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Saturday, 7 February 2015

Do not lose heart.

Mustard Seed
8th February 2015

2 Corinthians Chapter 4

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned;struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

For many of you I guess that 2014 will not go down in history as one of your better years. The church has undergone great change and all so suddenly. Pastor David is now somewhere else, which to many was a bitter pill to swallow leaving a void and sadness along with great concern as to how you will function as the church for the future.

I was recently in a Pastor's conference where this passage preached from. The emphasis made on that occasion was very different to what I believe the Lord would have us consider here today in the Mustard Seed. The emphasis at the conference was that we do not preach ourselves but Christ, today we consider how we might not “lose heart.”

If anybody had reason to lose heart Paul probably was top of the list. When we think of the things that he had endured since becoming a Christian it is great wonder that he stood at all. Let me remind you of what Paul went through as he has recorded in chapter 11 of this letter:

To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!
But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

How on earth does anybody withstand such difficulties? I would suggest all that we suffer today pales into insignificance next to what Paul went through. That being the case Paul declares that he does not lose heart!
Have you lost heart?
Are you in danger of losing heart?
Let us be encouraged by this passage of scripture.
Paul's previous letter to the Corinthian church was sent with great authority. It contained many rebukes for the church concerning their church practice and the things which they had allowed to happen. There was serious immorality to which they had more than turned a blind eye, a man was sleeping with his step mother. Therefore Paul demanded that they discipline the man and put him out of fellowship
2 Corinthians was written later on and it seems that the discipline had been carried out and so from chapter 2:5-11 we assume that the brother who had been disciplined had repented and had returned to Godly ways. Therefore Paul instructs the church to accept him back into fellowship. I believe that it is fair to assume that he is referring to the same brother and so this is a letter of encouragement to the church. The chapters leading up to our passage are a wonderful declaration of the life that we have as Christians and the privilege that it is to serve our wonderful Saviour. Paul is also highly complimentary to the church and encouraging to them by reminding them of the importance and privilege that we all have as ministers of the gospel.

With all of this in mind chapter 4 is written. Here we find that:
  1. Our ministry is by the mercy of God.
  2. Our ministry must not reflect the old ways.
  3. We are weak but the gospel is powerful.
Our ministry is by the mercy of God:
The New Testament teaches that all Christians have a gospel ministry. There is not one who is called by God that is not called to declare the glorious gospel of our God! Therefore we all need to fulfil the ministry that God has given to us. For some it is public and for others it is private and on a personal one to one level. It does not really matter what your personal ministry is because it is all yours by God's mercy alone.
What does Paul mean when he says this?
Look at verse 6-7
For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness”, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
God by His mercy has done a marvelous work of salvation and regeneration in the hearts of believers, it is all of Him and none of us. Therefore He has equipped us to be heralds or ministers of His grace and mercy. Our ministry is a testimonial to Him, it is all about Him and is nothing of us. As such it should not really matter what pressures and difficulties that we go through; we should simply glorify Jesus.
I wonder if Paul when he wrote this section of the letter had Stephen in mind. There was an occasion when Saul (as Paul was known at the time) held the coats of a mob who stoned Stephen to death. Stephen did not focus on the stones coming at him he simply looked into heaven and saw the Saviour waiting there for him. At this sight he declared the glory of Jesus, immediately at Paul's command Stephen was promoted to heaven but not before he had prayed that this sin would not be held against his murderers; that prayer was answered one day when Saul was converted on the road to Damascus.
In verse 17 Paul says that our fleeting or momentary afflictions are preparation for Glory. That was certainly true for Stephen and not too long after this letter it would be true for Paul also.
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
We are not yet experiencing anything near the difficulties that the saints of old have, or even many today are but we are having our own difficulties. Instead of buckling under the weight of them, let us be determined to see Jesus through them and glorify Him in the face of adversity! That is our personal and corporate ministry here today.
Let us not lose heart!
Our ministry must not reflect our old ways.
Look at verse 2; “we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word.”
We are not what we were, Paul in chapter 5 tells us that “we are a new creation” and that the old way of life has gone and therefore we live differently now. Christians we are Christ's ambassadors and we have a message of reconciliation. We are to plead with unbelievers on behalf of God in order that they be reconciled to God. This means that there must be nothing about us that in any way puts people off the gospel. The gospel itself is difficult for sinners to comprehend and does not need us to add difficulties. The last thing that the Lord needs is complex Christians who for whatever purpose preach themselves rather than Christ. The more that we look at the glory of Christ the more His glory will shine through us. Do you wonder why the gospel seems to be so ineffective here in the UK today? Perhaps the answer is this. I have heard from many pulpits clever, theologically accurate monologues that thrill the brain and which speak more of the glory of the preacher than they do the glory of Jesus. Our glories will never change anybody but Jesus' glory does. That is all we ever want from this pulpit, you should be crying out and demanding from all who stand here:
Sir we only want to see Jesus!”
Paul said in this that he was commendable, he only ever declared Jesus and faith in Him alone which justifies all who come to Him. (Verse 3) Beyond this the truth declared is either veiled by God or revealed by Him. Salvation is His business, all that is required of us is that we be perfectly open and honest with the truth. We must:
Preach Christ only and trust Christ only for the result; whatever that might be!
So much of what we do is contrary to the gospel but when we are faithful to it then God will surely bless His word. Remember that it will not return to Him without accomplishing the purpose for which it is sent. Do we believe that? I sometimes wonder whether we do when I see and hear the add-ons that we attach to the gospel. It is often bandied about that if you come to Christ then you will be healthy and wealthy; where is that in Paul's experience? Such theology suggests to us that Paul must have been the worst of all believers otherwise he would never have suffered in the way that he did. Paul elsewhere is accused of being strong in letter but a weedy weakling in person, but listen to him preach fearlessly. Possibly he was small and weak in stature but he was massive in faith and in the presence of God! He crucified himself in order to be an ambassador of Christ's therefore he spoke and portrayed only his King! The greatest need of the church today is Christ exalting preaching warmly delivered with an authoritative plea from God to unbelievers to come to Him for mercy.
Is our preaching self defacing and Christ exalting as was the apostles?

