The Decree to slay utterly

Posted Aug 05, 2018 by Ruben Olschewsky in Blog Hits: 66

Saul and the Amalekites

Foreword

The contents of this booklet are based on the assumption that the reader is not just beginning in their study on the character of God. There are a number of steps which I believe are necessary, and dare I say critical, to be truly benefited by the study contained in this booklet. Our Heavenly Father teaches all His children by repetition and expansion. A simple example of this would be revealed in the prophetic book of Daniel where chapter 2, 7, 8 and 11 form a repeating and expanding vista of events that have and are to transpire upon the scenes of Earth’s history. I would suggest that a reader be familiar with the themes below to get the greatest benefit from the contents of this booklet;

  1. The Divine Pattern (based on 1 Corinthians 8:6) demonstrates the relationship sustained between the only true God and His only begotten Son. Expansion of this principle is found in the following booklet; “Divine Pattern of Life”
  2. The Everlasting Gospel (based on Revelation 14:6, Galatians 1:6-8, 3:8, Hebrews 4:2,) reveals that the same message of mercy has been given from Adam all the way through to us. No matter what time in history we focus on, the plan of salvation has always offered the same salvation, the same power to overcome through the same and only loving and merciful mediator Jesus Christ. I recommend the reading of the following booklets for an expansion on this; “Discarding Augustine’s covenant glasses” and “A Priest forever”.
  3. The ministration of Death (based on 2 Cor 3:6-11, Deuteronomy 32:39, Galatians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 15:31, 2 Corinthians 5:16-19) is the process whereby the “old carnal man” is put to death that we may be raised to newness of life in Christ Jesus. To expand this teaching please study the following booklets; “the Ministration of Death” and “the Two Mirrors”.

Introduction

It is my desire, in this study, to reconcile the violent decrees proceeding from God in the old testament with the life of Jesus, the Son of God, in the New Testament. The reason this is important to me is that there is a number of statements made about Jesus Christ in the Bible and statements which He is recorded as having said which seem to place a contrasting picture when comparing the Character of God in the Old Testament with the life of the Son of God in the New Testament. This Booklet will endeavour to answer some questions regarding a biblical account which to the surface reader is a very clear cut revelation that God kills the wicked, whether by decree or by His own hand. It is my prayer that you will be challenged to consider an alternative that reconciles the life of Jesus Christ with the God of the Old Testament.

Christ is the full Revelation of God

Jesus Christ claimed to be the full revelation of God (His Father). The texts below furnish a short list identifying some of the Biblical texts on this topic ;

Revelation 1:1 (KJV) 1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him……….

2 Corinthians 4:6 (KJV) 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 1:3 (KJV) 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

1 John 5:20 (KJV) 20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Exodus 23:20-21 (KJV) 20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name (character) is in him.

Matthew 11:27 (KJV) 27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

John 14:9 (KJV) 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

To clarify even further I have included one of many statements from the Spirit of Prophecy as an expansion on what the scriptures already make plain;

 

Christ the Revelation of God, 

For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. John 16:27. { HP 18.1}

In viewing the holiness and glory of the God of the universe, we are terrified, for we know that His justice will not permit Him to clear the guilty. But we need not remain in terror; for Christ came to the world to reveal the character of God, to make plain to us His paternal love toward His adopted children. We are not to estimate the character of God by the stupendous works of nature alone, but by the simple, lovely life of Jesus, who presented Jehovah as more merciful, more compassionate, more tender, than our earthly parents. { HP 18.2}

Jesus presented the Father as one to whom we could give our confidence and present our wants. When we are in terror of God, and overwhelmed with the thought of His glory and majesty, the Father points us to Christ as His representative. What you see revealed in Jesus, of tenderness, compassion, and love, is the reflection of the attributes of the Father. The cross of Calvary reveals to man the love of God. Christ represents the Sovereign of the universe as a God of love. By the mouth of the prophet He said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee” ( Jeremiah 31:3). { HP 18.3}

If Jesus Christ is the window through which we see the Father clearly, then the life of Jesus Christ, as revealed in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), is the window through which we see the dealings of God in the Old Testament. This can become quite challenging as the Old Testament appears to record many instances where God either personally takes the life of Men, Women and Children or orders the destruction of them by His “chosen” people, and yet the life of Jesus Christ involves not a single killing act by Christ Himself nor His order to slay anyone.

