   But this should come as no shock to us; if we have been made partakers of the fellowship of God, then we are also partakers of the sufferings of Christ.  He was made fun of, His teachings ripped and ignored; why should we be treated any differently?   The simple fact is, the more God blesses us and honors us, the closer we get to God, the more some—even within the Body of Christ—will cause trouble for us.

The last sentence in verse 27 is foreboding.  “Saul kept silent” in the face of his critics, so we are told.  Here was a man, full of holy boldness, anointed king, who did not answer his critics.  He should have; he would not have been defending himself, it was really God’s honor being snubbed here.  Why did he not say something?  Was he afraid?  Was his humility really just a mask for fear?   The apostle Peter wrote this—

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  (1 Peter 3:14—16)

Did you catch what Peter admonished his readers to do?   He told them to do two things:

  • In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  In other words, “anoint” Christ as Lord in your heart.  He anointed you; you must anoint Him.  As Christians, we all must set Christ on the throne of our hearts.
  • Always be prepared to give an answer.  When we are besieged by troublemakers, we must be ready to give an answer.  We owe it to God, we owe to those who are watching us, and we owe it to those troublemakers.

Saul had remained quiet when confronted.  This opened the doorway to trouble that could never be shut.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

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