Go

Contact Us

  • Phone: (509) 747-3007
  • Email:
  • Meeting Address:
    115 E. Pacific Ave., Spokane, WA 99202
  • Office/Mailing Address:
  • 608 W. 2nd Ave, #101. Spokane, WA 99201

Service Times

  • Sunday: 10am
  • Infant through 8th grade Sunday School classes available
  • FREE Parking!

Sermons

FILTER BY:

Back To List

Jun 18, 2017

In God We Trust?

In God We Trust?

Passage: 1 Samuel 8

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: 1st Samuel--Becoming a People of Blessing

Keywords: government, parenting, theocracy, permissive and perfect will of god, price of government

Summary:

This Father's Day message actually speaks more to our relationship with human government. God told His people what human government would cost them if they rejected His divine rule over them. The parallels are stunning in our 21st century American context. Yet God is still at work and wants even our national political life to draw us to Him.

Detail:

In God We Trust???

I Samuel 8

June 18, 2017

Morning Intro:

Q:  How many of you came to faith in Jesus before age 18? 

Q:  How many of you would say that your parents had a significant and positive impact on your spiritual development?

Q:  So how many of you would say that your parents had either a negative spiritual impact on your faith in Jesus or virtually no impact at all? 

            One of the biggest challenges as well as concerns to me when Sandy and I started having kids and raising a family was, “HOW can we make sure that our children have a real, genuine experience with Jesus Christ in our home as they are growing up so that, even if they choose to reject Christ in the end, they will never be able to say, “I never saw or experienced God in our family or home,”? 

            Today is, of course, Father’s Day.  It actually began across the street…or at least with a family who attended church across the street from here.  Sonora Smart Dodd (Remember Ball & Dodd Funeral Home?) first proposed it in 1910 at the local YMCA.  A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson came to Spokane to speak in a Father's Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized.  It wasn’t until 1972, under Richard Nixon, that Father’s Day actually became a recognized holiday in the United States on the 3rd Sunday of June.

            But back to this issue of really passing along a vibrant, real faith in Jesus.  I’m curious. 

  • What “worked” in your experience from a child’s point of view?
  • What “didn’t work” that they may have tried to do?

We’re in a passage of Scripture today that starts with a rather sad (or realistic) commentary on fatherhood.  It’s about Samuel and his sons, and it reads like this:  I Samuel 8:1-3

When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.”

            We’re not told why his sons turned out this way, so it is probably best not to guess or conjecture.  Samuel may have been the best dad in the world.  Or he may have parented out of his own deficit of having the failed-father-figure of priest Eli modeling the wrong thing to him.  We don’t know.  Which should give us some pause to consider a prudent and wise middle ground:

1.)  If you’ve raised kids who are passionately following Jesus, don’t take too much credit.  It’s probably mostly God’s grace.

2.) If you’ve raised kids who are following other gods or don’t have a driving passion for Jesus Christ, don’t assume too much blame.  Kids become teenagers and adults who make their own decisions about God at some point.  History is filled with parents who modeled the reality of Christ well to their children but their children chose another path for their lives and eternities. 

APP:  Regardless of whether you are a parent or child, remember that the important thing today is, “Where do I stand with my heavenly Father?”  Today is the only moment we can really determine.  So let’s decide to be as full of the Spirit and as passionate for the glory of God and as in-touch with the life of Christ as we possibly can be.  And let’s decided to be the best fathers and mothers as well as the best children we can be in Jesus Christ today. 

[PART 2--Blank screen]

INTRO: 

Q:  Anyone know what our nation’s motto is?  Our national motto? 

Answer:  In God We Trust

Q:  Do you know WHEN we adopted that as our national motto? 

Answer:  1956 after the Congress passed and Pres. Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law. 

This phrase first started appearing on our coins in 1864 (end of the Civil War) but not on printed bills until 1957 (year I was born!).  It is thought that the phrase first appeared in usage with the writing of the Star Spangled Banner (War of 1812), (4th verse, phrase:  “And this be our motto:  In God is our trust.”). 

Sadly, it took less than 6 years for our Supreme Court to outlaw public school prayer or reading of the Bible.  So much for the power of a motto.  (Nicaragua is the only other nation to also have this motto.)  Maybe the problem today is that most people read that motto on our coins and bills and assume that the “God” referenced there is the money they hold in their hands!  

