Monday, December 12, 2011

Cleanup on Isle 4!

Growing up I can remember going to the grocery store and occasionally hearing someone come on the microphone saying "Clean up on isle 4." Someone dropped a jar of jelly or a bag of rice and it made a mess that someone else had to clean up. We live in a society that seems to be drifting farther and farther away from doing what is right, as difficult as it may be, in order not to hurt anyone's feelings or not offend anyone. I believe we have taken this approach into the church as well. Many leaders in the church seem to turn a blind eye to things that need to be addressed creating a mess that someone will one day have to clean up. It seems as though many churches have bought into the idea that  the church needs to be a warm and inviting place where no one is offended, either by our preaching or our practices. As I read God's word I see a very different take on obedience. Take a look at a story in the book of I Samuel where disobedience created a big mess at the end:
I Samuel 15: 2,3 - 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
To put this bluntly God tells Saul to kill em all! So what does Saul do?
I Samuel 15: 13-15 - 13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.” 14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” 15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.” 16 “Stop!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.” “Tell me,” Saul replied. 17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?” 20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”
Saul disobeys the Lord. Some might say he partially obeyed the Lord. Partial obedience is still disobedience. What do you think would happen if this took place today? In our current feel good churches where almost no one is called out for being wrong and everyone seems to have a "valid" excuse for doing what they did, my guess is that Saul would be praised. He would be cheered by many for doing something good for the Lord. Surely his motives were well-intentioned, surely God would say "Great idea Saul, why didn't I think of that!" Let's see what happens:
I Samuel 15: 22,23
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has rejected you as king.”
It appears that God was not very happy with Saul's partial obedience. God judged Saul and took away his kingship and in the following verses we see where Saul was grieved by this. Saul's disobedience led to God's judgment which also led to Samuel having to step in and clean up Saul's mess. Take a look:
I Samuel 15: 32,33 - 32 Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.” So Agag came to him cautiously. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” 33 But Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.
Talk about a mess! Samuel hacked Agag to pieces! Any time we disobey or partially obey the Lord we are creating a mess that someone will one day have to deal with whether it is in our churches, our homes or our jobs. We have to obey God's word even when it looks like things will get messy. Don't wait, don't partially obey, don't try to do it your way. All this will lead to is someone else having to hear "Cleanup on isle 4"!

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