How do you Read?

When studying any theme in Scripture it is important to ensure that our definitions do not do violence to the use of language which has a specified meaning. The importance of this is made evident by the rules of interpretation given to us through William Miller, an extract of which is provided below and the entirety of which you may peruse in the book (Memoirs of William Miller, by Sylvester Bliss, chapter 4);

Rules of interpretation

I. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible. Proof, Matt.5:18.   {1853 SB, MWM 70.2}

II.All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by a diligent application and study. Proof, 2Tim.3:15-17.   {1853 SB, MWM 70.3}

IV.To understand doctrine, bring all the Scriptures together on the subject you wish to know; then let every word have its proper influence; and if you can form your theory without a contradiction, you cannot be in error. Proof, Isa.28:7-29; 35:8. Prov.19:27. Luke 24:27,44,45. Rom.16:26. James 5:19. 2Pet.1:19,20.   {1853 SB, MWM 70.5}

V.Scripture must be its own expositor, since it is a rule of itself. If I depend on a teacher to expound to me, and he should guess at its meaning, or desire to have it so on account of his sectarian creed, or to be thought wise, then his guessing, desire, creed or wisdom, is my rule, and not the Bible. Proof, Ps.19:7-11; 119:97-105. Mat.23:8-10. 1Cor.2:12-16. Ezk.34:18,19. Luke 11:52. Matt.2:7,8.   {1853 SB, MWM 70.6}

XI.If a word makes good sense as it stands, and does no violence to the simple laws of nature, it is to be understood literally; if not, figuratively. Rev.12:1,2; 17:3-7. {1853 SB, MWM 71.6}

XII.To learn the meaning of a figure, trace the word through your Bible, and when you find it explained, substitute the explanation for the word used; and, if it make good sense, you need not look further; if not, look again. {1853 SB, MWM 71.7}

By carefully examining these rules it becomes evident that the meaning of each word must hold true unless the application of the meaning would cause violence to be done to the “simple laws of nature”. I will use an example to illustrate:

John 6:54-55 (KJV) 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

If the words of Christ were to be taken literally we would have a contradiction on our hands. The Old testament reveals about which meats are clean and which are not. This is revealed in Leviticus 11. Amongst clean meat the consumption of human flesh is not included, hence it is unclean. The consumption of blood is also unlawful as is expressed in the following verse;

Leviticus 17:10-12 (KJV Strong's) 10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. 12 Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.

It is clear then that this literal reading was not the intended meaning indicated by Christ. The following text furnishes the correct understanding;

John 6:63 (KJV Strong's) 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

It is with these thoughts in mind that some principles need to be addressed in our understanding of the character of God. The Bible records many cases were large numbers of people lose their lives, seemingly by the direct decree of God. How does this harmonise with the rest of the Gospel where the life of Christ demonstrates a completely different revelation of God’s Character?

When dictators exterminate large numbers of people we refer to them as monsters, criminals and tyrants. We refer to their acts as acts of violence, genocide, atrocities etc.

We only need to glimpse into the acts of genocide in the last 200 years to discover the atrocities which have been repeated on this Earth since the entrance of Sin some 6000 years ago.

However, when the bible refers to the extermination of sinners in their thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions, we call that righteous judgment. This is doing violence to the general understanding of language. This kind of skewing the meaning of words is a gross misuse of language and only deepens the hatred which the world has for our heavenly Father. For example;

  1. The Destruction of the wicked in the world-wide Flood (Genesis 6 – 8)
  2. Fire and brimstone destroying the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19)
  3. The slaughter of 185,000 Assyrian Soldiers by the “Angel of the Lord” (2Kings 19)
  4. The Decree of God to Saul the King demanding the utter Destruction of all the Amalekites (Men, Women, children, livestock) without mercy. (1Samuel 15)

We must be true to the use of language in our study of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the truth about our God will be revealed. This same process will also be necessary when speaking about the “mirror”.

