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Samuel’s Solid Leadership (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
March 3, 2022 3:00 am

Samuel’s Solid Leadership (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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March 3, 2022 3:00 am

Behavior is ultimately an expression of what’s going on in the heart So, what do we need to do to purify our hearts? Find out when you join us for a closer look at Samuel’s leadership. That’s the subject on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Our behavior is ultimately an expression of what's going on in our heart.

What do we need to do to purify our hearts? We'll find out today on Truth for Life as Alistair Begg brings us the conclusion of a message titled, Samuel's Solid Leadership. We're in chapter 7 of the book of 1 Samuel verses 1–11. The ministry of Samuel was in some ways just peculiarly boring. What I mean by that is, we're not introduced to Samuel at any point in the proceedings as something of a man of great military might, or a person who is able to exercise political muscle, or somebody whose creativity and his fund of ideas and expectations and consuming plans just stirs all of the people.

None of that. No, only the fact that God Almighty did not let the words of Samuel fall to the ground, because the words of the prophet are the words of God. The words that Samuel spoke were the words that God gave him to speak. That is true of Jesus. Remember, he said, the words that I speak to you are not my own.

They are the words that my Father gave me to speak to you. This is the role that is assigned to the prophet. And this, my friends, is the prophetic word in terms of contemporary life. Not some notion that I or somebody else pops out of nowhere, but the prophetic word is surely to bring the very Word of God to bear upon the people of God in the context of contemporary life and to say, This is what this means, and this is why this matters. God's Word doing God's work eleven centuries BC.

Same thing. When a congregation understands the place of preaching properly understood, it actually minimizes the preacher and glorifies God. Improperly embraced, it glorifies the preacher and minimizes God. Pathway one—blessing.

Pathway two—bondage, chaos, and eventual dissolution. Read your Bible. You'll find that it is the case. So, all this to remind us that Samuel came preaching. And he preached very straightforwardly, didn't he?

It was not a very long sermon, at least here as it's recorded for us. He says, I want you to know that if you are genuine—I've heard a lot of lamenting—if you're really serious about this, then prove it. Don't just sit around here and cry in your coffee.

Do it. You see, what they were doing was they were tolerating these things. They were incorporating these things. The things of the Philistines, they began to say to themselves, Well, there's really no harm in this at all.

We don't have to worry about this. But yes, they did, and so do we. Now, I'm not gonna take time this morning to unpack the sordid, horrible details of the Baals and the Ashtaroths.

You can do that on your own time. Suffice it to say that the appeal of these foreign gods was straightforward and actually repeated again and again throughout history. And that is, these foreign gods offered the chance to combine sexual indulgence with religious devotion. You go read it for yourselves, and you'll find out that at the very heart of it is perversion and corruption at the level of human sexuality.

Is it any surprise that here we are at the twenty-first century, and at the very knife edge of the future of evangelicalism in the United States of America, is this very question? Is it okay to do this? Is it fair enough to tolerate this and so on? It's the same question. Years have gone by. We're far away. But no. You see, the activities in which they were being seduced to engage in were entirely incompatible with the law of God. Okay?

Excellent street. You will have no other gods before me. Which part of that, the Lord might say, are you having difficulty in understanding? Okay? So it's not an issue of understanding. It is a moral issue. It's not an intellectual issue. It is a moral decision.

It is an immoral decision. No, no, it's okay for us. We can have the ark.

It's up on the hill somewhere. We're not worried about the ark right now. No, no, we've got far more exciting things going on here. We've got the church over here. It's kind of boring.

All they ever do in there is preach. But over here, there's, oh, there's so much stuff over here. It's very exciting. Well, as I was sitting thinking about this, I said, you know, this is a Kris Kristofferson song. You say, well, it can't possibly be, but only in this sense. Because he has a song on one of his albums, the early 1970s, and I've never forgotten the refrain, because I found it so challenging. They said that he's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction, taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home. That's the refrain. Second verse. He has tasted good and evil in your bedrooms and your bars, and he's traded in tomorrow for today, running from his devil's lord and reaching for the stars and losing all he's loved along the way. He's a walking contradiction. And I preach consistently to my own heart and to the contradictions that are represented in my own heart.

Therefore, I can only but assume that this intersects with one or two. The danger of saying, Well, no, that was then, and this is now. I've matured from that simple Christian stuff. I've moved on from there.

I've been able to amalgamate and tolerate and so on. And you find yourself in the silence of your own home, saying with the psalmist, Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the so refreshing view of Jesus and his Word? Well, the answer is, it's gone.

Why is it gone? Because it's filled up with other stuff—the very stuff that sucks the life out of genuine Christian conviction. Samuel is clear on these things. He's like John the Baptist later on. He says to the folks, he says, You know, you just think because of your religious heritage you're in the clear. He said, Bear fruit that befits repentance. All that Samuel is doing is what Jacob had done before him, when he had said to the people, Put away those gods. He's giving them the same choice that is described in Joshua, where Joshua in Joshua 24 says to the people, You better make up your minds.

