“A Conditional Treaty” ( 1 Samuel 11: 2, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


The Ammonite Nahash besieges Jabesh-gilead. The defeated men beg Nahash to make a treaty with them on the condition that they serve him. But the conqueror replies, “I’ll make one with you on this condition: that I gouge out everyone’s right eye and humiliate all Israel.” The elders of Jabesh say, “Don’t do anything to us for seven days. And let us send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. If no one saves us, we will surrender to you.” (1 Samuel 11:3)

Nahash must not be very intelligent. Why allow messengers to go about the territory seeking help for a conquered people? Nevertheless, Nahash allows this very thing! He allows these defeated people to seek a savior.

The messengers reach Saul’s hometown, Gibeah. They tell Nahash’s terms to the people who begin to weep loudly. Saul, coming in from fieldwork with his oxen, becomes aware of people crying. When Saul hears the reason for their sorrow, “the Spirit of God suddenly takes control of him, and his anger burns furiously.” (1 Samuel 11:6)

In his fury, he takes a team of oxen, cuts them into pieces, and sends them throughout Israel with — I presume — the same messengers. The message Saul sends is: “This is what will be done to the ox of anyone who doesn’t march behind Saul and Samuel.” (1 Samuel 11:7) The people “go out united” because the “terror of the Lord falls” on them.

The messengers return to Jabesh-gilead to tell the people there that deliverance is at hand. Rejoicing, the men go to Nahash and say, “Tomorrow we will come out, and you can do whatever you want to us.” (1 Samuel 11:10) The next day, Saul — with troops in three divisions — invades the camp of the Ammonites and slaughters them. “There are survivors, but they are so scattered that no two of them are left together.” (1 Samuel 11:11)

Obviously Nahash would be better off if he’d just make that treaty with Jabesh-gilead — plenty of servants, the result. No need to set such a wicked condition as gouging out the right eye of every man, woman and child. For Nahash winning is not enough. He wants total humiliation of his enemy.

Ever think of that way — that Satan isn’t satisfied with ruling in hell. It’s not enough for him that he ‘escapes’ the realm of heaven and roams the earth, that he controls demonic forces and defies God at every turn. He must bring us down with him — he is unable to bear the fellowship Adam and Eve enjoy with God in the garden. He must destroy this joy. He must totally humiliate us before God. Happily, God provides more than a Saul or a Samuel for us. Our deliverer is Jesus, the Son of God. With God, no conditional treaty is needed. Utter defeat of our enemy so that “no two” of his forces “are left together” is what we enjoy because of the power of our God.

 

“Eternal Life” ( John 17: 3, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“This is eternal life: that [we] may know You, the only true God, and the One You send — Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) I’m always a bit bewildered that people don’t seem to realize they are in hell. Obviously some people are extremely aware of being in hell — their circumstances make their condition painfully obvious. For others, however, this earth has many pleasures — its natural beauty is one of its best attributes. Of course, we owe that entirely to the Creator. But, after the fall into sin by Adam and Eve, we — in our natural state — also find ourselves in trapped in hell. Remember the angels usher us out of the garden of Eden and bare the way back.

Jesus reveals God to us. As we accept Him as God — that is, Lord and Savior, Healer and Coming King — we are ushered out of hell and into His kingdom. Because we remain on this earth for a time, we may be very aware of the trappings of hell around us. But, we are not of this world. We are foreigners, waiting for our full inheritance, our heavenly country, as the author of Hebrews writes.

Knowing God is eternal life.

“The Grace Of One Man” ( Romans 5: 15, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“How much more do those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ,” writes Paul to the church at Rome. (Romans 5:17) “How much more does the grace of God and the gift overflow to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:15) “Through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone.” (Romans 5:18) “Through one man’s obedience the many are made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) “Grace is multiplied even more.” (Romans 5:20) “Grace reigns through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)

Whose obedience does Paul highlight? Certainly not Adam’s or Eve’s. Certainly not mine or yours. Rather, Paul writes of one man’s obedience, of the one man, Jesus Christ who obeyed God the Father completely. Through Jesus’ obedience is “life-giving justification.” Through Jesus’ grace, “the many are made righteous.” Jesus’ grace overflows to us as does the gift of His own righteousness.

