Wednesday, July 16, 2014

2 kings 2 thrones part 3

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 Israel. The men are in fear and hide in caves and cisterns. Some even went back over the Jordan River –out of the 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 Jordan 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 fight.

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 Mount 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.


 To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

2 kings 2 thrones part 2

This week, we continued the “Two Kings, Two Thrones” series examining the contrasts between Kings Saul and David in the Old Testament and what the related symbolism means to us.  Remember that God did not want Israel to have a king.  He does pick Saul to be the first king, but only because the people asked for it.  It was not His will to have them ruled by anyone but Him. He had always ruled His people and provided for His people, but the Israelites seemed to forget how good they had it. They were concerned with being just like all the other nations around them who had kings.


In this second part, we looked at the anointing of Saul as Israel’s first king. The person whom God chooses for this important role is Saul, Son of Kish.  He is from the smallest of the Israelite tribes.  We find in 1 Samuel 9:1-2 that he is from a wealthy and influential family in the tribe of Dan (the Amplified Bible specifically points out these traits). We are also told that Saul was tall (the Bible says he was a head taller, but one definition says greater than others from the shoulders up which could also indicate a certain heart attitude) and handsome.  He is exactly the type of person man would choose for a king.  Most political scientists agree that people are psychologically drawn to a candidate that is noticeably taller and more handsome than their opponent (assuming the candidate is male, of course).


There is an interesting thing we find when we read the next few verses about Saul’s background that I think illustrate a little bit of God’s sense of humor. Remember that the whole reason Israel has a king is that the people were stubborn and demand a king. When we first meet Saul, he is chasing after his father’s missing donkeys. God’s people were being stubborn “donkeys,” so He sends them someone who herds donkeys to lead them!

Now, the main premise of this series is that Saul is a picture of the law and that David is a picture of grace. This first appearance of Saul fits the narrative. He is out trying to save his father’s donkeys but is not successful. God ends up saving them himself.  Some of God’s children are “donkeys.” They are stubborn and will not follow Him as their good shepherd. The law was sent, but it was not successful in delivering those donkeys. Law does not change the hardened heart; that requires grace.

In the story, God speaks to the prophet Samuel about the man who will come to see him the following day. He tells Samuel that this man is the one to be anointed king. When Saul arrives in search of information from Samuel on finding the donkeys, Saul tells him of God’s plans for him. In this meeting, Samuel has the cooks prepare a special piece of meat for Saul. Something that gets lost in this part of the story unless you look at the original Hebrew is that the piece of meat he has prepared for Saul is that which is usually reserved for the priest.  I believe this is symbolic of a part of the authority of God being passed to man, by man’s request.

Saul then leaves and follows some specific instructions from Samuel. He meets up with some prophets. When he does, he begins to prophesy as they do. People who know him see this happen and are confounded. We are told that the Spirit came upon Saul.  I know, with Saul being a picture of the law, it may seem like we are beating up on him. We should not forget that God is choosing him. He is anointed by God for a specific purpose, and stepping into that anointing brings a change to his life. We are actually told that he became a different man after the Spirit came upon him.

We are actually told what Saul’s purpose is – that is to deliver the Israelites from the hand of the Philistines. His call is very specific. He is not going to be the redeemer of God’s people. That was not the purpose of Saul, and it was not the purpose of the law. Notice that Saul’s response, like many people when God calls them, is that he wonders whether God got the right person.  Just like Moses and Gideon, he was sure that he was not the best choice for the position.

The Philistines were an enemy of Israel that was dwelling in the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. They were to be driven out, but instead persisted and persecuted the Israelites. As I teach frequently, the Promised Land is our heart after we are born again. We are to take that territory and drive out the enemies in our hearts in order to experience the peace and rest of God and to enjoy the fruit of the land (a heart in communion with God).

When Saul is to be presented, he is found to be hiding.  Isn’t that like us too?  We are confident at first and then we are afraid of our purpose and what it might mean for us.  Once Saul is officially presented he immediately has “haters.” Two verses after he is officially made king he has detractors – those who question his right and ability to lead. Whenever you step into your purpose you will have haters. Don’t listen to them. Keep charging forward. Let them be accountable to God for what they’ve done with their lives, and you focus on making the most of yours!

