It was a great time with everyone last night as we looked together how the Israelites were defeated when they held on to their sin but as soon as they repented and cried out to the LORD, God fought their battle for them and continued to deliver them as they walked in the light. Repentance is not a popular topic but is the center of a genuine Christian’s life. God wants to fight your battles for you but it first comes through the cross. Here is what we went through together.
1 Samuel 4:1-11, 7:1-17; & New Testament on Repentance
The Old Testament is relevant for us today.
Jesus is our great high priest, Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the law being filled and many other OT examples only make sense if we rightly understand the OT. The OT was written as examples & warnings for us (1 Cor 10) and God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
1 Sam 4:1-11
Background (before 1 Sam 4)
- God chose a people to show his covenant faithfulness to even when they weren’t faithful. He called them Israel and gave them his perfect law as a standard to live up to but they couldn’t keep it so God setup sacrifices to deal with this problem.
- The nation is in a HORRIBLE state of pride and sin.
- The Priests
- Should Be:
- the ones who were supposed to be most consecrated
- holy to God
- teaching the people the very words of God
- ministering before the Lord on behalf of the people bringing sacrifices for sins that people would be forgiven
- Instead, they were:
- having sex with the women coming to worship
- taking the fat and the best meat for themselves that should be offered to God
- abhorring the offerings of God (2:17)
- Should Be:
Notes on 1 Sam 4:1-11
- In their sin, they reduced the glory of God to a lucky rabbit’s foot.
- 30,000 foot soldiers are dead, Israel is defeated, the priests are slain, the ark of the covenant is taken captive into uncircumcised Philistine territory (for the first time ever!), and the glory of God is departed from Israel.
- Significance of the Ark
- Moses built it out of acacia wood & overlaid with gold, inside & out, with rings for 2 poles to carry it, and a mercy-seat cover as a base for the 2 cherubim made out of gold which were over the ark. Inside was a jar of manna and the 2 stone 10 commandment tablets. [mercy seat = ἱλαστήριον (Exo 25:17) or propitiatory (translated from Hebrew)].
- You could go to a jeweler right now and order one for the right price. Nothing special about this gold box except…God chose to make his dwelling among them by putting his shekinah glory, a visible manifestation of God’s presence above the ark, between the cherubim.
- Ex 25:22 “The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from bbetween the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”
Part 1 – 1 Samuel 7:1-6
- v1. – The ark comes back to Israel.
- v2. – [20 year gap] People mourned (lamented) & sought after the Lord
- Presumably, Samuel’s word had been going out to all Israel as a prophet since 4:1. Some 20 years have passed since they have been defeated and God’s glory was honored in their midst.
- Now, they are faced again with God’s presence and their sin.
- v.3 Samuel helps lead them through 4 steps of repentance
- 1. Returning to Lord with all your hearts
- Deut 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
- Not kinda-sorta coming back. If you do this truly, things will change in your life.
- v2. Rid yourselves (put away – KJV) of the foreign gods & ashtoreths
- fertility god – // picture of pornography
- Necessary requirement.
- 1st Commandment – you shall have no other gods before me.
- v3. Prepare your hearts to the lord (commit yourselves to the LORD-NIV, direct your heart to the LORD-ESV)
- v4. AND SERVE him only.
- Matt 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. (Mat 6:24 ESV)
- Serving God isn’t restrictive, oppressive, or anything else but liberating & full of love and joy.
- Sad when you see people look directly at God and say I will not serve you because you are trying to oppress me, it’s all made up by man etc.
- Rather, fullness of joy is in it because we were made to serve him.
- PS 16:11 in your presence there is bfullness of joy; at your right hand are cpleasures forevermore. (Psa 16:11 ESV)
- Eph 2:10 For awe are his workmanship, bcreated in Christ Jesus cfor good works, dwhich God prepared beforehand, ethat we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10 ESV)
- IF you are returning…HE will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines
- Not the ark.
- God promised in the OT to do this already!
- v4-6. They put away baals (male counterpart) & ashtoreths (female fertility God) & served him only.
- v6. Assemble all Israel at Mizpah (means watchtower – high hill) – Samuel to intercede & pray to them.
- Fasted, confessed their sin before the Lord.
- Drew water & poured it out before the Lord.
- Ps 62:8 – “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”
- Lam 2:19 – “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.”
- Drink Offering
- Can’t undo pouring water on the ground.
- Act of humility and emptying oneself of all of your pride as an expression of laying everything before the Lord in an irrevocable manner.
- God doesn’t ask you to pretend when he calls you to confess, he already knows everything already.
- Confessed – we have sinned against the LORD.
- To say the same thing God thinks of our sin in order to receive true forgiveness. (1JN 1:9, PS 32)
Repentance – What is it?
- Definition – to turn or return; to change your mind; to turn around and do an about face, to turn from sin and turn towards God (Heb shubh; GK μετάνοια or ἐπιστρέφω)
- The message of repentance hasn’t stopped in the OT, it’s what our Lord wants all disciples to preach to all people, everywhere – in all generations. The need for repentance hasn’t changed from 1 Sam 7.
- Sometimes we can think that repentance is an over hyped sermon preached only by doomsday preachers on the street corner. I don’t know where we get that idea but that’s not the Bible. As Brian’s been saying, let’s allow the Bible to shape our thinking. Here’s much of the NT on repentance.
New Testament Scriptures on Repentance
- Matthew 4:17 – From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- Matthew 12:41 – The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
- Luke 5:32 – I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
No One Is Excluded
- Luke 13:3, 5 – Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
- 2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
- Acts 3:17-19, 26 – “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that chis Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out…. God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
Repentance is a gift given in order to come out from judgment
- Romans 2:4 – Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
- Acts 17:30-32 – “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”
Repentance will change your behavior
- Acts 26:20 – but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.
- 2 Tim 2:19 – But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
- Rev ch. 2&3: Jesus commands 5 out of the 7 churches to repent.
Repentance is central to the Christian message
- Luke 24:45-47 – Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day crise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed bin his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Repentance is central to the gospel
- John 3:16-20 “For God so loved bthe world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world bto condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
We can’t think for a moment that we are able to get away with sin or presume that God’s OK with it.
- The end of wickedness is destruction by God, final judgment, when they will have to give an account for all their sins against God apart from the free gift of salvation & righteousness of Christ.
- Asaph learned this and told us in Ps 73 how he saw the prosperity of the wicked and envied their easy life of bliss until he came to understand how God saw them and what their end was apart from him, forever.
- Although we may not die in physical battle like the Israelites did in 1 Sam 4, judgment is coming on the world. Everyone will give an account, even the careless words we say. Jesus certainly doesn’t take this lightly.
- Matt 12:36-37 – I tell you,on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
- God’s patience leads us to repentance (Rom 2) yet God will not be mocked.
- Gal 6:7-9 – Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And alet us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
- We are often very cavalier, with our lives & with sin.
- “Be as moderate as you can” says the luke-warm mainstream.
- But God says, “Be holy because I am holy.”
- Let’s see our sin how God sees it. Confess it for what it is. Call a spade a spade! And turn from our ways that God may grant us forgiveness.
1 Sam 4 vs. 1 Sam 7
- 1 Sam 4
- God in a Box – it’s there good luck charm.
- Still in sin.
- Doing what’s right in their own eyes.
- This will always defeat you.
- 1 Sam 7
- Repentance leads to victory.
- God now hears their prayer and acts on their behalf.
- Israel is now broken and in their rightful place.
- God isn’t looking for those who are able to drag him into battle.
- God is looking for those who are broken over their sin and cry out to him in humility so that he may act on their behalf.
Part 2 – 1 Sam 7:7-17
- It’s no surprise that the Israelites face conflict as soon as they return to the Lord.
- We are promised persecutions.
- Don’t think it STRANGE (1 Pet 4)
- John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
- v9. Lamb – offered it up as whole burnt offering to the LORD.
- He cried out to the LORD on Israel’s behalf & the LORD heard him – the story of every saint who has known God.
- Notice how Samuel is not even paying attention to the battle! He’s on a high hill with a fire & smoke for all to see!
- God’s strategy for battle isn’t necessarily our strategy for battle.
- v10. Notice that God sent victory AS Samuel is worshiping!
- Battles are won on your knees. Moses with his hands lifted in Ex 17 etc.
- God’s plan for victory never relies on great strategy effort.
- He lifts up the humble. He binds the broken. He protects the weak.
- Samuel went to seek the Lord & continued to draw near to him in the midst of the trial.
- Don’t run from trials but run to God. When trials come, what do you turn to: God in prayer or your own strategy?
- v11. Courageous men rushed to slaughter the Philistines. Righteousness = boldness & courage.
- v12. “Thus far has the LORD helped us.”
- Ebenezer means stone of help – the rock served as a memorial.
- Ebenezer had been the same place they were defeated in ch 4. Now, it’s the place where God has helped them.
- You will see his faithful hand if you walk with him.
- As far as we have come, the Lord has helped us.
- God had already promised to fight their battles for them. Samuel was just trusting in God’s word.
- Notice what true repentance does to you. It gives you the ability to call upon God. You can’t rely on the one you don’t trust in. If you love your sin, you can’t love God. We only have the ability to serve one. If you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength – he will give you the ability to do his will.
- You trusted in ________, which couldn’t save you. Now, you trust in the living God, who is mighty to save.
- God hears through the blood of a sacrifice. You can’t come to him on your own and expect that he will listen apart from Christ. Ultimately, what would it get you anyway? A nice house, car, family, yard, boat, power, success for 80 years and then what? You need the blood of the lamb. The whole offering of a wholly consecrated life of the perfect son of God to save you.
- v14 – cities restored to IS (from Ekron to Gath – the very cities that were taken by Philistines in Ch 4) – God can reclaim anything you’ve lost in your flesh.
- v17 – Returned to Ramah (his home for the 1st 3 years of life) & built an alter to the LORD.
- Samuel grew up in the tabernacle at Shiloh.
- Even though he is no longer inside the walls of the tabernacle at Shiloh where the sacrifice was, he never left the alter. It was his relationship with God in repentance that marked his life.
- Take note of these things for they are examples for us.
- Read Psalm 27 as a heart that wants to draw near to God.
- Let’s not mess around in our youth but lets grow up to be men and women of God (1 Cor 13:11). Lets invest in one another, stirring one another up towards love and good deeds. Let’s repent now and live a life producing fruit in keeping with repentance & worship our God that he may give us the victory.