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The Pastor And The People

Scripture: 1 Samuel 12:22-25; Text: 1 Samuel 12:23-24

This Old Testament passage is so important for New Testament Christians. Remember that Paul said these truths were for our understanding (Romans 15:4). As we look back more than threethousand years, we find a situation then, that has been repeated so many times over the centuries. The people of God wanted to be like the people of the world. That is what I call worldliness or world likeness. You see Israel was a "theocracy." They did not have an earthly king, Jehovah was their King. God is still the greatest King (1 Timothy 6:15). He ruled them through His words and also by judges and prophets. They were to be in constant touch with God and as God communicated His will to them, they communicated it to the people. They wanted an earthly king like other nations around them (1 Samuel 8:5). It greatly disturbed Samuel, as it should. God reminded him that the people had rejected God, not him (1 Samuel 8:7).

You would think they would have learned from past experiences. Almost one-hundred years before they had wanted a king. They chose Abimelech and he was a brutal and cruel man (Judges 9:8 & 16). He reigned for only three years and it broke them for a while. Now a new generation has come on the scene and they have either lost sight of history's lesson or they were never informed of that disastrous event. They have now come full circle and want a king again. Samuel has warned them of what they will encounter but they will not change their perilous course, so in the last verse of the chapter eighty, God told Samuel to do what they asked. In other words, God knew they would have to learn the hard way, by experience. Saul had been chosen as their king and was confirmed in chapter eleven. Here at the end of chapter twelve, Samuel is again admonishing the people. Even though they have an earthly king, they are to remain true to God. So this memorable admonition is given.

In this lesson we focus on the PASTOR and the PEOPLE. Let us study them in the order the Bible gives them. First we take a look at the pastor's responsibility. I appreciate the fact that Samuel focused FIRST on his duty. He did not go immediately into theirs. This way they could not be too critical, after all he has charged himself just as much as he did them. Under the heading of his duty, two things were cited.

(1). He was to pray for the people. They wanted him to pray for them (Verse 19). It was his duty to do so. It is the duty of all God's people. Yes we can pray for our personal needs and we should do so with faith in the power of God to bless us (Luke 18:1). Yet we are to pray for others too (James 5:16). All parents should pray daily for their children, for their physical and spiritual welfare. We should pray for the sick and sinful everywhere. We may not like what people are doing, but we are to pray for them nonetheless (1 Timothy 2:1). It just might change things if we do.

Samuel suggested that it would be SIN if he did not do so. Why? Because, God commands us to do so and if we fail to do as He commands, it is the sin of OMISSION (James 4:17). While all are to pray, it is specifically required of the ministry as spiritual leaders. You should feel that I CARE enough to carry you on my heart in prayer. Jesus set that example in the New Testament (John 17:20). In Paul's writings, seven times he said he prayed for the churches (Colossians 1:3). We must all rely upon the Holy Spirit to help us in such prayers (Romans 8:26).

(2). He was to TEACH the people. Notice that this teachng was not left to his discretion. God told him specifically what he was to teach. He was to teach the GOOD and RIGHT way. There are so many in our society who are teaching the wrong things. I make that judgment not on my opinion, but by the word of God. They are undermining the morals of our people and encouraging all kinds of hurtful and ungodly deeds, which have been devastating to so many. God tells us there two ways we may live (Matthew 7:13-14). Many are traveling down the forbidden way and beaconing to others to follow them. There must be a voice encouraging people to walk on the good path and pointing the ways to it. So pastors should teach the Bible and thus teach the good and right way.

This requires spiritual INSTRUCTION. Jesus set the pattern for us to follow (Matthew 5:2). Pastors are to teach as they preach the Word of God. We cannot save anyone for heaven, but we can teach them the ways to live and please God here on earth. That is what the great commission is all about (Matthew 28:19-20). If anyone one tells you they can save your soul, ask to see the nail scars in their hands. If anyone tells you they can teach you the right way to live, ask to see it in the word of God.

The RIGHT way can be found in the teachings of the Bible (Jeremiah 6:16). It can be found by the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 30:21). And it can be found in the path our Saviour trod (John 13:15).

