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God's Fullness For an Empty Vessel - Part 1 of 2

Baptist Bible Hour / Lasserre Bradley, Jr.
The Truth Network Radio
November 6, 2020 12:00 am

God's Fullness For an Empty Vessel - Part 1 of 2

Baptist Bible Hour / Lasserre Bradley, Jr.

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November 6, 2020 12:00 am

“And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men” (1 Samuel 4:2).

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Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer's praise, The praise of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace.

This is LeSaire Bradley, Jr., welcoming you to another broadcast of the Baptist Bible Hour. O worship the King, O glorious above, O gratefully sing his power and his love. Our shield and defender, the agent of grace, A billion in splendor and burden with praise. O tell of his might, O sing of his grace, Whose robe is the wine, whose canopies fade. His chariot song, where the deep thunder clouds form, And our kisses path on the wings of the storm. By bountiful fair, what tongue can recite? It breathes in the air, it shines in the light.

It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain, And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain. Rail, children of Jost, and people as fair, In thee do we trust, for by me to fail. Thy mercies all tender, how firm to the end, Our maker, defender, Redeemer and friend. I'm glad you've joined us today. I hope you'll make it a part of your schedule on a regular basis. Listen to these messages that we bring from God's Word.

If you can help us with the support of the program, we'll certainly be thankful for it. Our address is the Baptist Bible Hour, Box 17037, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217. Look at 1 Samuel chapter 4. The second verse says, And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel, And when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines, And they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. Now this was obviously a disastrous day as far as Israel was concerned.

The Philistines were their perpetual enemies. And they come out to fight and are successful in killing four thousand men among the Israelites. Verse 3 says, And when the people were coming to the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines?

Now one thing is to be noted here, these people didn't just conclude that it was a bad day and they had been unlucky. They said, why has the Lord smitten us? And we need to be sensitive to the hand of God, to afflictions that come our way, to the things that he is orchestrating in our life to get our attention and teach us many lessons.

But while they raised the right question, they didn't come up with the right answer. Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. They decide that the reason they have lost this battle is because the ark was not present with them, the ark of the covenant of the Lord. The ark was built according to the pattern that God gave to Moses.

This wasn't something that people just sat around thinking about one day and said, what can we do to add some kind of religious symbol, bring something into our order of worship that will make it more interesting or give us something tangible that we can look at. God had commanded them to make the ark. The ark at various times was carried away by their enemies. And now they conclude that evidently the reason they lost this battle is because the ark was not there. So if we can bring the ark, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. Now the ark couldn't save anybody.

The ark was good. The ark was made because God told them to make it, but it could not save anybody. It's amazing how quickly people will get their eyes onto something that is tangible, something they can see with the natural eye and rely upon it rather than God himself. Because God is not seen with the natural eye, we can't reach out and touch him physically. It seems sometimes difficult just to lay hold of his promises and say, I'm going to rely on this because God said it. And I'm going to trust him, although storms are raging around me and the adversities are coming in rapid succession.

I'm still going to trust God because he's promised that he will not leave me nor forsake me. Rather than that, not that anybody in this day would depend on an ark such as they did in that day, because that symbol has long since passed off the scene. But do not people do very much the same thing today? Are not people very ready in many circles to rely upon something that is seen, something that is the work of an artist, something that is that which they can hold in their hand and touch and say, while we're not worshipping this symbol, this is nevertheless a significant part of our worship. And rather than leaning on the Lord, it's very easy at times to begin to lean on people.

Isaiah chapter 2 says, See sheaf of man whose breath is in his nostrils. We began to lean upon men rather than on God. On plans, schemes, programs, anything else other than God himself, we're going to have problems. And these people had problems. They had the wrong conclusion. They were not looking to the Lord. There was no confession here. They didn't say we've lost 4000 men and so there must be sin among us.

We need to examine ourselves and search our hearts. All they're saying is we need to bring the ark. So in verse 4, the people sent to Shiloh that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims and the two sons of Eli, Hothni and Phinehas were there with the ark of the covenant of God. Now, if it wasn't bad enough just to be relying on the ark rather than on the God of the ark, the fact that the ark was in the company of these two sons of Eli made it even worse because you look back in the second chapter, 1 Samuel chapter 2, the 17th verse says, Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord. And the young men to whom the reference is made are the two sons of Eli.

