Thomas Edison experimented with six thousand materials before finding carbonized thread as the ideal material for his electric bulb. From the time Madame Curie first isolated radium, it took four years to weigh it atomically and display it, GLOWING.
Success need not be achieved instantly or easily. The opposite is almost always true. AFTER effort and time, success comes, in various degrees.
Samuel found that true. So far had Israel’s spiritual life fallen under Eli and his sons, it took 20 years of powerful preaching before effectual repentance came to Israel. Read the story in I Samuel 7.
Evidence that Israel had repented of her perversions came in three proofs. One, they put away the accessories of their pagan ways: earrings, nose rings, idols and charms. Like the Ephesian idolaters, they surrendered the symbols of their heathenism Acts 19:18-19.
Because Samuel persisted in preaching God’s word, Israel gradually, month by month and year by year, changed. Spiritual momentum built and accumulated, incrementally turning Israel from an apostate into a repentant people.
Two, seeing the change Samuel, called for a public convocation and celebration, and the nation as a whole assembled at Mizpah. When God’s people delight in obedience, they willingly gather for public worship.
The Philistines naturally watched the public gathering with alarm. Entirely mistaking Israel’s intention by judging her by their own—Philistia gathered such numbers only for military purposes—they decided to preemptively strike before Israel could arm, even though innocent civilians would be casualties. Total War!
Three, as the approaching Philistine column spread from marching-to attack-formation—infantry and cavalry phalanxes threatening the mayhem of spear and sword, Israel proved their changed lives. Terror-stricken by the destruction thundering their way, they nevertheless fled TO their shepherd Samuel, beseeching his intercession with God.
What had Israel’s armies done in the previous battles with Philistia? They fled precipitately, seeking no help, desiring only to save their hides any way possible. What had their ancestors done when they lacked food or water? They upbraided their shepherd Moses.
But here, with certain death encroaching, they pleaded for Samuel’s help. That poses a question to us. When we experience trouble, pain, disappointment, or the death of a loved one, do we FLY to God or FLEE from God? Is our first question, “God, why did you let this happen?”, or “Father in Heaven, guard me through this or I’ll fail you”?
Remember: sheep instinctively flee to their shepherd when danger approaches. Given that reality, are we really Christ’s sheep when confronting unwelcome circumstances?
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