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I see an interesting connection because the Old and New Testament scriptures today. In the O.T. the focus is on complete obedience rather than sacrifice. Then the John scripture contains the story of the woman caught in adultery. When Jesus moves in, not to condone the woman's action but to protect her, he does so by reminding the accusers that they too have sins that need to be confronted. In other words, Jesus is teaching us once more that God is more interested in our own heart's obedience than He is in our sacrifices or even our despair over the sins of others. Though we have concern for the sin in our world, God is more interested in the attention I give to MY own obedience to Him. True purity will not come by ridding the world around me of its sin but by dropping my rebellion and obeying God no matter what the cost.

The end-times are when there is no one left who can be saved and the return on God’s investment has gone to zero. The Amalekites came to their end-times over 3,000 years ago when God commanded Saul to wipe them from existence. They had sinned, God gave them a couple centuries to repent, no one did, and God ended His investment in them. But things didn’t go as God commanded. Saul did not kill their king and kept their best livestock (with the excuse that he kept them to give sacrifices to God – but how can something you stole be a “sacrifice” for you?). This is the first of many biblical references that it is better to obey than to sacrifice (see also Ps 40:6-8; 51:16-17; Prov 21:3; Isa 1:11-17; Jer 7:21-23; Hos 6:6; Mic 6:6-8; Matt 12:7; Mark 12:33; and, Heb 10:8-9). A sacrifice was supposed to be about a relationship with God, but one who chose to sin and just say sorry couldn’t really claim much of a relationship. I often hear people (including pastors) say that they dislike religion, but if you look up the word you’ll find it’s definition is very close to culture. Thus, hating religion is like hating culture. Religious (or cultural) ceremonies or rituals are simplified ways to pay respect (such as shaking someone’s hand when you first meet). They are without merit only when they are done without an attitude of love and humility.

The phrase, “God was grieved” seems as if God had recognized that He had made a mistake. In verse 15:11 God says, "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments." And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night. This is similar to 15:35 in which Samuel morns for Saul and "the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel." While repent can mean to regret or feel remorse, it can also imply to make a change for the better for one's sins (as in penitence or atone). Nevertheless, God can't sin or change His mind about sin - thus, God's statement, "I greatly regret" was only meant to mean, "I appear to outside observers to greatly regret." In other words, that both Samuel and God were grieved by Saul’s actions. Likewise, the flood was not because God regretted making Man, but because Man made God grieve. To those that were outside God, like the Biblical authors, this looked like God was repenting and regretting. The Hebrew word niham can only mean emotional anguish over a situation affecting others (as well as a change in mind as per Samuel in verse 29 asserts that God does not “change His mind”). The fact that Saul flaw’s endangered the nation made God sad (as Christ cried in John 11:35 for our pain) but was no indication that God had made a mistake. The Mormon Bible translators worry about this seeming conflict (blaming weak Jews and Christians for getting it wrong) and “correct” it to Samuel doing the regretting (as well as that Noah and not God that regrets making man), but this is a mistake.

Samuel feared that Saul would kill him if he heard Samuel anoint another king and God instructs Samuel to say he has come to sacrifice. Now God is outright telling someone to lie suggesting that we are not obligated to reveal everything we intend when it all were known another might be moved to sin. We read that the Holy Spirit left Saul when an evil one took up residence that was immediately noticed by Saul’s servants later in verse 18:10 (just as the Holy Spirit was empowering David for the work of ruling God’s people). Whatever Saul’s problem was (demon possession, attack, messenger, discontent), empowered by the Spirit of God, David was able to temporarily drive it away with music. The story of David and Goliath, however, should be taught to every school child if only for the biblical literacy to be able to read a newspaper in our society. “To apply the word ‘censorship’ to it is probably too strong,” said Tom Adams, California’s education official defending guidelines a couple of years back which resulted in stripping material from a wide variety of classics in an attempt to comply with “social guidelines.” As the breadth of the changes has become public, writers have been appalled at finding the Jewish content from Isaac Bashevis Singer’s work completely deleted, making the Little Engine that Could female, changing Paul Bunyan from a lumberjack to a wood cutter, and rewriting a famous Chicano activist’s memoirs with the word “American” instead of “gringo.” For decades textbooks have not been allowed to show elderly with a cane or men in dangerous jobs or women at home. Without a foundation of Bible knowledge (or of how the world really is), we are leaving our children void of basic literacy. With rewriting our literature for “social guidelines” we are ripe for firemen (who aren’t generally needed to put out fires anymore with so much fire retardant materials) to start burning books (AKA Fahrenheit 451). Moreover, “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society” – Theodore Roosevelt (“What then of an entire generation” – Steve Farrell).

