Friday, April 3, 2009

Of Kings and Kingdoms

The state of our nation is in the worst state economically and socially since the Depression.
Reading the headlines is depressing if not overwhelming. The unemployment rate that was reported today is just a number to some people fortunate enough to still be employed but to those that are not, it is an insurmountable reality every time they fill out a job application knowing that for one job, there are hundreds if not thousands applying for that same job.
The savings rate is up, people are starting to stash away their money in any place they can find a decent interest rate, and even in places they can’t.
Wage freezes are becoming common, and if you are lucky enough to have a job where you get a regular paycheck, even if they freeze your wages with no hope of a raise, you feel lucky.

I get A LOT of e-mails from people laying the blame of our nation’s problems on a variety of different reasons. But as I was reading in the book of Samuel the other day, I was struck by the prophet’s words to the nation of Israel when they wanted a king to rule over them just like all the nations around them. They wanted to be like everyone else, they wanted to fit in, and have “someone” to run to with their troubles. They wanted government instead of God.
God was not happy, but this is one of those times that He allowed them to have what they wanted. He was laying the groundwork for Jesus to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but at this time He knew how it would turn out, he even warned them, and here is what He says to Samuel when Samuel seeks the Lord as to what to do:

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 8According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

God knew what the outcome of this decision would be, when man doesn’t rely on God, and turns to the things of man, or man himself, the outcome is seldom what they want.
So Samuel followed God’s instructions and agreed to find and anoint a king for them, but not before he tried to warn them, as God had told him to, just what having an earthly king would do.

“This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest £young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”

Interesting, even back in those days, people thought that government would solve their problems, that other men would be the solution to the dilemma’s they found themselves in. They were willing to continue on a dangerous downhill sloop even when a prophet who they had listened to, and believed, and heeded his word before, warned them. As usual, God in his mercy used Samuel to show the people that even right after they had anointed a king, who they thought would be the solution to all their problems, He was greater, and mightier, and able to do more than any mere man could do; he sent rain during a time of year that it NEVER rained.
Upon seeing this, the Bible said “the people greatly feared”, and admitted their sin in rejecting God.

“Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness: yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside: for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord, will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart, for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

Our nation has rejected God in so many ways, that it sounded more than familiar to me.
We have spent our time and money on “empty things, which cannot profit or deliver”.
Our government has turned out to demand more of us than we are willing to give, and even to the point of servitude where we spend the first 5 months of the year working to earn enough just to pay our taxes. What will it take for us to “greatly fear” the Lord, and admit our sin of rejecting God, and pushing Him out of our society and our lives?

As I read Samuel I was also reminded of the scripture in Isaiah 9:6-7 where the perfect King and government will reign and be established:

"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end,
upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."

Easter is in a week. The celebration of the resurrection of the Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace! These days that we live in are the “birth pangs”, of the coming age of King Jesus, the perfect sovereign, and head of government. I’m going to try to be especially mindful as I approach the Easter Holiday this year that not only has He risen, but He reigns and will…..forever.