We are weak but the gospel is powerful.
We must never proclaim ourselves! God has enlightened our hearts to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus. It is Him that we know and love and must therefore proclaim.
When we look at Jesus we see the glory of God!
In contrast to this remember the serpent's promise to Eve in the garden. “Eat the fruit and you will have the knowledge of good and evil.” He lied; all that he could deliver was the knowledge of evil and that has been the case ever since. We are all born dead to the truth and alive to the lie of Satan; we naturally live in the darkness of a lie! That is until we are converted and then God restores to us what was lost by Satan's evil deception. Christians we now have the knowledge of the glory of God. It is true to say that we still have a residual knowledge of evil and that will be the case until we are finally glorified and made eternally perfect.
This knowledge is the treasure that we have as Christians, it is glorious and it is entrusted to weak people like us. Paul likens it to great treasure being stored in jars of clay. Again a reference back to Genesis where God did not make man out of nothing but He created him man from the dust or clay of the earth! Weak and frail beings though we are we have great treasure stored up in our hearts.
What is the effect of this?
We are not made super-human when we are born again. Our bodies are just as weak as they always were but we have Christ within.
That is powerful, it is glorious, it is magnificent! It is totally amazing, God with us! Immanuel, my Jesus and me intrinsically bound.
That being the case we may be;
Afflicted in every way but we are not crushed.
Perplexed but we are not forsaken.
Struck down but we are not destroyed.
Carrying the death of Christ in the body (that is the church!!!) in order that the life of Christ might be seen in and through us.
Death is seen in us in order that life can be experienced by others. In other words because Jesus has died and now lives; His death has brought us spiritual life and by this life that we now live salvation is seen as an option for others!
He is our Life, our Saviour, our Witness, our Ministry!

Therefore we do not lose heart, our physical bodies are wasting away but our inner being, our spirit is renewed daily. The comparison of momentary affliction pales into insignificance in the face of Jesus and the glory of our God. This is our eternal treasure and so we must keep on declaring the mercy of God, and we must not lose heart because His glory is of far greater substance than all of the difficulties that this life can ever throw at us!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Psalm 121


25th January 2015
Sunday Morning
Bethel Laleston

God our helper.

