"Harvesting Harvesters"

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STAYING BY THE STUFF!

Mt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Joh 20:21  Then said Jesus to  them again,  Peace [be]  unto you:  as [my] Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

Mark16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world,  and preach  the gospel to every creature.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:  and  ye shall be witnesses  unto me  both in  Jerusalem, and  in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Luke 24:46 And said unto them,  Thus it  is written,  and thus  it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his nameamong all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

48  And ye are witnesses of these things.

Thus our Lord on more than one occasion, and in each of the gospels is quoted as leaving us a commission to fulfill.

Notice that he does not delineate certain of his followers to whom  He is speaking, or others  who are  to be  excused from  compliance with  this commision. His words are not addressed only to "missionaries" or  "pastors" or  "preachers".  No  suggestion  can  be  found in  His teachings  (or the teachings of the New Testament) of any special class of  people who  are to do this job. Much less can any biblical argument be  given why  any one  of  His followers should be excused.

But one has been given. Over and over, and by  missionary, and  pastor alike, we have heard that it is the duty of some to give, and to pray,  and others to go. I want to register, today, a strong protest! I do not  agree! And I think God does not! It seems clear to me that every child of God is expected to go AND to give AND to pray! No missionary that I know excuses his prayerlessness or selfishness on the basis of the notion that his part is to GO. But many others do excuse their failure to reach out to others with the gospel of Christ on the basis of the notion that they "haven't been called". What nonsense!

One of the favorite passages used to defend this sort  of thinking  is found in the Story of David in 1Sa 30:24 ...as his part [is] that goeth down to the battle, so [shall] his part [be] that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.

Let's take a good look at that story from the book of first Samuel. It starts with David, anointed to be king but not yet on the  throne, rejected by his people (under  the leadershihp  of the  one who  is on  the throne), running from Saul for his life.

When Saul was anointed at the insistence of  the rebellious  people of  God, He seemed to be obviously made of "kingly" material. He was  "head and shoulders above the people", and for a people who desired a king  "like all the nations" God himself sent and annointed a man that would be  acceptable to them. But when he went his own way, God  sent Samuel  to annoint  one of  the sons of Jesse. I can  imagine the  thoughts of  some of  these "worldly Christians" as they watched the old prophet at the house of Jesse.  It must have seemed like the height of foolishness when Samuel passed over, one  by one each of the warrior sons of Jesse. They were good looking  men, from  a good family, and had  prooved themselves  in battle.  They were  of a  poor family,  and  were  still  poor. They  had not  enriched themselves  at the expense of the people. No one had any accusations against any of  them. Why would this wise old prophet pass  over each  one of  them, and  reject them from the annointing to be King. Could it be that Samuel was getting old and senile? Could it be that his eyes were to bad to see  what kingly  material stood before him? And then all their worst suspicions were realised when he sent for and then actually annointed  David the  shepherd boy!  "Samuel has lost it!" "What a pity - and he used to be such a wise old man!"  "Well, he blew it this time!"

Their attitude is revealed in the  fact that  the annointing  of David drew so little attention that David  actually went  back to  tending sheep. And when his father sent him to the battlefield it was only  to see  to the welfare of his older brothers, and report back  to dad.  David seems  to be the only one who took that annointing seriously. And Samuel.

When it was reported to Saul that David was boasting in the  camp that he could whip Goliath, Saul decided to give  the whelp  a chance.  But when David rejected the use of the  kings armor,  Saul seems  to have  taken the idea  that  David was  making excuses,  and would  not, after all  fight the giant. (Notice that David rejected the  kings armor  not because  it didn't fit, but because David hadn't "prooved" it, and  therefore could  not trust it.) I say Saul thought he would not fight the giant, because he seemed  so surprised when he did fight the giant!  Listen to what he says: 1 Sam 17:55 and 56 "And when Saul saw  David go  forth against  the Philistine,  he said  unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son [is] this youth? And Abner said, [As] thy soul  liveth, O  king, I  cannot tell.   And the  king said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling [is].

