Always inquire of The Lord. As Joshua led the conquest in cleansing the promised land, local leaders of Gibeon tricked the Israelites into signing a treaty by pretending to be from a distant nation. Even though Joshua frequently inquired of The Lord, and had even been directed not to bargain with any of the Canaanites (Deut. 7:2), he did not do so before ratifying the agreement (Joshua 9:14). Once the Israelites realized the Gibeonites lived in the promised land, it was too late to revoke their oath, and the unconquered people led the Israelites away from The Lord. Major decisions in life still necessitate that we inquire of The Lord or seek his guidance through prayer (James 5:13), just as king David inquired of the Lord before all his battles (2 Samuel 5:17). Besides foxhole prayers in times of trouble, Jesus tells us to ask, seek and knock, of the Father as a regular and repeated process (Matt.7:7). To take it even further, the monk Brother Lawrence invites us to “practice the presence” of God, or to pray without ceasing, just as Paul admonishes us to pray continually in a perpetual inquiring of The Lord (1 Thess. 5:17).
Obedience to God is better than sacrifice. When Israel's first anointed king, Saul, brought justice upon the Amalekites (for attacking the desert wandering Israelites), he elected to follow the desires of the soldiers and did not complete God's decree. Samuel, acting as The Lord's mouthpiece, informs Saul for the second time that God seeks men after his own heart, or devoted loyalty, not haphazard “worship” on man's terms (1 Samuel 15:22). As foretold by Samuel, the kingdom is eventually torn from Saul, due to his perpetual disobedience, and given to David. (1 Samuel 16:13). Many self-proclaimed Christians run the risk of worshiping The Lord like Saul - on their own terms and not Gods. If we profess to love Christ, then we must obey his commands (John 14:15), which will prove difficult if we don't learn what he commands in scripture. God doesn't want us to sacrifice our service, our time, or our money to him. He wants us. We are called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to The Lord. (Rom. 12:1). We are commanded to render everything, to love The Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).
Fealty to God's King breaks life's sin cycle. Before the Monarchy is established in Israel, the people repeatedly fall into apostasy which leads to judgment, from which they return to God who raises up a deliverer for a time before they fall back into apostasy (Judges 2:16-19). The book of Judges implies this process occurred with at least six judges, because Israel didn't have a king to guide them. (Judges 21:25). With the appointment of God's anointed king (2 Samuel 5:4), the sin cycle disappears...so long as the king does what is right in the eyes of the Lord (1 Kings 15:11). Sin still takes believers on a roller coaster of success and defeat, but thankfully the anointed kingly line of David has been consummated with Jesus (Matt. 22:45). Each of us needs to crown Jesus as King of our lives (Luke 9:23) and swear our lives to the kingdom (Matt. 6:33) breaking the first step of apostasy. Then in times of trouble, we can run to our King who will defend us as a strong tower (Proverbs 18:10). Even if we fall, we stand sure that our judgment has been absolved by Christ's sacrifice as the cross, as our eternal deliverer (Romans 11:26).
What was the most frequently asked question during the heretical controversies of the 4th century? Is this question still relevant today? How so? What does the bible say?
The church found it just as hard to nail down Jesus as the Romans did, as the issue of exactly who Jesus is (Christology) refused to die and rose up time and time again.
Only God can say “Mine.” In the nation of Israel, the Lord instituted a Sabbath rest even for the land itself, and seven such Sabbath years resulted in a redemptive year called Jubilee effectively resetting all debts (Lev. 25:8-54). Since only God can claim possession of the world and all that is in it (25:23), the Israelites could only sell the fruits of the land (25:18-22) and even the destitute who were forced to sell themselves into slavery were released in the year of Jubilee (25:39-43). God revealed his total proprietorship to Moses by proclaiming that the whole earth “is mine,” including the people who would be his treasured possession (Ex. 19:5). Christians should recognize that all their material possessions belong to God, and at the very least they can give back 10% (a tithe) to advance The Kingdom. However, after Christ purchased us back with his blood on the cross, we as individuals belong all the more God (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Ultimately, we will have to give account for everything we have been given from heaven; our money, our gifts, our personalities, our callings and our very lives, to carry out God's work (John 3:27).
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.