Samuel

Wearing Rags But Rich in Faith

Monday, April 3, 2017

“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto you assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay [gorgeous, attractive] clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4 KJV).

Although written to and about Israel, today’s Scripture has a disturbing parallel to today!

Many years ago, a certain Christian woman and her children visited a local church where they were criticized for wearing “raggedy” clothing. Not one person—including the preacher—asked her why their clothes were so tattered. Furthermore, no one offered to give them any better clothing. Rather, these religionists condemned them. The lady was actually poor; she could not afford any nice outfits. Greatly offended, she left that assembly and never returned. In fact, she decided to stay at home. Understandably, she wanted no part of God or the Bible. (We have recently come into contact with her and have located a grace assembly for her to attend!!)

It is human nature to judge according to outward appearances. The classic example in Scripture is when the Prophet Samuel was observing Jesse’s sons to select Israel’s next king. First Samuel 16:7 says: “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” In that light, James 2:5 adds, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”

All we may be able to afford is “cheap” clothing. Thankfully, God is looking beyond the external. He looks upon the heart for faith, or trust, in His Word. If we must wear “rags,” let us still be “rich in faith!”

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But Not For Ever

Saturday, November 19, 2016

“And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever” (1 Kings 11:39 KJV).

Such bad news… albeit it is only temporary!

Friend, at some point in your association with Christian circles, you have surely heard the expression “the divided Jewish kingdom.” What had begun as a small tribe with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, exploded into a nation of at least two million people escaping Egypt. Moses, followed by Joshua, and then a dozen judges, all governed Israel for about four centuries. Samuel the Priest-Prophet took over, before Israel demanded the LORD through Samuel give them a king like every other nation had. Saul was Israel’s first king, followed by David, and then David’s son Solomon. Today’s Scripture was spoken in the latter part of Solomon’s reign. The kingdom of Israel will soon be split in two!

King Solomon, although (famously) endowed with divine wisdom, was nevertheless a sinner, a man prone to failure like us all. He had an insatiable desire for women, especially foreign women, those from heathen (idolatrous) backgrounds. Eventually, he had relations with 1,000 (!) women, all of who enticed him with their respective idols. Satan had successfully found a “hole” in Israel’s spiritual life, and he exploited it as much as possible. Read the 38 verses previous to today’s Scripture. While it broke the LORD’S heart to see David’s son so deceived, He had to punish wicked Israel!

The Prophet Ahijah came to Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam, with some shocking news. JEHOVAH God was giving him (Jeroboam) the ten northern tribes of Israel (verses 26ff.—known as “Israel”). For David’s sake, God promised to leave to his sons the two southern tribes and Jerusalem the capital (collectively called “Judah,” after the leading tribe). As soon as Solomon died several years later, Jeroboam returned from Egypt and took over Israel’s 10 northern tribes. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was made king of the southern kingdom. Israel’s once-united government had lost its Davidic dynasty. But not for ever,” JEHOVAH’S promise echoes.

“JESUS… the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob [all 12 tribes] for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

Have Ye Not Known, Heard, Been Told, and Understood?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? (Isaiah 40:21 KJV).

Long before spiritual ignorance gripped the Body of Christ, it smothered the nation Israel!

Isaiah chapters 40 through 48 are a polemic, JEHOVAH’S rebuke of idolatrous Israel. She had traded her living Creator God for dead wood and stone statues! Today’s Scripture is directed toward the Jews, God attempting to reach their darkened hearts and silly minds: “Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?” The answer to all four questions is “Yes!” Israel had known, had heard, had been told, and had understood from the very day God had formed them!

Going all the way back to the Abrahamic Covenant, God had promised to make Israel His chief nation in the earth, the channel of blessing to reach Gentiles, His instrument to restore His authority in the earth (Genesis 12:1-3). Essentially, Israel was to do and be what Adam failed to do and be. The Apostle Peter said that that earthly kingdom, over which Jesus Christ was King, was that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21). Up until Isaiah’s day, God had sent prophets to Israel to instruct them in His ways. Moses was chief, but others were Job, Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, David, Joel, Nathan, and Micah. Israel was without excuse!

The verse following today’s Scripture says: “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” In other words, “Israel, I formed you because I wanted to live on planet Earth with you and the rest of mankind.” Alas, like Adam, Israel threw away the promises of God and the Word of God, embracing worthless idols! What would He say of the Body of Christ today, who has largely ignored His Word for 20 centuries?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does not Acts 11:15 prove the Body of Christ began in Acts 2?

