Questioning God's Mercy? - Understand True Repentance

Questioning God's Mercy? - Understand True Repentance

"But I said I was sorry? Why isn't that good enough? What's your problem?"

Has someone ever said something like that to you before? Better yet, have you ever said it to someone else? Why isn't just saying sorry alone good enough anymore? Isn't the phrase "I'm sorry" the secret password back into someone's broken heart? Shouldn't it heal a broken relationship? Shouldn't it win someone's trust again? Aren't those supposed to be magic words like "open sesame" or "abracadabra"? What's the big deal?

Today, we continue with Part 3 of our latest series; "God's Mercy - Why Do Some Get More Than Others?" See Part 1 for the full list of seven points described in "A Method To God's Mercy". Click here for Part 2 - "Truly Repentant Or Just Sorry For Getting Caught?" We'll continue today with our second installment on Point 1) God only accepts true repentance. He looks at the heart and knows if it's real or not.

Proverbs 28:13(KJV) - He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Who gets God's mercy? God promises mercy to those who confess and forsake their sins. As we explained in the last blog there is a major difference between true repentance and just being sorry you got caught. Again, based on The Biblical definition here's what we learned: "When someone truly repents there is an admission of guilt, a complete disdain for what was done, Godly sorrow and a brand new mindset concerning the issue. If any one of those were missing, it was not true repentance and God would not accept it."

Today, let's continue Case Study #1 - King Saul (Israel's First King) - An example of what true repentance is not! In the last blog we focused our attention on the riveting exchange between the prophet Samuel and King Saul. After repeatedly denying any wrongdoing even in the face of the truth, King Saul eventually relented. Unfortunately for him, at that point, God had enough of his lies and didn't show him any mercy. Why was God so hard on King Saul? There is even more to this story. Today, let's dig even deeper.

Questioning God's Mercy? - Understand True Repentance

1 Samuel 15:1-3, 16-19(NLT) - One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”...... Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Listen to what the Lord told me last night!” “What did he tell you?” Saul asked. And Samuel told him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission and told you, ‘Go and completely destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are all dead.’ Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord’s sight?”

There was something special about King Saul's assignment to destroy the Amalekites. God really wanted them wiped off the face of the earth and He had a reason for it. It was so much bigger than Saul. These people had been on God's heart for generations. It was personal for God. It was time to settle a score and as Israel's first king, Saul was selected by God to carry it out. Here's the background story.

"Why didn't King Saul receive mercy from God?

1) King Saul's disobedience was special because of the weight of the instructions. What God had asked Him to do in 1 Samuel 15 was a big deal to God, a big, big deal.

Exodus 17:8-15(NKJV) - Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner; for he said, “Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

When The Children of Israel escaped Egypt they spent forty years in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses. During that time, God had a special relationship with Moses. Here's what The Bible says about it in Exodus 33:11; "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend...."

The Amalekites were a thorn in Israel's side. They attacked The Children of Israel in the wilderness and it took a miracle of God through Moses with the help of Aaron and Hur to defeat them. That day, God promised He would completely annihilate these people. Therefore, long before King Saul was even born The Lord had made that promise to Moses and He never forgot. He was so serious about it that He told Moses to write it down and make sure Joshua was a witness.

Consequently, when God asked King Saul to destroy the Amalekites it was not about King Saul at all. It wasn't even about his generation. It was about a promise God had made to His friend Moses many years before. God gave Moses His Word to Moses and took great offense that King Saul got in the middle and screwed it up. There are certain instructions from God which carry more weight than others and this one was heavy. So when Saul disobeyed the instructions he messed up big time.

Maybe King Saul didn't understand how serious God's instructions were. However, he had no excuse because even though God didn't owe him an explanation, God still told Saul why he had to do it. Here's what God said; "I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys."

In case Saul forgot, God reminded him about what the Amalekites had done to the Children of Israel in the wilderness so he knew why God wanted them dead. That made it even worse. Now let's make this personal. Has God asked you to do something? The truth is that you probably have no idea how important His instructions are. You probably want to obey Him and protect yourself. It could be the answer to someone's prayer in the past or maybe even in the future. It could be the key to someone's freedom. It could be the fulfillment of a prophecy. You have no idea. Don't take any chances.

2) Saul had a reputation for disobedience. From early in his reign, he showed relative disregard for God's commandments. By His second year, God was already prepared to get rid of him.

Questioning God's Mercy? - Understand True Repentance

1 Samuel 13:1-2, 6-14(NKJV) - Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Saul chose for himself three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in the mountains of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent away, every man to his tent...... When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits. And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. And Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

Saul had just become king and had a mind of his own. He had no regard for God's order and chose to bypass prophet Samuel and go directly to God. His heart was in the wrong place and God saw that. Hence, even though initially God intended to establish Saul as a king for generations, God changed His mind and picked David.

By the time God told King Saul to get off the throne in 1 Samuel 15 it was no surprise. It wasn't about his disobedience when it came to the Amalekites. It was about his pattern of disobedience and his disdain for God's instructions concerning the Amalekites was the last straw. Even though King Saul eventually said he was sorry he didn't mean it.

Joel 2:12-14(NKJV) - “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him— A grain offering and a drink offering For the Lord your God?

God has great mercy and He's longsuffering but He frowns upon patterns of disobedience. At some point people who consistently and completely disregard God's commands run out of chances and hit the judgment of God headfirst. Even though God promises to always accept repentance, saying sorry alone isn't true repentance. God knows what's going on in a person's heart.

"When someone truly repents there is an admission of guilt, a complete disdain for what was done, Godly sorrow and a brand new mindset concerning the issue. If any one of those were missing, it was not true repentance and God would not accept it."

We'll continue from here next time.

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