This week, we continued in the series, “Two Kings, Two Thrones.” In this series we’ve been looking at how the kingdoms of David and Saul are pictures of rule by grace and law. In 1 Samuel 13, shortly after Saul was pronounced king, the Philistines are camping and preparing to attack
. The men are in fear and
hide in caves and cisterns. Some even went back over the Jordan River –out of
the Israel . land of Canaan
Fear will cause us to run and hide. It will cause us to give up on the promises of God and go back to the wilderness. Note that the Israelites hid in “easy” areas to hide and separated themselves, and hid in the “natural” areas they would go in. Some even went back over the
out of the Promised
Land. So they forsook the promises of
God to go back to the easier wilderness way of living without the giants to
Samuel had told Saul to go to Gilgal and wait seven days for him to arrive. Then Samuel, the priest, would offer sacrifices. Saul, on the seventh day (but before it was over) gets impatient and thinks Samuel isn’t coming. The men are getting restless, and he decides to make the offerings himself. The offerings he sets out to do are the Burnt Offering an the Fellowship Offering. Both of these offerings had portions that are performed by the individual making the offering and a part done by the priest.
Saul completes the Burnt Offering, and Samuel arrives furious at Saul. The moment of his arrival is based on the mercy of God because if Saul had completed the Fellowship Offering, he would have brought curse and banishment on himself as well as all the men who participated. The Fellowship Offering as laid out on Leviticus 7 states that anyone who is not ceremonially purified cannot touch the meat from the offering. If he does, he is to be cut off from the people – meaning cursed and banished. Samuel stops Saul from making a grave mistake. When he questions Saul, we find that Saul was very focused on himself and his feelings. He says “I saw” the enemy approaching, “you did not come” (though the seventh days was not yet over), “I thought”, “I had not done” and “I felt compelled.” He acted on the fear he and his people had.
We have probably acted like Saul before. We get impatient waiting on God because we want the answer NOW. God will come through when it is needed and when He promised. What Saul, in his fear and impatience, does is what law does – makes it about works. Saul believed the work of doing the offerings would deliver him from the Philistines. A major point here is that Saul was doing something that was not his to do. It was the work of the priest. Jesus is our high priest. He made all the sacrifices for us. We do not need to do works to obtain God’s favor in our situations. Samuel rebukes Saul for not obeying the command of the Lord. He was not saying commands (plural). This was not about adherence to the Law. It was about not obeying the command to wait seven days for Samuel to come and complete the offerings. It was because he went into works instead of trust.
In the rebuke, Samuel states that because of this Saul will not rule forever. His kingdom will end, and he will be replaced by one “after God’s own heart.” We know that to be David. David was actually called a man after God’s own heart. It was not because he fully obeyed the law either. David was an adulterer and murderer. He had committed numerous offenses that were punishable by death under the law. He never suffered those consequences because, as a picture of grace, he understood what law does not. He knew to always run TO God when he sinned. Law makes you run away from Him when you sin. It condemns you and drives you away from God. Grace compels you to run to Him for forgiveness and overcoming power. This rebuke emphasizes the fact that God’s eternal kingdom is not built on law and works.
In 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, Paul defines this difference in rule by law and rule by grace. He begins by stating that we are only sufficient in Christ. Many have said that we cannot be successful in life without reliance on Christ. The world around us says otherwise. There are MANY who are quite sufficient in this world – successful and more than able to support themselves and their families – who never acknowledge God. This is not the sufficiency that Paul is talking about. When we look at the context of this passage we find he is talking about sufficiency in righteousness. No one is righteous apart from Christ.
He continues by stating that we’ve been made sufficient ministers of the New Covenant. We could never be sufficient ministers of the Old Covenant because it required perfection that we cannot attain. In Christ, we are qualified ministers (or workers in) of this New Covenant. He points out that the law kills and that the spirit (by grace) brings life. Many have said that when Paul talks about the passing away of the law, he is only referring to the ceremonial requirements and the sacrifices. Obviously, we cannot all go to Jerusalem to a temple that no longer exists and make our offerings required by the law, yet, it is said by some that we must still keep the 10 commandments if we are to be accepted by God.
If we go to the very next verse, he says that the law that killed was written on stone tablets. The ONLY part of the law that was written on stone tablets was the 10 commandments! I didn’t say it; Paul did! Now, no one is saying the 10 commandments are bad and should be ignored, but defining righteousness by even just those rules is death! You will always fail and fall short.
As that passage in 2 Corinthians 3 goes on, Paul describes how the law puts a veil on your heart that separates you from God. Grace takes that veil away. When Moses came down of
Sinai, he had a veil over his face to conceal the glow that came
on him from being in God’s presence (not face to face, but his back to him,
mind you). They thought people might be freaked out by his glow. There was also
concern that, as that glow faded, people might think that meant God’s presence
was lifting as well.
In this New Covenant, since sin cannot separate us from God, we can always be in His presence. The glow of His glory does not fade but instead is ever increasing. Our life should reflect the glory of God’s presence in ever increasing ways, but that will not happen when we allow law to replace the veil and turn us away from God.