            Mottoes don’t have power; people who live mottoes have power.  The same was true in the days of Samuel the Judge and Prophet of Israel.  In 1st Samuel 8, we’re introduced to the desire the Israelites had for national government.  It was really a desire for a human king “like all the other nations” had.  It grew out of the failure of Samuel’s sons to be good judges in the land.   Here’s what 1st Samuel 8:4ff says:

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

Q:  WHO was the 1st king of Israel?  (Careful.  This is a trick question.) 

It was not Saul.  It was God himself.  We call this a “theocracy”, the rule of God over people; a system of rule in which people seek to live directly under the authority of God as a nation.  The priests were not to rule; the voice and word of God was to be the law of the land.  Priests and judges were simply there to remind people of God’s truth and to help them determine how to put it into practice well. 

            But apparently the people of God were not satisfied with that.  They wanted to SEE their king.  They wanted to FEEL his presence and be able to visit is castle, hear his voice, watch him lead them into battle and enjoy the “pomp and circumstance” of having royalty among them.  They wanted to be “as all the other nations” and have a king. 

APP:  How much do we, the people of God today, really want the church to BE like “the nations,” or “the people we live around” or the “culture” we may admire?  Whenever being like the pagan world we live in becomes the desire of our hearts, we will be longing for something deeply inferior to God himself.  Whenever we look to whatever it is the world around us is looking to in order to fill the longing of their souls, we will probably be settling for something greatly inferior to God himself. 

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 

            Wow!  For all his possible faults as a father, I admire this guy’s response to disappointment.  He talks to God.  Before he unloads his disappointment on the people he’s disappointed in, he brings it to God…and waits for an answer.  I wish I reacted to disappointment in life like that more!  I wish I reacted to disappointment in people like that more! 

            God had an answer for him too.  And it probably wasn’t the one he expected. 

And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 

Q:  Was Samuel’s disappointment/displeasure a godly response?  The right feeling given the reality of the situation? Probably.  To be disappointed or sad or even, for the right reasons, angry, is not always a sign of immaturity.  “Negative” emotions are, at times, exactly what we should be feeling in some situations.  They can be what God may be feeling in the same situation.  

            But it is also possible to be feeling the right emotion but for the wrong reason.  Being sad about bad decisions someone you care about is making is the right thing to feel.  But getting angry or manipulative or rigid or spiteful because we want to control them more than God is controlling them or look good as a parent or some other self-driven reason is something we need to be open to God to speak about in our lives.   

Even when you are the greatest prophet and judge of your day in the world, seeing people settle for less than the best can feel rather personal at times.  It did for Samuel. So God addressed his errant thinking.  In this situation, Samuel was feeling more responsible and more personally wounded than he should have.

“…it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.  As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

  There’s another truth here we need to keep in mind when we are tempted to think it is something we have done or not done that has produced disappointing behavior in others:  much of human behavior is simply a reflection of someone’s relationship with God. 

  • An employee’s rejection of a boss’s leadership isn’t always about the boss. Often it may simply be a reflection of a person’s unwillingness to submit to anyone, God included.  But people who live submitted lives to God WILL learn the discipline of submission and learn to live submitted lives to parents, spouses, bosses, the law, government or any other divinely ordained authority in their lives. 

Then there is the issue of the surprising response God told Samuel to have to the people’s request:  “listen to them”!  In essence, that phrase meant, “Do what they have asked for.”  “Accede to their demand.”  “Go ahead.  Let them have what they want.” 

            Really God?  Have you given up on your people? 

 I don’t think having a king was the sinful part of the request.  The rejecting God’s kingship over them was.  But that was and still is something God gives people the freedom to do.  There is no command in scripture stating we must have a particular form of government.  After multiple generations of breaking the covenant they had made with God, God knew that the appropriate course of action now was to give people what they wanted and let the “gift” do the disciplining. 

Maybe this was where someone first uttered the sage advice, “Be careful what you wish for.  You might just get it!” J

This leads us to the difference between God’s perfect will and His permissive will.  God’s perfect will is what He would like us to do that never involves sin.  God wanted His people to be governed directly by him through his judges, prophets and priests.  God’s people entered into an agreement with Him to that end in the Mosaic Covenant. God governing them and Israel obeying God would have been his “perfect will” for them.  When they rejected that, God’s “permissive will” kicked in. 

