The following passage in 1 Samuel, is as applicable to people today, as it was to the Israelites back then. This applies to the world at large: people do not want to be responsible, nor accountable for themselves. There is a growing movement underway in these dark times, toward the melding together of all people's into a global, humanistic worldview.
We want our government to take care of us; to protect us, to provide for our wants and needs, and at the same time to allow us to feel as if we are still free. And our government is more than happy to accommodate our desires. We are like sheep being led to the slaughter, oblivious of our impending doom. These things were prophesied long ago, and are even now unfolding before our very eyes. The entire world is being brought under the control of the New World Order, the One World Government, and rather than resisting this... the masses are demanding that they be enslaved. Self... and the exaltation, protection and preservation of self... is how this is being accomplished. In a mad scramble to preserve their lifestyles, people are willing to compromise their beliefs and integrity.
As the carefully orchestrated tool of terrorism is skillfully employed worldwide, the safeguards of entire nations are undermined resulting in chaos, fear and confusion. Fear is a powerful motivator, and when in its grip, people will lose all common sense. They willingly surrender the very principles that made them strong, and are brought into bondage to the very thing that they feared. In the rush to exalt and promote humanistic ideals, national sovereignty and individual rights are being swept away into oblivion.
This is the state of the world today. But even more to the point, this is also the state of the Church today. Regardless of the name it bears, or the denominational affiliation it holds, the Church today is following right after the world. Over the past 100 years, the Church has lost its way. It has abandoned its first love and in an attempt to 'win the world,' it has incorporated the 'ways of the world.' Try if you will, to make the connection between the parallels between the Israel of old, the 'chosen people' of God... and the Church today, those who lay claim to the Gospel of Christ. The Israel of old give us example after example throughout the entire Bible of a rebellious, proud, stiff-necked people, confident in their 'chosen by God' status, but unwilling to be satisfied with 'knowing God.' Refusing to keep His commandments, or walk in His ways, they desired to be like the nations around them... they wanted a king. They wanted someone physically to rule over them. Through Samuel, the Lord told them exactly what they could expect if they got their wish...
1Samuel 8:9-22 "Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said,
This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you:
He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself,
for his chariots, and to be his horsemen;
and some shall run before his chariots.
And he will appoint him captains over thousands,
and captains over fifties;
and will set them to ear his ground,
and to reap his harvest,
and to make his instruments of war,
and instruments of his chariots.
And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries,
and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
And he will take your fields, and your vineyards,
and your oliveyards, even the best of them,
and give them to his servants.
And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards,
and give to his officers, and to his servants.
And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants,
and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you;
and the LORD will not hear you in that day.
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but 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. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city."
Even after being told what the outcome of granting their desire would be, the people adamantly refused to be swayed, so God gave them what they asked for. How scary is that?
Are we not seeing the same thing happening today? Both in the secular world, as well as within the Church? How can this be?
For the same reasons as that of the Israelites of old... people want what they perceive as all the benefits, without any of the responsibilities. And in this age of apostasy, there are multitudes of leaders who are promoting their own god, their own Jesus, their own gospel, all created from the vain imaginations of their own hearts. They make their own rules and regulations, their own concepts of salvation, their own interpretation of eternity, and call it "as of God."
Christ came into this world, lowering himself to take on the form of man, to suffer everything known to fallen men, He died at the hands of rebellious men, rejected and alone. He paid the price of man's reconciliation back to God for all men. But there are strings attached to receive this free gift. And it is not something that can be done once and then put aside. We must believe, we must obey, we must keep His commandments... each and every day. And most distastefully of all to the 'self-within,' we must take up our own cross and follow Christ... in living and if need be in dying also.
To follow Christ, to take up our own cross, is to crucify our flesh. To do this means the death of 'self.' No matter how much we try to make the cross beautiful, it is and always has been, an instrument of death and dying. We are dependent upon God for all things. We cannot crucify ourselves. Only the power of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit can bring about the necessary death within. This death is nothing other than the de-thronement of 'self' in our hearts.
We have been charged to be born-again, by the Spirit of God... to live by the power of the spirit. Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. If we are not walking in the spirit, we are not the sons of God, no matter how eloquently or forcefully anyone tells you otherwise.
For this reason multitudes of Christians today have no real concept of what being a 'Christian' means. They did not sign on to die to the lusts of their flesh. They signed a card or repeated a few lines, and were told that this one-time act assured their place in heaven. People will accept a 'form of godliness,' but they balk at laying down their lives. Today we are literally inundated with the 'prosperity message,' along with the 'God loves you just as you are and wants to open the floodgates of heaven and pour down blessings upon you' drivel. The church has lost her vision.
The world is not fooled; they have no trouble seeing the hypocrisy of such shallow religious practice. But believers by the score are being taken in by these end-time heresies.