And if you want to know a little more about them, you look back in the 12th verse. Now, the sons of Eli were sons of Belial. They knew not the Lord. They knew not the Lord. You remember that it says that Eli had failed to restrain his sons. It's kind of a unique story, sad indeed, that Eli had very good communication with Samuel, who was brought up to the temple by his mother, Hannah, and dedicated to the service of God. But when it came to his own sons, he was negligent.

He did not restrain them. And we read that they came to an early death. So the ark was in the company of two men of whom it is said they knew not the Lord.

And the people, therefore, were looking to the wrong place for help. So, verse 5 says, when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout so that the earth rang again. Now that they have brought the ark out to the battlefield, they decide everything's going to be all right. There was a tremendous shout, a great shout, so that the earth rang again. Now when we see that all of that shouting was in vain, they were soon to experience another terrible defeat.

You realize that this was a very empty shout. They were boasting all right, but it didn't mean a thing. It didn't mean that everything was all right. It didn't mean they were going to have victory. And that should be a lesson. That just because somebody may at times say, I'm excited and happy about a situation, doesn't necessarily mean that the situation is going to be like they perceive it to be.

A person can be very bold, boastful, very determined, very reassured, and all of it be without a valid foundation. Now verse six says, when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, what meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the Lord was coming to the camp. And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. They made the same mistaken judgment that Israel did. They got the idea, well, if the ark is there, that must mean their God is there. So we're afraid.

Why were they? They said, woe unto us, for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. Woe unto us who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty gods. These are the gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. I notice they say these be the gods. They had many gods and they assumed that Israel did. But they had heard the report. They heard what Israel's God had done to the Egyptians. And so they assumed that with the ark now present, that meant their God was present. And that also translated into the thought that they were in deep trouble.

So what do they do? They say, be strong, quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Quit yourselves like men and fight.

And the Philistines fought and Israel was smitten. So the enemy says, all right, we got to stand tall today. We're going to have to be strong. We're going to have to stand up like real fighting men because we've got a terrible task in front of us. Israel has brought in the ark.

That means their God is with them. Not going to be a pushover like they were the day we killed 4000 other men. This is going to be a real challenge. They fled every man into his tent and there was a very great slaughter for their fell of Israel, 30,000 foot men. Instead of things getting better, it got a whole lot worse. First time, 4000 men die. Second time, 30,000 men die. You know how alarming it was in this recent war, when you heard on a given day that 10 men were killed, a dozen men were killed? You just kind of cringe to think how terrible that our young men are giving their lives on a distant battlefield.

You could sympathize with their families and think what grief they were experiencing. Well, suppose during that war, the word had come back that 4000 of our soldiers had died in one day. You know, as they started on that march toward Baghdad, there was a lot of apprehension.

Just what might happen? What kind of weapons are being secured there? Germ warfare or whatever else that might have brought about the death of a great many soldiers quickly. You know how disturbing that would have been to have heard of 4000 men killed in a day? Then if close on the heels of that, the word came that 30,000 men had died.

How terrible. You know, we read these Bible stories and read these figures and it's something that we've read before, so we're kind of accustomed to it. And I think when we read over it, we just glide past it and don't translate it into what it was like in real life. This isn't just a story. This is not like a parable in the New Testament.

This is an actual account of something that took place. Think of the wives and the mothers and the children that were affected by such a tremendous loss as this. And the ark of God was taken and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain. So these two rebellious, wicked sons of the old prophet died that very day. And then they come to bring the word to Eli. Verse 14 says that when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily and told Eli.

Now Eli was ninety and eight years old and his eyes were dim that he could not see. And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army and I fled today out of the army. And he said, What is there done to my son? And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been a great slaughter among the people. And thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken. And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck break and he died. For he was an old man and heavy, and he had judged Israel forty years.

He was a heavy man, so when he fell from his seat, under his own weight it broke his neck and he died. Talk about a dark day, men on the battlefield being killed in great numbers, the sons of the prophet being killed, the prophet himself falling to his death. And his daughter-in-law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered. And when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and prevailed, for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death, the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not, for thou hast borne a son.