A Rebellion, a Reign, and a Rainstorm

Friday, March 20, 2015

“Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king” (1 Samuel 12:17 KJV).

Samuel’s address to Israel confirms, “the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22a).

Israel is God’s “sign-people.” What did Jesus say to Israel in John 4:48? “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” Moses knew that, unless he had miraculous demonstrations to confirm God’s message, Israel would not believe him either (Exodus 4:1-17,29-31). In the Mosaic Law, JEVOVAH God told Israel not to have any other gods before Him—no images, no idols, no false religious worship, no heathen child-sacrifices, et cetera. They were to be true to Him alone.

Some 500 years after Moses, Samuel serves as Israel’s prophet-judge-priest for many decades. Now aged, Samuel has two ungodly sons, and Israel refuses to have them as leaders once Samuel dies. Israel begs Samuel for a king, that they be like the other nations (when God had wanted them to be unique). We read in 1 Samuel 8:7: “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.”

In today’s Scripture, Saul has served as Israel’s king for less than a year. Samuel says it is “wheat harvest” (our May-June). The rainy winter months, December-January, are passed, and yet, God will confirm His Word that they have done evil in desiring a king. “So Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king” (verses 18,19).

The Jews had a divine sign as confirmation… they saw that they were wicked in demanding a king!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What happened to those saints raised from the dead in Matthew 27:52-53?

Their Ebenezer, Our Ebenezer

Monday, January 5, 2015

“Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12 KJV).

Thankfully, Israel’s “Ebenezer” is our “Ebenezer” as well.

After some 20 years of pagan idol worship (verses 1,2), and at the order of Samuel the judge, priest, and prophet, “the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only” (verses 3,4). They had finally put their trust in the living and true God and renounced their dead, worthless, Canaanite idols. As Samuel promised them, JEHOVAH would now deliver them from the hands of their enemies the Philistines (just as He promised through Moses centuries before in Deuteronomy 28:1,2,7,14,15,25,49-58).

Samuel instructed all of Israel to gather and meet with him at Mizpeh (about 5 miles, or 8 kilometers, northwest of Jerusalem). There, he prayed for them to the LORD, confessing their national sin of idolatry; they then confessed their national sin, and let Samuel guide them into God’s truth (verses 5,6). The Philistines hear of Israel’s congregating in Mizpeh, and they go out to fight the Jews; Israel hears the news and grows afraid (verse 7). Israel is now wavering in their confidence in their God; they have lapsed into unbelief, forgetting His promise to help them win. The Jews beg Samuel to pray for them, that they may be delivered from the Philistines (verse 8).

Thus, Samuel offers a sucking (nursing) lamb by fire unto the LORD, and the LORD hears Samuel’s intercession for Israel (verse 9). As Samuel offers the burnt offering, the Philistines are coming closer, and JEHOVAH strikes them with a great thunder, confusing them, and Israel defeats the Philistines, never harassing Israel again during all of Samuel’s days!

Today’s Scripture states that Samuel thus set a stone between Mizpeh and Shen, and called it “Ebenezer,” from the Hebrew eben (“stone”) and ezer (“help”). That stone symbolized JEHOVAH, Israel’s “stone of help.” We are thus mindful of Paul’s words: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b). Saints, no matter what happens in life, we have complete, total victory in Lord Jesus Christ, our “Ebenezer!”

Honest Samuel

Friday, August 9, 2013

“And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand” (1 Samuel 12:4 KJV).

How many politicians and church leaders could we say this to today?

About 1,000 years before Christ, Samuel (“heard of God”) served as a prophet, a priest, and a judge over the nation Israel for many years (although the Bible does not provide a numerical figure, it does tell us he served from “childhood” to him being “old and grayheaded” [1 Samuel 12:2]). His sons are wicked rulers in Israel, guilty of administering crooked judgment and accepting bribes—they “walked not in [Samuel’s] ways” (1 Samuel 8:1-5). Thus, Israel desires Samuel to choose his successor, which is Israel’s first king, Saul (1 Samuel chapters 8-10).

Later, after Saul is anointed as Israel’s king, Samuel addresses the nation (today’s Scripture). Let us see how this man of God ruled God’s people (1 Samuel 12:1-5):

“And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you. And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day. Behold, here I am: witness against me before the LORD, and before his anointed [Saul]: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you. And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand. And he said unto them, The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness.”

Even the LORD Himself testified to Samuel’s honest reign! It was such a shame that his sons did not follow his example, for their corrupt administrations led Israel to reject Samuel, and more importantly, God’s wisdom by which he ruled.