Paul exhorted the church (believers) at Cornith2 Corinthians 6:13-18 "By way of return then, do this for me--I speak as to children--open wide your hearts also [to us]. Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers [do not make mismated alliances with them or come under a different yoke with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light have fellowship with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial [the devil]? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement [can there be between] a temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor, And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
What part of "thou shalt not" don't we understand? The only result we will see for our fleshly efforts, are fleshly results. Mixing the world and the church does not change the world, it only serves to pollute the church. Jesus did not say, "come after me and you will always 'feel good' and never have any problems," quite the contrary. Jesus said...
John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
We are never told that we must have 'all the answers to every question,' or that we must know beforehand what is going to happen, all the how, when, why, where and to whom of it. We are told that we must live by faith; that without faith we cannot please God. Hebrews 10:38 But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live by his conviction respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him.
So the people want a king, do they? And today everyone wants to be healthy, wealthy and wise.
The Church today is so wrapped up in putting down their brother Christian while justifying their own position, that they have lost sight of the cross and what it means. The church has fallen for the lie that it is acceptable to incorporate worldly methods; they have succumbed to thinking that the lost will be drawn to God if the church utilizes the lights, music, big screens and upbeat tempo of worldly events. We don't want to have the 'tribulation and trials and distress and frustration' that Jesus said would be our lot in this life. We want to have a comfortable religious experience, and enjoy what the world has to offer at the same time. That is what the main-stream leaders today are telling people they can do... is it not? And in the process of telling us how to "enjoy our best life now," they are confusing quantity with quality. If numbers were the determining factor, then Islam would beat Christianity hands down, as the Muslim world greatly outnumbers the Christian population.
The Israelites wanted a king... they wanted to be like the nations around them. They did not want to know God intimately. They wanted God's protection and blessing, while at the same time they wanted to be like the world, they did not want to be different. So it is with the churches today. We are happy with our double standards, our self-righteousness, our forms and traditions. We glory in our Christmas Cantata's and Easter Passion Plays, utterly convinced that these are as pleasing to God as they are to us. Recently in the national news they covered a controversy between the NFL and Churches... the Churches wanted to hold Super-Bowl parties, and the NFL wouldn't give them permission to do so. Who was in the right here?
Talk about an example of the world having more wisdom than the Church! The NFL finally conceded and granted permission, to the shame of the Church.
What on earth makes us think that because we have become so much a part of the world, that our polluted, corrupted ideas are pleasing to God? Have we convinced ourselves that Jesus would react differently today than He did when He walked this earth? John 2:14-16 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise.
The problems facing this turbulent world seem to be spiraling out of control. For years we have heard the cry for "Peace, Peace"... and the more the cry sounds, the further peace seems to flee away. Behind all the bravado... lies an inconsolable fear of the unknown... Armageddon and the end of the world are in the back of everyone's mind. You hear comments on the talk shows and through the media, alluding to the insecurity that is universally felt.
Believers are in no way exempt from facing these things. People today are sincerely searching for answers, looking to this leader and that for direction, trying to find something that they can believe in. And time and again, we find those who sound so good and seem so sincere in the beginning. After spending time in their association however, we discover that though they have some things in agreement with the Word of God, in other areas they are still in the dark. They present themselves as being matured, when in fact they are still babes in Christ themselves. It is difficult today to find anyone who has any kind of message to share, that has not been involved in putting down another brother for seeing things in a different light. With so many 'pots' and 'kettles' calling each other 'black'... it gets very discouraging to the one who is simply looking for wholesome interaction with other believer's of like faith.
Where do we get off 'justifying' our point-of-view? Especially when to do so requires than we put down and denigrate another believer? 1 Peter 3:15-17 But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. [And see to it that] your conscience is entirely clear (unimpaired), so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed [of slandering your good lives]. For [it is] better to suffer [unjustly] for doing right, if that should be God's will, than to suffer [justly] for doing wrong.
Man has never correctly anticipated anything that God has foretold them He would do, from the destruction of Jerusalem in 70A.D. to the culmination of all things in this the end-time. Yet it seems to be irresistible to leaders to attempt to portray themselves as having full understanding and the ability to predict how this is all going to play out. And because the people are so desperate for some place that they can turn to for safety, they will pick a leader that says what they want to hear, and proceed to follow them down whatever road they may be on, hoping against hope that they have chosen correctly, and this leader won't lead them down the path of destruction.
Do we not realize, that when we do this we are putting our faith in some (all too fallible) man, instead of where it belongs, in a personal relationship with God Himself? God desires to have a loving relationship with His people... what do we want?
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Do not be confused about this. We cannot have both. We cannot love the world and love God as well. We have to make a choice here people...
1 John 2:15-16 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
All of His promises to us are yea and amen, 2 Cor. 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.