God’s permissive will is what he allows to happen (including human sin and failure).   Even when that happens, God stays involved with us and amazingly, in his sovereignty, continues to work in, through and with us. 

Israel was going to experience the consequences of their sin of rejecting God as their king and they were going to experience the consequences of choosing human government over divine government.  It is precisely here that I think God has a lot to say to us about the state of our own nation today.

God told Samuel, “Warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”  The rest of the chapter is all about what human governments will TAKE from us in return for whatever sense of security or greatness we look to them to provide. 

APP: Before we look further in the text, I want us to speak out the things we want our government to do for us, be it local, state or federal.  In fact, you may want to think in those terms (local, state, federal) as we list out what we want government to do for us. 

NOTE:  Some of us may want government to do far less while others may expect the government to do far more.  We’re not debating which position is better right now so don’t be critical of someone today who may view the whole issue of how much government should do differently today than you do. 

National/Federal Gov.

  • Protect us from other people and nations that could harm or destroy us (National Defense, Immigration, Customs/Boarder Patrol….
  • Protect God-given rights: (Bill of Rights)
    • create and maintain just laws (Federal legal & penal system):
    • to life,
    • liberty,
    • property,
    • safety, security,
    • religion,
    • representative gov,
    • etc….
  • Maintain a good highway, airport, rail system (Dept. of Transportation)
  • Set and enforce certain standards of safety (for cars, planes, trains, trucks, food, prescriptions, air quality, clean water, etc.)
  • Trade?
  • National Parks
  • Natural resources: lands, timber, mining, forest management,
  • Education?
  • Health care?
  • Retirement?
  • Disability?
  • Housing?
  • ???

State Government:

  • Manage well state lands: parks, timber, rivers, etc.
  • State roads
  • Education?
  • Trade/business?
  • Quality control of buildings, houses, schools, bridges, etc.
  • Health care?
  • Unemployment?
  • State courts
  • ???

Local Government:

  • ROADS!!!
  • Schools?
  • City codes and policies?
  • Police/fire/emergency services (911)
  • Parks/pools/recreational spaces
  • Civil society—noise ordinances, safety issues, etc.
  • Municipal courts

Some of us may want government involved in MORE than they already are.  Others may want them involved in much less.  But here is the principle: the more we expect from government, the more they will TAKE from people.  It’s not a complicated equation.  Nobody, including government, can give what they don’t possess.  We can steal what we don’t have and give it away, but God clearly calls that sin, whether it is an individual or a government doing it. 

What makes government unique is that they can take, either voluntarily or by force of law, imprisonment, taxes or confiscation, what it decides it needs to do what it wants to do. 

So back to 1 Samuel 8 to hear what God says will be the price of looking to human government to bring us the peace, security and prosperity we think we want. 

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 

1.)  Forced military conscription:

ILL:  The draft was just winding down at the end of the Vietnam War when I was in college. I remember sitting in the TV lounge in the men’s dorm the night the last draft lottery was chosen.  The fact that it was evident the U.S. was going to be pulling out and the draft would probably be phased out didn’t make it quite so serious.  But I still remember the cheers and the groans as each birthdate was assigned a certain ranking in the draft order. My February birthday was WAY down the list, so I knew I wouldn’t be drafted.  But I still remember some guys dates being called pretty early in the order.  I remember the shock on their faces and the disappointment they expressed as they left the room to go drown their sorrows in the studies…or was it beer??? J

            If we want a government that will protect us from foreign aggressors who would just as soon kill, rape and pillage our country, we must be prepared for that government to take our sons (and not daughters) by force and make them man our tanks, guns, gunships, airplanes and navy ships. 

            And those of us who are too old to be conscripted into military service will be the ones who pay for that military.  In 2015, that cost our nation over $600 billion dollars, or roughly $1500/person in the U.S…just for national defense.  Anyone interested in shortening the list of things you still want government to do for you??? J

NOTE:  I actually think the most equitable way to do this would be to have everyone serve 1-2 years in the military (universal compulsory service).  It is a great discipline builder and social leveler. 

Next warning from God about what government will demand and deliver:

12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties…

Certainly this is talking about military order—enlisted people vs. officers.  But I don’t think it is going too far to acknowledge that human government will create different authority classes of people. 

