Google+ 03/19/13 Sacrifice or Obedience?

1 Samuel 15:21-23

 

Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder

To sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

 But Samuel replied,  “What is more pleasing to the Lord:
 Your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
 And submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,  he has rejected you as king.”
 

 

The books of Samuel were originally one book in the Hebrew Canon.  The books were later divided by the translators of the Greek Old testament, the Septuagint, who viewed Samuel and Kings together as the "Books of the Kingdoms."  The authorship of the two books of Samuel is unknown.  The purpose of the books is certainly known!  The sad state of affairs in Israel, at the end of the period of judges, found God exhibiting His grace and sovereignty by the selection of righteous men (Samuel and David), who would weld this nation into an instrument of His will, despite Israel's rejection of God as King.  It is in this light, that our Scripture today is written.  The Israelites were caught up in the rituals of their religion.  Samuel points out that there is nothing wrong with sacrifices, but he poses a question we should all consider.  Is sacrifice or obedience more important to God?  Samuel does not leave them without an answer.  Remember, these people were rejecting God as King.  How could that be?  Weren't they bringing sacrifices to the altar for God?  Hear this warning, because today's Local New Testament Churches are, in many cases, behaving the same way Israel was.  When the ritual becomes more important than the reason, God is not pleased.  Sacraments, rituals, robes, and "rules" are far too common in churches today.  Many of these same churches have no formal evangelism or discipleship programs.  This is not alright with God, regardless of the rationalization we might use.  Obedience to God's commands is imperative.  Our Scripture tells us why, in case we are in doubt.  Rebellion and stubbornness are compared to witchcraft and worshiping idols!  Get it?  I hope so, because the remainder of our Scripture does not paint a pretty picture for those that ignore it.  Samuel says that because the Israelites have rejected the command of the Lord, God has rejected them as King.  Wow, I don't want to be in that position!!!  Frankly, God's command is so simple that we miss it.  Believe me, it is not rocket science.  God says that we should love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.  God commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Then Jesus tells us to go into all the world, teaching about God, and making disciples and baptizing.  I challenge you to use this list to build your personal relationship with Jesus.  I also challenge you to make your church do the very same.  Jesus says nothing positive about robes or rituals.  The fact is that the Sacraments, that God intended as examples of our obedience,  have in many churches become "idols" where rituals are "worshiped," and the message of God and Jesus has fallen on deaf ears.  To not evangelize and disciple God's people, is nothing short of rebellion and stubbornness and our Scripture tells us where that ends up.  God is my God and King.  In my time with God, He always asks me what I have done today about "going into the world" and who I discipled.  Jesus has never asked me to change my "robe" because it isn't the right color or doesn't conform to His "dress code."  Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice.  Any ritual that is developed in God's Church, must come from our desire to obey His commands, not because we like the idea of making daily, "blood sacrifices" that are simply no longer necessary in God's eyes.  All He wants from us now is obedience, not obstinateness!