God uses spirit-filled leaders to guide believers in our walk with Him. ~~~ Have you ever had to say goodbye to someone, or a group of people. Maybe it was at a retirement party, or maybe you were moving from one town to another. Perhaps it was when your child moved out of the house, to a college dorm, or to their new married life. You may not remember the exact words you said, but without a doubt, the words and the feelings/sentiments behind them were much different than just the normal words you might say to someone when you knew you would see them again on the next day, in the same place. Those farewell addresses carry weight, maybe warnings, and sometimes your deepest wishes for the people with whom you are addressing. If you have been there, then you have been in the shoes that we are seeing Samuel fill in our text today. 1 Samuel 12 is widely known as Samuel’s farewell address. From the understanding of the context, and the reading of the text, we can see that Samuel is perhaps not quite as jovial as the rest of Israel, but he does hold out hope for the Israelites. And he tells them that God’s covenant faithfulness is to fuel their faithfulness to Him. And he lays out several ways the people can see God’s covenant faithfulness. The first evidence we see of God’s covenant faithfulness is the men who guide Israel. Chapter 12 begins with Samuel detailing his resume. He tells the people that he has listened to them and to God, and Samuel has delivered unto them a king. He compels the people to bring forth any witness who could testify to any corruption, any misdealing, underhanded ways of Samuel. Samuel has been a faithful leader and judge for Israel. He has been faithful to do the hard work of ministry by telling Eli, back in chapter 3, the harsh truth about his sons. Samuel has done the laborious work of telling all of Israel the word of the Lord. Samuel has done the mediatorial work of interceding on behalf of a rebellious people. Samuel has given himself to God’s word, to God’s mission, and to God’s people. Did he do it perfectly? Of course not. He is human. But He has done the work. Samuel goes on to list other men who were appointed to the Israelites, like Moses and Aaron, and others who were sent to Israel, like Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, all men that you will find listed in Hebrews 11 as faithful men who conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. They were men who constantly pointed the people back to God, and to a future hope of the Messiah to come. And the Messiah eventually showed up. And He, too, pointed people to God, but he did something drastically different than the other prophets, and priests, and kings from ages past. He pointed people to God by pointing people to Himself! “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.” We see that Mosaic covenant comes to an end in Christ who fulfills all the law, and becomes the perfect, atoning, complete, sufficient sacrifice for all those who believe and trust in his death and resurrection! This is why he says “This is my blood of the new covenant!” A new covenant that promises the enduring presence of God’s spirit within His people. And we see that even through this new covenant, God guides us with Spirit-filled men who point us back to the cross and resurrection, and the new life that is found in Christ. Those men are to warn us of false teachers, war with us against sin and strongholds and evil, and always walk us to Christ by means of God’s word. We call these men pastors, elders…all the more reason you need to belong to a church!
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