Prime Directive – 1 Samuel 14:12-37

“‘Follow me,’ Jonathan told his armor-bearer, ‘for the Lord has handed them over to Israel.’ Jonathan climbed up using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer behind him. Jonathan cut them down, and his armor-bearer followed and finished them off. In that first assault Jonathan and his armor-bearer struck down about 20 men in a half-acre field… Saul said, ‘Let’s go down after the Philistines tonight and plunder them until morning. Don’t let even one remain!’ …. But the priest said, ‘We must consult God here.’ So Saul inquired of God, ‘Should I go after the Philistines? Will You hand them over to Israel?’ But God did not answer him that day” (1 Samuel 14:12-14; 36-37, HCSB).

At the beginning of 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan, King Saul’s son, and his attendant attacked a Philistine garrison. Meanwhile, Saul remained encamped on the other side of the pass with about 600 Israelite troops. In that assault Jonathan and his attendant killed about twenty Philistine soldiers.

Then panic erupted in the Philistine camp. Saul and his troops noticed the commotion among the Philistine troops.

Saul started to inquire of the Lord about what was happening in the Philistine camp by conferring with the priests who carried the ark of God. Deciding he might lose the opportunity to rout the Philistines, Saul gathered his troops and attacked and “struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash all the way to Aijalon” (vs. 31), a distance of about 15 miles.

Saul decided to renew the battle the next day and he again inquired of God whether he should go after the Philistines or not. “But God did not answer him that day” (vs 37). From Saul’s distorted theological perspective he was convinced that sin was present in the camp that was preventing the divine assistance.

It turns out the supposed sin was Jonathan’s disobedience to a direct order by King Saul that Jonathan had, in fact, not even heard Saul issue because he was single-handedly attacking the Philistine garrison.

Saul determined that Jonathan must be executed for disobeying his orders, but the Israelite troops interceded in Jonathan’s behalf and Saul relented from executing his son (vs. 44-45).

So why does God seem to favor Jonathan’s impulsive decision to attack the Philistines and not favor Saul’s contemplative actions when he stops to inquire of the Lord before attacking the Philistines?

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A Test of Love – Judges 2:11-23

lovetest“So the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He said, ‘Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers and has not listened to My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk in it as their fathers did, or not.’ So the Lord allowed those nations to remain, not driving them out quickly; and He did not give them into the hand of Joshua” (Judges 2:20-23, NASB).

Because of Israel’s continual disobedience to God’s covenant with them, God allowed other Canaanite people-groups whom the Israelites were supposed to destroy completely to remain in the promised land. Although God left these enemies in the land to test the Israelites (3:1-4), it was Israel who failed to drive them out as God had commanded.

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God’s Outbursts – I Chronicles 15:13

outburst“Because you Levites did not carry the Ark the first time, the anger of the Lord our God burst out against us. We failed to ask God how to move it properly.” (I Chronicles 15:13, NLT).

An interesting evolution in King David’s faith in God takes place in in Chapters 13-15 of 1 Chronicles. At each stage in the development of David’s faith over the course of these three chapters the same Hebrew word is used to show the mighty or forceful activity of God–God’s outburst–in shaping David’s faith.

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Is God Mad At Us? – Jeremiah 30:11,24

lightningbolt“For I am with you and will save you, says the Lord…I will discipline you, but with justice; I cannot let you go unpunished…The fierce anger of the Lord will not diminish until it has finished all he has planned. In the days to come you will understand all this” (Jeremiah 30:11,24, NLT).

God gave Jeremiah a message of hope for Israel that contrasted with his usual message of gloom and doom.

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Sharp Word – Hebrews 4:12

two-edged-sword“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV).

The Hebrews writer reminds the Hebrew Christians about the faithless disobedience of the Exodus generation of Israel. He warns them that faithless disobedience does not go unnoticed by God.

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Two Ways to Disobey – James 4:17

just_do_right“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (James 4:17, NLT).

This verse is probably a maxim that James expected his readers to recognize.

Its source is unknown, but it is consistent with the teachings of Jesus. For example, in a parable about a faithful servant Jesus said: “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished” (Luke 12:47).

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Missing the Blessing – Numbers 14:31

Warning-Challenges“Well, I will bring them safely into the land, and they will enjoy what you have despised” (Numbers 14:31, NLT).

Moses sent twelve men on a reconnaissance mission to the land of Canaan. When they returned, ten of the twelve reported to Moses and the people of Israel that even though the land was rich and fertile, it was inhabited by potentially formidable foes.

The testimony of the faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb, which was to conquer the land immediately, was rejected and rebellion against Moses’ leadership and threats of violence against Joshua and Caleb spread through the entire Israelite community.

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