The Mirror

The term “Mirror” is intended to describe the process by which God reveals, by a violent and merciless decree or revelation, what lies buried deep in the heart of the sinner. It is then up to the sinner to decide whether this is a Mirror-image of him/herself or else judge that this is simply a manifestation of the character of God. If the sinner chooses to judge that violence is a revelation of the character of God, then he/she must reject the obvious manifestations of the character of God which already exist and are clearly in opposition to what is being revealed to him/her through the violent and merciless decree or revelation.

One of the conditions of the mirror principle is the ability of God to read the thoughts and intents of the heart. The scriptures provide no lack of evidence upon this attribute and clearly reveal that God is the only one who has this power;

Hebrews 4:12 (KJV) 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Psalms 139:2 (KJV) 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

Jeremiah 17:10 (KJV) 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Revelation 2:23 (KJV) 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Daniel 2:28 (KJV Strong's)28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;

it is this attribute that gives God the special power to reveal what lies hidden in the sinful heart. The natural man cannot read his own heart, it is simply too deceptive and wicked as is revealed by scripture;

Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV) 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Psalms 53:1-3 (KJV) 1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. 2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. 3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Proverbs 28:26 (KJV) 26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

James 1:14-15 (KJV) 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Romans 8:7 (KJV) 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

It is therefore needful that God should reveal to mankind what is hidden within in order to save him. As God reveals what is within the heart it is generally mankind who cannot believe that this is a revelation of him/herself and so the attributes shown in the mirror are projected onto the mirror (which is God). Man in his own strength cannot be a mirror because within himself is a deceitful heart and he lacks the capacity to read the mind. Thus when man attempts to step into the realm of God and judge the motives of others, he becomes a liar.

 

A Mirror not a Lie

There is a fine line between the mirror and a lie. This fine line cannot be crossed and must be clearly defined so that we are not without an answer to the inevitable accusations that our heavenly Father is the source of the arbitrary decrees to slaughter men, women, children, babies etc.

While the secular majority see this murderous behaviour as repulsive, Christianity does not appear to have a problem with a God who expresses these deplorable character attributes. I personally do have a problem with this view, because the Revelator of the Father’s character (Jesus Christ) did not perform any killing acts, given He states He has fully revealed the Character of His Father to the world and demonstrated this through His whole life and practical ministry of three and half years.

Let us quickly look at two biblical examples which reveal a mirror and a lie and then we will delve into the main subject of the study – “God’s decree to Saul in asking for the utter destruction of the Amalekites”;

 

Example 1 The LIE (Joseph with his brothers)

Genesis 42:9-13 (KJV) 9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. 10 And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. 11 We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies. 12 And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. 13 And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.

The Spirit of prophecy has the following to say about this event;

On their arrival they were directed to the king’s deputy, and with other applicants they came to present themselves before the ruler of the land. And they “bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.” “Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.” His Hebrew name had been exchanged for the one bestowed upon him by the king, and there was little resemblance between the prime minister of Egypt and the stripling whom they had sold to the Ishmaelites. As Joseph saw his brothers stooping and making obeisance, his dreams came to his mind, and the scenes of the past rose vividly before him. His keen eye, surveying the group, discovered that Benjamin was not among them. Had he also fallen a victim to the treacherous cruelty of those savage men? He determined to learn the truth. “Ye are spies,” he said sternly; “to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.” { PP 224.3}

Joseph accused his brothers of being spies, not to reveal what was in THEIR hearts, but to determine what had happened to his brother Benjamin. It is certainly understandable that much of the past would have come sweeping back as Satan would, no doubt, have desired to kindle hatred between Joseph and his brothers. His brothers had not been entirely truthful about the details of their brethren when asked by Joseph, they had said;

Genesis 42:13 (KJV ) 13 And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.

They had withheld the truth of what they had done to that ONE who was not. However, they did tell the truth about their purpose for being in Egypt and were certainly not in the land to spy it out. Therefore, the words of Joseph were not a mirror for he used the lie (that they were spies) to gain information he wanted. Thus what is being revealed here is an act of manipulation which is needs based, “I want, therefore I will give or do something in order to get what I want”. This kind of action, although commonly expressed in relationships, is a self focused act. The Greek word used is “Eros” for it is a love which gives or manipulates in order to get. Joseph loved his brothers, there is no doubt about that and he had forgiven them. But Joseph used his position to manipulate his brothers in such a way as to get what he wanted. There is a totally selfless love which gives only and does not expect anything in return. This kind of love risks being hurt and losing everything and is identified by the Greek word “Agape”. God is Agape (1 John 4:8) and if Joseph had expressed Agape he would have risked the possibility of never finding out about his brother which would mean living with suffering of heart. God certainly used this situation to deepen the remorse of Joseph’s brothers but it was not a mirror.