Psalm 121

A Song of Ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore.

The fifteen Psalms from 120-134 have a subtitle of Songs of Ascents in our modern translations. They are otherwise known as Songs of Degrees, they are a distinct group of Psalms sometimes together referred to as the Little Psalter. It seems that the title degrees fits best with the original Hebrew word but what it means and why is open to discussion. You can read much about the theories in commentaries and on the internet. It is widely believed however that these are the songs that pilgrims sang on their way into Jerusalem in readiness for the passover celebrations. I leave that with you for your own studies.

Our purpose today is to be helped and inspired as we look at what the word of God says and not it's very interesting structural nuances. The title that I have chosen to some extremists would be blasphemy, even to us if we did not understand something of our God of grace it would be difficult to grasp.

God is our helper!

The Psalm breaks down naturally into 4 verses or stanzas, each consist of 2 verses in our bibles. The themes that we will look at are:

  • A declaration of God's help.
  • The promise of constant help.
  • The promise of complete protection.
  • The promise of eternal relationship.

God is my helper:

It is thought that the Precentor or worship leader would sing the first verse and inspire the response from the pilgrims that follows in the next 3 stanzas. We observe that the first 2 verses are in the first person whilst the remainder of the psalm is in the third person which creates a clear division.

The writer is making a clear but bold declaration that whatever might be around then God is much bigger. The hills of Jerusalem were impressive to all who were travelling along the road but more especially due to the theological truths that they pointed to. Jerusalem was the city of God, the place that God had chosen to make His name known to all men and the place that symbolised God's presence with His people. Jews were expected to regularly go to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple and to experience the fellowship of believers. This was the highlight of their life and so when the hills of Jerusalem came into being then it would be easy to be awe inspired by the surroundings and to worship Jerusalem and not the creator. Therefore the Psalmist immediately deals with potential heresy by reminding his readers that however awe-inspiring the surroundings might be they are totally impotent to do anything for God's people.

We do well to keep that in perspective as we are about our daily lives. Some of us have seen the most awesome parts of nature that take our breath away. (It might pass our notice sometimes at how awesome our own countryside is.) However awesome it is, however wonderful the architecture of a religious building might be there is absolutely no way that it can help us. That is the point that the Psalmist is making here. The hills of Jerusalem spoke of the glory of God as do so many other things but in themselves they are impotent to help anybody. We might get a feeling of peace and solitude, just read any visitors book in the pretty churches around Britain and you will read of the help that the building supposedly brings. The reality of that peace is that it is left on the seat of reflection and the problems of life return immediately out of the influence.

The Hills of Jerusalem then and still bring that feeling and the hope of peace but they simply do not deliver what they promise. Scripture tells us that all of creation speaks of the Creator and as such the Psalmist says as I look at the hills it reminds me that the One who made them is MY HELPER! Just to make sure that we fully understand this he first of all poses the question and then answers it immediately. He asks; in the presence of the majesty of creation where does my help come from and the answer is immediate. It comes from Yahweh!

My Help Comes From God Almighty.

He created all that we see around us and yet He is our helper. To some faiths that is blasphemy, to them God is far too distant and holy to be bothered about helping mankind, in fact the way to gain their god's favour is to help him out by doing things to serve Him. God Almighty is not like that at all, He helps His people in fact: without His help we cannot be His people at all. It is by Him and through Him and for His purpose that we are His people in the first place.

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.


That is the observation of the Psalmist and now he goes on to make promises as to how that works out for the people of God:

We have a constant Helper:

Our God never ever takes His eye off the ball! Remember when Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel; (1 Kings 18) they were to call down the fire of their gods to consume the sacrifice made but nothing happened. Elijah suggested that they should shout loudly to him because he might have taken a nap. God never slumbers and never sleeps. He is always attentive to the needs of His people and indeed the world. He knows and sees all things, He is omniscient and omnipresent and all powerful, therefore He knows all about you and me! He helps us in all things and so will not let us slip away from Him. Jesus said as His final promise to His people “I will be with you always.” There is nothing that He does not know about and there is nothing that will cause Him to lose His people, what a wonderful truth is found here. I hear of people who are called by the mountains or the sea to adventure in their presence. They can make no such promises, in fact many make the ultimate sacrifice to the god of adventure in their quest to get close to their calling. God is nothing like this, he makes this promise that He will not let us go from His protective keeping.

