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May 23, Day #144 – Blinded Eyes and Hardened Hearts

Yesterday, in our readings from 1 Samuel, the last thing Samuel said to Saul was – “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do” (verse 8). Now, in 1 Samuel 10:9-12:25, we see God’s allowance for a human kingdom in Israel - not a good thing at this point in Israel’s history - as Saul ascends to but “hides” from the throne (verse 22). Why was Saul hiding? Not out of humility I think, but out of embarrassment. The people shout, “Long live the king” (verse 24), and “Samuel explains to the people the regulations of the kingship” (verse 25). In chapter 11, we see the first sign of trouble for the new king; Nahash, the Ammonite, wants to “gouge out the right eye of all the people and disgrace Israel” (verse 2). “The Spirit of God came upon Saul in power” (verse 6) and gave Saul a great victory over the Ammonites – uniting Israel’s support for Saul, whereupon Saul was reaffirmed as king over Israel. In chapter 12, Samuel, now “old and gray” (verse 2), shares his farewell message with a warning and a rebuke to the people for their “evil in asking for a king” (verse 17). Samuel knows that Saul will fail (cf., 1 Samuel 8:10-18), so he concludes this section with a warning that has become my own life verse - “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24). He tells them that, “if they persist in doing evil, they and the king will be swept away” (verse 25).

Because God is the holy, righteous, and sovereign Creator of the whole universe, He alone is worthy of our praise and worship. In Psalm 66, we see that His “deeds are awesome; His power is great, and His enemies cringe before Him" (verse 3). He rules “forever by His power” (verse 7), and among other things, “He has preserved our lives” (verse 9). Thus, the Psalmist says we should “shout with joy to God and sing the glory of His name” (verse 1). We have every reason to honor Him, and we should “say these things to Him” (verse 2).

In John 12:37-13:17, John points out that, “even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they [the Jewish leaders] still would not believe in Him” (verse 37). They are the ones who asked for signs, and when He gave them signs, they refused to accept His signs. John quotes Isaiah to explain why these Pharisees had so much trouble believing in Jesus - because God “blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts” (verse 40). This is consistent with another prophecy of Isaiah: “Seek the LORD while He may be found” (cf., Isaiah 55:6). This indicates the existence of a termination point in time - after which “seeking the LORD” is no longer possible. How frightening! However, John indicates that some of the Jewish “leaders believed in Him, but they would not confess their faith for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue” (verse 42). Jesus said that belief in Him implies belief in “the One Who sent Him” (verse 44-45). He also says only what the Father has told [authorized] Him to say” (verse 50). In John 13:1-17, we see Jesus washes His disciples’ feet – demonstrating the humility of the Kingdom – the first shall be last and the last, first (cf., Matthew 20:16). First, Peter argues with the Lord about this, and then he goes to the opposite extreme - arguing for a bath - which Jesus says is not necessary. Subsequently, Peter realized his need for ongoing faith and then acquiesced – accepting the renewal of forgiveness through Christ’s washing of his feet. By contrast, Judas was obviously “not clean” – rejecting that same renewal that Christ offered.

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