“What shall we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not!” (Romans 6:1) “What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not!” (Romans 6:15) “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He does not even spare His own Son but offers Him up for us all; how does He not grant also with Him us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies.” (Romans 8:31-33)

“Not Of Human Will Or Effort” ( Romans 9: 16, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Odd how we speak of man’s free will while denying God’s sovereignty in all matters. We don’t appear to have any difficulty accepting that God obviously preferred Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s though both offered gifts of significance — after all, Cain appears to be just as sincere as Abel. The big difference is Abel’s sacrifice reflects Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and the shedding of His blood for our sins. Cain’s offering represents mankind’s self-effort, the work of his hands. As such, no matter how good it appears, it is lacking and unacceptable to our God.

We don’t doubt God’s sovereignty in His choice of Abram and Sarai to become a great nation, or His selection of Joseph rather than his brothers or of Jacob rather than Esau — even before either one had done good or evil. And God chose Mary to be the vessel for His Son, Jesus. God even, most especially, chose Judas to betray Jesus with a kiss.

Paul deals with God’s sovereign choice especially well in his letter to the Roman church. Some are destined [not designed] to be vessels of God’s mercy while others show forth God’s wrath — the wrath which remains on them just as it is removed from others. All are born as vessels of wrath. These vessels of wrath show forth God’s great mercy which He has in store for those who are vessels of His mercy.

Many are called; few are chosen. This, I know, on the surface appears extremely unfair. But the reality is that once our DNA was altered by Adam and Eve’s sin, God just as easily could have abandoned us as a worthless project, a project gone wrong. Instead, He sent His Son into the world so that He might save it.

“Imprisoned; Set Free” ( Romans 11: 32, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Once we all – both the Jew and the Gentile – were imprisoned in disobedience. This imprisonment first occurred when Eve was deceived by the serpent in the garden of Eden; and Adam foolishly put his wife before God. Adam took Eve’s offer, likely not fully believing that the fruit would make them equal to God. Both were at fault, but the serpent bore the brunt of God’s punishment. After all, no salvation awaits the ultimate enemy of God. His destiny is the lake of fire, which burns eternally.

For Adam and Eve, imprisonment in disobedience began. They were banished from the garden of Eden. Work for food was suddenly necessary and hard. Childbirth was painful as was the raising of children. Life was no longer easy.

God, in His mercy, chose for Himself one man, Abram and one woman, Sarai and through them created a nation for Himself. Yet, this nation – this people – He also bound in disobedience.

“For God has imprisoned all in disobedience, so that He may have mercy on all.” “So the last will be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16)

Jesus speaks of coming to earth in order to provide us – first for the Jew, but also for the Gentile – life; and that life is to be abundant. The life we live, we live to God. “Therefore,” writes Paul, “by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

 

 

“Not That We Love God” ( 1 John 4: 10, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

 

Think of love this way. God — as the Three Person Godhead — creates mankind despite knowing that Adam and Eve are to fall into disobedience and sin, fundamentally changing the nature of all humanity. God the Son knows that one day, He will leave His glory behind to enter time and space to become an infant, grow into a man, minister for a brief three years, then die an agonizing death on a cross. God the Father knows He will — for a time — forsake His Son as Jesus becomes sin for us. God the Holy Spirit knows that He will one day dwell in each individual Christian as coach, comforter, helper, healer, mentor, best friend.

 

Despite His foreknowledge of our ruin and His sacrifices, rather than say, “Why should I create these people?” God continues His plan to populate the earth with human beings. Because God loves us this much, “we also must love one another.” (1 John 4:11)