Summary: The nation of Israel was like many of us, kind of stuck. But there are ways we can get out of this rut, and move on to greater effectiveness.
Passage: 1 Samuel 7:2-11
Intro: It’s amazing when an event that took place more than 3000 years ago is so relevant to us.
1. for over 3 centuries, the people of Israel had turned their backs on God.
2. they had suffered terribly, but hadn’t put their condition together with their behavior.
3. God was working on their behalf, but they did not recognize it yet.
4, all they knew was that they were under the domination of the Philistines, and that their God, represented by the Ark of the Covenant, was not pleased with them.
5. and so v2 shows them in a state of national depression.
6. the amazing thing is that their state is duplicated in the lives of many people.
7. but the great news is that this passage shows us how we got there, how to get out, and what may well happen when we do!
8. we are setting the stage for the kings of Israel, whose lives will be very instructive for us.
9. God is digging the Israelite people out of a hole and He can dig us out too.
I. Stuck in Depression
1. not a treatise on depression.
2. complex, sometimes caused by chemicals in the brain.
3. but v2 sounds like a group of depressed people.
4. they had lost the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines, and had gotten it back, but not where it belonged. Had killed 70 Jews
5. strong national impact, people mourned and “sought after the Lord.”
6. this state went on for 20 years, and that sounds like depression to me.
7. they had ignored God as a nation for almost 4 centuries.
8. and now He was another God they worshiped, but couldn’t manipulate.
9. saw last week that idolatry is based on the belief that we can cause things to happen by manipulating these gods we have.
10. the Israelites knew God was powerful, but they couldn’t access that power.
11. still dominated by Philistines, “seeking the Lord,” but not successfully. Why?
12. Not in accordance with His revelation.
PP Exodus 20:3
13. as we’ll see, they had other gods.
14. for us, this depression comes when we are living compromising lives.
15. idolaters find temporary happiness is their sin, committed believers find true joy in God.
16. people who seek to follow God but retain other gods are never content.
17. what steps do we take to get out of this hole? Two step process
II. Repentance from Idols
1. at some point, Samuel went on a campaign to rid Israel of idols.
2. v3, “If this is more than just talk, but real, then prove it.”
3. word Samuel uses, and that is used in v4, the same very interesting word.
4. “rid yourselves” and “put away”; word means “to turn away, to commit apostasy.”
5. Samuel commanded, and they obeyed; turning away not just physically, but the word implies a turning of the heart.
6. they did not keep them around as a back-up, fall back position.
Il) gamblers and stock brokers call this “hedging”, which means to hold some back in case your first plan fails.
7. God called them to get rid of their allegiance, their dependence on false gods.
8. should have been easy. Just had to look at 400 years of history to see the path they were on was destructive.
9. brothers and sisters, our world is full of idols, false gods, false pursuits, life-destroying lies
10. anything that weakens our dependence on God alone has the potential of being a idolatrous stumbling-block for us.
11. we have to turn away not because we are afraid of being caught, but because we recognize that we have been believing a lie, and don’t want to continue.
Il) when I was a kid, heard a powerful story about 2 boys who found a dead rat…
12. 2nd part of the process.
III. Trust God Alone
1. another example of this principle of revival: not just turning away from sin, but turning to God.
2. Samuel calls an assembly at Mizpah.
3. word means “watchtower” several in Israel
4. best thought, place 4 miles north of Jerusalem, highest hill in Northern Judea, 600 feet above a valley.
PP Google Earth of Mizpah
5. Samuel to pray for them there, and they performed a symbolic pouring out of water, perhaps to symbolize emptying hearts of allegiance to idols? Not an OT sacrifice.
6. clearly a time of repentance, changing their allegiance in response to Samuels words.
7. now I get the strong impression that the Philistines did not allow the Israelites to gather together. Here’s my proof:
8. secondly, v7; when they heard that they gathered, they came to attack them.