This morning, we’re continuing our new message series entitled, “Family of Prophets.” We’re rediscovering our identity as a church family this year and this group of individuals are an awesome example to learn from.
Family is a group of people who genuinely love, trust, care for, and look out for each other.
The past few weeks, we have been learning from Samuel’s life about hearing God’s voice. His willingness to hear God’s voice and to eagerly follow His lead is essentially where this famed family of prophets had its start.
This morning, we are going to fast-forward through Samuel’s life. Now that we know how to perceive and discern God’s voice, the next step is deciding whether to go our own way or God’s in life. Samuel continued to grow up in the Presence of God serving Him.
1 Samuel 3:19-20
19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord.
The ark of God where the Presence of God rested, the ark where Samuel first heard God’s voice, was stolen by the Philistines. Wherever it was taken, a curse fell on the people who stole it. When placed in the temples of idols, even the idol would fall face down before the Presence of God! After only seven months, the Philistines decided to return the ark to Israel.
During this time, Eli and his sons passed away. Samuel took over leadership of the nation of Israel, God’s people, and he lead them all the days of his life. However, his life was also nearing its end.
1 Samuel 8:1-9;18-22 (NLT)
1 As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. 2 Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. 3 But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.
4 Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. 5 “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”
6 Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. 7 “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. 8 Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. 9 Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”
Essentially, the king would take advantage of them charging taxes and forcing them into labor for his benefit…
18 When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. 20 “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”
21 So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, 22 and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home.
Which would be better as king of a nation? God who freely gives all or man who greedily takes all?
Which would be better to judge? God who knows all and stands on the side of truth and justice or man whose knowledge is limited and whose decisions can be bought?
Which would you rather have lead you into battle? The all-powerful God of all of the universe or a mere man?
Desiring to be like everyone else instead of desiring God’s purposes will never lead to anywhere good… This was true of Israel in 1046 BC when Israel installed their first king, Saul, and it is still true today.
1 Samuel 10:17-24 (NLT)
17 Later Samuel called all the people of Israel to meet before the Lord at Mizpah. 18 And he said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has declared: I brought you from Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all of the nations that were oppressing you. 19 But though I have rescued you from your misery and distress, you have rejected your God today and have said, ‘No, we want a king instead!’ Now, therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by tribes and clans.”
20 So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. 21 Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the Lord, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! 22 So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”
And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” 23 So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.
24 Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!”
And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
You would think that it was very clear when Samuel told the people plainly that they were rejecting God as their king and replacing him with a man that this was wrong. If that wasn’t enough, the man chosen to be their king ran away and hid on the day of his inauguration. That’s not exactly the type of person that you would want leading you into battle, right? How do the people respond? “Long live the king!”
Imagine this scene from God’s perspective. They have clearly rejected Him. Now they praise and exalt this man instead! With the installation of this new king in the place of God, Samuel steps out of leadership as to not interfere with the will of the people. At his public resignation, he reminded them once again wanting them to clearly understand what they were choosing:
1 Samuel 12:12-22 (NLT)
12 …when you were afraid of Nahash, the king of Ammon, you came to me and said that you wanted a king to reign over you, even though the Lord your God was already your king. 13 All right, here is the king you have chosen. You asked for him, and the Lord has granted your request.
14 “Now if you fear and worship the Lord and listen to his voice,
The first step is to hear His voice.
and if you do not rebel against the Lord’s commands,
The second step is to follow Him; to allow Him to guide our life; to make Him Lord.
then both you and your king will show that you recognize the Lord as your God. 15 But if you rebel against the Lord’s commands and refuse to listen to him, then his hand will be as heavy upon you as it was upon your ancestors.
16 “Now stand here and see the great thing the Lord is about to do. 17 You know that it does not rain at this time of the year during the wheat harvest. I will ask the Lord to send thunder and rain today. Then you will realize how wicked you have been in asking the Lord for a king!”
18 So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day. And all the people were terrified of the Lord and of Samuel. 19 “Pray to the Lord your God for us, or we will die!” they all said to Samuel. “For now we have added to our sins by asking for a king.”
20 “Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him. 21 Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you—they are totally useless! 22 The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.
