10 Minute Read

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

1 Samuel 12:1–13:23
John 7:1-30
Psalm 108:1-13
Proverbs 15:4

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

1 Samuel 12:23 (CSB): “As for me, I vow that I will not sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you. I will teach you the good and right way.”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

As I was reading through today’s Bible passages, I couldn’t help but see how some of the verses tied together. Let me weave a few of them together for you.

First, we read in 1 Samuel 12:1-5 that Samuel finished his ministry with integrity. He even called for a public meeting where people could bring up a failure if they wanted to.

1 Samuel 12:1-5 (CSB): “Then Samuel said to all Israel, ‘I have carefully listened to everything you said to me and placed a king over you. Now you can see that the king is leading you. As for me, I’m old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have led you from my youth until now. Here I am. Bring charges against me before the LORD and his anointed: Whose ox or donkey have I taken? Whom have I wronged or mistreated? From whom have I accepted a bribe to overlook something? I will return it to you.’ 
‘You haven’t wronged us, you haven’t mistreated us, and you haven’t taken anything from anyone,’ they responded.
He said to them, ‘The LORD is a witness against you, and his anointed is a witness today that you haven’t found anything in my hand.’ 
‘He is a witness,’ they said.”

Samuel finished his ministry with integrity. While his ministry had been rough at times and he certainly ruffled some feathers, it was agreed that he was a man who lived out what he taught. He had integrity.

Samuel wasn’t perfect. He was a sinner like all of the rest of us. But, his failures were not so big as to cause people to lose trust in Him. They weren’t so big as to discredit his message. He was a man of character.

Then, after we are made aware of Samuel’s impeccable character, we are given the two priorities that he engaged in. While he had many other duties as a prophet of God, he dared not neglect these two priorities.

1 Samuel 12:23 (CSB): “As for me, I vow that I will not sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you. I will teach you the good and right way.”

Prayer and the ministry of the Word. Everything else that Samuel did were not nearly as important as the prayers that he offered up for the people and the Word of God that he taught to the people and called them to comply with.

So why were so many of the Old Testament prophets hated? Why were they mistreated and even killed?

We see that answer in today’s readings in the Gospel of John. Listen to why Jesus said that the godless people of the world hated Him.

John 7:7 (CSB): “The world cannot hate you, but it does hate me because I testify about it—that its works are evil.”

Jesus was talking to his biological half-brothers (John 7:2-9). They all had Mary for their mother but Jesus was the Son of God while they were sons of Joseph. Jesus told them that the world couldn’t hate them … because they were living like the world. But, Jesus was hated by the world because He confronted people with their sin … and people don’t like having their sin pointed out.

This is why the Old Testament prophets were hated, mistreated, and killed. While they were men of integrity and while they were men who prayed for the people and spoke God’s Word to them, they also addressed the sin in people’s lives (like Jesus did) and people didn’t like it. So, they shot the messenger.

Now, let’s see how this plays out in the New Testament. But to do so, we need to see a title that was first used in the Old Testament.

A title that appears often in the Old Testament is “man of God.” This title was limited to those men who were prophets, men who spoke on God’s behalf to God’s people. In the Christian Standard Bible, “man of God” is used 80 times in the Old Testament. Here are just a few.

Deuteronomy 33:1 (CSB): “This is the blessing that Moses, the man of God, gave the Israelites before his death.”

1 Kings 17:18 (CSB): “She said to Elijah, ‘Man of God, why are you here? Have you come to call attention to my iniquity so that my son is put to death?'”

2 Kings 5:8 (CSB): “When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, ‘Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel.'”

As I mentioned earlier, the phrase, “man of God,” is used 80 times in the Old Testament and it always refers to the men who spoke to God’s people on God’s behalf.

So, let’s summarize:

  • Old Testament prophets were generally men of integrity.
  • Old Testament prophets prayed for and spoke God’s Word to people.
  • Old Testament prophets were hated because they confronted people with their sin.
  • Old Testament prophets were called “men of God.”

Now, let’s look in the New Testament. Does the phrase, “man of God,” appear after the age of the prophets had come to an end?

Listen to how the Apostle Paul refers to Timothy, the pastor of the church in Ephesus.

1 Timothy 6:11 (CSB): “But you, man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (CSB): “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Clearly, the Old Testament prophets are akin to New Testament preachers.

How so?

  • Old Testament prophets and New Testament preachers are called to live lives of integrity. It gives their message credibility.
  • Old Testament prophets and New Testament preachers are to pray for the people God has entrusted to them and speak God’s Word to them (see also Acts 6:4).
  • In doing this task, particularly in confronting people with sin, those who are godless will resist and hate the messenger.

All of this is simply truth. But it might be hard to visualize. So, let me give you a real-life example of someone who is a “man of God.”

I recently received a text from a pastor. My heart broke for him as we texted back and forth. I know him to be a faithful man of integrity and a man who faithfully preaches God’s Word. But, he happens to be in a church that was filled with people who want none of it. They don’t want to hear the Word of God because it convicts them. So, a few years ago, his church went through an ugly split.

He told me, in a moment of utter transparency, that he was scared. The only thing he’s done for well over a decade is pastor. But, he’s now tired and empty. He no longer has joy in preparing sermons and delivering them to his people. And that is not at all normal for my friend. He is a godly man who loves the Lord and His Word. But, the church has worn him out. He’s a good man but I suspect he’s thinking about getting out of the ministry.

In one of my texts back to him, I said:

“Churches are supposed to behave in such a way that their pastors can do their jobs with happiness (Hebrews 13:17). Difficult church members will answer to Jesus for treating His servants so terribly.

Also, realize that not all churches are the same. Revelation 2-3 makes that clear. It may be time for you to move on.”

Fortunately, I have never experienced what my friend is going through. I’ve never experienced a church split. I’ve never had a member who was a bully that publicly tried to push me out.

But, there are plenty of my brothers in the ministry who have experienced that. And it breaks my heart. And those who mistreated “the man of God” so poorly will face Jesus on judgment day.

If you don’t think that it’s right to look forward to Jesus making things right with those who have harmed our ministry, just listen to the Apostle Paul. He was clearly looking forward to God’s judgment upon someone who brought him such grief.

2 Timothy 4:14-15 (CSB): “Alexander the coppersmith did great harm to me. The Lord will repay him according to his works. Watch out for him yourself because he strongly opposed our words.”

Friend, if you are a member of a church and you observe that the people are mistreating your pastor, please step in to stop it. If the pastor is harmed, the church will be harmed, too. The church can only be as healthy as the pastor.

Essentially, work for your pastor’s happiness. Work with him so that he can do the job that God has called him to do. Because if he’s not able to do his job with happiness, the church won’t fair well.

Hebrews 13:17 (CSB): “Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”