Now why did he ask that question? He  had just  been talking  to David himself, and asked the  same question!  Perhaps he  could not  believe that anyone  from  the  house  of  Jesse  could be  so Bold.  Or perhaps  he was beginning to have some idea that maybe the rumors that Samuel had annointed David to be King might not be so far amiss.  Either way,  he appears  to be surprised that David went out to meet the Giant even though David  had said he was going to. But notice,  that even  then he  did not  take David  very seriously, until the people  began to  ascribe great  things to  him. "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." Saul  had become  a mere politician.

Now consider what we have here: Saul was annointed by Samuel under the leadership  of  God. But  he had  later been  told by  Samuel that  God had rejected him (1 Sam 15:23). David also was annointed to  be King,  but till now no one on earth had considered that he might really be a king. Now that Saul sees him as a threat, (1 Sam 18:8), he, at least begins to  take David seriously, but also actively to resist the clearly  expressed will  of God, and cling to his human notion  of what  his anointing  as king  over Israel ought to mean.

Beside all that, the people of Israel were confused about  this issue. Had their leader Saul (listen up pastors) willingly yeilded to the will  of God concerning his anointing upon David, the people could have  had a  much clearer understanding. But he did not. He wanted to maintain  control. They were confused about who had a right to be their  Lord.  Some  were confused honestly, because they knew that Saul had been annointed, and may not  have known that David also was anointed. And they may not  have heard  (or heard of) Samuels words to Saul that God had  rejected him  from being  king. And some were probably not so honestly confused, but for fear  of Saul,  or for economic or political gain thought it wiser not to resist "the powers  that be". You could be called a traitor, and even executed  for suggesting  that someone beside king Saul was actually king.

So today, in may circles, christians are confused  about who  is their head, and their pastor. The Bible is abundantly clear that it is Jesus, but the "powers that be" can make it costly for any  individual to  acknowledge that. You see, in this story, David is a figure,  and a  type of  Christ. A Christ who was "despised and rejected  of men",  who suffered  "without the gate", and stands today outside the door of  the church,  and knocks  (Rev. 3:20).

With reference to our theme of "staying by  the stuff"  I want  you to take special note: Saul was not the king in God's eyes, but was in  the eyes of men. And that David was not the king in the eyes of men, but was  in the eyes of God. The king of Israel that  is. Because  God had  made him  king, every loyal God-fearing Israelite,  owed David  alegiance. But  because men had not made him the king, Even those who might have been willing to follow him were (for the most part) reluctant to  follow him.  What a  parralel we have with the Church today! Now if Jesus is King,  and He  says go  ye into all the world, and preach the gospel, but our leadership tells us  to leave that to a group of special people called  missionaries, and  that our  only part is to support them in prayer and finances, you  can take  that in  any one of several ways. You can change leadership,  and follow  Jesus! But  if  that is too unthinkable, you can  accept that  perverted logic,  and really devote yourself to prayer, and to giving that the lost  of the  world might hear  the  good  news  of  Jesus.  Or you  can half-hearttedly  accept that perverted logic, and "Stay by the stuff" till it chokes the life out of you spiritually. The right thing  for all  of the  Israelites to  do (including Saul) would have been for them to quickly  yeild royal  allegiance to  King David, But by far the most of them did not.

But who did? I, of course, want to think of myself as one who honestly and whole heartedly accepts the Lordship of Jesus  Christ in  my own  life. But who were the people who did, in fact, follow David, and acknowledge him as king? And now  it's time  for those  who have  taken practical  steps to answer the missionary call to listen up.

(1Sa 22:2) And every one [that was] in  distress, and  every one  that [was] in debt, and every one [that was]  discontented, gathered  themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them:

They  came to  David  because  of  personal  failings, and  personal distress. Not because he was annointed of God to be their king. And yet  he took these  social misfits,  and human  failures, and  made out  of them  a mighty, and disciplined army. They learned  to handle  the bow  (the latest inovation in that part of the  world in  weaponry -  2 Sam  1:8). And  they became respected among the  nations for  their prowess  in battle,  and for their allegiance to their lord: (read 1 Sam 28 and 29). So,  too, those  of us that have answered the call of the great commision of Jesus: We did  not come, because he is Lord, and so anointed by God. We came to Him out of our own deep need. And if He has done (and is doing) great things in our lives, it is He that is the doer, and He deserves the Glory.

