Morning Light – May 5th, 2015

MLx250Today: [1 Samuel Chapter Seven]: Returning to Ramah. Samuel’s rule continues over Israel. We find that he travels through the land living in four different locations in order to be accessible to the people. However we see in this chapter that Samuel’s residence was in Ramah. Ramah means the “High Place”. Prophets need to live in the high places. We need to live in the high places. Eph. 2:6 says this means being seated in heavenly places in Christ. The fate of nations hung on the prayers that Samuel prayed because he maintained himself in the High Places of God.

Today: [1 Samuel Chapter Seven]: Returning to Ramah. Samuel’s rule continues over Israel. We find that he travels through the land living in four different locations in order to be accessible to the people. However we see in this chapter that Samuel’s residence was in Ramah. Ramah means the “High Place”. Prophets need to live in the high places. We need to live in the high places. Eph. 2:6 says this means being seated in heavenly places in Christ. The fate of nations hung on the prayers that Samuel prayed because he maintained himself in the High Places of God.

[1Sa 7:1-17 KJV] 1 And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD. 2 And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. 3 And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, [then] put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.

The ark left the Philistines and came to Bethshemesh. Initially this was a blessing until they allowed idle curiosity to tempt them to look into the ark and its contents. 50,000 people died as a result. Therefore the men of Bethshemesh invite the people of Kirjathjearim to take the ark which they do. They put the ark in the house of Abinadab and set aside Abinadab’s son Eleazar to keep the ark. What a powerful statement and what a commitment. The eldest son was a very important person in ancient times. He would have been very busy in the family business. It would have been his responsibility to go out to war represent the family. To set Eleazar aside to exclusively serve the ark of God’s presence was a major commitment and a complete reordering of affairs in this family. What would happen if we took one of our children and set them aside for the sole purpose of honoring and servicing the presence of God in our home? We cry out for change but what lengths are we willing to go to? The family of Abinadab went all the way and the presence of God rested there for over 20 years.

The people of Israel mourn that the ark has not returned to Shiloh so they go to Samuel to solve the problem. Samuel understands their complaint but there is this little matter of idol worship that needs to be addressed. The people longed for the presence of God but they were also worshiping Baal and Ashtaroth. Their loyalties were divided. In reality God was not their only source. They relied on God and wanted Him in their life but they relied on Baal and Ashtaroth also.

Baal means “Dominative Father” or leader and Ashtaroth means “star”. This attitude is prevalent today. Stars are still being worshipped. The cult of celebrity is a great distraction today. What are the Kardashians doing this week? Is Brittany Spears out of Rehab? Has Elvis left the building? The cult of celebrity drives our culture and our economy. This is Baal worship. We look for strong and dominative political leaders to solve our problems. Leaders who walk in humility or apologize for their mistakes are relegated to the dust bin of history never to be re-elected because we only elect the prideful and the bellicose who move in the Baal spirit. All the while there is a cry in the earth for an outpouring of God – with the National Enquirer on the coffee table and Fox News on the television. You are where your attention takes you. In fact you are your attention. Samuel calls for an end to the hypocrisy that the people have totally taken for granted as a normal part of their lives.

4 Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only. 5 And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD. 6 And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured [it] out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.

Mizpeh means “Watchtower”. Samuel charged the Israelites to put away their idols and they repaired to Mizpeh. The opposite of watching is sleeping. The people awoke out of their national stupor of idolatry. Whatever you put your attention on can be mesmerizing. The people woke up and gathered to Mizpeh to draw water and poured it out before the Lord. Water is a representation of spirit, of the word and of refreshing. They are saying in their fasting that they only want to receive their refreshing from the Lord himself. No one can identify for you what is idolatry in your life. They would not be able to look past the log in their own eye. You are the only one qualified to make judgment of yourself that will be accurate and thorough. You are the only one who can hold you accountable. Accountability partners can be overbearing. They can be lenient. I’ve counseled husbands who hardly worked a day in their life, abusing their wives verbally and causing their family to suffer in abject poverty yet they truly believed they were the perfect husband because their pastor told them so. All the while the wife and children lived in misery driven to the point of suicide while the husband obstinately insisted they were the best husband they could possibly be. God grant to us the gift of transparency. To see ourselves with naked honesty in the context of the shed blood of Christ available to cleanse and forgive. Samuel judged Israel. Samuel was a prophet. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. The testimony of Jesus is “Father forgive” and “leave all and come follow Me”. In submitting to this spirit of judgment lasting change is available.

7 And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard [it], they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines. 9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered [it for] a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him. 10 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until [they came] under Bethcar. 12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set [it] between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

Be prepared when you set your face to seek the Lord and make positive change in your life – there will be an assault of the wicked one. Relatives and family members will act out. Arguments will ensue. Creditors will come calling. The doctor will have distracting news. World events will take center stage demanding your attention. The enemy will do anything he can to pull you away from God and back into the idolatry represented by Baal and Ashtaroth. The Israelites said to Samue “Cease not to cry to the Lord for us …” Jesus is ever interceding. The suckling lamb he offered is a type of Christ Himself. Prophets offer many solutions today. They call for change and point to political leaders or social influencers as the agents of change. We are coming into the election season here in the USA. The prophets will trumpet the next conservative candidate and the answer to the problems in the earth (whether that candidate professes the Lord Jesus Christ or not). Samuel had nothing to offer but the Lamb of God. The prophet who points to any other strategy other than to lay your life prostrate before Christ is misled. The blood of the lamb was fresh on the sacrifice when the Israelites went out and defeated the hosts of the Philistines. Let us draw near to Mizpeh and “awake to righteousness”. In that entitlement you will prevail by the word of your testimony (the prophetic word over your life) and the blood of the lamb.

13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14 And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. 15 And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places. 17 And his return [was] to Ramah; for there [was] his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the LORD.

Repentance brings restoration. The God who changes not calls upon us to live in a constant state of yieldedness to His will. Samuel travels from place to place judging the people of Israel. As in the days of Moses the people lined up day by day to receive the prophetic word in answer to their needs and their dilemmas. People ask often where personal prophecy is found in the bible. They look at the scriptures with thick lens of a religious perspective and fail to see the prophetic word from Adam to John the Revelator. Samuel’s rule of Israel was reflective of what God originally intended. His first plan did not include a king. His plan was to govern His people through prophets and priests and occasional deliverers. When we think of government we think of parliaments and legislatures. When an ancient Hebrew thought of government he thought of standing in a daily queue offering in hand waiting for an interview with the prophet.

Samuel travelled from place to place to be accessible to the people. Prophets are not to be aloof in inaccessible. The whole image of powerful ministers coming into the meeting like rock stars with body guards and an entourage signing autographs is incompatible with God’s template for the prophetic. Jesus’ disciples tried to implement this model and were rebuked for it. We must be accessible. It isn’t easy and the work never stops but it is God’s plan. In all of this Samuel ultimately would retire to Ramah where he lived and judged the people. Ramah is the high place. You can maintain accessibility and fraternity with the people you minister to but your dwelling place must be in the high places of God otherwise you lose your effectiveness and the anointing wanes under the burden of the mundane. You must guard the quality of your relationship with God at all costs.

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