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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

ARE WE LIKE ALL NATIONS

I Samuel 8:19-20 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

After the death of Joshua, Israel was governed essentially by the tribal elders for 35 to 40 years. During this period, Israel became evil and idolatrous and fell under the domination of the king of Mesopotamia known as Chushan, which lasted for approximately eight years. While under this oppression, the children of Israel cried unto the Lord (Judges 3:8). God heard their cry and raised up Othniel, Caleb's younger brother, as the first judge to rule over Israel. He delivered Israel from the Mesopotamian oppression and they had peace for 40 years.

Following this, Israel, again, did evil and God delivered them in to the hand of Eglon, king of Moab, whom Israel served for 18 years. When Israel cried again to God, Ehud was given as judge to deliver them from the Moabite oppression. After their deliverance, Israel had rest for 80 years. Doing evil in the sight of God, being delivered into the hands of an enemy, returning to God and asking for deliverance, being given a judge to deliver them, having peace and then returning to evil practices - this same series of events took place for approximately the next 350 years. It involved 15 or 16 judges being given to Israel for their deliverance from the oppression of nations around them.

Finally, when one of the last judges, Samuel, became old, he made his sons Joel and Abiah judges over Israel (I Samuel 8:1). They were extremely wicked and evil judges, accused of stealing from the Israelites, taking bribes and administered perverted judgments. The elders of Israel came to Samuel, told him of the sinful judgment of his sons, and asked him to make us a king to judge us like all the nations (I Samuel 8:5). At this particular time in history, most, if not all of the nations surrounding Israel were ruled by kings. Israel was ruled under a theocracy, and had no king but God. God governed Israel through its elders and through judges that were especially appointed for specific tasks when strong military leadership was needed.

At this request, Samuel prayed to God seeking His wisdom. God replied that Israel did not reject Samuel but rather Israel wanted a king instead of God to rule over them (vs. 7). God told Samuel to listen to their voice and give them a king, but remind them of what they could expect when ruled by a king (vs. 9). In following verses, Samuel told the Israelites that to be governed by a king would mean many changes in their social welfare. They would be required to give their sons and daughters to the service of the king for armies, staff, and servants. They would have to give up some of their best fields, vineyards and oliveyards for the use of the king and his servants. They would have to give a tenth of their crop yields and their livestock herds for the king's use. And finally, when oppressed by the king, God would not come to their assistance since they had rejected God as their king.

It was at this point that Israel replied with the lesson text noted above, and it raised questions. Did they seek the advice and leadership of others when theydisagree with God's will? Did they prefer the leadership of the world over His divine leadership? Did they prefer the "gods of men" over the "God of Heaven?"

When God says that our salvation depends on our hearing His word, believing it, confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our Savior, being baptized for the remission of our sins, living a life of faith in God that is demonstrated by good works - do we believe it? Do we reject God's will for that of man? Man's creed is one that tells us "all people will be saved", or "if you just have faith in God you will be saved", or "if you are a good person, you will be saved", or "if you are born again, you will be saved"? Do you believe God's stand on abortion, or that of other people of the world? Do you agree with God's law on marriage and divorce, or the laws as interpreted by judges here on earth?

In today's society, there are so many issues that have popular answers contrary to God's word. The world is filled with people that disagree with God's will - these people are compared to the "other nations" noted in our text. Are we like all nations? Or will we remain loyal to our King, the God of Heaven?