By  the  time we  get  to  1  Samuel   chapter 30, this  army   of misfits-made-mighty, had grown to six hundred men. Six hundred men  who had (out of their own need) chosen to make David their own king,  and had  come to know and love him, and  were willing  to follow  him into  battle -  any battle that he should choose.

In large part because of their prowess in battle, and because some  of them might still harbor some love for the thousands of  Israel who  had not made  David  their  king,  this  army  was  rejected  by the  kings of  the Philistines. And so they  went back  to their  camp in  Ziklag. Where  they found to their horror that the armies of the enemy  had invaded  while they were  out,  and  had  taken  their  families  to   be  slaves.   They  were understandably upset. Davids family also was taken captive, and he suffered with and  for the  people. But  they began  to speak  of stoning  him. Why? because his leadership had brought them into this place, and it was in this place that  such a  terrible thing  had transpired!  These valiant  men, so dedicated to David, now spake of stoning him! But David "encouraged himself in the LORD his God", and so set an example for all the men. Our Lord, too, is a missionary (Heb. 3:1), and when he was left alone at  Gethsaemane, and later at Calvary, he left us examples that will serve  us well.  Every true missionary has suffered or will suffer rejection by people who ought to  be supportive. If we do not learn to encourage ourselves in  God, then  there will be times when there is no one to encourage  us. But  here I  am mixing the  metaphor.  The missionaries,  remember, are  the six  hundred soldiers under  David.  And rare is the  missionary who  has not  been sorely  tempted under pressure to give up this missionary life. Though most  of us  will tell  you that  the calling of a missionary is a truly glorious  and joyous  calling, we  would not be honest if we said that it comes without sacrifice. God's desire with us is that we would come to value the sacrifice as He does: Paul  said that he had for Christs sake suffered  the loss  of all  things, and  counted it just "dung". That is, after all it's true value! But can we say that  about these men who had just lost their families? Is the missionary calling going to cost me my wife and children? If it does, is it worth it? Certainly not! at least not if we are  talking about  a mere  "it", some  sort of  magical calling, that happens to some christians and not to others. Absolutely not! But, if we are instead talking about alegiance to the King ...,  If we  are talking about  obedience to  the Anointed  of God...,  that is  a different story!

And so, these six hundred soldiers, hurting as  they were,  ultimately decided to follow David into battle once more. If they had any hope at  all of recovering their families it would be through their submission to their King David. And however dim that  hope may  seem to  be at  times, it  is the  constant companion of all who follow Christ with the whole heart.  These six hundred chosen soldiers ("Many are called [all of Israel] but few chosen[just these six hundred]), trudged, already weary, out of their  homes on a mission that  suddenly had  become intensely  personal, and  supremely important. They were all tired, and all discouraged, but absolute  necesity called.

For  though I preach  the gospel,  I have  nothing to  glory of:  for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! .... If against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is commited unto me".

"And they came to the brook Besor (1  Sam 30:8).  Now note  carefully the wording  of this  verse. It  says: ..."So  David went,  he and  the six hundred men that [were] with him, and came to the brook Besor,  where those that were left behind stayed. But David pursued, he and  four hundred  men: for two hundred abode behind, which were SO  FAINT THAT  THEY COULD  NOT GO OVER the brook Besor."

These two hundred who stayed behind wanted with all their hearts to go on! But they could not! "COULD NOT"!  Hear the desparate pathos of those words! But don't you think that  their hearts in truth went with David and  those 400,  tired and  ragged soldiers?  Sure they did! Their own lives, and the lives  of their  loved ones  depended on the outcome of that pending battle.     Don't pretend to be 'staying by the stuff' unless you are as burdened, and as dedicated, and as weary as they.  And David  knew their  hearts. And when  he  came  again  victorious,  rewarded  them not  according to  their ability, but according to their availability.  Not by  what they  had done, but by what they had sought with all their hearts  and souls and might to do. But not one of those Israelites over whom David was anointed King, but who still followed Saul was ever counted among that victorious army!

Dave McMullen

 

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© Dave & Ella McMullen, 2001
(Harvesting Harvesters)

Last update
Oct. 15, 2001