WAITING FOR THE WORD (Part 2)
1Sa 13:8-14 (8) And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. (9) And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering. (10) And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. (11) And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; (12) Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. (13) And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. (14) But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. Saul was impatient. Samuel had earlier told Saul to wait seven days at Gilgal until he came with word as to what to do (1Sam 10:8) but it seemed as if he were not coming at all. So Saul "forced [himself] therefore, and offered a burnt offering" (1Sam 13:12). "The circumstances were special, expediency must overrule principal and surely the ends must justify the means," he reasoned. But sacrifice was a priestly function and Saul was no priest. God's ordinances are to be kept as delivered (1 Co.11:2 c/w Deu.12:32), specific offices to whom delivered, and though departures from divine order might get results, the results are oft tainted with trouble. Moses struck a rock when he should have spoken to it, and needed water came forth (Num.20:7-11). Results! But for this, Moses was barred from the promised land (Num.20:12). How many Christians, how many churches justify unbiblical practices on the basis of results---and consider not this solemn lesson! Saul had here exalted religious ritual over duty (a very common, durable hypocrisy), an unacceptable inversion repeated again two chapters later and for which came another stinging rebuke: "Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1Sam 15:22). Religious ceremony, ritual, pomp or pageant are fetid substitutes for obedience. They are then nothing but a "form of godliness" (2 Ti.3:5), they are not godliness. Tithes of mint, anise or cummin (outward performances of religion) will never on God's balance scale outweigh good judgment, mercy and faith (Mat.23:23). Saul was very much like the scoffers of the last days who mock the promised coming of Christ, the Word (2 Pe.3:3-4) and proceed with their own theory or agenda as if His just can't get the job done. Mark it well----in the last days there shall be many impatient waiters like Saul who are "heady" (2 Ti.3:4), i.e., headstrong and hurried on with passion, abandoning Biblical truth and faith for expediency's sake, perhaps even wedding humanistic evolutionary folly with Christianity to make the gospel more palatable to a "wise" and "scientific" world so that many more can be "saved." Some even seem to think that the return of Christ has been prolonged by too much intolerance or sanctifying separation and so make Christianity more tolerant, more worldly. But it is an evil servant that says in his heart, "My Lord delayeth his coming...." and then proceeds to be like the world (Mat.24:48-51). It is easy to read of Saul's mistake and find fault. We can similarly read in Gen.16:1-4 of Abraham and Sarah's impatience for the "coming" of the Lord and His word (for so His gracious visitation upon Sarah is described in Rom.9:9) and find fault. We marvel at the shallowness of Israel's faith as they tired of waiting for Moses to come with the word at Mt. Sinai (Exo.32:1-6). But how oft have we grown tired of God's timetable and "hatched an Ishmael," a seemingly bright idea or decision which we later regretted? How many times have we, like Israel, grown weary of waiting for our Leader, His help, His answer and so given ourselves over to the indulgence of the flesh? How commonly have saints abandoned faith in the written word because an answer to a perceived textual problem was slow in coming but which would have eventually been resolved with faithful prayer (Jam.1:5-6), study (2 Ti.2:15) and progressive light (Pro.4:18)? May we be as critical of our own fretting against God's timetable as we are of Saul, Abraham or Israel. Believers must be patient in awaiting the Lord, for blessing accrues to those who are "not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Heb.6:12). "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord....stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (Jam.5:7-8). We are to "run with patience the race that is set before us," (Heb.12:1), not race to run ahead of the Word Who is set before us. Though the situation seem ever so desperate and the Lord seem ever so tardy, wait on Him, wait for Him, faithfully seeking him "after the due order" (1 Ch.15:13), and in the fulness of time "he that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (Heb.10:37). The Word is right on schedule.