God sent Samuel to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem and he was immediately taken with the strapping eldest boy and assumed he was a man of God, but God informed him otherwise, “I have rejected him.” It is said that we usually decide about a person within the first 30 seconds even though it is insane to think there could be enough information to make any kind of rational decision in that time (and we argue away hints of foolishness with beliefs in our intuition – which means either transferring repressed childhood memories or by using an unconscious mind, either of which being pretty bad). What does Jesus look like? What would you think of him just by his appearance? What does Satan look and sound like? Which would you more likely be more drawn to as a friend, mate, or Lord? Some years back, the BBC did a program on the life and times of Jesus and they received a mountain of letters from very angry viewers complaining about the fact that the actor who played Jesus was short and portly (and not about the character that he portrayed). We often hear that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but then we ALL do it ALL the time. A heart for God, though, is displayed in one’s actions.

For example, Satan is the most handsome of the angels with the sweetest voice and of great wisdom. While I can tell you about the appearance of most biblical characters (Paul was a short, overweight man of poor health with an unpleasant voice whom the Roman Centurions would criticize for talking incessantly) as well as other religious leaders before and after Christ, there are no directly descriptions of Christ Himself. We might guess that he was nothing out of the ordinary by the fact that Judas had to point him out to the Romans. While Jews were to maintain short hair, I talked on May 1st how Jesus and his disciples likely took Nazirite vows and so would never cut their hair (Jesus could have done this from birth like John the Baptist and had waist-long hair, the length where the weight will cause the hair to break off and fail to get longer, or Jesus could have taken the vow and shaved his head shortly before meeting Matthew in which case it would have been no longer than about 18” long at His crucifixion since hair grows about 6 inches a year). Christ is likely not handsome, either plain as per Isaiah 53:2 if not very ugly as per Isaiah 52:14-15 (which could have only meant after He received a beating that would have killed anyone else). Does Christ’s appearance matter to you? Well, appearance foolishly mattered even to a Godly man like Samuel.

People have always been surprised by God’s choices because God doesn’t see things as we do – God looks at the heart. How might we best predict which kid from High School will be the one most successful: the highest grades, the top test scores, the most attractive, the most athletic, the most popular, or the most frightening? Actually, it is the one most ignored. Jesus was also not the kind of person everyone noticed. In fact, He called them hypocrites whom prayed in public or who displayed their sacrifices and fasting. Are people not behaving the same way, though, when they say, “I couldn’t be a great disciple, just look at me!” Too often, argues political scientist Benjamin Barber (the graduation speaker at Berkley this week where students had hoped for a greater celebrity), how we think is only a product of the media and a fair shake is only for the local power elite. The only hope for true citizenship with real self-determination, Barber concludes, is to resuscitate the non-governmental and non-business civic spaces of voluntary groups and churches. Barber writes, “”Democratic politics has become something we watch rather than something we do.” In the same way, religion is increasingly less often something in which we truly invest ourselves.

David was the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz and son of Jesse in Bethlehem. David ruled for four decades (like Saul) but was appointed and anointed by God for many years before taking the thrown. David is considered the greatest Israelite king and Jesus was a descendent by both Mary and Joseph. Christ made it clear that at the same time He was son and Lord to David (Matt 22:41-46). David’s confidence came from the belief that he was on God’s side, not that God was on his.

The Jewish leaders in today reading from John had already disregarded the law by arresting the woman without the man (laws, like cultural rites, also only have value when executed with love and humility). The leaders were likely only using the woman to as a theological trap for Jesus – they could report Him to the Romans if he urged them to execute her or claim He violated Moses’ Law if he did not (even though the death penalty was almost never imposed). He avoids their trap with the very famous line calling on “anyone of you who is without sin to cast the first stone.” It was tradition that the witness to the crime would also be the executioner. One by one they leave after Christ writes in the sand. My favorite conjecture for what Christ may have written in the sand that day was the names of all the men that had visited this prostitute chronologically by age. Jesus tells the woman that He does not condemn her but that she should sin no more. He shortly states directly that He judges no one even though He could (and later suggests that are many things in us which He would condemn). When Jesus next preaches and calls Himself the “Light of the world,” the Pharisees demand proof and Jesus points out again that the Father has testified through the miracles He has performed (using the Jewish tradition of two witnesses, in this case both His own and his Father’s). This was additionally confirmed at His death by the earthquake and darkness. When the Pharisees press the point, Jesus frankly warns them that they will “die in their sins” unless they believe in Him. Not to accept Jesus on His own terms is to reject Him. “Below and above” refers not only to the more accurate perception from God’s lofty position but also to man’s distorted view corrupted by sin.

The Psalms include many messianic prophesies: chapter 2 tells of His coming reign, chapter 22 speaks of his crucifixion, and chapter 16 refers to His resurrection. Finally, chapter 110 today (the most referenced chapter) describes Him at the right hand of the Father in heaven as a priest. Christ identified David as the author of this Psalm and asserts in Matthew 22:41-45, Mark 12:35-37, and Luke 20:14-44 (compare with Peter’s account in Acts 2:34-36) that “my Lord” in verse 1 is speaking of someone greater than himself or to God’s son and that the Psalm describes a conversation between Father and Son in which the Father ordains the Son to sit at His right hand, rule in the midst of His enemies, be a priest forever, and wage a war to win His kingdom. “In the day of thy power” refers to the power (the Key of David) given to the Messiah to accomplish his mission: to convert people and to save the world, and implies that this power will only be for a fixed time (and thus, not used before time). This power is not inconsistent with free will, just the opposite – it is the power to allow choice (unavailable to animals). Every person is given the opportunity to understand on some level their sins and provided the ability to chose to blame others or oneself and to chose pride and prejudice or humility and to be penitent.

Melchizedek was a godly leader who lived 4,000 years ago in the time of Abraham in the ancient city of Salem (the city of God’s Peace, later to be known at Jerusalem. Melchizedek took tithes from Abram, blessed Abram, and used bread and wine as priest (Genesis 14). Verse 4 says “a priest” (not priests) as a reference to only one who is comparable to the priest-king. Hebrews 5-7 explains in detail that Jesus is this one and only. Many groups have tried to suggest that there will be many priests following in these footsteps (like all Mormons and small groups named after Melchizedek), but Jesus was the only High Priest: greater than Abraham, King of righteousness and peace, made perfect (Heb 7:28), and lives forever (Heb 7:24). Early Christians believed the Aaronic priesthood had been made obsolete and that all the rights and privileges of that position had been conferred upon all believers. Irenaeus wrote in the second century, “For all the righteous possess the sacerdotal rank (i.e.: the priestly rank or rank of an elder). Origen, a third century father asked, “Are you ignorant that the priesthood as given to all the Church of God and to the people of believers?”

Wow, Footsteps of God you have given us a lot to chew on. May I ask that you reconsider this statement?

>>Now God is outright telling someone to lie suggesting that we are not obligated to reveal everything we intend when it all were known another might be moved to sin>>

If the above is true than God is telling us to do something that scripture tell us not to do and something that is outside of His Character (God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Num 23:19; See also John 3:33). We don’t have to reveal everything to everyone because Jesus did tell us not to Cast our pearls before swine and God’s Words are definitely the Pearl of Great Price.

If God allows us to “lie” to manipulate folks to do right, then it hasn’t worked. Manipulation is the attempt to control someone else’s will, like stubbornness, so I consider it a form of “Witchcraft,” because when it is all said and done the so called “Art” of witchcraft is a form of manipulation.

I believe, and I will search the scriptures, that when God told Israel that they would desire a king he gave them a pattern of anointing that king which would include sacrifices.

Regarding your reference to Mormon’s and their interpretation of the Bible. I believe that Mormon’s do not consider the Bible as the final written Word of God, their Book of the Mormons is the final text, am I correct?

Grace and peace,

1 Samuel 15:16-23
Saul, Saul, Saul this guy is in BIG trouble and so are the people he is king over. God appointed and anointed Saul as the people’s choice he wasn’t God’s choice. (13 Now see the king whom you have chosen and for whom you have asked; behold, the Lord has set a king over you.1 Sam 12). I believe you take on the character and attributes of the one you submit yourself to and Samuel had warned the folks what to expect. We must remember that God said their rejection of Samuel and his son’s to rule over them, their desire for a king, was not a rejection of Samuel but a rejection of God’s sovereignty over their lives.

The exchange Saul and Samuel had over whether or not Saul had done the will of God, was really a debate over whose reality was the truth, God’s or Saul’s. I believe Saul believed in his own deception, just like we do. Saul was stubborn in holding on to what he wanted to be true but if it ain’t the Word of God it’s not truth.

When Samuel is sent to anoint one of Jessie’s sons, he knows three things, 1) God has removed the anointing from Saul and 2) Saul’s insecurity would cause Saul to try to take him out (I wonder if we seriously stop and take a look at insecure people will we find enraged individuals trying to do or wishing harm on the people they think are the problem? Instead of trying to work on their own shortcomings, they try to eliminate the threat. Just something to think about), and 3) God had already picked the one He wanted (1 Sam 13:13-14).

I love the story of how David was picked because it shows us that God wants our hearts not our bodies, whether we are fat, short, tall, skinny etc. That tells me then that the essence of who we are is not in our outside appearance, it is in our hearts. Thatis what God wants David wasn’t even considered worthy enough by his own family to be called into the house when Samuel shows up. He was the son and brother no one wanted to recognize.

11 Then Samuel asked, "Are these all the sons you have?"
"There is still the youngest," Jesse replied. "But he's out in the fields watching the sheep."

Samuel had asked Jessie to call all of his sons into the house not just the ones he recognized.

John 8:1-21

Most of us know very well the story of the Woman Caught in Adultery, even unbelievers know this one. This is the story that is usually thrown up in “believers” faces along with the words, “Don’t judge me. Even Jesus didn’t judge the Woman caught in Adultery.” Yes that is true but Jesus sent her away telling her to, “…Go and sin no more.”

The verses following the story of the woman and her accusers are difficult verses for those who say that Jesus was only a prophet or just a good man and never called Himself God. The Book of John is a marvelous book. John had to truly write this book under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit because it does reach out and grab you and force you to make a decision about who Jesus really is.

If Jesus was only a prophet or just a nice man verses twelve through nineteen would mean Jesus was a crazy nice man who did good and by the way, was also a prophet. I don’t think we usually go down to our mental institutions looking for the Son of God.

Jesus who was and is He? The choice to decide has been given to us.
Psalm 110: 1-7

Ah, this Psalm, and the last verse (But he himself will be refreshed from brooks along the way. He will be victorious) brought to my remembrance a refrain from Psalm 24 that gives an image of the triumphant King Jesus,

7 Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be lifted up, you age-abiding doors, that the King of glory may come in.

8 Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

Proverbs 15:8-10

8 The LORD hates the sacrifice of the wicked, but he delights in the prayers of the upright.

A semi-translation of the eighth verse as per Ramona, Wicked people can sacrifice all they want, but all they are doing is having a barbeque.

Grace and peace,

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