File under: Posts that are better classified as sermons
If you're looking for fluffy, funny parenting stories, check back on Friday. Trust me, I'll have fluff. Tonight I have the opposite of fluff.
When Satan deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden, he did so with a lie that has plagued people since.
Satan told Eve, "For God knows that in the day you eat from [this tree], your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen. 3:5)
He tricked Eve into believing that she was missing something. That there was more to be had than what she had already, which ironically, was God Himself. As if there could be more.
Prior to her encounter with the serpent, Eve had been at peace. She was already like God, made in His image, walking with Him, and exercising dominion over His creation. She wasn't missing anything.
But Satan attacked her in her place of peace. Her place of rest.
A couple of years ago I did a Beth Moore Bible study called "A Heart Like His." It's an excellent study of King David, and I highly recommend it. Since completing that study, I have found myself drawn time and again to the stories of David, Saul, Eli, Samuel, and Amalek.
Yes, it's a long story, but the gist of it is that God told Saul to attack Amalek, to "utterly destroy all that he has" and not to spare a man, woman, sheep, ox, etc. God was pretty clear about what Saul was to do, which was to leave absolutely no trace of the Amalekites. Saul, however, did not obey this directive; instead he killed everyone except Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and he spared the best of the sheep, oxen, and lambs. It was this disobedience that caused God not only to reject Saul as king but to remove his Spirit from Saul and send an evil spirit upon him instead. (Summarized from I Samuel 15 and 16)
Okay, if you haven't studied this, it all sounds pretty horrific. I agree; the world was a pretty brutal and savage place back then, and wars and destruction were part and parcel of the time.
But, there was something unique about God's wrath toward the Amalekites. There are numerous other incidents in scripture where God directs the Israelites to conquer another nation. He sent them into battle often, but His directive to utterly destroy the Amalekites is unique. There is something about it that caused me to want a closer look at why God despised the Amalekites so much.
To figure that out, I had to flip back over to Exodus where God had some pretty harsh words to say about Amalek: "I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."
Wow, that's pretty strong.
What had Amalek done? Sure, he had attacked the Israelites, but so had lots of others. Why this invective against Amalek?
Here's what it says in Exodus 17:8 about what Amalek did while the Israelites were on their way from Egypt to the promised land: "Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim."
Of course, I had to look up Rephidim, and guess what it means? "Rest"
As far as I can tell, there are only two individuals in the Bible whom God has made His mortal enemies and promised to utterly destroy: Satan and Amalek
Here's what the two have in common: They both attacked the "Rest" of God's people. Just like when Satan attacked Eve's rest, causing her to believe there was more to God than she had, that she was missing something, Amalek attacked God's people in their place of rest, and God promised to utterly blot out his memory from the face of the earth.
God does not take kindly to one who robs His people of their ability to rest in Him. If we know Christ, we are okay with God. We can cease striving. We have eaten of the Bread of Life and need not hunger again.
When Satan deceived Eve, when He made her hunger for something she already had, God warned him that he would "put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your seed and her seed." I've heard it said that this verse is the very first evidence of the gospel, the good news that God is not content to leave us on Satan's side. He made us enemies of Satan and promised that the Savior (the woman's seed) would come and crush him.
And of course, God did eventually wipe out Amalek's seed. Saul let Agag live, and eventually from Agag's lineage, we get to Haman, who we're told in the book of Esther, plotted to destroy all of the Jews. Haman is a direct descendant of Agag who was a descendant of Amalek. Interestingly, Haman is the only name I have ever looked up in the cyclopedic index of my Bible for which there was no meaning listed. None. It is meaningless. (If you research it, you will find that meanings were later assigned to the name, but all the sources I could find are in agreement that the meaning is sort of just agreed upon and was not originally the meaning of the name. I'm not sure what the significance of that is, if any, but I found it interesting that the end of Amalek's seed was a meaningless man who was hanged on his own gallows.) Esther 7:1-10
My point is this: Do not let Satan attack you in your place of rest. He wants to rob you of your peace and convince you that Christ in you is not enough. It's not true. He is all we need. No more, no less.
If resting is not your strong suit, and you feel like you need to "do" something, try this: love your neighbor.
Of all the verbs God could have used to describe Himself (and He used a lot of nouns), He chose love. It's the only verb I know of that God associated with Himself. He called Himself the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Bread, the Light, the Resurrection. But only one verb: Love. (Okay, technically, "Am," which He did use, is a verb, but it's not an action verb.)
There's my advice to you if you are "hungry for God." Rest in the knowledge that you have Him, and love your neighbor as yourself.
You'll see Him.