Can you imagine living in a country at war for 20 years? World War I, which was called, “the war to end all wars”, lasted over 4 years. World War II lasted 6 years. The Vietnam War lasted about 20 years. We’ve been fighting a war in Afghanistan since 2001 and getting out now – 20 years. Though America and its allies won the first two mentioned, the latter two were loses. American lives lost fighting to protect freedom in other countries. We can debate whose side God was on, or if it was right to get involved in the first place, but that’s not my point.
Even after the Israelites got the Ark back, and Samuel became their judge and priest, the Philistines kept attacking. This went on for 20 years. The people of Israel were tired. They felt abandoned by God. With good reason! They abandoned God! God did not abandon them! They turned to the local false gods and idols. Exactly what God detests! Why do you think He made the first 3 of the 10 Commandments about Him?!
So, how did Samuel handle the idolatry of the Israelites? Let’s dig in….
1 Samuel 7
So the men of Kiriath-jearim came to get the Ark of the Lord. They took it to the hillside home of Abinadab and ordained Eleazar, his son, to be in charge of it. 2 The Ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time—twenty years in all. During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the Lord had abandoned them.
Samuel Leads Israel to Victory
3 Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord.
5 Then Samuel told them, “Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and, in a great ceremony, drew water from a well and poured it out before the Lord. They also went without food all day and confessed that they had sinned against the Lord. (It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel’s judge.)
7 When the Philistine rulers heard that Israel had gathered at Mizpah, they mobilized their army and advanced. The Israelites were badly frightened when they learned that the Philistines were approaching. 8 “Don’t stop pleading with the Lord our God to save us from the Philistines!” they begged Samuel. 9 So Samuel took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered him.
10 Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. But the Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them. 11 The men of Israel chased them from Mizpah to a place below Beth-car, slaughtering them all along the way.
12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”
13 So the Philistines were subdued and didn’t invade Israel again for some time. And throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the Lord’s powerful hand was raised against the Philistines. 14 The Israelite villages near Ekron and Gath that the Philistines had captured were restored to Israel, along with the rest of the territory that the Philistines had taken. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites in those days.
15 Samuel continued as Israel’s judge for the rest of his life. 16 Each year he traveled around, setting up his court first at Bethel, then at Gilgal, and then at Mizpah. He judged the people of Israel at each of these places. 17 Then he would return to his home at Ramah, and he would hear cases there, too. And Samuel built an altar to the Lord at Ramah.1 Samuel 7 NLT
Need Help Fighting Your Battles?
What did the Israelites have to do to have God come and help them scare the Philistines away?
- Prayer — Humbly talk to God.
- Surrendered — They poured out water. When you pour water from a pitcher, you can never put it back. Submit yourself to God. Pour yourself out to HIM. Not Mary or any saint. To Jesus. Surrender your life completely to HIM.
- Get rid of ALL the idols in your life — That’s any statues of Mary or saints, pictures of the Pope. Stop going to a church that venerates anybody before Jesus. Jesus is King and He wants to be honored as such. This also goes for pride, celebrities, etc. — anything that you put first in your life before Jesus has to go.
- Confess your sins to Jesus — He is the ONLY one who can completely forgive you! Confessing to a priest does absolutely nothing! Repent! Do a complete 180 degree turn in your life and stop sinning!
- Reserve your efforts to His service. Doing charitable works is good as a showing of giving back, of gratitude for HIS SALVATION. Good works don’t save you — Only through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross are you saved.
A heart that’s fully committed to the Lord is the key to being rescued by the Lord.
6 “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.”1 Peter 5:6 NLT
It’s in God’s timing, not yours. But, God’s timing is always perfect!
33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.Matthew 6:33 NLT
That’s NEED, not WANT!
Jesus also said…
33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 NLT
And my favorite…
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”John 14:1-3 NLT
Friend, Jesus is talking about the Rapture here. He’s in Heaven preparing a place for us and when God the Father says it’s ready, He’s sending Jesus to come and take us away from this evil world. This war’s been going on since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden.
Jesus is going to save us from the Great Tribulation and there’s only one way to avoid going through that! If you’d like a glimpse of what it MAY be like after the Rapture, here’s my fictional series of possible scenarios of those left behind.
It’s your choice! You can be with God or with the world. Who’s side are you on?
If you feel far from God, it’s YOU that moved!
It’s time to come back to God! Get rid of your idols and get right with God!
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized by water baptism — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.