Monday, May 26, 2014

The Seven Letters, Part 4: Reclaiming the Kingdom

"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: 'The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep thing of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" Revelation 2:18-29


Samuel was angry. Incredibly angry.

But what's done, is done.

The decision had been made. There was nothing Samuel could do about it. Saul had tolerated the presence of wickedness in his life, and it had finally overcome and devoured him whole.

Samuel came to Saul's tent in the camp. He didn't bother to wait for the soldiers to grant him permission, or for the herald to announce his presence. He barged into the tent in a storm of holy fury, and no man could stop him.

Saul saw him immediately, and he rose from where he sat, smiling widely. After dismissing the servants and officials from his tent, he said, "Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the Lord's commandments." Saul continued smiling, clearly waiting for a pat on the back, and a, "Well done."

Samuel couldn't give him that. Not anymore."If you performed the Lord's command, then what is the bleating of sheep in my ears, or the lowing of oxen that I hear?" He set his jaw hard, and his mouth formed a small, thin line.

Saul nervously wiped his hands on his robe before answering Samuel. "They were...uh, brought from the Amalekites. The people spared the best of the sheep and oxen. So they could sacrifice them to the Lord God. Everything else though was destroyed, and   "

Samuel held up his hand, cutting him off. "Stop! I will tell you what the Lord has said to me this night."

Saul gulped. "Speak it."

"Even though you are nothing in your own eyes, the Lord anointed you as the king of Israel. And the Lord gave you a mission. He said, 'Devote the Amalekites to destruction until they are consumed.' Why didn't you obey the Lord? You pounced on the spoils, and did what was evil in Yahweh's sight."

Saul thumped his chest with his right fist. "But I did obey the Lord! I completed His mission. Amalek was destroyed." He waves his left arm in a wide arc behind him. "I brought back King Agag. The people picked out the best livestock, and brought them with us. To sacrifice to the Lord." His eyes never left Samuel's face, and they begged him to understand. However, Samuel saw it. Those windows into Saul's soul showed everything. The Saul he knew and loved was gone. Evil had taken root within him.

Samuel felt something in his spirit break, and the Lord's words washed over him, through him, leaving nothing but the words to be spoken. "Do you think sacrifice and burnt offerings mean more then obeying the Lord's voice?" Samuel started pacing within the small space of the tent. "Obedience is better then sacrifice, and listening is better then the fat of a thousand rams! Rebellion against Yahweh is a sin as serious as divination. Presumption is iniquity and idolatry. And because you have rejected the word of the Lord in your life, the Lord has also rejected you from being king."

Based on 1 Samuel 15:10-23

The man reading the letter doesn't stop, not yet. People around you are starting to squirm. Some have even gotten up and left, cursing God once and for all. However, the man continues to read, faithful to deliver God's message. Then he gets to this part. Everyone in the congregation looks suspiciously at one another. The painfully guilty run out the doors in shame and unrepentance, or wept openly before God begging for forgiveness. As you watch these members of your church family, the thought flits through your mind, "Could I have prevented this. Why was this tolerated and allowed to be a stumbling block?"

Unfortunately, the word tolerance is abused today. We are told to tolerate drugs, alcoholism, sexual immorality, lying, stealing, murder, and abortions. It's part of our culture now. We, as a church, have grown tolerant, and the devil's agents have walked into our lands without any resistance from us.

Let me make myself clear, I am not saying to hate people who sin. I'm saying hate the sin. Don't allow the sin on your turf.

Saul was give a very specific command. Destroy the Amalekites, their city, and everything they possessed. That was sin on his turf, and it needed to go. God gave him the command. Instead, Saul destroyed the stuff he thought should be destroyed. He even saved King Agag! He allowed evil to remain.

Did you know that because of King Saul's disobedience, the descendants of Agag tired to wipe out the Israelites later?

"Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite." Esther 2:5

"After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him." Esther 3:1

Saul's tolerance and disobedience lost him the kingdom, and jeopardized the nation of Israel long after Saul's sin was done and forgotten.

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:15-17

Look carefully how you walk. Are you just walking by, with you head down, avoiding the problems around you? When we play hide-and-seek with the kids in the youth group, sometimes when I'm found, I'll close my eyes, hide my head, and say, "If I can't see you, you can't see me." The kids never let me get away with it. It's the same way in the spiritual. We can close our eyes to the sin around us, but it's not just going to go away. It will grow, overcome, and devour everything in it's path, and eventually it will come for us.

"Do not be conformed to this world." Romans 12:2

We know if there are areas where we have tolerated evil, or turned our eyes from sin. It's time we stop doing that.

Remember what the Lord told the people in the church who remained faithful to Him? "The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations," Revelation 2:26. God will give us the nations, if we push back at the devil, shouting, believing, living the statement, "You will not live here!" Saul lost a kingdom, but you and I, we can reclaim the kingdoms of the world.

V. Joy Palmer

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