50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:50-54 NKJV
Samuel continued the process of delivering Israel from the Philistines, but it was going to be by the divine power of God and not by the sword.
Israel had pretty much turned their backs upon God and were worshiping the gods of the Canaanites, Baal and Ashtoreth. The worship of these demonic idols was more like a drunken party than a reverent worship of the Lord.
Many of us have lived like this in our own past, “worshiping” at the bar or the night club, with the bartender being our “priest”. Only the power of God can release us from such bondage. We often only turn to God as a last resort after suffering as the result of our sinful behavior.
After twenty more years of oppression by the Philistines, Israel had also had enough. They looked to Samuel, their priest and prophet, to seek help from God to deliver them from their enemy.
Samuel agreed, but laid out a condition: they had to be willing to give up their worship of idols. The people agreed, and Samuel gathered the people of the land together to seek the Lord and His aid.
When we get the seed of willingness to follow God rather than to continue in our old, depressing ways, great things will happen. When we open the door of willingness a crack, God will come through and help us to victory.
The Philistine got word that Israel was gathered in one place, so they decided to wipe them out once and for all. As the children of Israel learned they were coming, they begged Samuel to pray to God all the harder.
9 And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. Then Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10 Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. 1 Samuel 7:9-10 NKJV
The Old Testament sacrifices were seen by God as pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the only sacrifice that could truly atone for our sinful acts. Here, Samuel’s sacrifice of the innocent lamb pointed to the sacrifice of the innocent Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
God responded to Samuel’s sacrifice just as He responded to Jesus’s sacrifice – with overpowering phenomena creating phenomenal results. Thunder from heaven defeated the Philistines for Samuel, as a great earthquake with people coming out from their graves defeated the unbelief of the Roman guards who had crucified Jesus.
After they were subdued, the Philistines no longer entered the land of Israel. But their complete defeat was still to come through the divinely guided hand of a shepherd boy, the future king David.
What do you need deliverance from today? We only need to open the door of willingness a crack to receive heavenly blessings.
What idols distract us from God?
We all have “idols” in our lives which can draw us away from spending time with the Lord. It has been said that the enemy would rather distract us with a thousand things than to have us spend one minute in prayer. In my case, my own flesh does a good job of providing prayer distraction.
Lord, show us Your presence, which is greater than any distracting idol. Help us to spend time each day in undistracted devotion to You. Deliver us from all our enemies, including those which hold us captive or torment us with the threat of a wasted life. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.