We are safe and secure in our relationship to Him.

This is the lesson we learn from the Lord Jesus as we read the account of the disciples who were on one occasion with Jesus in a boat on the sea. A great storm that even frightened experienced fisherman blew up, they feared for their lives but Jesus was with them. He may have been asleep but He was there. When they woke Him He calmed the storm but not before He had rebuked them for their fear and lack of faith. They marvelled at the effect but learned in the most practical of ways that our Lord God never sleeps and always cares for His people even if at times He might seem distanced to them.

He is the same God as he always was and is and always will be the same. He is never changing and always attentive to the world that He has made but He is especially attentive to His Kingdom of which we are treasured members. Do you know and feel that right now, tonight, tomorrow?? He IS your constant Helper in times of trouble and also times of ease.

Not only are we secure but we are also kept which means that we have:

Complete protection:

I am not a great fan of zoo's but when we have been in Tenerife we have visited Loro Parque a zoo that is also something of a research station with the preservation of a number of endangered species at the forefront of their business. It is interesting to see how some of the animals relate to their personal keeper. I have a photograph of a killer whale looking through the glass of the tank at it's keeper, there is delight in both faces. They are pleased to be together, they love and respect each other and I suppose there would be nothing that they would not do for each other. That is a similar picture to God's relationship with us and ought to be how we are with Him. He is our Keeper, He feeds us, cares for us, protects us and fellowships with us. He is there at work rest and play. He delights in all that we do and as such He protects us. Now this is not a promise that we will never get hurt, be ill or die but when we experience difficulties He still is caring. The Psalmist tells us that He is a shade on your right hand. We might not understand at this time of year what this might mean. The sun in Palestine is both burning and blinding and therefore shade is vital. God is a shade to us from the blinding problems of life and so just as the sun will cause sunstroke if it is not shaded so the issues of life will make us weary and sick of spirit without the Lord's protecting hand. Day and night we are protected, the sun will not burn us up and the lunar influence will not madden us because He is our protection.

Are you bothered about what is to come or what might be, are you lying awake wondering how you might cope with issues, God protects us from the harm that issues bring. Trust in Him because He is our complete protection from the harm that life's issues bring. We will of course be ill, we will struggle in many ways with life's problems but they will never ever separate us from the loving protection of God Almighty. We are reminded of Stephen standing in front of his accusers with their stones at hand. What did he see? He could have said:

A Sovereign Protector I have,
Unseen, yet forever at hand,
Unchangeably faithful to save,
Almighty to rule and command.
He smiles, and my comforts abound;
His grace as the dew shall descend;
And walls of salvation surround
The soul He delights to defend.

Inspirer and Hearer of prayer,
Thou Shepherd and Guardian of Thine,
My all to Thy covenant care
I sleeping and waking resign.
If Thou art my Shield and my Sun,
The night is no darkness to me;
And fast as my moments roll on,
They bring me but nearer to Thee.

Kind Author, and ground of my hope,
Thee, Thee, for my God I avow;
My glad Ebenezer set up,
And own Thou hast helped me till now.
I muse on the years that are past,
Wherein my defence Thou hast proved;
Nor wilt Thou relinquish at last
A sinner so signally loved!

Of course that was Augustus Toplady's words. Stephen whilst he stood in the face of death said in effect “I see Jesus! Who is my Sovereign protector!

What do you put your trust in especially when difficulties arise?are you confident that god is your keeper or do you have a faith that is more like the disciples in the boat. Be assured our God who never slumbers or sleeps will keep you just as Stephen knew He will never leave you nor forsake you either! Heaven will be open for you and Jesus will be there ready and willing to receive you safe and secure at just the right time. Which is our final point:

Our relationship with God is eternal:

It is the Lord that keeps us from all evil, through salvation in Jesus we are kept not merely in body but more importantly in soul or spirit, we are eternally kept by Him both now and forever more. What does that mean to me and you? We are His people, especially called to be His forever, one day we will go to be with Him, finally safe and secure. How do we live until then?