Samuel was very clear. The people of God had made a poor choice. They rejected God as their king and wanted a man to lead them so that they could be just like all of the other nations. They had sinned and done a wicked thing.
However, God is our redeemer! Samuel didn’t sugar coat the sin of God’s people, but he chose to encourage them. They couldn’t change what they had done. They installed Saul as their king. Neither can we go back to where we missed it and choose rightly.
God chose to redeem their poor choice. He didn’t eradicate the kingship of His people, He chose to redeem it and to work through it. God chose to bless the king and the entire nation when they chose to turn their hearts toward Him. God even chose to work through the lineage of kings to save His people and all who would call on His name. God merged this early line of kings back to the Heavenly Kingship through Jesus! King of Kings!
Yes, there are consequences to our decisions that remain even when we sin. Everything bad that Samuel warned the people about happened. The king chose people to serve him in his army and in his personal service. The people worked hard and gave their taxes to this king. However, when the people remained faithful to God, they experienced peace from their enemies and abundance to such a degree that none of this really mattered to them.
God is able to redeem our sinful, wicked choices, too. All of us have had times when we knew better and chose to reject God and His ways and to go our own way. Sure, consequences still remain. However, God is able to bring life from death, beauty from ashes, and bless us beyond the curse.
Take for example, divorce. God hates it!
“I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel.
Why does God hate divorce? Well, anyone who has been through it understands why. When two are brought together as one, the separation is painful and messy. Lives are torn in every sense of the word. When a husband and wife divorce, it impacts not only them, but everyone in their joint families as well. Jesus clarified this stand a bit further:
Matthew 19:3-8 (NLT)
3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” 5 And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
7 “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?”they asked.
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.
Divorce is not what God had originally intended and we can see why through experience alone. However, God is a redeemer.
Many even here this morning have went through the heartbreak of divorce, turned to God, and seen Him heal their brokenness and restore what was lost. Broken families have become whole families by the forgiveness and grace of God.
Some of reconciled with their spouse and have started that relationship anew. Some have found wholeness as a single with God as their best friend. Some have married again and have whole new families.
God hates divorce, but this is only a response from His great love for people. God hates divorce because of the pain and brokenness that results from it. This is why it was never a part of his original intent for marriage. What God has brought together, man should not separate. God hates divorce, but He loves those who have gone through divorce! God hates divorce, not divorcees!
God is our redeemer! That same love for people that results in His hate for divorce is also able to redeem and restore and heal and move divorcees beyond the hurt. God is able to take the pieces of our shattered hopes and dreams and lives and make us whole again. God is able to take our torn hearts and replace them anew.
God is able to take what is lost and replace it with a double blessing in the form of a new family. Now that could be a new marriage with children, or it could just be being placed within a group of people who genuinely love, trust, care for, and look out for each other.
Psalm 68:6 (NLT)
God places the lonely in families…
Whatever poor decision you may have made in the past, no matter what your sin may be, God is able to redeem it. God’s forgiveness goes well beyond our past mistakes. God’s forgiveness deals with our past mistake and then moves us forward back onto the path that He planned for us.
As we continue on next week learning about this family of prophets, we’ll see that redemption was often their ministry. They would speak and act to turn God’s people back to God.
This morning, God is calling out to each and every one of us. He’s calling us to come back home. He’s calling us to come just as we are and to bring our baggage along with us. God doesn’t want to shame or condemn us for our past, He wants to take that burden from us.
Jesus paid too high of a price for us to continue walking around with our past mistakes thinking that He is ashamed of us for them. We don’t have to wear them around like a scarlet letter defining who we are. We get to exchange them for the mercy and grace of God and use them as a testimony to His goodness! We get to trade in our past mistakes for a hope-filled future! Who we are is defined by God alone and not by our past!
It’s time to stop demanding a king, going our own way in life, and it’s time to seek after the Lord, going His way for our life.
Now is the time to trade in all of your shame, all of your condemnation, all of your guilt, all of your anxiety for the forgiveness and grace and peace of God! Today is the day of your new life in Jesus. The old is gone, the new has come! You are no longer the sum of your past mistakes, you are a brand new creation through Jesus!