But she answered not, neither did she regard it. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel, because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, The glory is departed from Israel, for the ark of God is taken.

So a child is born at this time, and before this mother's death, she gives the child the name Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed. What a dark day. What a terrible time. When God's own people have fled before their enemies, when God has sent judgment upon them because of their disobedience, and they have suffered so greatly. The principal lesson I want you to see here is that they went out feeling sufficient. They went out full. They came back empty. But in vivid contrast, when we turn to chapter 7, we see they go out empty and they come back full.

God's fullness for an empty vessel. Let's look at chapter 7. Time has passed. And it says that it was 20 years and all the house of Israel had lamented after the Lord. Verse 3, And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtoreth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.

An entirely different approach here. Rather than talking about recovering the ark, rather than there being a vain, empty, meaningless shout that all is well, that now the ark has recovered, Samuel is giving them proper instruction. You want the Lord to return. You want the Lord's blessing upon you.

You want him to deliver you. You return to the Lord. You return to the Lord with all your heart, not just with some idle passing expression. You indicate it by putting away the strange gods from among you. It's not enough just to say, Well, we have sinned. May the Lord forgive our sin, but demonstrate your true repentance by getting rid of your idols and serve him only. Serve him only. Not serve the ark, not be relying upon some religious form or ceremony, even though there were sacrifices that had to be offered in that day, even though there were various rituals that were implemented according to the direction that God had given to Moses.

None of those things were to be relied upon. The tabernacle in its day, the temple in its day, the beauty of the Lord's house. It was the Lord himself who would be their defense, their strength, their support.

Do you think people ever get confused about that in this day? Look to things that may be good in themselves, maybe something even that the Lord himself has authorized. But if we're looking to those things rather than to God himself, then we're going to suffer loss. These are brought keenly aware of the point at this time that they need the Lord. Verse 4 says, Then the children of Israel did put away Balaam and Ashtaroth and served the Lord only. And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to misbe, and I will pray for you unto the Lord.

Notice the sequence of events here. There's a call from the prophet to return, return. Sometimes I talk to people and say, well, I feel that I've strayed, gone so far away. I don't know if the Lord would ever hear me again.

I feel like it may just be a hopeless case. But I love to see how many times the prophets of the Old Testament use that word return. I find it frequently in the writings of Jeremiah, talking to a people who had forsaken the Lord, gone astray, gone down a path toward idols, return, return, return.

What does it mean? If a person who has gone astray is returning, they're doing what? They're repenting. Repentance is a change of mind. It's a change of heart.

It's a change of direction. It's not just a lot of idle words saying, well, yes, I've done wrong. Or if I've done anything wrong, forgive me. No, it's a matter of saying, I am wrong. I have done wrong.

I have gone the wrong direction. I'm acknowledging it, saying with the psalmist that thou art justified when thou speakest. In other words, I'm not going to complain against the corrective rod of the Lord. I'm not going to suggest that God is being unfair to me because of the consequences that I'm suffering as a result of my own sin. I'm coming to him with true confession that I acknowledge my sin, but in repentance I'm turning from it. I'm not going to change.

I'm not going to continue down the same path. Lord, I must come to thee for comfort. To thee, Lord, alone. All that we may do for others and for sin atone. Lord, we know that thou didst tell us that the poor are always with us and that thy love is jealous. Let us love thee more. Well, it's encouraging to know that when we feel our emptiness and our unworthiness that it does not mean that we cannot be used in God's service. God gives us what we're lacking, and service that is rendered to the glory of his name is that which is enabled and empowered by his Holy Spirit. I hope that you will write us at Baptist Bible Hour, Box 17037, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217.

And until we greet you next time, this is LeSara Bradley, Jr., bidding you goodbye, and may God bless you. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a poor taste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God.

Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood. Perfect submission, perfect delight. Visions of rapture now burst on my sight. Angels descending, brink of above. There comes a mercy, whispers of love. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. Perfect submission, all is at rest. I am my Savior, I'm happy and blessed. Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with his goodness, lost in his love. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, praising my Savior, praising my Savior all the day long.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-29 21:42:22 / 2024-01-29 21:51:05 / 9

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