For our encouragement let me read the account of David Livingstone’s leaving home for the mission field:
On the morning of November 17th 1840 the Livingstone family got up at five o'clock. David read Psalm 121 and 135 and prayed. Then he and his father walked from Blantyre to Glasgow to catch the Liverpool steamer. The old man walked back with a lonely heart while his son set his face toward the dark continent. Psalm 121 was also a ground of hope to his mother-in-law, Mrs Moffat. While he set out on his perilous journeys she wrote to him at Linyanti: “my dear son, Livingstone, hitherto I have kept up my spirits, and have been enabled to believe that our Great Master may yet bring you out in safety. But His ways are often inscrutable, and I should have clung to the many precious promises made in His Word as to temporal preservation – such as Psalms 91 & 121; but I have been taught that every petition, however fervent, must be with submission to His will. Unceasing prayer is made for you. When I think of you, my heart goes upwards. Keep Him as the apple of Thine eye; hold him in the hollow of Thine hand” are the ejaculations of my heart!”

In times of difficulty or ease where do you get your help from? As for me:

I look to the hills from where does my help come?

Our help can only come from God Almighty who is the Maker and Keeper and Protector and Sustainer of all things and especially us!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Amalekite Genocide!

Callington House Group
4th February 2015

Read: 1 Samuel chapter 15.

Initial discussion:

We are often presented with this passage as evidence that our God is guilty of demanding an unfair and extremely violent genocide of the Amalekite people.

How do we as Christians answer critics who say that God is evil for such things and is no better than some today who behave today in similar ways due to their belief system?

How do we justify the extermination of the Amalekites in the light of the New Testament teaching of God's love for the world? How do we reconcile the apparent contradiction?

Some “Christians” claim that this cannot be an accurate account of the events. Our thoughts?

Some declare it to be Samuel's command but not God's dictate. See Deuteronomy 18:15-22 Our thoughts?

Some even say that God was acting in line with the moral standards of the day and that He would never act in such a way today. Our thoughts?

Can we get around the issue by simply appealing to God's holiness and His hatred of sin and so say therefore that the Amalekites only got what they deserved as sinners in much the same way that we all do?

How do we reconcile this act that to us is probably difficult to understand? It would be easy simply to pass it by and try to ignore it just because it is a difficult passage. As we know from the temptations of Christ that the devil knows and understands scripture well enough to use such passages to devalue our gospel witness. We cannot therefore ignore this and other similar events in the hope that they will go away. Critics of the Lord God soon jump on these issues and parade them around in order to destroy gospel truth. Therefore we must try at least to understand what is happening and why God so forcefully demands that Saul and the Israelites kill every man, woman child and infant along with their flocks and herds.

To do this we need to step back in time and try to understand who the Amalekites were.

The Amalekites:

  • Followers and descendants of Amalek who was Esau's grandson. Esau and Jacob (otherwise known as Israel) were twin brothers. Esau as the eldest brother should have followed Jacob as head of the family but sold his birthright to Jacob for a plate of stew. This in effect was tantamount to an act of family treason and so Esau lost his prime position in the family and handed it over to Jacob. We ought at this point to remember that this family was to become a nation that was especially chosen by God to be holy to Him. They were also to demonstrate God's greatness to the surrounding nations by the way that they loved Him and obeyed His word and also as they worshipped Him correctly. Esau from the moment that he sold his birthright was an enemy to Israel and wanted to get rid of them in order that he might gain superiority once again. As with all such family issues things if not dealt with only get worse with time therefore by the time of Esau's grandson Amelek; hatred for Israel had become their burning passion.
  • They were not as the Canaanites who were under threat for their land but they were the extended family. They were not at any time before under threat from Israel but yet along with the Edomites (another strand of the Esau clan) they were violently opposed to Israel's need to pass through their land on their way to Canaan. (Numbers 20:14-21)
  • Israel's first battle after coming out of Egypt (Exodus 17) was with the Amalekites even before they had reached Sinai. This caused Moses to write:
The Lord said;“write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, saying “ a hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

  • The Amalekites were always at war with Israel, constantly attacking them but Israel were never the aggressors. For example:
Numbers 14:45 the Amalekites attacked Israel again in the desert.
Judges 3:13 they joined Moab in attacking Israel.
Judges 6;3 they invade Israel along with the Midianites taking the harvest produce leaving nothing for Israel including sheep, ox or donkey!

