His Fight   Leave a comment


By Lori Rodeheaver

I woke up with this scripture in my mind, “…to obey is better than sacrifice…”  When I opened to my next chapter in 1 Samuel, I read these same words, spoken by the prophet Samuel to King Saul as he was rejected as king by God himself.  I recall a paragraph I read the other day in Matt Chandler’s book, “The Explicit Gospel.”  It says this:

“God doesn’t need sacrifices.  God is saying, ‘I don’t need your bulls.  I don’t want your goats.  You’re missing the point.  I’m trying to communicate to your how disgusting and how horrible and how costly your sin is before me.  And instead of feeling the weight of that and actually repenting, you just keep doing what you’re doing, all the while bringing me goats and bulls like that’s what I really want.’  They’re like the wife beater who brings his wife flowers.  She doesn’t want his stupid flowers.  She wants him to repent; she wants to be honored.”  

1 Samuel 15:1-3 says this:

And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

The passage begins with the prophet Samuel reminding King Saul that God gave him his place as king; therefore God expects Saul to listen and obey his very specific commands.

God then tests him in this by giving him a great responsibility to follow his instructions fully.  God even goes so far as to be gracious enough to tell him why he expects such strict obedience in this instance.  He reminds Saul, through his prophet, Samuel, of the reasons why he has commanded this particular enemy to be “utterly destroyed” – destroyed completely; in its entirety; never to recover or live again, ever –  that is.

The reason God gives for this severe instruction is couched in a call to remember this particular enemy’s past injuries to the people of God.  Killing man, woman, child, infant – even all animals associated with this enemy seems quite harsh and unreasonable…until we remember what they had done to God’s people in the past.  A short trip back to the exodus will remind us.

(See Exodus 17:1-7, 15-16, Deuteronomy 25:17-19)

Just when God’s people were escaping the oppression of slavery and cruel bondage in Egypt, Amalek attacked them.  They just so happened to be in a place called, “the wilderness of Sin.”  They were extremely thirsty.  They had no water.  They were mad at Moses – their leader.  They needed a cool drink and there was none to be had.

Their exasperated leader prayed.  And God sent him to a rock and promised to make water flow from it.  Moses did as God commanded and named the rock after their quarrels, doubtless, so that they would remember how needy they really were.

All that to say, when this particular enemy, Amalek, came to attack God’s people, they had just escaped the cruel bondage of Pharoah.  They had just come through the dry, desert, wilderness of Sin.  They had just been given water from a rock to quench all their doubt and stop their voices from asking, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

The reason this affront was so abhorrent to God was because these were his babies…and they were just about to inherit all of his promises.  That rock represented Christ and that water represented his living water.  The symbolism is that of being born again. These people represent those who have just come to faith; just escaped Satan’s dominion and slavery; just come through the wilderness of sin’s clutches; just put away their doubts and fears and been given the only drink that truly satisfies their desperate thirst; that quenches their wretched neediness and fills them with the Truth.  These are God’s babies.  And God fiercely loves his newborn babies.

So after they were given the water, the enemy, Amalek, attacked immediately.  Moses held the staff of God up to ensure victory.  When the staff dropped, Israel began to lose.  Only when that staff was raised were God’s people winning against this enemy.  It was only by God’s hand.

Therefore, Moses built an altar and named it, “The Lord is My Banner.”  God vowed to have war with Amalek “from generation to generation.”  God would never forget this affront to his precious children.  Again, in Deuteronomy 25:17-19, God calls his people to remember what Amalek did to them and commands them to blot his memory out completely when they finally inherit the promised land.

Now, through Saul’s obedience, God seeks to fulfill his vow to blot this enemy out from the face of the earth for good.

 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction. ~1 Samuel 15:9

But Saul…  But Saul?  But Saul!!!

But Saul disobeyed.  How could you, Saul?  This isn’t about you.  It’s about God’s glory!  It’s for the good of God’s people.  It was his love for his people that prompted this command.  This is God’s fight; his vengeance; his recompense.  How dare you keep for yourself what he seeks to utterly destroy?

But Saul did.  And it cost him greatly.

And then, to pretend it’s because you want to offer it as a sacrifice?!  What hypocrisy!  God doesn’t want your empty sacrifices, Saul.  He wants your obedience.

We all have an Amalek.  That one particular enemy that attacks just when we seem to be “getting somewhere” in our faith.  God hates that enemy as much as he loves his children.  He seeks to utterly destroy it, never to be remembered.  He lifts his staff of victory over us and fights for us.  He lifts his banner over us and annihilates everything that seeks to come between us and he.

We only win when his staff of salvation is raised; not our staff of self-righteousness.  His banner over us is love.  May we fight hard to obey him and destroy this enemy completely.  Our only other option is to disobey him, lose to the Enemy, and find ourselves utterly rejected by God himself – just like Saul did.

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”  –Hemmingway

Everyday Encounters With the Creator


Posted December 9, 2012 by Tim Shey in Uncategorized

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