The emerging message: the headlines
Friday, January 12
1 Samuel 3:1-20
The young Samuel has his first encounter with God at night, hearing his voice in the Temple.
God knows our true heart attitudes, and we can’t hide from Him. At the same time, we cannot be hidden from His saving help and mercy.
The first fishermen-disciples find Nathanael who has an encounter with Jesus, who perceives exactly what he is thinking with prophetic insight.
In John’s lengthy encounter with heaven he witnesses a deed of ownership of the earth so top-security that only One has the right to hold and open it.
The emerging message
Friday, January 12
The Lord knows what is in our hearts, and seeks those who are open and true to Him.
The theme that emerges this week is about encounters with the Lord, and how the Lord knows us intimately. Two of these are about being trusted with a revelation of divine purpose, difficult to process and communicate, like the young apprentice priest Samuel in the Temple hearing a warning call for unrighteous Israel and its unrighteous priest, Eli, or the elderly apostle John seeing a mind-blowing vision of the majesty and authority of Christ being given legal charge over the world, and being the one to record it for posterity. The other two are more gentle pictures of how God knows exactly what is in our hearts and sees what He will help us become, as well as how we are now.
The grown up and mature prophet Samuel said of the youngster David, when God was first singling him out for service:
“People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.
Samuel, David, Nathanael Bartholomew and the apostle John were all special, godly and renowned people.
But does that mean that God knew them better, or took more of an interest in them? All were pretty ordinary at the time of their first encounter – a foster child, a youngest and somewhat despised son of a big family, a bookish Jew from an obscure up-country village, an apprentice fisherman. God is no respecter of persons – no lover of human pride, position or presentation. He looks for the qualities He find inside, in the heart – true or false, self-determining or submitted. We can’t choose the standing in society of our family, our educational opportunities, or to be born with influence and connections. We can choose to love God, know His love, love others with His love, and love His ways. We can choose to learn from Him and grow in Him. The qualities we see in the four whose encounters are described, are qualities we can aspire to All were wholehearted disciples – Samuel a literal apprentice, David a lifelong worshipper and close follower of God, turning mistakes into opportunities to learn painful lessons and grow from them; Nathanael was a named disciple of Jesus, as was his young friend John whose reflection and writing has given us a gospel account and invaluable New Testament teaching about the developing doctrine and practice of the early Church.
Four people who heard God and to whom God revealed Himself again and again in different ways at different times, as we know from the rest of Scripture. The common factor is their willingness and submission to His purpose, whether they understood it at the time or not; and a quality of transparency, able to be very honest with God about how they were. They were anointed, revered, had distinction and greatness – yet none is seen in Scripture as putting themselves forward or being self-promoting.
We can hear God, walk with Him, learn from Him and have memorable encounters with Him – exactly the same principles apply to us.