Dr. Ed Young - Mountain of Exception
Basic principle we need to have established over and over again, and that's the providence of God. God is running this universe. He always has, he always will. And he does it somehow without violating. Man's gifted by God to be a free moral agent, and also his divine purpose. God's purpose, man's freedom, they never get confused because in the process, the Lord is working together his plan, his will, his providential design for every life and for this world. Everybody's ever lived, everybody living today, God, in his own way, is providentially working through those lives.
We see this, that's one reason we have the Bible. God lets us see in his special people, the Jews whom he called out from the rest of the world, how God is working in the lives of all of these individuals, and all of these situations through thousands of years. And so, we read the Bible and we see how God is working there, that God is working in our lives. Some little something happens here, it's determinative of the rest of your life. Here's something casual happens over here, man, I didn't take any importance of it, but how big it became in the direction of a life. Changing moment, mountaintop experiences, experiences in the valley, it changes our live. We see God providentially working.
Now, let me just give you just a little zip through some things in the Bible to see that happening in odd ways, strange, mysterious ways. Two men are talking in a prison. Their conversation leads to Joseph becoming governor of Egypt, a prison conversation. Now, who would have planned that? We move on, and we see that the daughter of Pharaoh is taking a bath and the Nile River. No big deal, that's where she bathed. And here comes a throwaway Jewish child down in a little ark, it floats down. And suddenly, she adopts little baby Jewish Moses, and God prepares him to be his leader, to take his people out of slavery into freedom. My goodness, just a woman bathing in a river, carrying a baby who was a throwaway. How stranger is that?
A father, wanting to provide food for his sons who were battling, and they were a standoff battle between the Philistines and the Israelites, and so his father takes his underage son, who was too young for the draft to be fighting, takes this little freckle-faced shepherd boy and says, "Take this food, your brothers, they're hungry, they're fighting the battle for the Lord". And there little David takes that food to his older brothers and zip, it ends up in David facing Goliath. Who would have thought? And here's a beautiful little Jewish girl who's taken into the harem of a powerful Persian king, and she is used in just that moment in history for such a time as that, to save the lives of thousands of people in her race, in her religion, in her family. Who would have thought that?
And here in our Scripture, we have a country boy named Saul whom his father Kish sent him out to find some donkeys that had wandered away months before so they could use the donkeys in the harvesting of crops. And now this awkward, bucolic, country boy from the smallest tribe in the most insignificant family, he encounters Samuel, God's prophet and zip, this awkward country boy named Saul becomes the first king of Israel. Boy, you look at all these strands of history in life and put them all together and you say, "My goodness, how in the world does this work"? It is, listen, the providence of God operating always. That's what we need to see in your life and my life, and we see it in biblical principles over and over again.
And so, we see now Israel has a king. And the people wanted it, and Samuel wasn't clear, and finally God gave permission and told him how to find this king, and it was a strange... you say it was a chance meeting that Samuel, you know, ran into Saul and prepared him through discipleship to be the king. Oh, you know, there are no accidents. I despise people who say, "Well, I was just lucky". I want to take them and say, "Awake, awake, my son, my daughter, there's no such thing as luck. There's something as chance, but not luck". All of life, big things, little things, monumental things, unsuspecting things, it's all according to the providence of Almighty God and you see it magnificently in the life of Saul.
Look, look at the beginning in chapter 9 of 1 Samuel. "Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish," this is solves father. Look at verse 2 "He, Kish, had a son whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person," listen, "than he among all the sons of Israel. From his shoulders and up, he was taller than any of the people". Man, he was tall, dark, handsome. Man, what a specimen, physically strong. You can read all the preamble here of Saul. You see, he was intelligent. He was hardworking, respectful of his father. He was a man that you wanted to be with, he was just handsome beyond belief. Charisma flowed from him, he had all the natural gifts of intelligence, of ability, of appearance, of strength. I mean, what more you gonna find? Humanly or naturally, he was greatly gifted, and Saul had a sense of call.
You can read there about a part of his ordination exercise and it's for many chapters. Chapter 10 of 1 Samuel, "Then Samuel took the flask of oil and put it on his head, kissed him and said, 'Has not the Lord anointed you a ruler over his inheritance?'" And it says, verse 9, "God changed his heart, changed his life". He had it all. He had all the natural, all the supernatural. Now, he had a sense of the call of God that he would be king. And interesting, in all this, he kept his humility in the beginning, he really did. They brought all the people together for his coronation, they couldn't find Saul. You know where he was? Hiding in the baggage, the Bible, he was so embarrassed. He was overwhelmed with it all. He had humility. He was a forgiving person because there was a little crowd there who didn't want him to be king, and there's always opposition.
