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Monday, January 26, 2015

Follow the Leader

Bad company corrupts good character, follow only godly leaders, Aaron followed the wrong people
image: Billy Frank Alexander
Insights for last week's study: scroll to the bottom of the page HERE.
Leaders get more recognition, but nothing would get done without faithful followers. 

When we get to heaven, we'll see many "behind-the-scene" followers rewarded for their kingdom work.

But following can also get us into trouble.

Aaron did fine when he followed his godly brother Moses (Exodus 4:12-16). But he messed up big time when he followed the idolatrous crowd in the Golden Calf incident (Exodus 32:1-4). And he blew it when he joined Miriam's jealous rebellion against Moses (Numbers 12).*

Scripture says "Bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthians 15:33). That's why we need to evaluate the character of those we follow. And even when we follow godly leaders, we need to check their decisions with Scripture.

The Bible is our most important resource for understanding what pleases Christ (Ephesians 5:8-17). 
* Scripture doesn't specifically say Miriam was the leader. God rebuked both her and Aaron, but he punished Miriam. This fact and the fact that Aaron had followed bad advice in the past leads me to believe he was following Miriam's lead in this situation.

Bible Study
The two examples below give us more insight into godly and ungodly "following."

1.What kind of follower was Sarah in this passage?

Genesis 20:1-5: Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. 3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” 4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.” 

2. What kind of a follower was David in this passage?

1 Samuel 24:1-7: After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. 2 So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats. 3 At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave! 4 “Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe. 5 But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” 7 So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul. (NLT) 

I encourage you to work through the study before reading these insights.

1. Sarah follows - submits - to Abraham's plan that she pretend she is his sister, and she comes very close to having an adulterous sexual relationship with Abimelek, King of Gerar.

I hope you took time to read all of Genesis 20 and see Abraham's reply when Abimelek asked him why he said Sarah was his sister:

11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’

Obviously, Sarah was a beautiful woman, but Abraham's plan was foolish, dishonest, and faithless. He used a half-truth (i.e. half-lie) to protect himself instead of trusting God. It's interesting that the pagan Abimelek showed more faith than Abraham in this passage - God spoke to Abimelek and he listened.

So, to answer our question "What kind of follower was Sarah in this passage?"

Sarah was a bad follower in this situation, doing something ungodly for Abraham when she should have respectfully refused. Even though wives are supposed to submit to their husbands, submission NEVER involves violating God's laws. Note the wording of Colossians 3:18:

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

This is also true of a soldier and his commanding officer, an employee and her boss, a pastor and his church members, a parent and her child...Scripture tells us to respect those in authority, but we are NEVER to violate God's commands in the process. God's authority is always supreme.

2. David finds his enemy Saul in a compromised position. Saul would have killed David if he'd found him in a similar situation, and Saul certainly deserved to be killed from a human standpoint considering the way he had violated God's commands and was intent on murdering David.

In addition, David's men told him God had given him this opportunity and he should take it.

But David had a faith-filled understanding of God's commands to respect those in authority. He knew God would deal with Saul in his own way and in his own time, so David refused to harm Saul and even felt remorse for taking a piece of his robe.  

So, to answer our question "What kind of follower was David in this passage?"

David was a godly follower in this situation--he overcame peer pressure and personal offense to do the right thing.  

 © Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted

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