Why is it so much easier to “Work” for God
than to be “One with God”?
Lorraine Day, M.D
“To obey is better than sacrifice; to hearken, than the fat of rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22
The bleating of sheep usually is associated with tranquility a sound of pleasant meadows in the open countryside. But to Samuel, the servant of the Lord, this sound prompted his anxious questioning of Saul, the king he had a few years before anointed in God’s name to be king of Israel.
Saul was the first king of Israel, a symbol of God’s “wrath” which the Bible defines as “giving us up to our own desires.” For almost his entire life, Samuel had been the judge of Israel, a wise counsel indeed. But the people demanded “a king, to judge us like all the other nations” (1 Sam 8:5).
“The people had grown restless and were dissatisfied with Theocracy and had long forgotten the strong delivering hand and outstretched arm of God, His protecting care and ample provision. The miracle of the deliverance from Egypt, the pillars of cloud and fire, the manna and the conquests were not happenings within the immediate experience of the generation so long and so wisely guided by Samuel, and the wonder of God’s providence had been lost in the vortex of the nations’ ingratitude and unfaithfulness.
“God seemed remote from them, distant, intangible, and Samuel, His prophet, old. ‘Behold,’ exclaimed the elder of Israel to the Lord’s prophet, ‘you are old,. . . do appoint for us a king’ (1 Sam 8:5).
“So God gave His people a king and that King was Saul, the son of Kish of the tiny tribe of Benjamin, a man of striking physique towering head and shoulders above his fellows, and he was acclaimed the nation’s king at Mizpeh. The nation had rejected God (1 Sam 8:7; 10:19).” Alan Reid, Unsearchable Riches, July 2007, pp 169,170
Sometime later, after Saul was settled in the leadership of Israel, Samuel conveyed to Saul that God wanted him to “smite the Amalekites” the nation that years before had attacked Israel at Rephidim soon after they had been brought safely and miraculously out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. The Amalekites had attacked first the faint and feeble who dragged wearily in the rear of the Israelite brigade as it moved through the wilderness.
But the Israelites fought back and, led by Joshua, were triumphant under the upheld arms of Moses. But this temporary victory was not enough to requite the Amalekites for their vicious attack against the Israelites at that time, and now their “cup was full” and they were to reap what they had sown.
Saul was now to engage the Amalekites in battle and was to utterly destroy them. He was not to spare any of them nor take any plunder (1 Samuel 15:3). Saul embarked on the task without hesitation and met little resistance from the retreating Amalekites. But he did not obey the Lord’s orders. He took Agag, the king, alive and spared the best of the flocks and herds and drove them back to Israel’s borders.
On Saul’s return from battle, he was met by the prophet Samuel who had been told by the Lord:
“I regret that I caused Saul to reign as king, for he has turned away from following Me. . .” 1 Sam 15:11
Saul, believing that he had satisfactorily fulfilled God’s command, met the prophet Samuel in the following way.
“Blessed be thou of the Lord; I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 1 Sam 15:13
And Samuel responded:
“What then is this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” (vs 14)
Saul’s lie was fully exposed as the prophet Samuel was surrounded on all sides by the restless flocks and lowing herds, visible proof of the kings’ disobedience. Saul cowardly blamed the people who, he said, spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice unto the Lord.
And Saul answered:
“They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” (vs 15)
Samuel was not fooled by Saul’s excuses, and laid bare the seriousness of Saul’s transgression. Samuel said:
“When thou wast little in thine own sight, thou wast made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel.
“And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
“Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst swoop down on the plunder and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?
“And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
“But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgalss.
“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:17-24
Saul failed in the first task assigned to him, and the kingdom was rent from him in consequence of his dishonoring of God’s instructions.
God Never INSISTS on Obedience
God tells us what we ought to do, but He never forces us to do it. We have to obey Him out of a oneness of spirit with Him. That is why whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He prefaced it with an “If,”
“IF you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15
“IF anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself. . .” Luke 9:23
In other words, “To be My disciple, let him give up his right to himself to Me.”
Being faithful to Jesus Christ is the most difficult thing we try to do today. We will be faithful to our work, to serving others, or to anything else; just don’t ask us to be faithful to Jesus Christ.
“The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that God will be free to do His work through us. God wants to use us as He used His own Son.” Ibid Dec 18
Obedience or Independence?
