Summary: What are you placing your hope in? Are you placing your hope and trust in a person? This week we’re starting a series titled Election 2008. As America prepares to elect a new president in the next few days, what are you looking for?
How in the world did we get to this point? Do you ever find yourself asking that question? I do. When I see some of the craziness that’s going on in our nation, I ask it. When I see congress hard at work blaming everybody else for the problems they’ve caused, I ask it. When I listen to average voters who are more concerned about their 401k than they are about the daily slaughter of innocent babies, I ask it. How did we get to this point? That’s the question we need to ask of Israel when we look at this passage this morning. How did they get here? You remember where they started. Hundreds of years before this, there was a man named Abram who lived in a place called Ur. It was a very modern city for that time with lots of wealth and conveniences. But it was a pagan city. And Abram came from a pagan home where they worshipped idols. But one day the living God spoke to Abram and called him out of there. He didn’t tell him where he was going or what he was going to do. But God gave him a promise. He changed his name to Abraham and told him that He would make a great nation out of him. And that He would choose that nation. And that He would bless all people with that nation. And God did. God gave Abraham a son named Isaac. And He gave Isaac a son named Jacob. And God gave Jacob a new name and called him Israel. You remember the story. Israel went down to Egypt to escape the terrible famine. And his family lived there for 4 centuries. While they were there, they moved from being protected by the Egyptians to being persecuted by them. But God protected them and blessed them. So much so that they multiplied from a family of 70 to well over 2 million people while they were there. God truly made them a great nation. But they were a great nation in captivity. They were slaves in Egypt. So God delivered them as verse 18 of our passage says. But it didn’t stop there. That was the most dramatic deliverance, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Because God was continually delivering Israel from its enemies. The only reason they had enemies in the first place was because they didn’t do what God said for them to do. He told them to destroy all the other nations when they entered the Promised Land. But they didn’t. So all those nations they didn’t destroy ended up constantly battling against them. As you read through the book of Judges, you see the pattern. Somebody would attack them. They would cry out to God. God would deliver them. They’d forget about God. Then somebody would attack them again. On and on and on. It was a consistent pattern with Israel. Anytime things were going well, they’d forget about God. The only time they called on God was when they needed something or when they were scared. Doesn’t that sound familiar? But that cycle went on and on and on. And God continually proved Himself faithful to them. He had made them a promise and He was keeping His promise. He was faithfully keeping His promise, no matter how unfaithful they were. Israel was unfaithful—God was faithful. Israel complained—God provided. Israel was in bondage—God delivered them. As God said in verse 18, “I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you.” What a gracious God. What a merciful God. To first of all create a people for Himself. To call them up out of nothing. And then grow them and nurture them and provide for them. And then when they found themselves in a bondage they had no hope of escaping… He saved them. If you are here and have trusted Jesus as your Savior this morning… that describes you as well. Jesus created you. He called you up out of your nothingness. He drew you to Himself and saved you. He grew you and nurtured you and provided for you. He delivered you from the bondage of sin and hell. Now, how have you responded to Him? Have you responded to His salvation and deliverance by serving Him as your king? Or have you done what Israel did? You see, Israel wasn’t satisfied with the Lord as their king. They weren’t satisfied with the One who formed them. They weren’t satisfied with the One who called them. They weren’t satisfied with the One who saved them and delivered them and defended them and provided for them. They weren’t satisfied with serving the Lord as their king. So they looked elsewhere. Verse 19 says that they rejected God. Did you notice something? There isn’t any grey area there. Either God is your king or He isn’t. And if He isn’t, then you’ve rejected Him. You can’t accept Jesus as your Savior and have somebody else as your Lord. You can’t call Jesus your Savior and seek your salvation from somewhere else. The Lord was Israel’s King. But they weren’t satisfied with that. They looked around and saw what the rest of the nations looked like. And they wanted to be like them. They wanted the power and prestige of having a capital and a kingdom and a throne. So they turned from the King who formed them and sought a king they could pick for themselves. When they first started asking for that, it broke the prophet Samuel’s heart. He knew where the people’s heart was. He knew what God said would happen if they sought an earthly king. But God told Samuel that He would give them exactly what they were asking for. Have you ever thought that, that’s what’s wrong with our country today? Have you ever thought that God has given us exactly what we’ve been asking for? Lord, give us liberty. He has—to the point where we have turned it into license. Lord, give us security. He has—to the point where we have turned it into softness and complacency. Lord, give us prosperity. He has—to the point where we are filled with greed. Israel cried out to God for a king. He gave them one. And He gave them exactly what they were looking for. Isn’t it interesting how they thought they were doing the picking? The second part of verse 19 through 21 tells us about their election process. First, the people picked the tribe. Then they narrowed it down to a family. Then they narrowed it down to Saul. Why did they pick Saul? Some translations say that he was taken by lot. But that’s not what the original says. The King James gets it right when it just says that he was taken. In other words, the people selected him. He was chosen by the people. Israel elected Saul in a popular election. It is as if they went to their polling place and voted for him. The question is—why did they pick Saul? Because he was taller and prettier than everybody else. Back in 9:2, the Bible says that Saul was, “a choice young man, and a goodly [handsome]: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” He was a head taller than everybody else and he was prettier than anybody else. Those two qualifications alone will win many democratic elections. If you can speak well… If you are attractive… If you look and sound good in front of the people… It doesn’t matter what you stand for… people will vote for you… just like they voted for Saul. But the interesting thing is that God had already picked Saul. He picked Saul and had Samuel anoint him as king. But the people didn’t know anything about it because Saul kept it a secret—even from his own family. Do you realize that God has already picked out our next president? He’s picked out our next president and the one after that if He tarries His judgment on us as a nation that long. That doesn’t mean that it’s pointless for us to vote. We’re supposed to vote. It is our privilege and blessing to vote. And God uses our votes to place into office who He wishes. Just like he did with Saul. God gave Israel Saul as their king to chastise them for wanting a king other than Him. And He gave them Saul as their king in order to turn the people back to Him. And He is going to do the same thing here. God is going to give us our next president in order to turn this nation to Him. If we won’t turn to Him in praise and thanksgiving… then we will turn to Him in sorrow and judgment.