We began this series called the “STORY” 3 weeks. We have been seeking to understand the entire story of the Bible and how it all fits together. So what have we learned so far?
The beginning of the Bible tells us God created a perfect world that is hard for us to imagine now, because our first parents rebelled against their Creator—God. The result was sin entered into the world, and all of their descendants have been living in a continuous cycle of rebellion and sin. Even the intention of humanity's hearts are wicked God decided to show grace, mercy, and compassion on a few in order to bless all of humanity (cf. Gen 6.5, 8; 12.1-3).
Some of those few were men like Noah and Abraham. Their descendents moved to Egypt and became so big they were seen as a threat, so the government decided to make them their slaves. God knew this would happen and used it as a way to display His glory. He used His power to set the nation of Israel free, and destroyed their oppressors. God began to form a nation by providing clear instruction on how they could live in such a way that would glorify Him, and show the other nations around them how wonderful it is to live for God’s glory.
What we will be looking at today is what Israel did with those instructions. My hope is what we will see is...
Theme: Humility flows from embracing our sin, and beholding the glory of God.
1. The continuous cycle of rebellion and repentance.
When you read the rest of the Pentateuch or Torah we see Israel wandering around in the wilderness, because they don’t trust God and His ways. They continue in the problem of rebellion. As we mentioned last week, they are still living like slaves. They literally say things like, “we had it better back in Egypt.” Moses leads these people all throughout the desert, but even he is not aloud to go with them into the Promised Land. Joshua is put in charge, and goes into the Promised Land & wins many battles. But eventually Joshua dies and we see the rise of new leaders—the JUDGES.
It doesn’t start too bad—READ Judges 2.1-5. But Joshua dies in verse 8, and look with me in Joshua 2.10-12 [READ]. Within one generation we see people ignoring the instruction of the LORD. These are the children of those who came out of Egypt, and they saw the results of ignoring God’s instruction. Yet they still choose to do what they want, and not teach their children the path to true joy. This is the cycle that continues throughout the book of JUDGES. God will raise up a new leader to help the people repent and then nations that are oppressing them will be defeated. But the next generation will end up going back to the old ways, and many times end up worse than the previous one. By the time we get to the end of book we have a Levite, which was the priestly or spiritual leader tribe, doing extremely horrible acts. So much so the entire nation ends up in a civil war. The books closes with this statement—READ Judges 21.25.
Much like the people in the Story we want peace and prosperity. I don’t know many people who don’t want a better life for their children. The problem we have is no different from these people. We want peace and prosperity without God. We create IDOLS for ourselves just like them. We want to be like the nation or nations we are surrounded by. Some of us may have been really blessed and are not living with the same struggles as our parents, but our temptation is not view this as grace, but as our own work. We should be saying, or more specifically praying and praising, God that He has decided to bless our efforts when He does not have to. Any blessings you have today come from God and God alone! There are many people who work hard, maybe even harder than you, and never get to see the success you do. Have you ever thought about that? What’s the difference? The Wisdom Literature speaks about these issues...
The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the maker of them all.—Proverbs 22.2
Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together!...Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.—Psalm 49.2, 7-9
In the words of Job, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away” (Job 1.21). It is not wrong to work hard—it is a wonderful gift from the LORD. It is awesome to lie down at the end of your day or week, and feel good about the work you put in. But why are we doing it? Is it for our glory or God’s?
For instance, you could create a better life for your children—better than you ever had. But if their relationship with God is not right, then they will not only end up dead, but they will suffer forever. Their life will get worse over time. That is the claim or reminder of the Bible. What are we living for?
2. The tale of two kings.
This part of the Story continues after the book of JUDGES in the book of I SAMUEL. It actually picks up right were it left off. Samuel becomes the last JUDGE in Israel’s history, and we see the beginning of the KINGS.
During the time of Samuel Israel has some peace and prosperity, but they recognize his sons are super wicked, so clearly even this really godly man did not raise his children to glorify God with their lives. Therefore Israel comes to Samuel with a request—READ I Samuel 8.1-10. Before get upset with Samuel God knew this was going to happen and prepared for it by creating laws that would remind this “king” he works for God—READ Deut 17.18-20.
“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.—Deuteronomy 17.18-20
So the first king of Israel is installed—SAUL. Now listen to the description we immediately learn about this man—READ I Samuel 9.2. Much like many of the judges Saul starts off pretty good, but this verse a play on irony. Saul is going to eventually think because he is king he do things the way he wants and not God’s ways. God is not pleased with Saul.
Eventually God tells Saul through Samuel that his family will not be the royal line in Israel—READ I Samuel 15.22-24. Saul tries to repent, but God is not pleased with Saul. Thus enters the greatest king in all of Israel’s history—DAVID.
There are two important things to understand the stories between Saul and David, because both are sinful men who let God down. First, one views obeying or disobeying the law as a means to keep a position of power and influence, while the other views it breaking the heart of a gracious God. David understands his sin as breaking the heart of God, while Saul’s heart is broken not because it hurt God, but himself. Some time read I Samuel 15 and Psalm 51, and compare the way the two kings repent.
Second, David does not see his sin as one isolated incident but as a lifestyle. Saul has a very surface view of his sin. He thinks he is genuinely a good guy and does not think every intention of his heart is evil. David recognizes that if God does not intervene he will continue in the sin. Saul views the intervention as an interruption to his own desires and goals for life. For Saul it is about SELF-GLORY, while David it is about the GLORY of GOD.
As the Davidic story continues he becomes king through much toil and affliction. Eventually he looks at his palace, and sees God is living in a tent. He decides I want to make an AWESOME house for God—THE TEMPLE. Now this is awesome! God says, “sure, you can do that. But let me tell what I am going to do.” This is long, but please pay close attention to this—READ II Samuel 7.4-16.
WOW! Did you just catch that?! David has the reaction we are all suppose to have. Whenever we think we are about to do something amazing for God He kindly reminds who is God. He is the one who blesses us and not the other way around. David understand he was a part of the story, but the more God revealed Himself to him, the more he saw he was just a part. David regularly experiences the GREATNESS of God, and is humbled by it. This is why the Bible writers tell us David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13.22). We need more David’s in the world. We need more people who become more and more humble by regularly experiencing the vast GLORY of GOD, and also recognize how deep their sin is. We FAIL greatly in comparison to God, therefore, when God speaks we should humble ourselves before the LORD.
We are supposed to see in the stories of the JUDGES and KINGS that evil intentions of humanities continue, but the grace of God is also there in the midst of our sin and rebellion. It is almost as if in the midst of sin the grace of God is this precious jewel sitting in the shadows. It’s scary to go over there because it is mysterious. But once we go over there it lights up the whole room. Let’s humble ourselves before the LORD today, embrace we our finiteness before, and behold the GLORY of GOD.