God’s promises are conditional. Will we give up our right to ourselves and let God run our life, or will we insist on having our own way?
“IF you obey My laws, commandments, and decrees, I WILL keep you free from every disease.” Deut 7:11-15
“IF you bring all the tithes into the store house. . . I WILL open for you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Mal 2:10
“The Lord does not give me rules, but He makes His standard very clear. If my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love someone I have placed in competition with Him, namely, myself. . .Jesus Christ will not force me to obey Him, but if I obey in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God. Then, when I stand face to face with God, I will discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed. . .If I obey Jesus Christ, the redemption of God will flow through me to the lives of others.” Oswald, Chambers, My Utmost for His highest, Nov 2
Don’t be an Amateur Providence
Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt 10:34). It is trouble and destitution that brings us finally to God. “Never be sympathetic with a person whose situation causes you to conclude that God is dealing harshly with him. People want the blessing of God, but they can’t stand something that pierces right through to the heart of the matter. There must be a sense of need created before God’s message is of any use God’s message that says, “Come to Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Ibid., Dec 19
Obedience Eliminates Confusion
“Whenever we experience something difficult in our personal life, we are tempted to blame God. But we are the ones in the wrong, not God. Blaming God is evidence that we are refusing to let go of some disobedience somewhere in our lives. But as soon as we let go, everything becomes as clear as daylight to us. As long as we try to serve two masters, ourselves and God, there will be difficulties combined with doubt and confusion. Our attitude must be complete reliance on God.” Ibid. Dec 14
If any man will DO His will, he shall KNOW of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.” John 17:17
The way to find truth to KNOW of the doctrine is to Obey to DO His will. If you want to learn more truth, you must obey what you already know. God will not bring you more truth, if you refuse to obey the truth that you already have.
“God’s mark of approval, whenever you obey Him, is peace. He sends an immeasurable, deep peace; not a natural peace, “as the world gives,” but the peace of Jesus.” Ibid.
Whether it is in spiritual matters or in health matters, Christians remain thoroughly confused, unable to understand truth, or even recognize it when they see it - UNTIL they begin obeying all that they already know.
One of the biggest reasons that Christians don’t progress in their spiritual walk is that they refuse to obey the truth they already have.
And one of the biggest reasons that Christians don’t follow the Health Message is that they really don’t believe it they don’t believe in Jesus Christ and His promises - because they refuse to obey the light that they already have.
This is rebellion against God. This is what kept the Israelites from entering into God’s “rest” the “peace that passes all understanding.”
The Goal of “Obedience” is not Great Success the Goal is “Knowing God.”
We are on this earth for one reason and one reason only to get to Know God and to learn to Trust God, with everything in our life. But it’s so much simpler to “get to know the church” and “trust the church” and “work for the church” while deluding ourselves into thinking all that is involved with “getting to know God.”
But, in reality, those activities and delusions actually lead us away from God. Our dependence is on the pastor and his staff, and what they teach, and on small groups, and on other church members, and on church support groups, and on church group activities, rather than on God. The center of our social life and our “spiritual” life becomes the “church” and its activities, while we deceive ourselves into believing we are “getting to know God.”
“We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite.
“We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish His purpose is the process itself.
“God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.
“It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.” Ibid. July 28
The “Other” Saul
Further on in Israel’s history we read of another Saul. “This second Saul was also of Israel’s stock and of the tribe of Benjamin, and though small in stature and perhaps feeble in frame, he attained, intellectually, an eminence among his contemporaries no less dominant than that held physically by his nations’ first king. His mental ability was equaled by a tireless devotion to, and passionate enthusiasm for, the traditions of the Fathers. His zeal for the traditional Pharisaic tenets made him an avowed and bitter enemy of those who professed allegiance to the risen Christ, and his pre-conversion activities can be summed up in the phrase ‘Now Saul devastated the ecclesia’(Acts 8:3). His confession to the Galatians was ‘I inordinately persecuted the ecclesia of God and ravaged it’ (Gal. 1:13).”
“The two Sauls were prominent figures in the sacred record. Both were of the tribe of Benjamin, and each was chosen by God for a special task, the first to be the first of Israel’s kings, the second to carry the evangel of God’s grace to the Nations the Unbelievers outside of Israel. Saul, the king, failed to heed the command of the Lord and was rejected. In later years, when he considered his conduct he was compelled to admit, ‘I have acted unwisely’ (1 Sam 26:21). Saul, subsequently Paul, the apostle, was faithful to what he heard from the Lord, so that when he surveyed the long, trying years of his devoted service, he could exclaim, ‘I have kept the faith’ (2 Tim 4:7).
