Tuesday, July 3, 2018

the government upon His shoulder -- part 1

The Word for today:
1 Samuel 7-8
Israel wanted a king.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." (8:4-5)
But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king." (8:6-7)
They wanted a king because “Everybody else is doing it.”
1. They wanted to be like the other nations. 2. They wanted a national judge. 3. They wanted a leader in battle. (8:20)
But these desires contradicted God’s specific purposes:
1. Israel was to be a holy nation, not like any other. 2. God was their ultimate Judge. 3. God fought their battles for them.
Israel’s real desire was less about having a king than it was about replacing God with a human ruler. 1 Samuel 8:4-20 reveals that their motive actually involved a rejection of God. They exchanged an awesome and powerful ruler they could not see for one they could see—who was utterly capable of failure.
Today is the 3rd of July, the date on which the climactic battle of Gettysburg was fought. As we anticipate picnics and parades and fireworks, many of us contemplate the questions raised in the Gettysburg Address. We still wonder ”whether this nation, conceived in liberty, can long endure;” and whether “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Most of all we wonder whether our nation is, indeed, “a nation under God.”
Israel wanted a king. We don’t clamor for a king, but for a government that will return our country to the prosperity, peace, and prominence that we see slipping away.
Does the Bible have anything to say about government in general? About the United States in particular? We’ll delve into these questions tomorrow, on the 4th.

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