It was only a few sheep!


It was only a few sheep!

Talk for Sunday July 28th 2013

Judgement & Destruction; Obedience & Faithfulness; Blessing

 1 Sam 15 1-23 Saul Destroys the Amalekites; The Lord Rejects Saul

Acts 5 1-11     Ananias and Sapphira

 

Amalekites who are they – descended from Esau, a nomadic people from the area of the Sinai and Negev. They attacked the Israelites when they left Egypt as well as allying with there enemies once they reached there land.

As nomads they would not have many or very big settlements and would consist as Israel did of various groups or tribes, not  all together in one place at any one time.

They had been put under a ban, a permanent vow of destruction, by God to punish them for there aggression.

Exodus 17

While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of Amalek attacked them. Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.”

10 So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. 11 As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage

14 After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 16 He said, “They have raised their fist against the Lord’s throne, so now[c] the Lord will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.”

It seems these people could only be defeated with Gods help and had earned Gods wraith.

Deuteronomy 25

17 “Never forget what the Amalekites did to you as you came from Egypt. 18 They attacked you when you were exhausted and weary, and they struck down those who were straggling behind. They had no fear of God. 19 Therefore, when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies in the land he  is giving you as a special possession, you must destroy the Amalekites and erase their memory from under heaven. Never forget this!

They raided and looted easy targets. Esau was after all a hunter always looking for the easy gain.

This is in many ways the continuation of there family disagreement. Jacob having gained Esau’s birthright.

 

1 Sam 15 1-23            Saul Destroys the Amalekites; The Lord Rejects Saul

So we come to our reading set later than the last couple of weeks. As the films would put it “some time later”.

 

Saul has managed to secure his positions over the local Philistines and can now call on the forces of the other tribes to help him, yes he is not that secure and has no base of his own so must rely on the 12 tribes but it is time to deal with one of there long term enemies.

 

 Why where they under a ban / judgement ? why did God want them destroyed?

 

Here is my understanding of this difficult idea / concept.

 

God stands for justice & care for the weak and poor, these people, bandits we might call them attacked there relatives as they fled from Egypt, raiding there column and taking off what they could and have continued to do so.

 

God had said that they would be punished “the Lord will be at war with Amalek generation after generation” now was the time, Israel was more secure, though not a mighty power, they had managed at last to throw off the Philistines yoke and could deal with other threats to there lives.

 

It’s a bit like you or me having been injured and robbed by some distant relatives, finally we find the time and strength to go and deal with them. True Jesus has told us to turn the other cheek but this is before then.

Look around even today nations and people hold grudges and deal with them at some later point.

 

But why total destruction?

This was not that common for Israel to do but was more common for some of the nations around them, think Assyria, who often enslaved transported or destroyed peoples. Even in our more enlighten times, we have not stopped far short of this, think about the bombing in WWII  of  woman and children and the nuclear bombs which took out whole cities of 100,000’s.

We think that we invented total war, but it has been around a long time, the Romans totally destroyed Carthage.

 

Sometimes wars needs total or near total destruction of your enemy. Like it or not.

 

So Saul mobilized his army at Telaim and set off to deal with this group of Amalekites.

Then Saul and his army went to a town of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley.

To me this sounds like more ambushing and raiding, just on the other foot this time. Saul is waiting near a Amalekite camp before hitting it unseen.

But before he did so he warned the Kenites who had been good to the Israelites in the past. Saul sent this warning to the Kenites: “Move away from where the Amalekites live, or you will die with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites packed up and left.

No indiscriminate killing here.

So Saul did what the Lord had told him to, and attacked.

 

Then Saul slaughtered those Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt.

A running fight which shows the dispersed nature of the enemy.

 

However what did he do, did he follow Gods order?

Now go and completely destroy[a] the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”

 

No!!

 

He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else. Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.

Why do you think he did this?

Why disobey what Samuel had said God wanted?

 

I expect because he did not have wealth or goods of his own only what he could get from the tribes once they had made him king.

 

It was quite normal to ransom important leaders and take the goods of the defeated.

The fact that this says ” Saul and his men spared” makes me think that this was his core unit, his permanent force taking what they needed to make them self sufficient.

 

And anyway a lot of this loot would have belonged to their tribe anyway.

 

Saul put his own needs above what God was asking of him.

A few sheep would not hurt after all we have destroyed most of it.

 

Is that something you have done or do?

 

Keeping something you have sent you would not, keeping from God what you promised.

 

What was the outcome of this?

 

Saul was found out, as if he could hide this from God

 

When confronted Saul does not deny what he has done but makes excuses.

 

15 “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God.

 

We are going to sacrifice them so what, why is your God upset?

 

Notice not his God but your God.

There is no acknowledgement of Saul having a relationship with God just doing what he is told by Samuel.

 

Do you have a personal relationship with God or just though those you see as speaking for Him?

To be faithful we need to have good leaders and a good personal relationship.

 

So God removes His blessing from Saul, rejects him as leader of his people. He has not been faithful or obedient, he does not respect Gods word.  But we still have much time to go before he suffers from this rejection.

 

This was not the end of the Amalekites as they turn up in our story later when David has to also deal with them.

But it does appear to be the end of them as a threat.

SO they were not all killed.

We must remember that numbers were not a precise thing at this time and it is very doubtful that the forces involved where in the hundreds of thousands or that the death toll was as well.

 

Acts 5 1-11     Ananias and Sapphira

You hardly need me to show you the similarities here.

They promised the value of the field to God but kept some.

 

Like Saul it was not the keeping but the breaking of a promise just keeping a little for myself.

 

If you promise God something or are asked by God for something then give it all not just part.

 

 

SO what does all this mean for us?

 

Well if we want to enjoy Gods blessing we must be faithful and obedient.

It is no good saying you will do something and then not doing it.

If you promise God something or are asked by God for something then give it all not just part.

 

This includes our tithing of resources and time.

 

What happens if we are not obedient?

 

Well then like Saul and the Amalekite’s we will not be under Gods protection or blessing, not part of His people, and destruction of some sort will likely follow at some point because He is no longer there for us.

 

I wonder what in your life is like the Amalekites?

A long term irritant, a Goliath so big you just can not deal with it.

 

something that needs to be dealt with when we are stronger?

 

Or is it something that like Saul you have only partially dealt with keeping some of part of it back rather than getting rid of all the sin.

 

If I want Gods blessing then I need to deal with these things as and when God tells me to, not just part of it but all of it.

 

 

In the quite think about your own journey with God.

 

When have you been instructed to deal with a long term problem?

 

How did you do?

 

 

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