Saul’s first acts are to instill fear into his people in order to get them to follow him.  Law condemns out of fear of punishment but never brings complete victory over the internal enemies.  While Saul’s purpose was to overcome these Promised Land trespassers, he was ultimately unsuccessful. This furthers the symbolism of his rulership representing the law. The law cannot bring victory in Canaan. Law does not succeed in the Promised Land. Moses, a picture of the law, could not enter into Canaan. Neither can law. 

What we see in Saul’s kingship is a back and forth of success and retreat against the Philistines, the same thing that we will experience if we try to use law to overcome the issues of the heart. We commit to “never do that again” and think we’ve won a victory only to have that same sin creep up again and again. So we buckle down with more law, but is it equally unsuccessful. We end up either becoming more and more legalistic in our approach to sin, or we end up giving up and allowing sin to win, allowing the Philistines to rob us of what is truly ours in Christ.

The only enemies Saul had true success against are those who dwelt east of the Jordan river, outside of Canaan. The first one is the Ammonites. Law can seem effective on the outside, but cannot change the heart. Saul could defeat outward enemies but struggled against inward ones. 

This helps us understand what the law is capable of, and where it falls short.  This is important for understanding the role of grace in our lives.


 To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Two Kings Two Thrones part 1

I began a new series this week called “Two Kings, Two Thrones.” In this series, we are examining the contrasts between Kings Saul and David. One was a picture of rule by the law and the other rule by grace.  In this first part, we looked at the similarities between the Israelites’ request for a king in I Samuel 8 and the agreement by them to receive the Law in Exodus 19.

In 1 Samuel 8, God’s people decided they wanted to have a physical king – in essence, to be like the kingdoms and peoples around them. Up to this point, they had been ruled directly by God. Samuel was the voice God used to speak to His people, but Samuel was aging and had sons who were corrupt and did not serve God.

We can make the same mistake of thinking that God’s ways seems backwards in relation to the world around us. The Israelites had the dreaded “grass is greener” syndrome. God assures Samuel that it is not him that the people are rejecting, but God. He tells Samuel to do as the people wish but first warn them of what the unintended consequences of their decision would be.

When Samuel describes for the people what a king will do to them, it is the exact description of what happens any time men rule men. God never intended for men to rule men. He wants us to be ruled by Him. When men rule men, corruption will always occur. One of the things he warns against is that a king will take a tenth of all your stuff. In other words, man will try to take what belongs to God.

One of the important things to gather when looking at this story is what God does NOT say. He never says this is His will. He allows the people to have what they asked for. The same is true for us. We may like to think that God just does whatever He wants in our lives and we have no choice. He does have a perfect will for us and He wants us to desire it and live in it, but we can choose our own ways and suffer the consequences.

We paralleled this story with the account of what happened right before the Law was given at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19. God instructed Moses to tell the people that they had essentially made the decision not to trust Him in the same way their forefathers had (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and that He was going to send a law covenant that, if they fully obeyed, they would be blessed.
This type of covenant would never have been given to Abraham, Isaac or Jacob. They simply believed God and were seen as righteous. There were no rules or laws to declare them unrighteous by. Evidently, that same trust in God was not passed down to the descendants of Jacob. They had come to a place of no longer having that same belief in God. Their covenant was now going to be based on works, which is apparently just what they wanted.  When Moses relays God’s message to the Israelites they say “we will do whatever He requires.” The Hebrew word used here, asah, indicates a self-reliance. They were saying they would make their own way. If they did all God required, He would be obligated to bless them.

God was angry with them because they forgot all He had done for them in delivering them from 400 years of captivity, parting the Red Sea, and feeding them miraculously every day, to name a few. They thought God was mistreating them and by doing all He required, he would have to take better care of them (my paraphrase). Notice too that man had to agree to law before it was given. They found out quickly how impossible it was to do all it actually takes to be right before God. They weren’t able to fully obey (just as none of us can).

In both these stories, man makes the decision to do things in his own way, apart from God’s perfect plan, with dire consequences. In one instance, God’s physical kingship of His people was replaced with a natural king in order for His people to feel like they fit in with the world. In the other, His people chose laws written on stone over the direct voice of God.  God wants to rule your life. He wants a personal relationship with you. Will you allow Him or will you choose your own way?

  To listen to the entire sermon go to  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit