In the Midst of Change

MEMORY VERSE: “Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things he hath done for you.” —I Samuel 12:24

I SAMUEL 12:13-18, 22-24

OUR lesson today is a demonstration of God’s faithfulness to his people. The nation of Israel was selected by God to be his people. The Scriptures state, in Deuteronomy 7:6,8, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” “Because the Lord loved you and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

When Israel entered into a covenant with God at Mount Sinai they agreed to obey his laws, and as a reward for faithfulness and obedience the Lord states, “Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” (Exod. 19:6) And in addition, as Ruler over them God promised to deliver their enemies into their hands and to bless them in basket and store. As the people of God they had experienced the overruling providences of the Lord in their behalf in many ways.

But in their contacts with the nations round about they became enamored with the concept of a government like their neighbors. They desired a king that they could see and look up to—a symbol—and so they rejected God as their Ruler. “We will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”—I Sam. 8:19,20

When Samuel protested to the Lord that he felt the people had rejected him, the Lord said, “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”—I Sam. 8:7

God, realizing their weakness, had forgiven the nation for their rejection of him and accepted the changed arrangement, saying, “If ye will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall both ye also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God.” (I Sam. 12:14) On the other hand, “if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord … then shall the hand of the Lord be against you.”—vs. 15

Israel’s change was not for their best interests, for their kings, with a few exceptions, did not give them the strength and guidance that they needed, and often the king himself led them astray. They became “stiff-necked,” and resented the warnings that God sent to them through their prophets, many of whom were put to death.

When Jesus came he admonished the Jews for their lack of faith and their gross disobedience. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.”—Matt. 23:29-32

Because of their continual disobedience and failure to repent, Jesus stated in Matthew 23:38, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” So Israel was cast off as a nation, and the promise to become a nation of kings and priests became barren. The Apostle Paul states in Romans 11:7, “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”

But the Apostle Paul wants to make the point that in spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness and disobedience, in spite of having slain the prophets—and more than this, having slain his only begotten and beloved Son on the cross—our Heavenly Father will direct his mercy and love toward his chosen people. The apostle states in Romans 11:26,27,29, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. … For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” They will have an opportunity for life in the kingdom.

What a wonderful assurance to us who are of the “election,” who were not a people but now are the people of God, to realize his faithfulness, love, and mercy!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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