  • In Judges 6&7 they invade again and are fought off by Gideon.
  • Time and time again they are a constant thorn in the flesh of Israel even beyond the time of Saul! Haman a descendant of King Agag whom Saul tried to spare tried to get rid of the Jews in the time of their captivity in Persia. (Ester 3:1-6)
This nation of Amalek many times attempted acts of genocide upon the nation of Israel. That makes their crime even worse. It is clearly wrong for any nation to simply wipe out another for the furtherance of ideals of any type but yet instead of turning to God the Amalekites fought against Him in their numerous attempts to destroy the people of promise.

It is at this point that we see a far more significant issue, Israel is God's people through whom Jesus would come. Salvation is through Israel and has always been available for all who see God through His people. Amalek would not recognise the God of Israel and instead put all of her efforts into destroying the nation and as such the promised Saviour to come. This nation is clearly working in league with the god of this world who is Satan.

Part of what it means for God to bless the world is for God to protect Israel, His pipeline for blessing to the world!”

The Amalekites were an evil nation who when attacking delighted in killing children and babies, they were ruthless in their quest to destroy the people of God and so therefore extreme actions were necessary. This is a far cry from the reasoning for the wanton murder and destruction of people who happen not to believe as you do. God displayed His character of being slow to anger in His dealing with this dysfunctional nation. All of the time as always with God there is a way of escape for any who turn away from evil . Even in the account in 1 Samuel 15 there is mercy made available. Saul informed the Kennites who were descendants of Jethro (Moses' father-in-law) of the impending judgement and allowed them safe passage.

God in His law also provides a way of escape: see Deuteronomy 20: 10-13. If Saul was true to God's word then there would have been an offer; we cannot tell if Saul made that offer. If he did not then he has much to answer for. In this God cannot be blamed when he had made clear provision in His law. It was probably unpalatable to the Amalekites to submit to servitude to Israel and so most unlikely that they would have even considered God's terms; thus they were sealing their own fate.

So to sum up and to try to answer our question:

  • When Israel were occupying the land, the Canaanites had to be driven out. They did not belong in the land, they had had plenty of opportunities to move away. For 40 years they had feared the day knowing that the Lord was with Israel (see the spies report in Numbers 14:6-10) and yet would not peaceably move away for the rightful inhabitants. Instead they built fortified cities that they thought were impenetrable but which could not even withstand a blast from the trumpet of God. They were belligerently standing in the way of God building His nation and so they were removed in accordance with their arrogance. Once the land was secured the moving out process would have finished but the Israelites were poor at the job and so the land never reached it's potential. Israel of course is a prophesy in itself and points to the church which God is building for which even the gates of hell will not stand in it's path. God is calling a people from every tribe and nation to repentance and salvation,. Those who stand against are not annihilated in this life but are punished eternally afterwards. The Amalekites and the other enemies of God are a prophesy of the kingdom of Satan that will always no matter what oppose the work of Christ and fight against the church who are now His people. The only weapon of war that the people of God have today is the Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God which is powerful and active in dealing with personal sin.
  • The Amalekites are the prototype of those who ask this question which we are considering, their whole purpose is to trip up the Christian and to make him doubt the truth and as such become useless to the church and fearful of his own understanding of who God really is.
  • They are about the business of destroying the truth about God and selling a lie in its place.
  • This whole issue is not about  extremist groups versus Christianity, or even truth against error it is all about an attack on truth, the protagonists do not really want to hear our answer and they will pillory it no doubt, but it is truth and it is the truth that has set us free. Our explanation will be used by God because whenever truth is declared that word will not return without achieving its purpose!

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

1 Peter 2:9-12

Peter is urging the church to be true to her calling which is to be the fulfillment of all that Israel was to point to. Where she failed we must succeed, the enemy will one day be totally annihilated. He is already a defeated foe but until that day the church is on a rescue mission. Called to save many from judgement and disaster.