Summary: God gave Saul an instruction but Saul only half-carried it out. This short homily is a challenge to us: Let’s do all that God asks us to do; nothing more AND nothing less!
In these days of terrorism this Bible event is hard for us to understand; and I know of one or two people who have rejected God because of it. The irony is of course that the story is primarily kept for us as a warning not to reject God’s instructions! Hundreds of years ago, stories such as this have also led to some people deciding that the ‘god’ of the Old Testament was evil and unforgiving, and that the ‘god’ of the New Testament is loving and forgiving.
We must be clear that the Yahweh, the God of Israel, is both the God of the New Testament, and of the Old Testament. We must also be clear that Yahweh is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the first person of the Trinity, along with Jesus the Son, and also God the Holy Spirit.
So what was going on then? How does it apply now?
God never destroys with out reason. God brings destruction as a result of sin, because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The sin of Adam and Eve saw them move from a state of immortality to mortality. The sins of people today result in their eventual spiritual death, unless they put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus. (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).
Saul was ordered to destroy the Amalekites for a reason! 1 Samuel 15:2, “This what the Lord almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they way-laid them as they came up from Egypt.’”
What did they do?
Exodus 17:8, “The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.”
Numbers 14:45, “The Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.”
Deuteronomy 25:17-18, “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God.”
So this event reminds us that God punishes sin. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Previously God punished the sins of the whole earth in the time of Noah (Genesis 5-9).
However, the central theme of our Bible passage is not the destruction of the Amalekites, even though we, understandably, might want to ask lots of questions about it! The central theme is Saul’s disobedience, and so that should be our central theme too.
God gave Saul an instruction. Saul fell short of carrying it out. What instructions has God given to us, which we have partially carried out? Have we gone beyond an instruction from God?
We mustn’t let this event stop us from doing anything. To sit back and do nothing is also very often disobedience!
What is God saying to you? What is God saying to us as a church? Let’s ask him to reveal the answers to those questions as we pray together.