by The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis
NOTE: This is the hard copy of my YouTube video of the same name.
Therefore Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.” (John 7:6 NIV)
The 13th chapter of 1 Samuel tells about an incident that happened early in the reign of King Saul. The Israelites had declared war on their old enemies the Philistines. It all started when Jonathan, Saul’s son, attacked a Philistine outpost. This daring raid resulted in two things happening. First, it infuriated the Philistines. They rose up against Israel in force with thousands of chariots, charioteers and “soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore.” (vs.5) Saul’s combined forces consisted of only 3,000 petrified men.
The second thing that happened was that Saul’s army began to melt away. Saul’s men were not exactly happy campers. As word
spread of the massive army that was approaching them, Israel began to wig-out. They began to run and hide. They hid in “caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns.” (vs.6) They were so terrified that verse 7 says, “Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.” They deserted the very land that was promised to them by God! And what about Saul’s special troops who were gathered with him? How did they react to the threat? They “were quaking with fear.” (vs.7) and soon they too “began to scatter.” (vs.8)
Now, what was King Saul’s reaction to all if this panic? He did something that on the surface looked a good thing to do. He made a sacrifice to the Lord. That was commendable wouldn’t you say? It seemed like the thing to do at the time considering all that was happening. Right? So, he did a good thing… the right thing. Or was it?
Samuel, under the direction of the Lord, told Saul to wait seven days for him. He would then join him and together they would sacrifice and seek the Lord’s direction concerning this national crisis. But Saul gave in to the pressure and the fear that surrounded him and jumped the gun. As Samuel arrived on the appointed day the stench of burning flesh greeted him. “What have you done?” he demanded. (vs.11) Look at Saul’s answer, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So, I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” (vs.11-12)
All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. (Proverbs 16:2 NIV)
God is much more interested in why we do something than he is in what we do.
Have you ever missed God’s timing because you “felt compelled”? Perhaps you even did what appeared to be a “good” thing, but was it good? What was your motivation? Why did you do it? Did you act in faith by responding to God’s leading and his timing? Or did you give in to pressure or even give into impatience?
In Saul’s case he was substituting ritual for faith and obedience. He allowed the pressure of his situation to force his hand rather than choosing to wait for God’s timing. It’s possible for a good thing to be the wrong thing. Making a sacrifice to the Lord was a good thing, but in Saul’s case it was the wrong thing because the timing was off and his motivation was amiss. Doing a good thing our way rather than God’s way is always sin.
Once, Jesus’ brothers tried to force his hand by offering him political advice. They said, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” (John 7:3-4) Jesus’ answer was simple. To paraphrase: “It’s not time yet.” He said. “Anytime is alright with you, but as for me, I go by God’s watch.”
But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. (Hosea 12:6 NIV)
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25 NIV)
It saddens me to think of the times that I miss God simply because my timing was off. I missed out on God’s best for my life because of my impatience or giving into pressure. Then, I’ve had to go back to square one. I did that too many times! Don’t act so innocent. If the truth were known, I bet you have done the same. I only hope that over the years I’ve learned my lesson. To be honest though in the long run only time will tell. Thankfully, however, God remembers that I am dust (Psalms 103:14) and His mercies are new every morning. Boy, am I glad for that!
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:21-26)
I don’t know why
I get so crazy as the day goes on
The minutes slipping by
Feel like wasted time
I get confused, so much to do
Don’t know which way to turn
I run so far ahead
That I can’t catch my breath
Time to stop and close my eyes
And I give up on myself again
Help will come, but only when
It’s in your time
And I hold on for a better day
How long I’ll wait I cannot say
But time will tell
I know time will tell*
* Time Will Tell by Out Of The Grey from their album, Out Of The Grey ℗© 1991 Sparrow Records, Songwriters: EDWARD MARSHALL, NORMAN MARGULIES © EMI Music Publishing, CAPITOL CHRISTIAN MUSIC GROUP For non-commercial use only.