Weekly Update – March 16th, 2023
In 1 Samuel 15, we read about God regretting that he made Saul king (15:11, 35). The writer of 1 Samuel must have known that this was a difficult concept to swallow because in 15:29 he says, “the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” In other words, though God “regrets” making Saul king, his regret is not like our regret. He is not a fickle and changing God. Instead, our all-knowing, sovereign and purposeful God is not caught off guard by the actions of Saul, but instead he grieves over the actions of Saul. The same is true with us. God knows the end from the beginning, he knows our temptations and how we will respond. At the same time, our sin grieves him, though he is never surprised by our actions.
God regretting Saul’s actions is not the major question mark of chapter 15 though. The reason why God regretted making Saul king is due to Saul’s disobedience to his command. What was that command? That command was to “go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” As we come to find out, Saul partially obeyed the command, in that he spared the best animals (15:9, 15, 21) and Amalek’s king (15:8, 20). The problem with Saul’s partial obedience is that God saw it as disobedience (15:9). The text goes on to then explain Saul’s disobedience, but some of us may still be asking, “why was Saul commanded to devote to destruction everything associated with Amalek?”
On the one hand, this command should shock us. In fact, as Steve McAlpine says, “If we read or preach this, and don’t experience shock at the story, then we are far more disconnected from our wider culture, and indeed from many of the Christians among us, than we think.” On the other hand, many move from shock over this passage to confusion, and even further, to a troubled spirit, over the fact that God could call for the annihilation of a complete people group. That means then, we should seek, not to use this passage to affirm or disaffirm the existence of God, but instead to seek to grow in our faith. Though we do not know the mind of God, we must believe that his entire word still serves as a means to teach, reprove, correct and train in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
Therefore, here are three ways to think through the command to completely annihilate the Amalekites:
First, God’s plan will not be challenged. In Exodus 17:8 we see that the “Amalekites came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.” It is not until Deuteronomy 25:17 that we read, “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and did not fear God.” Amalek was trying to come up from behind and wipe Israel out. There was no fear of God in them, meaning that they would have stopped at nothing to accomplish their genocidal goal. That means that what God is doing in calling Saul to annihilate them, is not vengeance, but preservation of his people. We know this because of what occurs in Esther 3:1 when Haman, the Agagite, or the Amalekite, tries to single handedly destroy the people of God. This means that Amalek was not only an ongoing threat to Israel, but to the plan of redemption set in place by God to send a savior from Israel to save the world.
Second, sin is serious. God is not simply going after the Amalekites because they are Amalekites. If that were the case, then we could rightly call this a case of “ethnic cleansing.” But that is not the case. First Samuel 15:18 reminds us that God is devoting Amalek to destruction because they are sinners. In a much bigger way, this is what God does in Genesis 6 with the flood of all mankind as well. That means that what we see with, not just Amalek, but the flood, or even with Jericho (Josh. 6), Ai (Josh. 8), and Hazor (Josh. 11:13-14), is that God will ultimately punish sin. There will be a day when his judgement will come. And instead of only concerning ourselves with whether or not God was “right” in this judgement here, we ought to come away seeking to completely annihilate sin in our own lives by cutting out our right eye or cutting off our right hand (Matt. 5:29-30) as we see the danger that is before us.
Third, God is patient and kind. This may be not the clearest takeaway at first, but consider how long Amalek was allowed to survive after what they did to Israel. Again, they first attacked Israel in Exodus 17:6 towards the beginning of Israel’s time in the wilderness. God reminds Israel what happened 40 years later in Deuteronomy 25:17. It further takes 300 years for God to finally bring about his judgement upon Amalek in 1 Samuel 15:3. The implicit promise here is that of Jeremiah 18:8 which says, if any “nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.” This clearly occurred in Ninevah, when Jonah called for destruction (Jonah 3:4) and God relented (Jonah 3:10). Therefore, we should see God’s kindness as a means to repentance (Rom. 2:4), instead of God’s destruction as a means to hard-heartedness. We must remember that in our own natural hearts, we are no better than the Amalekites. This means that as Jesus told his listeners in Luke 13:1-5, unless we too repent, we will all likewise perish.
