The modern world runs rampant. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. On the one hand people refuse to give thanks to God and embrace every spiritual stupidity available to them. On the other, people take a morally superior, yet hypocritical, high-ground which looks really godly but denies the power of God.
And then you’re supposed to applaud each individual effort at being self-governed.
How is a Christian supposed to live with convictions in a world like that? How can someone even be a Christian in this modern world?
Samuel, one of the last judges, lived in a day like ours. When he was called as a prophet in 1 Samuel 3, we learn four major things about God, his word, and the proper response of God’s people.
God Speaks And Christians Must Realize It
From the utter silence during the book of Judges, we finally hear God speak (1 Samuel 3:4). The fact is God does speak his word. God reveals Scripture. God discloses. God’s not a deaf statue.
It does not stop there
In the New Testament we see that God spoke in these last days via His Son who came near. An actual, historical event.
This modern world likes to privatize these things to make it a personal experience (like a still small voice) but Samuel learned the truth in community with Eli.
The proper response to God speaking is, like Eli (albeit he did it way late) to discern that God is actually speaking! (1 Samuel 3:8).
He spoke in times past through the prophets, recorded in Scripture, he spoke clearly through His Son, also recorded in Scripture.
That means when you Christians hear a sermon, or read your bible, or study Scripture you discern that God is speaking in the text. Not in a private voice but in the objective word of God before you.
God Comes Near And Christians Must Listen
I’ve heard sermons on appearances of God (theophanies). Abraham and the Lord. Jacob wrestles the Lord. Joshua and the commander of the armies of God. Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego and the Son of God in the fiery furnace. I don’t ever think I’ve heard a sermon on God standing next to Samuel’s bed (1 Samuel 3:10)!
When God comes near and speaks to the people of God in his Word, his people must listen (1 Samuel 3:9-10).
More-so when you realize that when God spoke via His Son, it was not a step-removed message. This was God becoming flesh and coming near to humans (John 1:1-14). That is huge. The Word became flesh and came near; today we read the Word as the Holy Spirit indwells Christians (John 15-16).
That’s so simple as to be ignored but this fast-paced modern world doesn’t want us to stop and listen; it’s just happy if you hear what’s going on without internalizing it. At most, hit the “like” button and move on.
But the people of God aren’t to simply acknowledge, they’re to stand ready listening to what God is saying in his Word.
God Is True To His Character And Christians Must Be Affected
God doesn’t tell Samuel all of the great things he has planned for his life; nor invite Samuel to partake in something fun. His word reveals what type of God he is.
Essentially, God tells Samuel “I’m going to have people shaking in their boots with this. I’m going to do all the things I told Eli I was going to do. His boys will pay for their sins and there isn’t an offering available, forever, that will atone for what they’re doing.” (1 Samuel 3:11-14)
That’s heavy but it’s God being true to himself.
Likewise, when we see the Lord in the New Testament we can not pit that against the Lord in the Old Testament. One God, Three Persons, self-disclosed and true to himself.
And Christians in the Modern World need to be true to how he reveals himself.
We don’t take God on our terms; we take him on his terms. He reveals himself to love, he is loving. He reveals himself to be holy, he is holy. He reveals himself to be truthful, and he is truthful. Don’t downplay one because of the other!
The first response by the people of God is to (1) mediate on what he reveals.
Don’t assume that meditate only means a soft mulling over of things until it creates a soft amber glow of goodness in your guts. Mediation is having God’s self-disclosure be so real that the words grip you.
I’m reading a bit into it here, but the text says he lay down but it says nothing about him going to sleep. He lay there till morning. That’s mediating on God’s character revealed in his word (1 Samuel 3:15).
This modern world, in light of Scripture, is under a harsh penalty. How does that affect us?
Next the people of God must (2) remember and (3) recount God’s word.
Samuel told Eli everything and hid nothing, even if he had to be coaxed to do so (1 Samuel 3:15-18). He didn’t only let the words grip him through the night, he poured over them. He turned them over in his head. He committed them to memory, and when the time came to tell the message he didn’t hold back. He gave the whole counsel of God and didn’t hold back on any of it.
In this modern world, Christians are to do the same: be faithful to the word of God as it stands!
Eli rightly responds to God’s revealed character in his word by (4) realizing God’s sovereignty. Eli’s major mistake is that he doesn’t (5) repent of his wrongdoing. It’s almost as if he shrugs and leaves the stage, eventually to be seen sitting down, way too fat, and utterly blind (1 Samuel 4:15-18).
In this modern world, Christians find that the word of God also exposes us to our failures and shortcomings. Surely we acknowledge God’s sovereignty but we, of any people, should readily repent.
God’s Grace Has No Limit And Christians Should Give Thanks
The text says that the Lord was with Samuel and didn’t let any of his words fail. Everyone knew that Samuel was a prophet of the Lord because the Lord himself confirmed it. The Lord appeared again at Shiloh because the Lord revealed himself to Samuel by His Word. And Samuel was so utterly established that the next chapter ties up God’s word with Samuels. (1 Samuel 3:19 – 4:1)
Usually you would expect the text to say “Now the Word of the Lord came to all Israel” but not so this text. The Inspired Scriptures, breathed out by God, says, “Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel.”
That’s grace. That’s God using people when he doesn’t have to. That’s God’s limitless, boundless grace!
And the proper response of the people of God in the ancient world and this modern world?
Well, I think we get that in the New Testament pretty clearly. This rich mercy that God gave by pouring out his grace on us, grace upon grace embodied in His Son, the only proper response is bowing the knee in obedience and thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:18 cf. Romans 1:21).
So how can a Christian live in today’s modern world? In utter dependence on God and what He says realizing that we are only here based on his limitless grace in that he sent His Son to die for our sins and rise again for our eternal life. We should live as sojourners, ambassadors, and in all things giving thanks.