Called To This Generation

Called To This Generation

Robert Wurtz II

For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep. (Acts 13:36)

Our passage deals with a period in Israel’s history in which David was destined to live. The people had previously decided they would rather have a man lead them than God. Samuel the prophet grieved over this decision. God simply told him, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7 NKJV) This is a way of saying that the people did not want to receive and follow direct orders from God. They wanted a middle man that they could manipulate or influence. God needed a man that would inquire of Him in all of their decision making. He needed a faithful representative on the earth. This would prove to be a challenge from day one.  

When God called His people Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, He instructed them to hearken diligently to His voice. This was true with Moses and Joshua — as well as with the judges. God never changed His mind about expecting His people Israel to obey   His voice. Whereas the first king of Israel Saul was a man who sought to please the people, David, the second king of Israel, was a man after God’s own heart. He would turn on a dime when God spoke to Him. This means that David desired to know and do God’s will  more than anything else. He was not a perfect man, but there were many occasions when David was a living demonstration of God’s character. These facts make for an interesting paradox. David served God — yet our passage tells us he served his generation. What are we to make of these things? 

We might have expected Acts 13:36 to say that king Saul served his generation and fell asleep. But did he? From a certain point of view,   we may say that he did. He served as king and did some things. However, what does it mean to serve our generation by the will of God? Does it mean that we are slaves to our generation? Do we take our orders from our generation? Must we conform to our generation in order to serve it? The answer to these questions is clearly, no. This is not what God meant when He said that David served his generation. He served his generation by the counsel of God — not his own counsel. 

God replaced Saul for being what some call “a man of the people” rather than a man of God. We read in 1 Samuel 15, And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
This sentence made so powerful an impression upon Saul, that he confessed, “I have sinned: for I have transgressed the command of the Lord and thy words, because I feared the people, and hearkened to their voice.” (1 Samuel 15:24) But these last words, with which he endeavoured to make his sin appear as small as possible, show that the consciousness of his guilt did not go very deep. Even if the people had really desired that the best of the cattle should be spared, he ought not as king to have given his consent to their wish, since God had commanded that they should all be banned (i.e., destroyed); and even though he has yielded from weakness, this weakness could not lessen his guilt before God. This repentance, therefore, was rather the effect of alarm at the rejection which had been announced to him, than the fruit of any genuine consciousness of sin. (Keil & D.)
Saul refused to honor the Lord and take responsibility for his actions. He downplayed his sin — not realizing that God expected a genuine confession. He would not acknowledge what he had done and in turn taught his generation to do the same. God intervened by rejecting Him. Samuel followed this up by refusing to be identified with Saul. This did not mean that Samuel hated Saul; quite the contrary. He wept for the man all night. It meant that Samuel’s concern was God-wards. 

In the 1970’s, a famous comedian popularized the phrase, “The devil made me do it.” Saul may as well have said, ” The people made me do it. ” He had no Godly sorrow for his sin. Samuel had a God-wards grief for what Saul had become. However, Saul had no God-wards sorrow at all. He was only concerned with how the sin would affect his reputation and rapport with the people. His concern was horizontal — not vertical. 

By the Will of God

Our verse states categorically, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep.” The key phrase is “by the will of God.” David was God’s man for his generation. He was a personification of the will of God in one respect. God had called and equipped him. Moreover, he endeavored to do God’s will. When he sinned, he agreed with God. He let God be true. He confessed and forsook his sins. All of these things are examples of a man doing the will of God under the circumstances. 

Some will say, “Well, it was not God’s will for David to commit adultery or number Israel.” This is true. However, when he recognized his error, he obeyed God’s directives and received his punishments. Saul followed his sin up with the sin of passing the blame. On the contrary, David placed the full weight of the blame for his sins on himself. In this way “he served” — “he did a great service to his generation.” We see then that the only way to serve rightly our generation is to do the will of God. David served God and in serving Him he  served the people. It is no service for any person to serve the people independent of God and His will for them. 