Example 2; The MIRROR (Solomon with the two harlot mothers)

1 Kings 3:23-28 (KJV Strong's) 23 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living. 24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. 25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. 26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. 27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof. 28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

Sister White makes the following comments on these texts;

He who in his early reign had displayed so much wisdom and sympathy in restoring a helpless babe to its unfortunate mother (see 1 Kings 3:16-28), fell so low as to consent to the erection of an idol to whom living children were offered as sacrifices. He who in his youth was endowed with discretion and understanding, and who in his strong manhood had been inspired to write, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” ( Proverbs 14:12), in later years departed so far from purity as to countenance licentious, revolting rites connected with the worship of Chemosh and Ashtoreth. He who at the dedication of the temple had said to his people, “Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God” ( 1 Kings 8:61), became himself an offender, in heart and life denying his own words. He mistook license for liberty. He tried—but at what cost!—to unite light with darkness, good with evil, purity with impurity, Christ with Belial. { PK 57.2}

As the years went by and Solomon’s fame increased, he sought to honor God by adding to his mental and spiritual strength, and by continuing to impart to others the blessings he received. None understood better than he that it was through the favor of Jehovah that he had come into possession of power and wisdom and understanding, and that these gifts were bestowed that he might give to the world a knowledge of the King of kings. { PK 33.1}

In the judgment of Solomon over the two harlots, God had given Solomon an understanding heart and the Spirit of God had revealed what was in the heart of the wicked mother. His decree was not a revelation of his own will or desire, as is clearly expressed in the scriptures, but the work of bringing to light the hidden character of both mothers. That is a mirror!

The Spirit of Prophecy further expands on this with the following statements;

The law of God is the mirror to show man the defects in his character. { RH March 8, 1870, par. 6 }

The love and honor and perfection revealed in the Gospel are a revelation to man of the character of God. The justice and goodness and benevolence that were seen in the character of Christ are to be repeated in the lives of those who accept the privileges of the Gospel. By a study of the word, we are to see Him as He is, and, charmed with the view of His divine perfection, we are to grow into the same image. We need to understand that the Gospel fully reveals the glory of the Lord. It is the mirror that reveals the character of God to the converted soul. The likeness of God is revealed in the perfect character of His Son, that we may understand what it means to be made in the likeness of the image of God, and what we may become if by constantly beholding we allow ourselves to be changed from “glory to glory.” { ST February 24, 1909, par. 3 }

Please note that the Gospel is a mirror “to the converted soul”, a soul that sees through the eyes of Jesus. To the converted and unconverted soul, the law is a mirror that reveals the defects of man’s character by comparison with the character of God.

If God has written His law upon the hearts of all men that none are without excuse, such as is expressed below;

Romans 2:13-16 (KJV)  13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Romans 1:20 (KJV) 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (KJV) 31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:  32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:   33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

then would it not be clear that when instructed of God to kill, one would, or should ask why? This would appear to be out of character for a merciful loving God.

Abraham posed this very question;

Genesis 18:23 (KJV) 23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

As did Moses;

Exodus 32:10-14 (KJV) 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. 11 And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? 12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. 14 And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

Consider the following statement and its connection with the decree to slay utterly in the OT;

In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days He speaks to them by the testimonies of His Spirit. There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will and the course that He would have them pursue. But will they profit by His teachings? will they receive His reproofs and heed His warnings? God will accept of no partial obedience; He will sanction no compromise with self. { 4T 147.4}

An interesting statement considering that God has nowhere in the writings of Ellen G White, or the Pioneers, ordered anyone killed!!!!

 

The Decree to Slay without mercy

Let us now use the principles expressed above and move to the story of Saul and the destruction of the Amalekites to see how God worked with Saul.