By the way, if you're doing something for the Lord, and there's not opposition, you're probably not doing something for the Lord, just a side note. And so, there little group there oppose him and normally a king would come and kill all of them. But Saul said, "No, it's all right. I'll forgive them. They'll fit in, they'll see what God is doing". And they did. So he was humble. He was forgiving. He was gracious. He was brilliant. He was talented. He was handsome. He was strong. He had natural, Saul had it all, and he had God's call on his life. I mean, what more? Just close the chapter. I mean, we've we got it. But I want you to see the fall of King Saul. The bigger they are, the higher, the more, the longer is the fall, is it not?
And we see that beginning tragically here in his life. And by the way, we fall gradually. We don't say when you become a thief, you don't start off by robbing the bank, have you noticed that? You sort of build up. You cheat a little more in school and you, you take things when nobody finds out, and you just sort of move up through the ranks until the mafia, you become a made person. And that's how it works in every single life in every area of sin and rebellion against being a man or a woman who's obedient to the Lord, every time. It's gradual. We see this with Saul, we see it and chapter number 13 and the situation is this, the Philistines are attacking God's people.
Now, Saul... by the way, another example, humility. After he was ordained as king, he went back in the field and worked as a farmer, as he always... isn't that something? I mean, what a guy, what a leader. And now the Philistines are attacking, so Samuel says, "Saul, you get the army together, and you gather them up. We're gonna throw out the Philistines, and you wait seven days". And Samuel says, "I will come and offer a burnt offering. We will have a worship ceremony, and then we'll go fight the Philistines". And look what happened here. Verse 9, chapter 13, 1 Samuel, so Saul said, "Bring to me the burnt offering, and the peace offering, and he offerer the burnt offering and as soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came and Saul went out to greet him, and to meet him. But Samuel's saying, what have you done"?
Now remember, he was to wait seven days. Samuel what lead in the worship, but Saul said, "I can't wait," and this is his excuse that he gives. He said, "I saw the people were scattering from me and that you did not come within the appointed days. And the Philistines were assembling at Michmash". Now look, what happened. The clear Word of God, instruction to Saul and Saul says, "I can't wait". And he was impatient, and he took the situation in his own hands because he blamed it on the people, he blamed it on the situation. And he said, "You know, I'm an exception. I'm an, you know, you have to make an exception with me. I wasn't completely obedient, but exception, I'll make an exception".
Isn't that what we do so many times? "Well God, I'll make an exception because I was in church last Sunday. I mean, I teach. I'm a good person. I've got all these responsibilities. I'm tired, and so make an exception with me". Saul said he was exceptional. This passage says though, "How the mighty have fallen". Exceptionalism, first step in his fall. Look at the second step in his fall, and I'll walk you through it quickly. I wish I could read all the Scripture. It's a powerful thing for us. Chapter 15, it says, "Saul is sent out now on another assignment. He's to take army and wipe out all the Amalekites". Samuel said, "You're to kill every man, every woman, every child. You're to kill all their animals, sheep, goat, oxen. You wipe out everything about the Amalekites". You say, "Well, my goodness".
You know who the Amalekites were? Read your Bible. They were ISIS of that day. The Amalekites were terrorists. Even going back when the children of Israel came out of Egypt, they wouldn't fight people up front. They infiltrated from the back. And they were killing, and destroying, and they were demonic people. What do you do with a mad dog, make a pet out of it, have a conference with it get, counseling for the dog? You kill the dog. And these were animals. They were demonic. And God said, "Take everything out with them". And look what happened. Once again, there's a clear call for obedience. Look at what Saul did in this particular situation. It is devastating. He killed all the animals, except the healthy animals. And he killed all the Amalekites, these demonic people, except their king, Agag.
And then you read when Samuel is coming Saul said, "Blessed are you. I have carried out the command of the Lord". And then Samuel said, "What do I hear? Is that the bleating of sheep, sheep? Were those sheep? Is that the lowing of the cattle and the oxen? What am I hearing if you've killed all the animals"? And Saul said, "Well, you know, I did make an exception". And then he goes on and pulls the pious card. He said, "Well, we've kept all these animals because all the soldiers, we want to use them as a sacrifice to the Lord. Oh, yeah, you pull the pious card out. But I'm an exception, I preach, I sing, play in the orchestra, I go to church all the time. You know, I pray I'm an exception. I do all these religious things over here so but, you know, I'm not totally obedient over here. I'm the exception," exceptionalism.
You see how this worked in the life of Saul as we see him, by the way, falling up hill? And then we go to the third and final way that he was totally obliterated, and now we see Samuel had died. And then we move over, and these are the verses we have to deal with. "And so, the Philistines gathered together," this is Chapter 28, "And came and camped in Shunem, and Saul gathered all Israel together. They camped at Gilboa". Oh, we finally got the right mountain. He's fallen all the way up to Gilboa, and look what's happened to him. "When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and he's hard trembled greatly. When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him". My goodness, here was, now he cries to God.
Let me tell you something, ladies and gentlemen, God does not forgive living sin, he forgives only dead sin. Sin that has been crucified, confessed, executed, put out a business, you don't go back and say, "Well, I'm forgiven here, but because it's still alive, I'm gonna pick it back over here". God doesn't operate in the basis of cheap grace. Oh, we wish he did, but he doesn't. Saul had run out of the grace of God. Now in a moment of desperation, as he's on top of Mount Gilboa, the Philistines are coming in. He's fallen uphill to this point and he prays, and God is not there.