Now we come to consider God's requirements for the PEOPLE. Again basically TWO things were required. (1) First, they were to FEAR the Lord. There are different kinds of fear, just as there are different kinds of fruits, vegetables and people. Sometimes we are told to "Fear not" (Luke 2:10). The kind of fear that is forbidden is one that can terrify us. But here we are told to have a different kind of fear. This fear is an affectionate reverence. It is mentioned many times in the Bible. It is the kind of fear we have of God (Ecclesiastes 12:13). It is the fear that will motivate us to serve the Lord (Hebrews 12:28). From generation to generation, then and now, God is merciful to those who fear Him (Luke 1:50). Let us be encouraged to fear and find the mercy we so desperatelly need from day to day.

(2). Secondly, they were told to SERVE the Lord. That means you are to obey the Lord and do that which is for His glory. God required Israel to serve Him (Deuteronomy 10:12). He requires it of us too and if you serve the Lord, it must be done according to the TRUTH. Satan and men will often mislead you. you may even think you are serving God. Jesus told His disciples that men would put them to death, thinking they were doing the will of God. How mistaken we can be. Truth is essential. Pilate asked, "What is truth? (John 18:38). Jesus answered by saying that His word is truth (John 17:17). So then Jesus said that those who worship God must do so in truth (John 4:24). We can consider it worship and service, but if God does not, it will not be acceptable to Him.

Next He said that service was to be with ALL YOUR HEART. Whole-heartedness is still required by God. This is not optional with Him. He will tolerate many things in our hearts, but second place is not acceptable with Him. We must do His will from our hearts (Ephesians 6:6-7). Added to that is the concept of a heart fully given to Him. Only when we seek Him with all our hearts, will we truly find the blessedness of His holy presence (Jeremiah 29:13). We must love Him with all our hearts (Matthew 22:37). But what does that mean? Let me explain it this way. Have you ever seen a ball fan, who jumped and shouted and spent their last dollar on a ticket? They are sold on the team, they live, eat, and breathe the team spirit. They are energetic and enthusiastic, and that is the way God wants us to be about Him and His cause in the earth. If we are serving with our whole heart, we will be a lot that way. To the player, too many are half-hearted about the game and to God, too many are half-hearted about Him and His services.

He closed these messages to the PASTOR and the PEOPLE with something for them and us to think about. It is the WHY we are to do what He commanded. He said we are to CONSIDER or ponder something. God wants us to consider things that are good for us. Long ago He told them to think about their problems and they might discover that the reason for them was the way they were living (Haggai 1:5). I know a lot of people today do not want to hear that message, but it is as needful then as now. We are also told to consider what Christ did for us as He died on the cross (Hebrews 12:3). If we did more of that, we might find we were uplifted and strengthened in our minds.

However, in the text, they were told specifically to consider the GREAT THINGS God had done for them. It is good to read and think about the great things God did for Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Jonah, Daniel and the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. In the New Testament there are many who were miraculously blessed. I love to think about them and preach about them, all that is good. But here we are told to look closer to home. Look at your life, see how He saved you and blessed in so many ways. I am sure that all of us could give a testimony to the goodness of God in our lives, but just THINK about it right now. You will surely discover that the Lord has been good to you. After all, He gave His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. He gave us not only saving grace, but also serving grace. The psalmist thought about it and was made glad in the process (Psalm 126:3). In the New Testament, Jesus healed a man who was possessed with many demons. Jesus set him free and sent him home a new man. He told the man to shew the great things done for him (Luke 8:39). We all need to examine our hearts and see if we are showing others the great things God has done for us. If we are we will be living true to Him and serving Him with great joy and gladness.

What a great challenge for all of us in this passage. Both pastor and people have enough to keep us busy until the Lord carries us home to heaven. Let us always be about our Father's business. Our lives will be rich and full and satisfying, if we will hear these words and heed them.

Having given this very positive message, he closes with a serious word of warning. Continue to do wickedly and you will be consumed. Not even their king could prevent it. So what about us? Where do we stand today before God? What about tomorrow? Today, right now, let us purpose in our hearts, that we are going to obey and enjoy the good of the land (Isaiah 1:18-20).

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This page last updated on June 7, 2014