1 Samuel 15:1-3 (KJV Strong's) 1 Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. 2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

The bible makes clear that Samuel had received a direct decree from the Lord. Samuel was not moved of his own desire or motive.

But the Lord sent His servant with another message to Saul. By obedience he might still prove his fidelity to God and his worthiness to walk before Israel. Samuel came to the king and delivered the word of the Lord. That the monarch might realize the importance of heeding the command, Samuel expressly declared that he spoke by divine direction, by the same authority that had called Saul to the throne. The prophet said, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” The Amalekites had been the first to make war upon Israel in the wilderness; and for this sin, together with their defiance of God and their debasing idolatry, the Lord, through Moses, had pronounced sentence upon them. By divine direction the history of their cruelty toward Israel had been recorded, with the command, “Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.” Deuteronomy 25:19. For four hundred years the execution of this sentence had been deferred; but the Amalekites had not turned from their sins. The Lord knew that this wicked people would, if it were possible, blot out His people and His worship from the earth. Now the time had come for the sentence, so long delayed, to be executed. { PP 627.3}

Please note the following points in the previous statement;

  1. Samuel spake by divine direction
  2. It is stressed that this decree is coming by the same AUTHORITY that had called Saul to the throne
  3. The destruction of the Amalekites was a certainty because their actions were going to bring about the destruction of Israel and the worship of the only true God. Thus both nations could not receive protection as God was keeping both alive. The Amalekites had been guilty of far more and thus the breach of protection was greater for Amalekites. They would lose when coming up against Israel.

We conclude therefore that God spoke to Samuel. However, the next statement may help to enlighten by what authority God did what He did;

(The statement relates to the order of Saul to kill Jonathan after Jonathan had ignorantly broken his Father’s decree and eaten some honey)

Jonathan’s Life Is Saved

Saul could not claim the honor of the victory, but he hoped to be honored for his zeal in maintaining the sacredness of his oath. The people refused to allow the sentence to be executed. Braving the anger of the king, they declared, “Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day.” { EP 453.2 }

Jonathan’s deliverance was a severe reproof to the king’s rashness. Saul felt a presentiment that his curses would return upon his own head. He returned to his home, moody and dissatisfied. { EP 453.3 }

Those most ready to excuse themselves in sin are often most severe in condemning others. Many, like Saul, when convinced that the Lord is not with them, refuse to see in themselves the cause of their trouble. They indulge in cruel judgment of others who are better than they. { EP 453.4 }

Often those who are seeking to exalt themselves are brought into positions where their true character is revealed. (the principle of the mirror entering!) So it was in the case of Saul. Kingly honors were dearer to him than justice, mercy, or benevolence. Thus the people were led to see their error. They had exchanged the pious prophet, whose prayers had brought down blessings, for a king who had prayed for a curse upon them. { EP 453.5 }

Had not the men of Israel interposed, Jonathan, their deliverer, would have perished by the king’s decree. With what misgivings must that people afterward have followed Saul’s guidance! How bitter the thought that he had been placed upon the throne by their own act! { EP 454.1 }

Notice the connections that are being made here?

  1. God was not with Saul, so Saul needed someone to take the responsibility who was actually less guilty than himself - Jonathan.
  2. Through this event, both Saul and Israel have the opportunity to see their great sin. (Mirror)
  3. Who placed Saul upon the throne? Israel!!!

Why is this last point so significant? Because this plays an important part in understanding the decree to mercilessly destroy the Amalekites.

“….. Samuel expressly declared that he spoke by divine direction, by the same AUTHORITY that had called Saul to the throne.”{PP627.3}

In Saul, God had given to Israel a king after their own heart, as Samuel said, “Behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired.” 1 Samuel 12:13. His appearance accorded with their conceptions of royal dignity. His personal valor and ability in the conduct of armies were qualities they regarded as best calculated to secure respect from other nations. They did not ask for one who had true nobility of character, who possessed the love and fear of God. They were not seeking God’s way, but their own. Therefore God gave them such a king as they desired—one whose character was a reflection of their own. { EP 461.3 }

Is it possible that the decree to slay the Amalekites was a desperate attempt by God to show Saul that there was something really wrong in Saul’s own character?

God loved Saul. He did not want Saul to sin. The only way this is going to make sense is if we can connect this event in the Old testament with a similar instance in the New Testament life and ministry of Jesus.