ILL:  George Orwell wrote the novella Animal Farm.  While the novella is ostensibly a fairy tale-esque story of farm animals, it's really a thinly veiled allegory for the Soviet Union. The animals are led by a pair of pigs, Snowball (Trotsky) and Napoleon (Stalin), who lead a rebellion against the human owner of the farm. The animals successfully drive him out and establish Animal Farm. They agree to adopt the Seven Commandments of Animalism as their constitution. The most important of these is the last commandment: "All animals are equal."

Eventually Napoleon runs Snowball off the farm and gives himself full leadership. He gradually violates more and more of the commandments as his behavior becomes increasing like that of their previous human master. The climax comes years later when the animals spot Napoleon walking on his hind legs while carrying a whip (violations of the commandments) and discover that all the commandments have been reduced to simply one: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."  

It’s obvious that even when humans try to “make everyone equal” (be it in terms of wealth or benefits or rights), the people making the rules always become “more equal” than everyone else. 

Anybody know any country where the ruling class are the poorest people?  Nope!

Can anybody think of even the most repressive communist nations where there are some people dying of starvation while government officials live high on the hog, all in the name of “the welfare of the masses”?   Sure:  N. Korea, Venezuela, former China & the Soviet Union. 

Class distinctions are frequently the result of human government.

We keep reading:

“…and others [he will take] to plow his ground and reap his harvest…”

The more we look to government to manage the land, the more land they will take to manage.  Currently, our Federal Government owns and manages some 30% of our nation’s lands.  BUT, if you look at just the 12 western states (including Alaska), our government owns 48%+ of those states.  Of those 12 states, they own the least in Montana (29.9%) and the most in Nevada (89.5%) and Alaska (69.1%).

            When it comes to hiring people to manage this land, the Dept. of the Interior and Dept. of Agriculture hire 70,000 + 28,000 = 98,000 people…or $26.5 billion.  That’s another $66.25 to the previous tab of $1500. 

BTW, I failed to mention that if we divide up our current national debt of more than $19 trillion dollars that our government has already spent on all of us, we each owe $58,000+!!!  This is our children’s and grandchildren’s futures!

            Keep reading:  “…and still others [he will take] to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 

Back to our military spending of $601 billion. 59% of that is for equipment and maintenance…just so you know. 

            Samuel continues: 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.  You know how many people currently work for the government in the U.S.?  Over 22 million people.  That is almost twice as many as work in manufacturing jobs.  Their average salary is $85,000/yr, over 50% more than what the average salary is in the private sector. 

14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 

This is the government seizing your personal property.  Anyone know how the government does that in our country today?  As of 2010, there were 217 different ways the government could seize your property/goods, ranging from for illegal activity to tax liens and immanent domain (the right of the gov. to take private property for public use, usually with just compensation for the owner.)

            In the past 30 years, “civil forfeiture” has increased some 4,667 per cent.  Under civil forfeiture, the government can take money or property merely on the suspicion of criminal activity, not the proof. 

The list of the price of government continues:

15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 

Now we’re talking income tax.  Grain and wine were the fruit of an agrarian society’s labor.  So this is an income tax. 

Any idea how much of people’s annual income and labor our government takes every year? 

It varies state to state as to whether or not a state has an income tax or not.  43 of the 50 states have income taxes that go to the state governments (and account for 36% of state government incomes).  The highest is California at 13.3% all the way down to 2.9% in North Dakota. 

Our Federal Government collects another $4.6 trillion/year in income and payroll taxes.  In 2016, federal, state and local governments collected a combined total of $4.9 trillion in taxes. This amounts to:

  • $15,202 for each person living in the U.S.
  • $39,074 for each household in the U.S.
  • 5% of the U.S. economy.

Between 1929 and 2016, inflation-adjusted federal, state and local tax collections per person in the U.S. have grown from from $1,094 to $15,202 per year.  [See graph.]

ILL:  My Dad, who was born in 1912 and lived to be 97½, would tell us the story of the day the IRS agent came knocking at his parents farmhouse door to explain this new thing called “Income Tax.”  He assured them that this new “tax” would never go above the base rate that had been established of (ready for this) 1%!  Today, American taxpayers spend an estimated 7.6 billion hours just completing their tax returns.  “Tax Freedom Day” has moved from January 22 in 1900 to April 17th today.  That means that, on the average, every working American works more than the first quarter of the year just to pay all the taxes they will owe to different government agencies. 

