Saul And……Saul??

Posted: December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

Do I have you scratching your heads at the title? If you do bear with me and I will explain. Believe it or not there is a method to my madness here. There are two men in the bible whose name was Saul. One in the Old Testament and one in the New. Both were called and set apart by God to do something great and unique. As a matter of fact, both men were the pioneers in their callings. Lets take a closer look at these men starting with Saul in the Old Testament.

As most of us know, Israel became lazy and complacent in God’s promises once they settled into the land that God had set apart for them. Despite the nation seeing the hand of God move time and time again delivering them from impossible odds in battle, provided food and water for them in the desert, and giving the land flowing with milk and honey to them just like He promised He would, they wanted a king over them just like the other nations. One thing that God has given mankind is a freewill so He granted their request. A man named Saul was chosen. According to 1 Samuel 9:2 Saul was the most handsome man in the whole country and he stood head and shoulders above everyone. Not only that, but Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin which was the smallest tribe in the nation as well as his family being the least of all in the tribe. Saul even mentioned this to Samuel in 1 Samuel 9:21. But God knew what He was doing. I believe he sent a message to the whole nation that it doesn’t matter who you are, what family you are from, or what status you do or don’t have. If God wants you he wants you and He knows us all better than we know ourselves.

In 1 Samuel 10 we read that Saul started out really good. Samuel had told him in verse 6 that God’s Spirit would come upon him and he will prophesy like the prophets did and that sign would show that God was with him. It happened just like God said it would because in verse 11 the people marveled at Saul prophesying. Not only that, but Saul listened to God’s instructions and defeated the Ammonites. However, it went south for Saul really fast in chapter 13. Samuel had told Saul to wait for him at Gilgal and Samuel would offer a sacrifice before the Lord. The problem was Saul and the nation of Israel were in the middle of a war with the Philistines. Saul’s son Jonathan had destroyed one garrison of the Philistines and they had regrouped within those seven days and sent out 30,000 chariots, 6000 horsemen, and soldiers as abundant as the sand on the seashore. Saul waited for the seven days and when Samuel had still not shown up and the people started to scatter before Saul, he took it upon himself and performed the burnt offering himself.

Where it gets really interesting is in 1 Samuel 13:10. Saul had just finished the offering when Samuel arrived. In verse 11 Samuel asked him what he had done and in verses 11 and 12 Saul basically pointed the finger right at Samuel and accused him of not coming when he was supposed to and that he “forced” himself to offer the burnt offering. In verse 13 Samuel gave Saul the bad news: because he disobeyed God his kingdom would be taken from him and be given to someone who was a man after God’s own heart despite God wanting Saul’s kingdom to endure forever. DID YOU GET THAT??? Most of us would agree that David was probably the greatest king that Israel ever had. However, it was never God’s original plan that David would even ascend to the throne. It was supposed to be Saul’s family line that would be on the throne of Israel forever……WOW!!

Now I have heard it taught over the years that Saul lost his kingdom ultimately because he disobeyed God and offered the sacrifice. I could not disagree more. I really believe that the offering had nothing to do with it. Everyone makes mistakes. It was his response when he had to face the facts is what did him in. The fact that Saul snapped back at Samuel, refused to humble himself and ask God for forgiveness and take responsibility for his actions combined with the fact that he didn’t truly trust God to deliver Israel the way his forefathers did is what sunk his ship. From that point on, God’s spirit departed from Saul and he was never the same king until he died. Unfortunately, Saul did not finish well.

Now let’s look at the Saul in the New Testament. We first hear of Saul in Acts 7:58 when the Pharisees began to stone Stephen. Verse 58 said that the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of Saul. And in verse 59 it said they went on stoning Stephen until he died. Chapter 8 begins by saying that Paul was in full agreement of putting Stephen to death and then he went on to lead a great persecution against the church. In verse 3 it says that Paul would go from house to house in Jerusalem and put men and women in prison.  In the New American Standard it says that Saul “ravaged” the church. Pretty strong word, eh? Well, it gets even stronger in Chapter 9:1. It says that Saul was “breathing out” threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord. This obviously means Saul was really into this and he thought he was serving the Lord with such zeal that he was doing God a favour. He was so zealous that he went to the high priest and asked him to write letters to the synagogues in Damascus that if Saul found anyone he would have full authority to bring them bound back to Jerusalem and put them in prison.

Verses 3 thru 6 tell us about Jesus Himself getting Saul’s attention and telling him what he must do. Now I know Saul was blinded for 3 days and he didn’t eat or drink anything, but he still had the same freewill King Saul had in the Old Testament. When Ananias laid hands on him in verse 17, Saul received his sight back and was filled with the Holy Spirit just like King Saul was when he was anointed king over Israel. In verse 19 he ate and drank and got his strength back again.

Saul had a calling on his life just like King Saul did. Saul’s calling was to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles which had never been done before. I firmly believe that Saul had a choice to make in verse 19. He could either reject God’s calling and go back to persecuting the church like he previously performed or take the proverbial bull by the horns and trust God and his ways.

Saul (whose name was changed to Paul) made the right choice. Full of zeal now for the gospel of grace, it says in verse 20 that he went immediately to the synagogues in Damascus and preached that Jesus is the Son of God. Can we imagine the hornet’s nest he would have walked into? In verse 21 it started out that the people were amazed that this was the same man who was originally persecuting the church and now was singing the same tune as the people he dragged off to jail. He encountered trouble right off the bat as the Jews in verse 23 plotted to kill him and he had to be let out of a window in a basket at night in verse 25. Wouldn’t that be a fun first day on the job?

Yet despite the increased resistance, Saul radically (and I mean RADICALLY) preached that Jesus is the Son of God and the gosel of grace. He went on to live a life where he was misunderstood by many thinking that God’s grace gave people a licence to sin, he listed what all he had to endure in 2 Corinthians 11:20-33. Let me tell you, that is one crazy list, and yet despite all that he remained faithful to God.

In 2 Timothy 4:7-8. Saul summed it up best. He fought the good fight, he finished his race and he kept the faith. He kept his eyes on the prize which is the crown of righteousness. Wanna know something cool? WE get the same crown he does!! He also gave us the blueprint to achieve what he said in 2 Timothy in Philippians 3:13 when he said he forgets the things that are behind him and reaching for the things that are ahead of him. And in verse 14 he says that he presses on towards the mark for the prize which is the high calling of Jesus.

This Saul called himself the “chief of sinners” in 1 Timothy 1:15. He could have easily allowed Satan to bombard him with images, thoughts, and his actions of the past when he persecuted the church throughout the region. Yet he left all that behind and became the very first apostle to the Gentiles. And who knows? If it wasn’t for his obedience maybe we never would have heard the gospel preached to this day. I don’t know about you, but I can learn alot from the second Saul. Too many times I spend my days looking behind me at the past and in doing so I give Satan a foothold in my life. However, reading Saul (Paul’s) words, it fills me with new hope and strength for each day that I am the righteousness of God in Christ and I have the same authority in Christ as Saul did….WE ALL DO!!

So there you have it. Two men named Saul. Both called by God to be pioneers in their callings, one ended in tragedy and the other in triumph. My prayer going into 2015 is that we, the church will learn from the second Saul’s example and that we will see greater victories in our own lives, family’s lives, and our corporate church lives then we could ever have imagined.

God bless you all!

  1. Wifey says:

    Another awesome and timely word!!! So well written. I am reminded to keep pressing forward each day and as we approach another new year I will continue to seek my prize, which is JESUS, He is more than enough for me and like the second Paul I will finish this race well.

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