“Both men reached that juncture in their life’s experience where the subsequent course of events was to be determined by an act of disobedience or obedience!”
Unsearchable Riches, July 2007, Number 4, p 172-174
Two “Sauls” and Two “Adams”
It has been truly said, “The supreme crises of history are centered in the disobedience of the first man (Adam) and the obedience of the Second (Christ). Adam disobeyed the only command God had given to him and in so doing, revolted against the authority of God. The second Man ‘humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross’ (Phil 2:8).” Ibid. Paul made this difference very clear in his writing to the Romans (Rom 5:19):
“For even as, through the disobedience of the one man (Adam), the many (all) were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One (Christ), the many (ALL), shall be constituted just.”
Paul states this Good News of the Gospel again (1 Cor 15:22):
“For even as, in Adam, ALL are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall ALL (the same ALL) be vivified (made alive).
All People are “slaves.” The Question is, “To whom?”
“Are you not aware that to whom you are presenting yourselves as slaves for obedience, his slaves you are, whom you are obeying, whether of Sin for death, or of Obedience for righteousness?” Romans 6:16
The sin of Adam mothered all sin, by means of death that passed on from Adam to all humanity. None is exempt from the terrible consequences which find their source in the single act of disobedience by Adam.
“For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many (ALL) were constituted sinners. . .” Rom 5:19
But the obedience of Christ is no less potent for good than was Adam’s disobedience and offense for condemnation.
“For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One (Christ), the many (the same “ALL”) shall be constituted just.” Romans 5:19
There is further affirmation of this truth of Universal restoration in 1 Cor 15:22:
“For even as, in Adam, ALL are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall ALL be vivified (made alive forever).”
We serve one of two masters, either 1) Sin which brings death, or 2) Obedience which brings righteousness (and eliminates confusion).
To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice
God became fed up with the Israelites’ constant ritual sacrifices. The Sanctuary in the wilderness and its sacrifices, symbolizing the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His death for the sins of the world, were instituted by God to teach the Israelites the Plan of Salvation. They had rejected God’s offer to run their lives directly when, at Mt. Sinai, when God wanted to talk to them, they responded in great fear.
“And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off.
“And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” Exodus 20:18.19
But after years of animal sacrifices that were supposed to turn their minds to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ the Ultimate Sacrifice for the sins of the world, the Israelites fell into the spiritual doldrums, viewing the sacrifices as nothing more than rituals “works” to “earn” the blessings of God.
God hated their attitude, and said:
“Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination unto Me; the new moons and Sabbaths (feast days), the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure them; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
“Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them.
“And when you pray, I will hide my eyes from you: yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear.” Isaiah 1:13-15
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Prov 15:8
“Working” for God
“Find a work for God and do it!” That is generally the order from the pulpit of the churches. But it is not our right to “decide what work God needs done.” It is a “stench in His nostrils.” As stated at the beginning, it is much easier to “work for God” than it is to be One with God.
God wants us to have a relationship with Him then He can work through us. And many times we don’t even know how He is doing that. Too many “Christians” decide what they want to “do for the Lord” assuming that God is unable to make His own plans. And often they do “works to be seen of men” (Matt 23:5).
The goals of Corporate Business have become the goals of the “church” the bigger the better! They compromise God’s gospel by bringing the “world” into the church to increase membership and to “attract the youth.” But the youth are just “attracted to the world” which has now been embraced by the “church.”
But that is not God’s measure of success. When Jesus was on earth, after 3 1/2 years of ministry ministering to tens of thousands of people, He was condemned to death by those He came to save. But at His crucifixion He had only five people who stuck by Him, and one of that group of five was His mother. The God of the universe, the God who created every human being on earth, only had five people with Him - after raising people from the dead, healing ALL who came to Him, and miraculously providing food for thousands. If there was ever an example of “worldly” failure it was Jesus Christ.
But by His death on the cross, He “overcame the world,” struck the death knell for sin, and became the Savior of “ALL mankind” (1 Tim 4:10) the greatest event in all of earth’s history.
That is God’s measure of Success not the world’s!
“The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” 1 Cor 3:19