“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…”(1 Samuel 15:22).
The Lord does not desire for us to live a life of legalism and ritual, but He desires for us to have a daily relationship with Him. The most important aspect of having a relationship with the Lord is obeying His commandments. Jesus said; “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Obeying His commandments does not only pertain to the written revelations of the Word of God (Logos) contained in the Scriptures, but the living and spoken Word of God (Rhema) revealed to us directly by the Holy Spirit. When God speaks, He expects us to listen.
The Scriptures are our guide. They give us a framework of Who God is and what He expects from us. Through reading the Bible we learn about God and His precepts and commandments. We learn about Him through the Scriptural accounts of His relationship and interactions with mankind throughout history, and the revelation (Rhema) He spoke to men and women of the faith in times past. Since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8); He continues to reveal Himself in, to, and through mankind through His spoken Word today.
Out of the many ways God speaks and reveals Himself to mankind, the main way is through His servants. In the Old Testament, God’s servants were known as priests and prophets. The priest’s main duty was to serve God and minister to Him through animal sacrifices as offerings to the Lord, for the purpose of making intercession for the sins of the people. They were the only ones who could approach the Sanctuary, where God’s presence dwelt, without being struck down. The priests were chosen by God out of the lineage of Levi (one of the twelve sons of Jacob); specifically Aaron, the brother of Moses. The first priests were Aaron and his four sons, with Aaron serving as High Priest (Exodus 28:1). The first-born male descendants of Aaron would become priests for proceeding generations of Israelites and Jews (Exodus 40:15).
The prophets were chosen by God as well. Their calling included: speaking the Lord’s message to the people; anointing kings, priests, and prophets; and proclaiming either God’s blessing or God’s judgment against the nations and over the land. Though God spoke to mankind from the beginning of Creation, and there were most likely other prophets whom He selected from among the people for His purposes, (i.e. Abraham who is called a prophet in Genesis 20:7, and Enoch who prophesied in Jude 1:14) the first and fullest example of someone walking in the prophetic office was Moses. The Lord spoke to Moses face to face and then Moses would reveal the will of God to the Israelites (Exodus 33:11). He spoke God’s Word and God’s Laws to the people, anointed the priests, appointed judges, and led the newly formed nation of Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land.
In the New Testament, God’s chosen servants are divided into five distinct offices of ministry. These five offices are; Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher (Ephesians 4:11). Within these offices of ministry are various operations, administrations, and gifts of the Holy Spirit; which God distributes as He chooses, to whom He chooses, for the building up of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). The Apostle builds the Church by bringing together Christian leaders and new believers through a move of the Holy Spirit, to begin a work of Christ within a community. After laying the foundation for that work, they appoint a leader over the newly formed group and go on to their next mission. They are the true missionaries who have signs, wonders, and miracles accompany them when they preach (2 Corinthians 12:12).
Evangelists proselytize, Pastors shepherd the flock of believers, and Teachers teach God’s Word to the Church. The Prophet of today is no different than the prophets of old. They speak God’s Word to the people. They make pronouncements and proclamations as the Holy Spirit gives them utterance. They anoint and launch leaders into their destiny who have been chosen by God for His purposes in both the Church and Secular arenas. Most importantly and because of their close relationship and walk with the Lord, they know what God is going to do before He does it as He reveals it to them (Amos 3:7).
One of the best examples of the importance of obeying God when He speaks through His servants can be found in 1 Samuel 15. In this portion of Scripture we see that God has sent His prophet Samuel to give a message to Saul, King of Israel. God commanded Saul to send his army to attack and totally destroy the Amalekites and not let anything or anyone survive. God was judging the Amalekites through Saul due to their wickedness against Israel. King Saul sent over two hundred thousand troops who attacked and killed all of the Amalekites as God had commanded. However, Saul decided that Agag King of the Amalekites should be spared, as well as the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs, and everything that was good.
The Lord was angry with Saul because he disobeyed God’s instructions through the prophet. When Samuel the prophet questioned the King about this the King told Samuel; “I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
After being confronted by the prophet again the King said; “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.”
King Saul thought he could disobey the Lord and get away with it by giving sacrifices to God. God was requiring the King’s obedience, not a sacrifice. Because of Saul’s sin God rejected him as king and gave the kingdom to another. “Then Samuel said, ‘Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.’ Samuel put Agag to death before the Lord at Gilgal. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.”
Today we encourage you to seek the Lord and obey His voice. The Lord requires your obedience over sacrifice. Often times in obeying the Lord there will be a sacrifice one has to make. However, it is not the sacrifice itself that pleases God but the obedience of your heart. So obey the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your life this day. You can start by praying this prayer aloud to Him;
Dear Lord Jesus,
I ask that You would forgive me of my sins and wash me clean with Your blood. I desire to know Your will and obey Your voice. Speak to me through the still small voice of the Holy Spirit within my heart, through Your Word, and through Your servants and prophets. I repent for disobeying You Lord, and choose to serve You with my whole heart this day.
In Jesus Mighty Name I Pray,