You can either serve the gods over there, or you can serve the true and living God. But to quote Bob Dylan, you're gonna have to serve somebody. And it may be the devil, and it may be the Lord, but you're gonna have to serve somebody.

And Samuel now steps back into the fore, twenty years the ark, up in the hill house of Abinadab. And here he preaches to them, preaches repentance to them, preaches in a way that people don't like to be preached to. Turn from these things, he says. Direct your heart to the Lord.

There's the line, isn't it? Direct your heart to the Lord. You see, the alliance with that which is so appealing to our sinful hearts—the allure of those things—is a matter of the heart. If you've been around church life any length of time, you will know that it is very possible for a congregation to draw up certain lists and rules that are all at the back of the handbook.

They're usually good rules. But they tend to this. They tend to the idea of external conformity that has got nothing to do at all with the human heart. And so then the congregation begins to believe that as long as it has succeeded in saying no to these things and saying yes to these things, then it actually may be just in a splendid position.

Well, usually in a splendid position with one another, because we're able to check on those things. But the problem is my heart. The problem is your heart. Spiritual transformation is inside out, not outside in. Ultimately, your behavior and my behavior and the behavior of the people here, 1050 BC, was a reflection on what was going on in their hearts. The God of Israel did not fill their hearts, their minds, their emotions, their wills.

If it did, there was no reason to go. Oh, but the appeal! Think of it in terms of a marriage.

That's the way in which it is used. The bride. That's the picture in Proverbs, arguing from the lesser to the greater. What is it that will lead somebody into adultery? It is the fact of the heart! The heart! And so he says, Direct your hearts to the Lord. Oh, come down! Come down, O love divine!

Seek thou this soul of mine and visit it. That's our great need. That was the great need of the people there. That's the great need here in Parkside. So, verse 5, Samuel says, Let's get everybody together at Mizpah, and I'm going to pray to the LORD for you.

Well, here's the second piece of it, isn't it? You remember when the early church is off and going, and the little dispute emerges with Meals on Wheels there in the early chapters, and then the apostles say, Well, we're not going to get involved in this. We need good people involved in this. It wouldn't be right for us to leave the apostolic ministry to serve at these tables, not because of the menial nature of the calling but because of the significance of what they'd been called to do. What is it they said they would do? We will give ourselves to prayer and to the preaching of the Word. Samuel comes out of the shadows, as it were, and the words out of his mouth as a preacher, and then he assembles the congregation. He says, And what we're going to do is now we're going to pray.

You see what I mean about how fundamentally boring this is? They say, Well, what do you have at your church? Well, we preach and we pray. Yes, but don't you have a circus or anything? I mean, you're not something… Isn't there something a little better than that?

I'm trying to invite my friends in. Well, do you believe that God speaks to his Word? Do you believe that God answers prayer? What was the great need, coming out of the immorality of Eli's household? Eli was a nice man, but he was useless.

His sons were corrupt and immoral. So he said, We're going to get together and we're going to pray. Incidentally—so that I don't miss this—Ralph Davis has a wonderful little reminder to us when he says, Repentance is not the cause but is only the condition of Yahweh's deliverance.

That's important. Repentance is not the cause. It is the condition in which God intervenes. There's no merit, you see, in repentance. But there is no saving help without that repentance. So, gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you. That's verse 5.

Go down to… Where are we? Verse 8. And the people of Israel said to Samuel, Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us. And verse 9, So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering—we'll come back to this later—and Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him.

Now, you see the way in which this happens. In verse 6, as they gather, they confess their sins. They poured out this water before the LORD, they fasted on that day—presumably an expression of their repentance and their contrition—and they said, Here's the deal. We have sinned against the LORD.

If you want to know what's been going on for the past twenty years, they said, I'll tell you, we've actually sinned. Now, when it says that Samuel judged the people in this way, you ought not to think about East Ninth Street and the courts down there. No, you ought to think in terms of what he's doing. How did he judge them? Well, he was setting things right in Israel by his words to the people from God and by his words to God for the people.

Okay? So, his exercise of judgment or of leadership was directly related to the fact that he spoke the words from God to the people. And here he exercises, if you like, the role of the intercessor as he speaks on behalf of the people to God. Those of you who are still alert are immediately saying, I can see Jesus already. He is the great intercessor. Yes, he is. He is the one who preaches the Word to us, and he is the one who enters into the Father's throne room on our behalf and in our defense that we have an advocate with the Father.

It's amazing! And these dear people, under the tutelage of this amazing character, gathered in this way, moving from despondency as a result of the clarity of the preaching, and then confronting, in verse 7, the hostility of the Philistines. When the Philistines heard that the folks had gathered, they presumed they must be mustering for another fight, and we would have thought that it says, And when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizba… Incidentally, you'll notice the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. The last time we saw the lords of the Philistines was, where?

