I went to bed and woke up with the same subject on my mind: Choices. In a recent post I wrote about deliberately making bad choices without considering the true consequences of them. Today I’m wondering how many bad, deliberate choices are we allowed to make before God leaves us to do our own devices.
In 1 Samuel chapter 15 Saul went into Amalek to kill the Amalakites. Before his journey God gave him specific instructions to kill all that was in the city; both men and women, infants and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. Saul and his army destroyed everything with the exception of the King; Agag and the best of the sheep and oxen, which they intended to sacrifice unto God.
On the surface it seems that this was a well intended decision which would please God because in the midst of their battle the Israelite people considered the God who was with them and took the animals to offer before Him in celebration of their victory. How thoughtful and loving of them right?
Wrong. When God saw what they did he became angry with Saul and said
“I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.”
God was not interested in the sacrifice of these animals unto Him as much as He was concerned about Saul’s ability to be obedient to His voice. He was upset because Saul chose to do what he felt was pleasing unto God and not what God said he would be pleased with.
I think this is the problem we face sometimes. Like Saul we have the knowledge of what pleases God and sometimes when given a task to perform we ignore the specific instructions he’s given to us and subscribe to what we know usually pleases Him. You see, because it was the custom of the Israelite people to offer the best sheep and cattle to God as a sacrifice they prescribed to that even when God said He didn’t want it. So to, we have our customs and practices but I think we need to be sensitive to what is acceptable to God right now.
Saul’s disobedience made God reject him as king. In verse 22 and 23 of the same chapter the prophet Samuel says to Saul
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”
In our own lives how many times have we rebelled against God and disobeyed His commandments? How many times have we been stubborn towards the instructions for life as prescribed in the bible? How many times have we chosen to offer a sacrifice; through prayer and fasting, excessive giving, acts of worship, in lieu of being obedient to what God is asking of us right now, without realizing that our sacrifices are meaningless if they are not in alignment with God’s request?
God compares our actions to witchcraft, iniquity and idolatry.
For me, this is a sobering revelation. One which I’m certain I’ll think about for many days with the hopes of it being embedded in my heart so I may never sin against God this way again. I’ve got a lot to think about and I’m sorry that I’m writing this prematurely, but for right now I feel like I have to let some of my thoughts out.