Thursday, August 21, 2014

National Day of Mourning

22nd August 2014 - A day of National Mourning for the victims of MH17. We stand together as Malaysian in sharing our grief on the loss of our compatriot regardless of background.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Partial Obedience is Disobedience

In 1 Samuel 15, we read about King Saul was given a clear instruction through Prophet Samuel to destroy the Amalekites and everything that belong to them. God was not vague in His command. God called Saul, very specifically, to destroy the Amalekite nation. Saul does most of what God instructs him to do through Samuel, but he does not obey completely. Samuel sees this incomplete obedience as sin.

Saul only obeyed God’s command to the point that it made sense to him. Probably King Saul figured out it was unreasonable to destroy the fine livestock. He probably thought that was just an oversight on God’s part. Perhaps King Saul assumed that God wouldn’t mind if he spared Agag, the king, as a trophy of his great victory. Whatever the reason, King Saul deliberately put his own agendas ahead of God's plan.

When Prophet Samuel confronted King Saul on this, King Saul tried to cover up his action. First, Saul doesn’t even see what he did as wrong.  In verse 13, he says “I have carried out the Lord’s instructions…”  Has he? Second, in verse 15, he shifts the blame onto the soldiers.  Then he reaffirms that he totally destroyed the rest.  How could he have “totally destroyed” some, but not all?  He’s admitting that he didn’t completely carry out the task, while at the same time saying he did carry it out. Thirdly, Saul again says he obeyed and refuses to repent.  After Samuel calls him out in verses 17-19, in verse 20, he says, “But I did obey the Lord.”  He’s still not willing to admit he’s done anything wrong.

King Saul even offered "godly" reason for his actions. He hadn't done what God told him, and yet he tries to portray himself so wonderfully. When Samuel asked about the presence of the spoils, Saul blamed the disobedience on his soldiers, rationalizing that they were preserved for sacrifice to the “LORD your God. The Road of Disobedience is littered with Excuses. Saul had lots of excuses. Some of it seems to be so religious.

Can we make the same mistake? Can we offend God yet convince ourselves that we have honored him with our obedience? It’s a sobering question. Was God pleased with the good "fruits" that Saul spared? After all, Saul "spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God". John Woodhouse wrote the following in his book titled “1 Samuel” - "Has it ever crossed your mind that you might compensate for some disobedience to God's word with regular churchgoing or generous giving or even disciplined praying and Bible reading?"

Samuel had continued to listen to Saul’s litany of rationalizations as he attempted to justify his disobedience to the LORD. Finally, Samuel simply interrupted Saul with one of the most notable and well-known statements of his prophetic career (Verse 22) in a four-line Hebrew-styled poem:

o    Does the LORD Delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?

o    To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

o    For rebellion is like the sin of divination (witchcraft) and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.

o    Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.

Saul’s partial obedience not only brought grieve to the Lord and Samuel but it also lead to Saul’s downfall.  Partial obedience is also classified as rejecting the Word of God (verse 26). To know what God commands us to do (or not to do), and then to disobey, is to willfully rebel against God. No ritualistic worship, no ceremonial activity, overrides the evil of such sin.

May we obey God with all our heart.