“So, Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22, NKJV).
Sacrifice is a powerful word. Sacrifice is costly; it can hurt. A sacrifice is something of great value that we lay down and offer to someone else. When a sacrifice is offered in worship, it will always be met with blessing because it is impossible to out-give God.
God has great plans for each of our lives, but He has designed us to work with Him in the context of relationship. Sacrifice is necessary because it speaks of trust; if you trust someone, you will sacrifice for them.
In the passage above, the Prophet Samuel is correcting King Saul, who did not follow the Lord’s command concerning His intention for the Amalekites. The directive seems brutal to our culture, but God was looking into the future. Because this story takes place on the other side of Calvary, God’s dealings with blatant sin was harsh.
In asking King Saul to obey the Lord’s command, he was being asked to trust God, despite what he saw or felt. Though we live in the age of Grace and will not be asked to wipe out a people group, we must trust that a perfect God knows what is ahead and is always working to protect and provide for His own people.
The Amalekites had the same Creator but were not in relationship with Him and had persecuted God’s chosen people, Israel. As Israel’s first king, Saul started well, but soon after, allowed fear and selfish desires to get the best of him.
Samuel’s direction was clear, “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them.” (1 Samuel 15:2-3, NKJV). Saul decided who would live and die and what spoil to keep or not. This was not God’s plan. Sometimes God tests us to see what we value more, material goods or Him.
The result of allowing some of the Amalekites to live hundreds of years later, was the certainty of Israel’s utter extinction in the time of Esther. Haman, a direct descendent of King Agag of the Amalekites, with an royal axe to grind, sought to wipe out Israel altogether.
Sacrifice can be powerful but sacrifice with obedience is unstoppable.
“For such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, NKJV). A young woman named Esther, having grown up in Babylon, of the descendants of the captives, became queen. Esther had to intercede on behalf of the Jews, due to Haman’s pressure. However, it was unlawful to approach the throne without an invitation, even for the queen. To do so meant death. But Esther knew who had elevated her to the throne and she was willing to bet it all for the sake of obedience to her God and for the love of her people. The result? God’s power supported her. Fire fell on her sacrifice.
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Rob Granger and his wife, Becky, serve as Executive Pastors of Grace Church San Marcos under Senior Pastors Brian and Melissa Bauer. Located at 855 E. Barham Drive, San Marcos, Grace San Marcos meets at 10 a.m. Sundays and 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays with meetings for youth, children and other groups scheduled throughout the week. Visit www.gracesanmarcos.net for further information.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Times-Advocate.