1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
(1 Samuel 8:1-9)
Yesterday we saw the elders of Israel request that a king be appointed over the country. In so doing they were rejecting the governmental structure God had set up by raising up judges to lead the nation. They were also forgetting that they already had a king – God Himself.
When God delivered the Israelites from the bondage of slavery in Egypt and gives them His law He was establishing Himself as their ultimate leader; as their king. In fact, the Israelites recognize and admit this in their song of praise after they cross the Red Sea [Exodus 15:18].
The government of Israel had, until this point, been a true theocracy. God reigned from heaven through divinely chosen individuals, such as Moses, Joshua, and the judges (including Samuel) who spoke to the people on God’s behalf. The entire government and legal system of Israel was based on 4 words: “Thus says the Lord”. In this way Israel was unique among all the nations of the earth.
God”s intentionally designed Israel to be different from others nations, superior to them, and a lesson for them (Exodus 19:5-6). God purposed to bless all other nations through His theocratic reign over Israel
And that was the problem. Israel didn’t want to be unique. They wanted to be like all the nations.
Sadly, many Christians today also want to be like the world around them. They want the nice house with the green lawn. They want to drive the new car and have the latest technology gadgets. They look around and see that those who are not God’s children are having more “success” than they are. So they drift away from God and begin to live like the world around them.
This is not the proper strategy for living. God never calls us to achieve success as defined by the world. God’s definition of success is not measures in square feet or in dollar signs. God’s measure of success is based upon faithfulness [Matthew 25:23].
Instead of living as the world does we are to surrender our lives to God, determining His will through prayer. It is almost certain that the things God calls us to do will not be the things that the world is doing.
God will call us to give away our money to help others. The world tries to amass wealth. God will call us to live lives of sexual purity. The world considers such a lifestyle strange. God calls us to take care of the elderly, the homeless, and the poor. The world cares only about itself.
Like Israel in the Old Testament, Christians in the New Testament have one purpose in life: to draw others to Jesus. Our lives aren’t supposed to be about comfort or success or wealth. Our lives are supposed to be pointing other people to Jesus.
The way we do this is by living differently. When we live differently from the world – when we live like God calls us to live – the world will take notice.
The world is in darkness [John 3:19; Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 6:12]. Followers of Jesus are to be light [Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 5:8]. Light is different than darkness; it is noticeable. In fact, the darker the darkness, the more noticeable light is:
Those of us who are children of God are not to conform to the ways of the world but are to transform our minds to think like God does for that is the only way to know and understand His will and to, therefore, live lives that shine as light to the world around us [Romans 12:2].
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