Yesterday, Bob gave a good lesson in his series on fear.
He took his material from the story of David and King Saul in First Samuel 27 and 28.
King Saul was the first anointed king of Israel. But, he disobeyed God's specific instructions (see First Samuel chapter 15) and God directed Samuel to anoint David.
This story is intriguing to me because here is a man who is anointed king, but goes astray. And multiplies his sin by killing innocent priests who help David. King Saul goes berserk, and tries to kill David on numerous occasions.
I have wondered why God allows this. Why did God allow King Saul to live? Why not zap him at that first disobedience? God may be extending grace to King Saul, allowing him time to repent. And maybe God is allowing us to see the consequences of a self-centered life that maybe started well, but went astray. Maybe it is a warning to us to beware. Be alert.
At some point in King Saul's life, he probably passed a point of no return. A hardened heart, like Pharoah, some might say. And I wonder if there were times in David's life when he shook his head in prayer and wondered what God was doing. Those contemplations are found in the Psalms. And David was very clear about not executing the Lord's anointed, even given opportunity after opportunity. That, also, should be a lesson for us. As Christians, we believe in capital punishment done in full compliance with the rule of law.
Even though David got so close to King Saul that he was able to prove his ability and opportunity, and even though King Saul would have killed David given the chance, David did not lower himself to assassination. And David moved himself and his 600 men and their camp followers into enemy territory to protect them, and because he wisely did not trust King Saul's empty promises.
In First Samuel chapter 28, Saul is so desperate and terrified that he goes to great lengths to find and use a medium. a witch. a soothsayer. He disguises himself, and visited the Witch at Endor who thinks it is a trap because she knows that mediums and spiritists were a big no-no and had been banished. (see the Mosaic Law, Deuteronomy 18:10-11) She knew practicing divination and sorcery was outlawed and carried the death penalty. Saul demonstrates his attitude of no reverence at all for the Law by lying to the witch, and asks her to conjure up the recently deceased prophet, Samuel.
Even the witch is surprised at her "success" and realizes she has been tricked. Bob pointed out that she had never had a dead person materialize at one of her seances before. But, God uses Samuel to give King Saul a message: I Samuel 28:16-19
We learn: The Lord has departed from King Saul and has become King Saul's adversary. And the Lord has torn the kingdom out of King Saul's hand and given it to David. (calls him King Saul's "neighbor") And Samuel repeats King Saul's sin where he went astray. And promises that tomorrow, you and your sons will be with me.
King Saul does not take the news very well. Would you? Would I?
I don't see this as a loss of salvation. I think we will me King Saul in heaven, and hear him talk about what a stubborn idiot he was not to obey the Lord precisely. I think we will see a clean King Saul. Forgiven and Cleansed.
Maybe King Saul did not learn or listen in this life. But, I want to remember what God told him way back in I Samuel 15--
Obey the Voice of the Lord
To not obey precisely is evil the the sight of the Lord.
Trying to justify your disobedience by using it to sacrifice to the Lord is wrong.(like stealing money and putting it in the offering plate is wrong) or (like trying to justify the sin of gluttony and wondering why I am so fat)
Obey the Voice of the Lord: Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. FOR REBELLION IS AS THE SIN OF DIVINATION, AND INSUBORDINATION IS AS INIQUITY AND IDOLATRY. (emphasis mine) Because you (Saul) have rejected the Word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.
Bob went on to point out that: "Faith in the Lord is not mere passively accepting what the Lord says is true; it is actively trusting that what the Lord says is important. To take God's Word lightly is to mock God. And to mock God is the first step on the road to our self-destruction."
What if---what if Saul had truly repented? He should have stepped down as king. He should have given the throne to David with the warning to always obey precisely.
These words married up very nicely with what we then heard from Dr. David Noebel during the church service. Dr. Noebel took his message from Hebrews 11:32. The most amazing list---a mixture of success, and martyrdom. I want to review and ponder this passage.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.
(Let us pause here. Abel. The first murdered human. Murdered at his own brother's hand. forgotten? no. We will meet him in heaven. He never had a wife or kids, but he is not forgotten. By faith Abel acted. He did not just sit around believing. He obeyed God. It cost him his life. I love how God brings Abel into the New Testament.)
v.5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to god. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
(from Abel to Enoch. I just love the Enoch story. He walked with God! And he did not die. He was transported. Transferred. Beam me up, Scotty. Too cool. And after he'd done his job of being a dad. Most lived a thousand years in his time, but he pleased God. Oh, to please God! He did not just sit around believing. He walked with God. And God invited Enoch to walk on home one day with Him. Seek God.)
v.7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became a heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
(Noah. Build an ark. It is going to rain. The only converts where his family. God started over with eight humans and pairs of animals. It should serve as a warning to us that God cannot tolerate sin. God has promised not to destroy the earth by flood, but fire will consume it and a new heaven and earth when God in His perfect timing is done here. I want to remember the "heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." Being an heir means sometimes you build something others make fun of, sometimes you prepare for something others mock you for, and sometimes God saves through a disater of Biblical proportions.)
v. 8-19 Abraham
v. 20 Isaac
v. 21 Jacob
v. 22 Joseph
v. 23-29 Moses
v. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days.
v. 31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
(Rahab hid spies. Rahab risked her life. Rahab believed the stories of the Exodus and that God was at work. But, I just noticed the line---"did not perish along with those who were disobedient"---the people of Jericho. Who exactly did they disobey? GOD ! Amazing---here it is: even Gentile nations were responsible to God. were and are. What an amazing phrase. We all know the story of Jericho. Thanks to Veggie Tales, we can all see the story played out. But, we forget that the people of Jericho were responsible to God. And God took them out. After seven days of grace. Best not to mock the ones God sends to warn you and encircle you.)
Dr. David Noebel picked up at verse 32-40 and 12:1-3
And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.
Who by faith
performed acts of righteousness,
shut the mouths of lions,
quenched the power of fire,
escaped the edge of the sword,
from weakness were made strong,
became mighty in war,
put foreign armies to flight.
Women received back their dead by resurrection;
and others were tortured, not accepting their release,
in order that they might obtain a better resurrection
and others experienced mockings,
yes also chains and imprisonment.
They were stoned,
they were sawn in two,
they were tempted,
they were put to death with the sword,
they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute,
MEN OF WHOM THE WORLD WAS NOT WORTHY
wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
Dr. Noebel said: ah, to be men of whom the world was not worthy. indeed.