Seminary Viewpoints

Lessons from Samuel on Reawakening in 2022: Accept, Obey, Observe

Sam Horn | January 13, 2022
Theology Thursday

As discussed by Sam Horn on The Steve Noble Show on Jan. 13

Happy 2022! No one knows what God is preparing for this year, but we do know He’s up to something that will bring great glory to Himself and great good to His people.

As Alan Benson put it last week, amid the chaos and confusion, God is on the move — and we all should want to be part of the reawakening and renewal He’s planning, and allow His Spirit to shape us for the ministry He is preparing for us. One possible way: place ourselves in the sandals of an Old Testament prophet. Samuel’s own life, and his nation’s, were similarly turned upside down (1 Sam. 15-16) as God tore the kingdom from Saul, the very picture of a prince: towering, dynamic and decisive, albeit a bit dense.

Like many of us, this great prophet was mourning the past, uncertain about the present, and fearful of the future. Why? Because God hadn’t yet revealed the brand-new thing He was accomplishing in Samuel and Israel: a blessed transformation to David and his line — and ultimately, Messiah.

All the prophet knew is that circumstances had radically and painfully changed. Dealing with the loss of a king, a friend and a dream grieved Samuel, and he “cried to the LORD all night” (1 Sam. 15:11, ESV). The way ahead seemed very dark!

But from those ensuing events, Samuel absorbed three important lessons.

Today, we need to apply these same lessons as we seek reawakening and renewal in the New Year, including this month at BJU Seminary’s CoRE Conference.

Lesson 1: instead of mourning the past, we must accept God’s decisions.

In 1 Samuel 16:1, God asks, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?” Samuel had to stop stewing over God’s determination that he disagreed with and recognize he couldn’t see everything the Lord was doing for his and Israel’s good.

Lesson 2: instead of wallowing in uncertainty, we must obey God’s instructions for the present and get with His program.

God does not let Samuel sit and sulk over the change He has announced, but gives him a personal mission: get involved! Make this happen! Fill your horn with oil and get down to Bethlehem — you have some anointing to do!

At the same time, Samuel needed to make sure he didn’t get ahead of God, rely on wrong perceptions or rush to wrong conclusions. He was to obey explicitly. When he eyed Jesse’s stately, handsome oldest son Eliab, the prophet presumed, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him” (1 Sam. 16:6). But God made it clear that He looked at inner, not outer, qualifications and directed Samuel to the “man after his own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14).

God is not limited like we are! He always penetrates to the heart of a matter.

Which brings us to Lesson 3:

Lesson 3: instead of being fearful, we must observe God’s direction about the future.

Before embarking on his mission, Samuel had pointed out the danger of crossing a violent leader: “If Saul hears it, he will kill me” (1 Sam. 16:2). Bethlehem’s leaders also “trembled” at the potential peril. But the Lord told Samuel, “I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for me him whom I declare to you” (16:3). And in fact, Samuel found protection in obeying God’s Word and direction explicitly.

The upshot: the dour, doubting and despairing prophet found recalibration and renewal by accepting God’s decisions on the past, obeying His instruction in the present and observing His direction on the future.

Reawakening Through CoRE Conference

Now to applying those lessons from Samuel as we seek reawakening and a movement of God’s Spirit in the church amid a broken culture — the theme and goal of the Seminary’s 2022 CoRE Conference.

We anticipate extraordinary presentations from insightful and forward thinkers at the event. But they certainly would agree that God’s people should apply Lesson 1 and not simply pine for and seek to restore a past when Judeo-Christian values were dominant in our culture and politics. Coming up with the right arguments and putting the right people into the White House, Congress and courts will not resolve the issue. (Remember that “conservatives” appointed by Republicans wrote key decisions establishing abortion-on-demand, same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights.)

Rather, consider that God’s will may well be a great harvest in-gathering by a church under tremendous persecution. Like Peter and John, our blessing may come in being “counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” as we apply Lesson 2: obeying His instructions to live holy lives and to fearlessly proclaim the Word.

Which underscores another purpose of CoRE Conference: a time of mutual encouragement in preparation for the challenges to come, along with personal reflection and recalibration following Lesson 3: seeking God’s direction for our churches and ministry in the future. Our intention is to punctuate the teaching sessions with seasons of fervent prayer.

God is the only one with vision strong enough to penetrate to the heart of a matter, a man or a broken culture. To find renewal in 2022, we must learn to “see with our ears” — listening to God and seeking His will — and not just our eyes!