The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Israel

THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL.

 

1 Samuel 8; 1 Samuel 12; 2 Samuel 7.

 

Introduction.

An overview of God’s development of a people for himself:-

In our first message on the Roots of the Kingdom of God we looked at four things that Israel believed about their God:

– Israel believed in one supreme God.

– Israel believed in a God who rules the nations.

– Israel believed in a God who had chosen her.

– Israel believed in a God of Hope.

As we look through the history of Israel from the time they entered Canaan we see a cycle of disobedience toward God, God’s punishment, Repentance, Deliverance by a Charismatic type leader (Gideon, Deborah and Samson). This cycle repeated itself over and over again.

We take up the story of the nation of Israel at the time when Eli was priest and leader of Israel. Things were again not going to well. The Philistines were a constant threat and had captured the Ark of the Covenant in which were the Ten Commandments  – the symbol of the Lord’s presence with Israel. Eli’s two sons had been killed. Eli dies when he hears the news of the death of his sons and the capture of the Ark of the Covenant – he fell backwards off his chair and broke his neck.

Samuel then takes over the leadership of Israel as priest and judge. The Ark of the Covenant is returned – God caused the Philistines many problems for as long as they kept the Ark – and then under the leadership of Samuel the Israelites defeat the Philistines but that is by no means the end of the Philistine threat. As Samuel got older  he appointed his sons as judges but the were corrupt and did not have the confidence of the people of Israel who then thought it would be a good idea to have a king.

The people’s cry to Samuel was :- “But everybody has one”

1. “Going our own way!”

From a human perspective we can understand why Israel wanted a king –

– their national neighbours the Philistines and Ammonites were a constant threat.

– Samuel’s two sons certainly did not inspire confidence in the people.

But 1 Sam.8v5&19 give us their reason:-

They said to him, “You are old and

your sons do not walk in your ways,

now appoint a king to lead us such

as all the other nations have”

“Then we will be like all the other nations,

with a king to lead us and to go out

before us and fight our battles.”

There is an element in their reasoning that hints at the fact that they are passing-the-buck.  “…he can go before us and fight our battles…” If we have a king then he will be responsible – as if that would somehow let them off the hook – that they would not therefore be as responsible to God as the king. It seems to be an inbred instinct that we inherited from Adam and Eve “I am not responsible!!

ILLUS.: Do you have this in your family when something goes wrong -“Its not my fault, I just…!

Having a king would not in any way make the individual Israelite less responsible to God.  Everyone of us is responsible to God – Everyone one of us will one day have to stand before God and give an account of our life. Saying -“But I had bad leaders” will be no excuse!!

The only way you and I can stand before God is on the basis of what Jesus Christ has done by dying for us! “Where do you stand in your relationship to Jesus Christ?” “You can’t sit on the fence – make up your mind

There was another reason why Israel wanted a king – to their minds probably the most important “…. then we will be like the other nations …”.

Peer pressure is not a new idea – it is not only individuals that suffer from peer pressure; groups of people can also suffer from it.

Israel’s argument was “But everyone has a king and we also want one!!”

Israel was missing the point of why God had called them and brought them into the Promised Land. God did not put them there so that they could be like the nations BUT so that the nations could see how God was with them and be drawn to God.

How often has it been in the history of God’s people that instead of influencing the people around them for God they have been influenced and drawn away from God.

That danger is still with us today. It is much easier to go along with what everyone else is doing – to be carried along with the crowd. It is much more difficult to go against the tide of popular opinion. How often have you done something that you know is not right but you were too embarrassed or too ashamed or too afraid to be different.

There are some who always want to be different just to be different and draw attention to themselves – God wants us to be different so that we can draw attention to him.

That is what God want for Israel BUT they wanted to be like everyone else.

So when Samuel gets angry and complains to God – God says to give them what they want – after all it was God they were rejecting not Samuel.

And the Lord told him [Samuel].

“Listen to all that the people are saying to you,

it is not you they have rejected,

it is me they have rejected as their King [1 Sam.8v7]

Ultimately Israel’s problem was that they had taken their eyes off God – they lost sight of who God is – “Maybe God need a king to help him cope with the threat from the neighbouring nations” They failed to see that God was their King and that they did not need an earthly king –

What would this earthly king be like? [We read 1 Samuel 8v11-18 [Moses warned of this in Dt.17]

This king would tax them and take their sons and daughters to be his soldiers and servants. BUT in spite of all the warnings of what an earthly king would be like they still insisted on having one. So God gives them what they want.

How often do we behave like that – like a spoilt child who whinges and begs in order to get whet they want –

ILLUS.: Have you every wanted something so badly but when you actually get it you find that it is not what you really wanted after all but it is too late to change your mind.  How many have gone into marriage like that? Or a particular job? Or made a decision that you later regret??

We have all done it in one way or another.

But you know, Disobedience, even willful disobedience, is not the unforgivable sin.

2. Willful disobedience is not unforgiveable.

Israel got their king and Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. In Samuel’s farewell speech he reminds the nation of God’s dealings with them in the past – how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt and brought them through the desert into the Promised Land and how their forefathers were disobedient. Then he goes on:-

READ 1Samuel 12v12-25

In spite of the evil they had done Samuel encourages them NOT to turn away from God. God has not turned away from you but you have turned away from him. Turn back BECAUSE contrary to what you might think God is not like other people who when rejected go off and sulk. NO God wants you to return and to obey and love him.

We are his chosen people – will he reject us??

It does not matter what you have done? No matter how gross a sin you may have committed – no matter what mistakes or wrong decisions you may have made in your life- Don’t allow the devil to convince you that you are too far gone and no good to God.