David had a zeal for God that Saul knew nothing about. He was zealous for God’s honor. This is one of the reasons why he faced the Giant. God was being shamed because of the cowardice and lack of faith in Saul. I’m reminded of an old naval quote, “I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm’s way.” David was the type of man who would not furl the sails. He would allow the will of God to carry him whithersoever God desired. Not his own will mistaken as God’s will,  but by the very counsel of God David served his generation and then fell asleep. This is all any of us can hope to do. We can do no more. Our influence may be felt in future generations, but we can only serve our generation. May we do it faithfully, as David, according to the counsel of God. 

Who Am I? Who Are You?

Who Am I? Who Are You?
Robert Wurtz II

For before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. (Galatians 2:12)

Our passage is the familiar account of Peter being confronted by Paul for withdrawing from the Gentiles when associates of James came to town. In those days, some Jewish Christians found it hard to leave behind old ideas. Peter knew God had accepted the Gentiles because God Himself told him. He was up on the roof at Cornelius’ house when he received the revelation. Nevertheless, although Peter knew for a fact that Gentiles were accepted of God, the pressure to “shrink back” when the pressure came was enormous. 

Our Greek word for “withdrew” is the familiar hupostello. It means to “furl the sail.” The idea is that when the wind is carrying the ship in a direction contrary to what the ship master desires, he can order the sails “furled” to slow or stop the ship. It is a powerful picture of avoiding unpleasantness. Peter “furled the sail” when the Circumcision came around. In spite of what God said, the dear brother yielded to the pressure.

This did not mean that God stopped loving Peter. It meant that he needed to be challenged. Paul was the man for the job. He had formerly been a Pharisee among Pharisees. He tried to outdo all of them. He was as radical as they came. Nevertheless, once Paul was converted and God revealed the truth to him, he abandoned the old ways. It didn’t take years for Paul. He turned on a dime when God spoke. With Peter it was different. He argued with God even while being told the truth. Can you imagine that? God is saying, “Rise Peter slay and eat!” Peter says, “No, Lord!” He is the only man I know of that ever openly told God “No!” However, he came around after a bit. So what happened?

Who Are You?

If we had been sitting at a table and had the boldness, we may have asked, “Peter, who are you? I see you acting one way around one group, and a totally different way around this other group. We just need to know; Who are you? Are you the person that shrinks back when certain come from James or are you the man who sits down and eats with the Gentiles? We’re confused. We don’t know what to believe now. We used to know what was right and wrong, but now we’re confused. What is it? It can’t be both ways.” 

We all face situations like Peter did. People come around that challenge the very things that we know are right. Sometimes they are men of renowned, like James. I’m sure Peter didn’t want to be a hypocrite or anything — he just wanted to please everyone. He didn’t want to offend the associates of James and have word of it get back to Jerusalem (headquarters if you will). 

The danger Peter put himself in was not knowing himself who he was. The more he compromised to please these men the more he lost his own identity. Had Paul not come along and confronted him — no telling what may have happened. Instead of having to deal with James, he had to deal with Paul instead. 

Undoubtedly, Peter regretted this event. Nevertheless, it was a great learning experience. I sometimes wonder how many times Peter had to explain himself. “Why did you do that Peter? I thought you said God told you that He had cleansed the Gentiles?” He would have to explain that he shrank back out of fear or trying to keep the peace. Nevertheless, his actions put his own integrity at risk along with the Gospel itself. It was a compromise; and compromise comes in a lot of different packages. 

Who Am I?

Galatians 2 is one of those passages where we face ourselves. It is a perpetual temptation to put the Gospel at risk in order to keep the peace with someone. Nevertheless, we have to establish our own identity and consistently stand by it. We don’t flip sides depending on present company. Talk about confusion. Pretty soon we don’t even know who we are. We look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Who am I?” Do I have any personal convictions? Had God spoken anything to me? Has He revealed a truth to me that I need to take a stand for? God can speak to us face to face making a truth known but that does not insure we will stand for it. It has to come from a willingness to let God be true — no matter what others may think of us. Should we please God or should we please men? We all have to decide. 

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