And you know what he does? This is really something. Years ago, he had run out of Israel, all the fortunetellers, all the witches, all those who dealt in black magic. He had run them out of Israel and said, "We don't want those demonic godless people here". But now when he can't get through with God, he goes and says, "I want to visit with a witch". And he visits with a witch of Endor. That witch he knew was wrong because he was so desperate to have some semblance before he went in battle what he should do. You see, he played the pious worshiping card all the way through. And read some of the passages carefully, he would say to Samuel, "I have done everything your God wants me to do, or the God of your wife, or the God of your mother, or the God of a friend".
Oh, no, it has to be my God. It has to be your God. And it never came to that kind of understanding with Saul, who had it all, a sense of call, divine, supernatural, but how great was his fall? Oh, I've sinned, repent, repent, repent, but he never really turned away from it. He kept going back to it and claiming exceptionalism, and usually pious exceptionalism.
Most of you heard me talk about my dog Winston. Winston's some kind of dog, nine years old. He is the sweetest dog I've ever known. If I let him out here, I promise you if you would stay, he would go to every person out here, every person. He's running for office constantly. And he would shake every hand. He would lick everybody. If we had bears, and lions, and tigers, and killer dogs in here, Winston would go and try to befriend them. He's just has that amazing disposition. But the other night, last week, I went in the bedroom, and Winston follows me in there, and I heard vomiting. And I went out, he vomited all over the rug there. And you know, he was eating that which he had vomited? Psalm 22, 1 Peter chapter 2, the Bible says that's what we do. Oh, we repent, and we go back to that vomit.
And finally Saul went back over, and over, and over again with hypocrisy, and manipulation. And he had all these wonderful words of repentance, and shame, and sin, calling on God until finally God He said, "It's enough. I'm through with you. Saul, you're out of business". And he went all the way to Mount Gilboa and fell uphill. Philistines came, killed all three of his sons. And finally, he was mortally wounded, and he fell on his own sword and took his own life. And they took Saul's head and his armor, and they pinned up on the wall of the Palace of the Philistines, and laughed at him in shame.
Columbia, South Carolina, there was a couple at work with Campus Crusade for Christ. They planning marriage after she finished school. But he went home on a weekend, there was a car accident. He was instantly killed. The girl was devastated. And then finally, they had the service and his mother daddy came back to the boy's room and, they were getting all his stuff. And he had a pet boa constrictor that he just loved that crazy snake. It was his pet and so, his parents said, "We're gonna get rid of the snake". And the girlfriend said, "You know, I don't like the snake, but I want to keep the snake. It's a reminder of his pet".
And so, she took that snake in and kept it in a, it's in a terrarium, the glass boxes that you keep them in. Is that the right pronunciation, terrarium? And so, she would feed the snake, and then she would take the snake out and learn to stroke it the way they taught her to do there. And so, she saw him do that many times. And it was his pet and now it became her pet. And over a period of time, she'd let it run free in her little apartment there. And then finally one night, she awaken, just shocked and the big snake was coiled up at the end of her bed, and she was upset.
But you know, time went by and she said, "You know, I've began to have an affection for that snake, and I realized a snake could be a pet". And said, "I just let it run free more and more until suddenly," she said, "the snake began to lose weight, and the snake stopped eating". And said, "Then the snake began to be very docile and would hardly move". And said the snake then began to shed scales and became a different color, became almost white. And she said, "I knew the snake was dying". And so, she called an exotic veterinarian and said, "I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I mean, I felt that the snake and I became really my pet, and I felt safe and free with the snake. And what should I do"? And the vet asked, "Do you have a dog or a cat"? Said, "No I only have this snake".
And she went over all the symptoms again and she said, "You know, I think a snake can be a good pet, can be a good companion". And the veterinarian told her said, "I want you know something. What you've associated with a snake that now you've begin to have a relationship, and the snake is your pet, I want you to know that boa constrictors, prior to eating a big meal, always stop eating, always shed their scales, always become docile". And the vet says, "No, no, no, no, that snake sees you as that big meal and you are his prey". Make a pet of sin, whatever it is, it feels good. I'm an exception. I can handle it.
You see, once we have sin, we let it go. We have sin, we let it go. We have sin, we have sin, we have sin, oh, we can let it go. And then there comes a day when that sin has you and has me, and that sin which had been our pet, we have become its prey. Saul had it all natural, supernatural. Saul fell uphill all the way to Mount Gilboa. He lost his relationship with God. He had phony repentance and pious speech all the way through his life. What a tragedy, a tragedy of what might have been. Don't let any sin in the darkness, ladies and gentlemen, teenagers, take the life out of you, take the life out of you, the purpose out of you, the freedom out of you, the joy out of you.