And notice Samuel’s reaction to Israel’s sin “Well you blew it so I hope you get what you deserve!!!”  NO!! NO!! Samuel exhibits the character of the God he serves –

He says “…… I will pray for you and teach you the way that is good and right.”

It is easy to condemn – to see faults and sin in others – sin is what everyone else does!!! There is no room for gloating when we see others fall. There is no room for one-up-manship. We are all sinners. The only reason that anyone is accepted by God is because of his grace – We need Samuel’s attitude towards each other.  “I WILL PRAY FOR YOU AND TEACH YOU WHAT IS GOOD AND RIGHT”

3. Our best is always imperfect.

The first three kings of Israel were Saul, David and Solomon.

SAUL – got off to a good start but it wasn’t long before he failed to obey the instruction given him by Samuel. Saul was willful and impatient – he was irreverent and presumptuous when he offered sacrifices, which was the priest’s job and not his. He became deceitful and suspicious – finally he ended up consulting a witch and took his own life on the Battle field.

DAVID was the greatest king Israel ever had. To this day the Davidic Dynasty is heralded as the Golden Age of Jewish history. God chose David to be king. David startedas a shepherd, was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel.

Later he was kept on the run from Saul who wanted to kill him – he surrounded himself with a small band of followers and after Saul’s death he was proclaimed king by the people.

David was a great king and a great warrior – he united the nation behind him. He dealt decisively with the Philistine threat and subdued all Israel’s neighbours.

Until this time the centre of Jewish worship was Shiloh where the Tabernacle was BUT David moved it to Jerusalem. He also made Jerusalem his capital. This was the height of Israel’s power.

BUT in the midst of this prosperity and success David drifted from God – He started to take it easy. The success went to his head and he went to bed with his neighbour’s wife, Bethsheba. Then when she became pregnant he tried to cover up by having Urriah, Bethsheba’s husband, murdered.

Before we judge David to harshly we need to consider the times in which He lived. The king’s of that day could take anything or anyone they wanted – David simply did what any king of that time would have done.

Success doesn’t always breed success. Here we see how success breeds failure!! David’s success had made him comfortable and careless.

It is very tempting after we have been successful in some way to think that we have made it – we are strong, we can handle it. We don’t really need God’s help on this one we can manage!!

Paul warns in 1 Co.10v12:-

.. If you think you are standing firm,

be careful that you don’t fall!

For a moment David forgot that he was only the vice-regent – God was still KING over his people. David learned that bitter lesson after God sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke him.

[Read David’s confession in Pss. 32 & 51 later]

David’s sin had serious consequences for his kingship and the kingdom of Israel. From this point on David’s life is a catalogue of one tragedy after another. God forgave David but he had to live with the consequences of his sin. The sad fact about sin is that we usually have to live  with the consequences.

[Come back to David in a moment]

SOLOMON – David established the Kingdom over which Solomon reigned. Solomon is famous for his wisdom, his wealth and his wives. He built the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem BUT he did what Moses had warned a future king of Israel never to do:-

..he must not take many wives,

or his heart will be led astray.

He must not accumulate large

amounts of silver and gold….

….. (he must not consider) himself

better than his brother and

turn from the law [Dt.17v17&20]

Under Solomon the rich got richer and the poor poorer and his many foreign wives turn his heart to worship false gods.

This kingdom of Israel reached great heights – it was very impressive BUT it was imperfect and so too, were its kings.

These first three kings have one thing in common – they started well BUT ended badly. After Solomon the Kingdom split.

BUT is this the end – is it a story of doom and gloom?

Back to David for a moment!

4. God can use our errors for his glory.

The people had rejected God by asking for a king. The kings they got were far from perfect. It did not please God BUT he had chosen them and they were his people. And God in his foreknowledge and wisdom knew and he made provision. God’s plan to have a people for himself was not going to be thwarted by this incident.

God had made covenants in the past that could not be broken.

Adam – Gen.3v15 – the promise of one would come and destroy sin and Satan

Abraham – Gen.12v2 – the promise of a great nation and a descendent who would

bring blessing to the whole world.

Joseph – about Judah – Gen. 49v10 – a king would come from the tribe of Judah.

NOW ANOTHER COVENANT – David [tribe of Judah] 2 Sam.7v11b-17 READ!!

God’s promise to David was that one of his descendent would rule God’s people forever. It was from that adulterous relationship with Bethsheba that ultimately Jesus the promised Messiah came. The one who would rule on the throne of his father David forever.

God has a plan and he is sovereign and in control – and nothing is going to stop God from fulfilling his purposes for his people.

Christ is building his church and nothing , not even the forces of hell, can prevents her advance.

This gives great hope to the church as God’s people BUT it also give great hope to us as individuals. God does not approve of our sin or condone it but he can take us with all our sinful ways and out of the mess of our lives can make something beautiful for his glory.

It you have never come to God because you think you are not good enough – you are right – you are not good enough and you never will be!  There is no point sitting on the fence because the fence is outside the kingdom of God. And outside the kingdom of God there is no hope and the future is bleak.

For those who are Christians God has this promise:-

Romans 8v28:-

God is at work in every detail of our lives

for our good….

Israel turned away from God by wanting a king BUT that willful disobedience was not unforgiveable. The best king they had were imperfect [Our best is always imperfect] BUT God can use our errors for his glory.

God’s message to Israel throughout her checked history was “return to me and obey me and I will bless you”.

That’s God’s message to us today – God can take our failures and weaknesses, our sinful desires and our bad decision and he can make something out of our lives that will bring glory to his name!!!

THE GOD IN WHOM ISRAEL BELIEVED

1. Israel believed in one supreme God.

2. Israel believed in a God who rules the nations.

3. Israel believed in a God who had chosen her.

4. Israel believed in a God of Hope.

 

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