I would like to share one instance which may involve a “decree” on the part of Christ depending on how we read the story;

John 2:19-21 (KJV) 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

Christ was speaking of His temple (body), not the temple in Jerusalem and the text clearly does not have an IF present, either in the Greek nor in any other translation I have found.

Christ did not say “IF you destroy this temple…..” He said “DESTROY this temple”. It was a clear revelation of what Israel would do and when heard at the time of its proclamation it was not understood. But the words were accurate to the very letter.

These words of Jesus could be understood as a divine order…. “destroy this temple….”

There are numerous other examples where Christ reveals what is in the heart of an individual, but this occasion was, in my opinion, more closely related to the topic at hand due to the construction of the Greek text as using a decree-like syntax. Christ’s words revealed what was buried deep within the heart of Israel and its leaders. The same is true for the story with Saul and the Amalekites.

To provide additional evidence on this train of thought I would like to present a number of statements which shed light upon the character of Saul and the work of God to reveal this hidden heart-secret;

Speaking now in relation to the killing of the priests of God by Saul and Doeg (please remember that Doeg was an Edomite) in 1 Samuel 22:7-18 we read;

17, 18. Cruelty of Saul and Doeg—Saul’s rage was not appeased by the noble stand of his footmen, and he turned to the man whom he had connected with himself as a friend, because he had reported against the priests. Thus this Edomite, who was as base a character as was Barabbas, slew with his own hand eighty-five priests of the Lord in one day; and he and Saul, and he who was a murderer from the beginning, gloried over the massacre of the servants of the Lord. Like savage beasts who have tasted of blood, so were Saul and Doeg ( The Signs of the Times, September 21, 1888). { 2BC 1020.4 }

In the command to utterly slay ALL the Amalekites, God was revealing the depths of the depravity of Israel’s sins and the king’s sins.

Why did Israel not withdraw from killing the children and women of the Amalekites (an act of mercy)?

Because in the heart of Israel was the same seed as that which prompted the heart of Saul. It was the heart of the murderer from the beginning!

Finally, consider the following sequence;

Why did Saul allow the livestock that was valuable and spare king Agag of the Amalekites?

“Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.” { PP 629.1}

What was considered vile and refuse? Just the livestock which they killed? Or were the women and children also considered vile garbage? Why then not the king as well? Was he not guilty as king of the Amalekites?

Consider the moral degradation and worthlessness that has taken place in the mind of Israel and their King. When livestock is considered of more value than human life there is a shift in value that is diametrically opposed to the kingdom of God.

This is what the SOP has to say about Agag;

He commands that the king of the Amalekites be brought before him. Above all who had fallen by the sword of Israel, Agag was responsible as the upholder of the debasing heathenism of his people, and the instigator of their revolting cruelties; it was just that upon him should fall the heaviest penalty. He came at the prophet’s command, in the pride of royalty, flattering himself that he could overawe the servant of God, and that all danger of death was past. { ST August 31, 1882, par. 18 }

There was a serious problem with Saul’s moral compass and our Father was trying to reveal this to Him, through Christ, in decreeing unlawful actions through the prophet of God. Saul interpreted this as a license to kill. Instead of seeing a revelation of his own morally worthless character, Saul esteemed this decree to slay the Amalekites a revelation of the will of God.

This is not the only time in which we see this process at work. Consider the following examples;

Exodus 32:27-28 (KJV) 27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. 28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

It was without hesitation that the Levites killed their brethren. Yet this decree is in direct violation of the commandment “thou shalt NOT kill”.

It is necessary for us to consider carefully what kind of God we serve. The Character we judge our God to have will be the character by which we will be judged in the end, as it is written;

Matthew 7:1-2 (KJV) 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Psalms 50:20-21 (KJV) 20 Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. 21 These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

Psalms 18:25-26 (KJV) 25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; 26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.

Romans 2:1-8 (KJV) 1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

I pray that this has opened to you a view that God is not violent and harsh but loving, longsuffering, merciful and abundant in goodness. Though the Old Testament contains some very difficult sections which appear at the surface to paint God as violent and cruel, with diligent prayer and study we can see Him just as He is, whom to know is everlasting life.