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Be Careful What You Ask For

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But the people refused to listen to Samuel's warning. "Even so, we still want a king," they said. "We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle." So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, and the Lord replied, "Do as they say, and give them a king." Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home. -- 1Samuel 8: 19-22 (NLT)

Quick backdrop to the key verses. After the passing of Joshua, Israel spent 400 years with judges ruling the nation to settle disputes and lead Israel into the various battles they would face. The entire Book of Judges is a repetitive cycle of sin-repentance-deliverance. Israel constantly would fall away and worship foreign gods and then they would be oppressed. God would rise up a judge to deliver them and then the next generation would promptly fall away again. Samuel was the last judge. He tried in his old age to appoint his sons to be judges but they were corrupt. The people of Israel came to Samuel and demanded a king, "like all the other nations have." Samuel brought the matter to God:

Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. "Do everything they say to you," the Lord replied, "for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don't want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them." -- 1Samuel 8: 6-9 (NLT)

They don't want me to be their king any longer; how sad. Israel was designed to be a theocracy -- with God as the King. Yet as God points out, from the moment they left Egypt where they were slaves, all they did was complain and disobey. Likewise, we all lived in Egypt too. We were slaves in Egypt just as the Israelites were. Egypt is the world to us. It is where God found us. We were slaves to our sin nature. We were slaves to infidelity, alcohol, pride, greed, hate, unforgiveness or any other number of shackles the world used to bind us in our despair. But God came into our lives and freed us! He went to the Pharaoh of the world system and said - let my child go! And thus we were delivered from the bondage of sin, freed from the Egypt we were slaves in.  

As we moved out from our slave condition into being a child of the living God, we hopefully were very thankful and recognized all God had done for us. But the Christian walk is always that -- a walk. And somewhere along the way we can start to forget all God had done. We can start to marginalize it in our thinking. We can start to complain and disobey. We can start to look back to the world like Israel was constantly looking back to Egypt. We can start to think that we might be better off being ruled by something else.

Because the true nature of the believer to God is supposed to be that of loyal subject to King. There is so much bad theology out there in modern Christianity that turns God into something that feeds our flesh. We sing songs about God being our friend because He called Abraham friend but we are not willing to show the faith that Abraham showed. We now see a movement towards over-sensualizing Jesus, perhaps from reading Song of Solomon too literally. Other poor theology turns God into the blessing machine whose sole function is to pour blessings into our lives. What gets lost in these theologies is who God is really supposed to be in our lives:

Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; - 1Timothy 6: 15 (KJV)

The dictionary defines "potentate" as a sovereign ruler. That means someone who you abdicate all power to. It is a fancy word for a king. That is who God is supposed to be to us first. Before He can become our friend. Before He can be the lover of our soul. Before He can extend a single blessing -- He must be the King and Lord of our life! The dictionary defines a king as someone who holds life tenure as being the chief authority over a people. That is who God is supposed to be in our lives first. We agreed when we became born again that we would let Jesus be our chief authority for the rest of our life. This is the foundational relationship we are supposed to have. Yet so infrequently is this taught. We are saved and then the next week we are singing Friend of God or Blessing of Abraham as if we went to high school with Jesus. That is how the devil can start to show us other things in the world we can be ruled by. Without the proper foundation of what our God relationship is supposed to be; that is how we can start to look back on Egypt fondly. This is one important reason why people fall away. But before we start to look too fondly -- remember God has warned us:

So Samuel passed on the Lord 's warning to the people who were asking him for a king. "This is how a king will reign over you," Samuel said. "The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you." -- 1Samuel 8: 10-18 (NLT)

The world is a harsh taskmaster because the devil is in charge of it. Realize that whenever we choose to not be ruled by God we are essentially choosing to be ruled by the world -- by the devil. Even those foolish enough to think they are "ruling themselves" are really being ruled by their pride -- the chief weapon of the world and the devil. Make no mistake about it, we will be ruled by something beloved and we need to be very careful what we ask for. Re-read these warnings given by God to Israel. They still apply for us today. When we choose to be ruled by the world it may cost us our family. It may cost us our freedom. It could cost us our property, our riches, and what we value. Sin and this world always have a price tag and it is always more than we are willing to pay. But we do a poor job of counting the cost. We just look back fondly because we never understood that He is our King.


This brings us to the key verses for today. Some of the saddest verses in the Bible. Amazingly, Israel hears the cost and doesn't care. They hear the cost but their hearts are so far from God at this point; they just do not care. There are three separate statements they make for us to consider. The first is, "Even so, we still want a king." How can you say that after hearing all of the things having a king will cost you? If we are honest with ourselves we do it all the time too. The Bible is replete with warnings from God about what we should and should not do yet how often do we find ourselves on the "should not" side? Heck, just look at the modern church and its unhealthy obsession with revival. As my pastor likes to say, if we would ever just do things right to begin with -- we wouldn't need revival!


The second statement Israel makes to God is, "We want to be like the nations around us." Beloved, do not become enamored with this world. It holds nothing of substance for us as believers and it is passing away according to Scripture:


Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. -- 1John 2: 15-17 (NLT)


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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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