Pleasing The Lord With Our Own Effort

He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord .’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.
1 Samuel 13:8‭-‬13 ESV

There is no such a thing!

This is one of the many passages in the Bible that that tells us that we cannot please God on our own works. Saul decided to offer a burnt offering to God, what was bad with that? On the surface, it is seemingly a noble and rightful act – one might see it as Saul having high regards on God. However, if we have read the books written by Moses particularly Leviticus, we know that God instituted how to do the offering right down to the very details, including who should do the ceremonies, that is – the priest. So we see, Saul was not a priest nor a Levite, he was a Benjamite and yet He disobeyed the Law pertaining the offerings.

Moreover, the wrongful offering may be the tip of the iceberg. Saul did not fully have faith in the God Who made him king over Israel. God could deliver them from the possible attack of the Philistines even if Samuel arrived late but Saul believed otherwise so he acted upon himself. Too bad for him because God does not operate that way, we cannot please him by our own idea of pleasing Him, let alone disobeying His commands.

Sadly, this reminds me of a blog post I saw recently. The author supported the procession of images with Joshua 6:8.

And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them.
Joshua 6:8 ESV

Unfortunately, people who relies on this interpretation for the procession of images may have overlooked to read Exodus 35 onwards detailing the construction of the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant. Without a doubt, God clearly was the One Who ordered the Israelites to build the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant and He specified what they would looked like. He left nothing on the imagination of His workers.

Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half was its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. And he overlaid it with pure gold inside and outside, and made a molding of gold around it. And he cast for it four rings of gold for its four feet, two rings on its one side and two rings on its other side. And he made poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold and put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark. And he made a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half was its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. And he made two cherubim of gold. He made them of hammered work on the two ends of the mercy seat, one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat he made the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat were the faces of the cherubim.
Exodus 37:1‭-‬9 ESV

He even sent the Holy Spirit to enable the builders for the work He intended them to do.

Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.
Exodus 35:30‭-‬35 ESV

And in another passage.

“Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.”
Exodus 36:1 ESV

Going back to the chapter in Joshua, let us not forget that it was also God Who communicated to Joshua how would they conquer Jericho. The command was explicit and not just Joshua’s interpretation of how God might want them to proceed. We know that this is the case because we can read them in the Bible.

Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”
Joshua 6:1‭-‬5 ESV

Furthermore, in Joshua the ark was not just a merely human-conceived image, God architected it and directly communicated it to His people. So the statues we see today are nowhere in the Bible that the Lord asks us to make yet be the object of our worship. This is also similar of having images of Jesus, which no one in our time now knows what He really looks like. Some says that it is just a representation just like the photos of our love ones. With that analogy, will they still have the same affection to the photo of their love ones if the photo does not at all look like their actual love ones? We see, we cannot represent God into the things that He created. We just cannot because we are His creation. A student cannot be above his master. Same thing that Saul and us cannot make our own rules or bend the rules just to satisfy our own idea how to please the Lord. Instead, we follow His commands in the Bible and we can only follow them if we are serious to read the Bible truthfully.

Soli Deo Gloria!


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