Friday, August 22, 2008

Prophet Samuel (3) - One Man Band

Samuel’s tendency to take on additional roles led to his becoming judge over all Israel.

Samuel continued as judge over Israel all the days of his life. From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also judged Israel. And he built an altar there to the LORD (1 Sam 7:15-17).
Having one judge over the entire nation was not part of God’s plan. His plan was to have numerous local judges functioning in their local communities (Deut 1:15-18). Local people would go to judges they trusted to get their cases resolved. If a local judge made a bad decision, they could appeal to a more experienced judge. Having many judges strengthened local communities and prevented the aggregation of political power.

A prophet like Samuel would have a role in assisting with any really difficult cases that needed the wisdom of God. However, Samuel went beyond this role and set himself up as a circuit judge for the entire nation. He also set himself up as high priest by building an altar at Ramah.

This still a problem in the church. Many prophets have taken on the role of pastor. Evangelists have become pastors and pastors have appointed themselves as apostles. The church will only become strong if we all stick to the calling that God has assigned, even if we can see a gap that needs to be filled.

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