Instead of viewing the call of the complete annihilation of the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15 as a marker to dispute the character of God, we instead should approach this text with our own hearts in view and remember the offensiveness that sin is to an infinitely holy God and God’s action to stop at nothing in bringing about our redemption. God is not on trial here as he is the creator, and we are his creation. For who are we to claim that there is injustice with God (Rom. 9:14) and demand an answer regarding His decisions (Rom. 9:19). Ultimately God offers no immediate explanation for the complete destruction of Amalek, leaving us to respond not in scrutiny, but in faith as we say, “How unsearchable are his judgements and inscrutable his ways!…For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:33, 36).
Serving Him with You,
Pastor Michael Nelson
Written by Pastor
"looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:2
Members’ Meeting: Our regular quarterly members’ meeting will be held on Sunday, March 26th. Following the morning service, we will head to the Faith Center for a potluck lunch and then back into the sanctuary for the meeting.
Good bye Diazes: Following our service on March 26th, we will formally say good bye to the Diaz family. Come join us as we send them off.
Easter Schedule: There will be many opportunities to connect with us this Easter season. First, join us on Palm Sunday on April 2nd at 10:30am. Second, Maundy Thursday will be on April 6th, at 7:00pm. Lastly, celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with us on April 9th. That morning we will resume our annual Easter Brunch at 9:15am with our Worship Service to follow at 10:30am. Also, during passion week (4/3-4/7) there will be a short daily devotion posted on Facebook and Youtube. These devotions will aim to highlight some of events that occurred the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. More information is available HERE.
Secret Church: On April 21st, beginning 6:00pm at the church, we will join David Platt via simulcast for an intense evening of Bible study and prayer. The study for this year will be over the book of Jonah. More details to come. You can find out about this study HERE.
Annie Armstrong Easter Offering: Every year at this time, we raise funds to support missionaries all over North America who are serving with the North American Mission Board (NAMB). This year, our goal at First Baptist Church is to raise $8500. You can give on Sunday mornings through one of our offering boxes located in the foyer or the welcome center. Just mark your envelop as “missions” or “Annie.” Or you can give online HERE and choose “missions” under the Fund tab. You can find more information about this offering HERE.
Prom Dresses: We have several weeks for the prom dress giveaway coming up. Go HERE for more information or contact Amy Blankenship to see how you can help.
Volunteers Needed: Volunteers are still needed during the 10:30am nursery time. Check the update or email the office for more information on how you can serve.
Join us for Awana Bible Clubs on Wednesday nights. Dinner is at 6:00pm and Awana Clubs are from 6:30-8:00pm.
We have three classes held at 9:15am on Sunday mornings. War of Words will meet in the Sanctuary, a biblical exposition of Joel, Amos, and Obadiah will meet in the Fellowship Hall, and a Ladies’ class studying the Old Testament will meet in the classroom next to the nursery. You can find more information HERE.
To Give Online, Go HERE.
You can also mail your offering to: 1416 Main Street, Grandview, MO. 64030
Home Groups typically meet on the first and third Sunday of each month. Please contact Pastor Michael if you would like to join a Home Group. You can find more information HERE.
An updated Prayer Guide can be accessed HERE.
Prepare for Sunday
Guide for Worship can be found HERE.
Worship Service begins at 10:30am on Sunday mornings. Nursery care for children ages 0-4 years is available during the worship hour.
Continue to join us at 10:30am on Sunday mornings.
Facebook live: HERE.
Join us and invite a friend or family member to watch with you.
Children and Youth Sunday School take place at 9:15am on Sunday mornings.
Ages 0-4 meet in the nursery suite.
Grades K-3rd meet upstairs in U-5.
Grades 4th-6th meet upstairs in U-6.
Grades 7th-12th meet downstairs in the youth room.