Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 23 September 2022:
1 Samuel 28:5-7 — “When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’ And his servants said to him, ‘Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.’”
Under pressure, consumed by fear, with no ‘special’ revelation from God, Saul, again, demonstrates his lack of integrity and disobeys God’s clear commands in order to get ‘answers’ he couldn’t get from God. How well you obey God’s word under pressure when God doesn’t give you a ‘special’ word (a specific answer or revelation through the Holy Spirit) says much about your faith and character – “The teacher is silent during the test.”
– Leviticus 19:31 — Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.
– Leviticus 20:6 — If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.
– Leviticus 20:27 — A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.
– Isaiah 8:19 — And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?
God was and is unquestionably clear about His prohibition of sorcery and occult practices – “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-14) Despite God’s forbiddance of mediums, note that under Saul’s rule, his servants had no problem finding one upon Saul’s request, which speaks volumes about what Saul really cared about. Well before Saul consulted a medium, he tolerated them, allowing them to poison the culture with abominable idolatry. Saul wasn’t very interested in listening to God until the Philistine army approached, but then only to save his own skin, not to honor God as God – “God will not be mocked” (Galatians 6:7).
Against God’s Law, Saul sought a medium because “the Lord did not answer him.” This is the same reason people today turn to other sources rather than God for answers. For most people, it’s not a medium they go to but rather world philosophies, other people, “common sense,” etc. They go to others for answers rather than God because they have either never heard from God or no longer hear the voice of God – communication has ceased. Or, they just don’t have the faith to trust God answer in His way and in His timing. However, Jesus said, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers…. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…. they will listen to my voice.” (John 10:3-5, 14, 14-16) Do you clearly hear, recognize, understand, and obey the voice of the Good Shepherd, and are you able to discern between His voice and the voice of the thieves that seek to steal the sheep?
– Luke 6:46-49 — “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
– 2 John 1:9 — Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
The Bible explains why God did not answer Saul: “Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord…. the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy (28:18, 16).” His disobedience had separated him from God. In his sin (rejection of God’s clear commands), he could not hear God because God had stopped talking with him. Proverbs tell us, “Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord, but those of blameless ways are his delight (Proverbs 11:20).” Of course, most people with a crooked heart, don’t believe they have a crooked heart – “I’m a good person.” As the old joke goes: “What do all prisoners have in common? They are all innocent.” In their pride, some refuse to acknowledge their sin, repent, and walk by God’s word in humble obedience. Often, the prideful are looking for and imagine an extra-biblical, ‘special,’ or miraculous revelation because God’s clearly written commands are just not satisfying. In frustration, many accept the consequential silence from God as “reality” and turn to other forms of “knowledge” for answers. Often, they deceive themselves into thinking that their emotions and imagination are the voice of God – “God told me to [do the thing I want to do].”
The Apostles would rebuke this kind of “Christian” — “Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame (1 Corinthians 15:34)…. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6)…. Destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)…. Know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:9)…, the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2, 3)…. Come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4)…. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge (1 Timothy 6:20)’…. “If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26)…. Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:5-11)…. For if, after [you] have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, [you] are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first (2 Peter 2:20)…. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge (1 John 1:20).”
From today’s readings, consider how different David’s life and testimony is from Saul’s: “This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life (Psalm 56:9-13).
Despite his circumstances, David lived life in confidence knowing that God was “for him” because David trusted in God, praised the word of God, and kept his vows before God. He gave thanks to God and “walked before God.” Are you walking before God or men?
Saul’s religion was self-serving idolatry, all about Saul. He outwardly obeyed God when it appeared expedient or profitable, but inwardly, he remained disobedient to the Greatest Commandment of loving God, and when things got hard, Saul revealed his real ‘savior’ which was himself, and Saul proved to be a powerless savior – “…having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:5)
Again, if you want to hear from God, you must be careful to obey His written word which He has freely provided and which is not hard to understand. Don’t look for a special revelation when you have ignored His general revelation.
– John 14:15 — “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
1 Samuel 28:10 — “But Saul swore to her by the LORD, ‘As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.’”
Saul made oaths in God’s name while disobeying God. Don’t think God is going to bless you in one area of your life while you are intentionally disobeying Him in another. Don’t act faithful to the LORD when you know you have a sin to which you are still hanging on. Right now, deal with that issue you know deep down inside is hindering your relationship with God.
1 Samuel 28:16 — “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy?”
When we disobey God, we are working against Him like an enemy. God, of course, will never bless that, no matter how ‘sincere’ we are in our desires and requests. God must be honored as God when we approach Him. In this case, Saul’s fate was already determined. There was no escaping the consequences.
1 Samuel 28:14 — “And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage.”
Many commentators suggest that this was not really Samuel. The verse seems clear that it was. You decide.
Hebrews 7:1-11 – Jesus does not point to the law, the law points to Jesus. It is not the law that makes us righteous, Jesus does. The aim is not merely to be good, it is to be one with Jesus.
Hebrews 7:16 – “…who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.”
Jesus’ authority does not come from regulations but from His deity. Our righteousness does not come from our behavior but rather because of His declaration of our righteousness. Also, a disciple’s authority comes from God not from human institutions.
Hebrews 7:19 – “…(for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.”
Again, lawfulness cannot make you righteous, only Jesus can. Living righteously is the natural product of being made righteous through Christ.
Hebrews 7:26 – “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.”
Only Jesus can satisfy your eternal need and give you eternal peace.
Hebrew 7:26-28 – For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
Jesus Christ has paid for your sins “once for all when he offered Himself.” It is finished – if you are a Christian you are forgiven, completely, unconditionally, and permanently. Nothing can be added or taken away from God’s forgiveness – forgiveness through Christ is perfect. Under the priesthood of Jesus we now have been made a “royal, holy priesthood” (1 Pet 2:5-9) and a holy “kingdom of priests” (Rev 5:10, Exodus 19:6) among the kingdoms of men which are corrupt and ungodly. Among those nations, we serve our King as ambassadors, proclaiming the King’s message to the fallen world. Today’s readings in Isaiah state: “The Lord is angry with all nations; his wrath is upon all their armies. He will totally destroy them (Isaiah 34:2)” but “the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our King; it is He who will save us. (Isaiah 33:22).” Your kingdom is “not of this world. (John 18:36)” You were once of this world but God saved you from this world, redeemed you, and made you a new creation, holy, set apart for His purposes and His glory (1 Cor 1:28, 5:10). You are now called to “seek the Kingdom” and to struggle “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:12).” Today, pledge allegiance to your King and serve Him faithfully. Proclaim His message to the world. Remember, your obedience does not add to your salvation but contributes to your sanctification, fulfilling your purpose of being conformed to the image of Christ.
Agan, you can’t remind yourself enough, Jesus’ sacrifice covers all sin, once and for all. Now, walk in that grace and give that sort of grace to everyone who mistreats you.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 September 2022: When you need to make a decision and you don’t seem to be hearing something specific from God, obey the word He has already given you in the Bible. Obey Jesus today, not in an attempt to make yourself righteous but rather to grow closer to Jesus in love, grateful for His grace and imputed righteousness. (Hebrews 7)