Walking behind the milk cows. Remember? Well, they've had time to think about it as well—presumably a few changes of leadership—but here they are again. So the response to the news that the Philistines were coming—here they come, here they come, here they come—and the people of Israel said to Samuel, Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us, that he might save us. You see, they were afraid. They were afraid. You say, Well, I don't understand why they'd be afraid after they've got everything sorted out now, don't they? In chapter 4, they should have been afraid, and they weren't afraid. And in chapter 7, they don't need to be afraid, and they are afraid.

What in the world's going on? Chapter 4 is presumption. The ark was a magic box then.

Remember? We don't need to worry about the Philistines. We'll take the ark up. The ark will be fine.

Lucky charm time. Now the ark has been twenty years up in the hill house. Now the Philistines are coming again. We'd better pray. Pastor Samuel, will you pray to the Lord for us? Pastor Samuel, will you pray that God's protection will rule over us, that we will not then be unsettled and undone by these things, that as the hordes of enemies come against us, that we might manage to prevail? And that's exactly what happened. And the victory was secured in prayer. In prayer!

There was no battle. Just thunder. Thunder!

Yeah, but so what? The same thunder that gave confidence to the Israelites brought confusion to the Philistines. But you see, the Israelites, they could have remembered that Hannah, when she prayed—prayed! The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces. Against them he will thunder in the heavens. That was her prayer.

She didn't know all that she prayed. And the thunder comes in the heavens. And the victory is enjoyed. And Samuel says, Let's put a stone here, or a pile of stones here. Yeah, well, we have to stop here, don't we? Just at a good point with the stones… Some of you are not big on monuments, I know. Not big on memorials.

Life goes by quickly here. But last weekend, we had occasion to think about it. And now here we have this stone. Those of you who've sung come that found a very blessing and have sung it and said, I don't know what this Ebenezer is. We'll come back to it this evening, and we'll make it clear.

Because ultimately, our Ebenezer is the cross of Jesus Christ. This is where we take our stand. Let me give you one final quote, because our time is gone.

Let me just give you this quote that I brought with me, again from Spurgeon. So he's picturing the setting up of this stone. And he says, Have we forgotten…? Because—and here's the context, sorry—the last time we read of Ebenezer, it's failure.

Right? The armies are routed. So to set up this Ebenezer stone is immediately to go, Oh, do you know what this makes me think about? Have we forgotten our pitiful failures in preaching and prayer when we didn't wait on God for strength? Of those times of groaning when no one has believed our report because the Lord's arm was not revealed? I call to remembrance all my failures as I stand on this hill of joy. I doubt not that on the field of Ebenezer there were the graves of thousands who'd been slain in fight. Let the graves of our past proud notions, the graves of our self-confidence, the graves of our creature strength and boasting, stir us up to praise the Lord, who has thus far helped us.

Look to your former defeats. Do you return victorious? You would have returned with your garments trailed in the mud and your shield broken if God had not been upon your side. O you that have proven your weakness, perhaps by some terrible fall or in some sad disappointment, let the recollection of the spot where you were vanquished constrain you the more to praise the Lord, who has helped you even to this day to triumph over your adversaries.

What an amazing thing it is that God is the God who is able to turn our failures into triumph—the very things that we thought meant the end of our usefulness, the conclusion of our pilgrimage. Upon reflection, that has been the very seedbed out of weakness and failure and disappointment that God has chosen—to make you the individual that you are, to make a church the way he wants it to be. The ultimate key to genuine spiritual transformation is devoting ourselves to prayer and to God's Word.

You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. Praying together and hearing God's Word are two privileges we enjoy when we belong to a local church. In a brand new book titled Love Your Church, Pastor Tony Morita explores eight privileges and responsibilities of a church member—things we might take for granted, things like welcoming or gathering or caring. Throughout every generation, those who teach God's Word need our prayers and our support to contribute to the overall well-being of our local church. If you attend a local church in your community, but you haven't really thought much about how you can support your pastor, request a copy of the book Love Your Church. The book answers questions like, what can I do to contribute to my pastor's effectiveness? When you read the book, you'll discover a number of action steps you can take, not only to help your pastor, but to help your entire church community. Request the book Love Your Church when you make a donation through the Truth for Life app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate. The book Love Your Church is in line with our mission at Truth for Life to teach the Bible with clarity and relevance so that through the teaching of God's Word, pastors and church members will be strengthened and built up in their faith by studying the scriptures. When you donate and request this book, this is the mission you're supporting. I'm Bob Lapine. We hope you'll join us tomorrow when we'll find out why Samuel, the great prophet and leader of Israel, identified himself as a sinner, a pilgrim, and a worshiper. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-28 01:15:42 / 2023-05-28 01:24:06 / 8

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