Last category:  property tax

16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 

American’s spent nearly ½ a trillion dollars on property taxes last year.  About 30 states charge you every year for having a car, about another $400/year.  So the average property owner in the U.S. pays from $2,200-2,600/year just for the privilege of owning property.  Hawaii is the cheapest property tax state (.27%...if you can afford the price of property) and New Jersey is 10 times higher (2.35%)…I guess for the privilege of flying out of the beautiful Newark Airport!  J

            In short, many of us pay some 100 different taxes every year literally from A-Z: Airport & Air Transportation taxes when you fly to zoning fees when you build or remodel anything.  Today, when more taxes and more money is taken in by our government than ever before, we have THE highest deficit spending by government ever.  So more and more Americans are finding that they like “working for the government” less and less with the result that over 92 million Americans of working age are no longer working.  Clearly the increasing unwillingness of more and more Americans from top to bottom to submit to God’s rule over their lives is starting to reshape and destroy our nation.   

            There is one word that occurs 6 times in this one paragraph of 1st Samuel 8.  Any guesses what it is? 

TAKE!

The fiction is that human government will GIVE us what we dream of when we set them to rule over us.  The sad reality is that they will TAKE and take and take from us beginning with our first breath until our very last.  (Even then, they will take from what you try to leave to other people you love through death taxes!)

APP:  There are several things for us to take and use to change our daily experience as citizens of today’s not-so United States of American.

  • We are all susceptible to delusions of political hopefulness. Israel had all they really needed in the leadership of God over their nation.  But they succumbed to the delusion of all the nations that what they really needed was a human government.  We easily fall prey to the same DELUSIONS:
    • We can have a government that takes/taxes less and less while giving us more and more (medical care, retirement, social services, etc.).
    • If we just change the politicians, we’ll get a better result.
    • We can give politicians more power and they won’t use it for selfish gain.

These are all delusions of political hopefulness that God has warned us will not lead us to blessing.  What additional delusions are we susceptible? 

  • Whenever we are disappointed, worn down or discouraged with what human government does to us, it should remind us of the truthfulness of God. He was right, thousands of years ago, when he spoke about the oppressive nature of human government.  Thousands of years of humans rejecting the rule of God has produced exactly what God said it would—heavy, burdensome, oppressive rule of one group of people over another.  GOD SPEAKS TRUTH!
  • Whenever we are tempted to hate human rulers, politicians, government bureaucrats, police, regulators, anyone working in government, we really should DO what God says in 1 Timothy 2:1-4PRAY!

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved 

and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

We really must pray more for those leading us. 

  • Here’s another response we should have to overbearing government: it should revive our heart’s desire for God’s kingship over us.  Whether that is a desire to really listen to and obey God’s word in our lives or a deeper longing to pray for Christ’s soon return, the weightiness and futility of human government can be a tool used frequently to give us greater hunger for Christ’s kingship in our lives and in our world.
  • Lastly, we should be asking God to free us from wanting or demanding more and more from our government to looking to God for more and more of what others are looking to government for.

>>Invitation to receive Christ as King and Lord.

>>PRAY

 

Questions for further reflection/discussion:

  1. When it comes to passing on a vibrant faith to our children and grandchildren, what do you think Samuel has to teach us? If you were coaching a young couple with children, what would you encourage them to do and not do to pass along a vibrant faith?  What did your parents do right to help you develop a personal relationship with God?  Wrong? 
  2. When it comes to a theocracy like God had called his people to in the Mosaic Covenant, what were the advantages? What failures of the priesthood may have led to the Israelites wanting a king? What is needed for a theocracy to work well? 
  3. What does this passage teach us about Samuel? What emotions may you be feeling now that God wants you to share with him?  What may be errant in your thinking about how people are treating you that God may want to correct?
  4. What things have you asked from God that, in hindsight, may not have been his best for you or outright wrong/sinful? How have you still seen God work with you and with those less-than-best desires?  Why would God grant some of those desires and not others? 
  5. What about this chapter and God’s warning about human government surprises you? What are you looking to government to do that you think it isn’t doing enough of?  What are you willing to sacrifice in freedoms, family or wealth in order to have government provide you with that?  If you think government is taking too much from you, how do you think we can change that?  Do you think there are spiritual roots behind bigger government?  If so, why and what can we do to change that?  If not, why? 
  6. Looking over the five possible applications at the end of the message, which two do you think God would have you implement and how? What other applications from this passage do you think God would have you make?  How will you do that?