Posted by: Ed | March 6, 2010

Tough Question that we won’t cover

There is a very difficult question that will beg to be answered in the course of the story of Saul that we will simply not have enough time in the message to take up. It comes up in the 1 Sam 15 where Saul is commanded by Samuel on God’s behalf to destroy the Amalekites. This is one of several places in the Old Testament in which Israel is commanded to wipe out a people. How can this be?
John Piper’s answer to this question is one perspective that I mostly agree with. It is a fairly short answer, about 5 1/2 minutes. It is a very “Calvinistic” answer. Because of the brevity he doesn’t deal with a lot of the pathos of the question, but it is a good answer. Let me know what you think.



  1. Great response from John!

  2. Ed – I haven’t heard your sermon yet but I have two thoughts. Piper makes complete sense but it’s hard for me to read the O.T. without putting a N.T. overlay on it. God has spoken and acted through Christ so it’s a new scene. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, the game has changed. In these last days, something new is happening.

    However, there is still the issue of faith and works and yes, God’s rule is supreme. The story from 1 Samuel 15 reminds me of Abraham. Abraham’s real test wasn’t in Gen.15 and believing that Sarah would bear him a child. Instead the real test came when God asked him to kill his son. Abraham’s faith pushed him to the point of murder whereas Saul’s faith didn’t quite cut the mustard. He didn’t fully listen to the Lord’s command.

    And then there is the whole issue of how Israel factors in here. But personally, I’m glad Jesus came and changed the story. It’s a new world and the kingdom is breaking in. Amen.

  3. PS – I put a school art project on my blog. You might find it of interest as it relates to JCC and the church in both an early and current context.

  4. I’m glad I don’t have to have an answer about the Amalekites. But like Lise, I am also glad that the life, words and works of Jesus, who was the revealed will of God, all indicate the NEW COVENANT OF GRACE AND MERCY!!! HALLELUJAH!!!
    Question for John Piper…..If God chooses to kill people through sickness, why did Jesus heal ALL who came to Him? Why did He not say, even once, “sorry pal, I won’t heal you because my merciful and loving Father is taking you out though this wasting, painful disease.”
    If, in the presumed “sovereignty” of God the time and method of all our deaths are set by Him, Why would Jesus heal the sick, and raise the dead………. and tell ALL His followers to do the same?
    Unfortunately, many in the western church chalk up the works of the devil to the “sovereignty of God.” IE wasting disease and premature death.
    My personal belief is that in this new covenant our loving Father would prefer that we live healthy, long lives, fall asleep, and go to be with Him. The devil would prefer otherwise, but the church can do a lot about that. Don’t know about others….. but the former is the way me and mine are planning to go.
    The subject of Martyrs is a whole other subject for another sermonette.

    • Hey, John, how about this thought–

      Jesus did not heal everyone–He left some places in a hurry with the coppers on His heels! In doing so, He surely left many sick and dying behind Him.

      It still comes down to this–there is the Best Offering and the de rigeur refusal of mankind to submit to the will of God.

      • Hey Deborah,
        thanks for the thought. Another is this…..I think the ones left behind could find a way to Him…..and get what everyone else got when they came to Him. The best part is this…..Jesus said ” I ONLY do what I see my Father doing…..what did He do with EVERY one who came to Him……what the father was doing and still wants to do (Healing and freeing the oppressed) if we will approach Him in the same way. We can’t let OUR past experiences of people not getting healed prejudice us against the revealed WILL of God in Jesus. If you would like I could email you a record of scores of miracles I have seen & kept over the last 10 years….It could encourage you?

  5. Wow. Your message hit the nail on the head today. Can’t wait to forward the link. Thank you!

  6. great clip! I enjoy reading much of Piper and I think he did a great job of exegeting this passage. I also think that in our culture, we sometimes forget to remember that He is sovereign, and we are not; He is omniscient, and we are not.

    Thanks again for this excellent footnote to your sermen Ed!

  7. Ed, I can’t wait to get caught up on your messages from the OT. I’m behind on my podcasts, my blog, my email, … and now I’m jealous to not be at the leadership summit w/ you, soaking it up.
    – Mark
    ps- i’m on the Kansas bandwagon. Who did you go w/? In all 5 brackets?

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