In the past few sermons, we have seen Israel learn some hard and painful lessons. I say “learn” casually, for they never did really seem to learn from God’s judgments. After they brooded over their failures and God’s judgments for about twenty years, suffering oppression from the Philistines during the whole time, Samuel finally returns to the forefront of the action. What follows is a series of events that reveal Israel was indeed ready once again for God’s presence. Their readiness is awakened by the preaching of the Word of God, particularly His Law. They take action: they repent, cleanse their lives of idols, and turn to God once again. As the enemy attacks and God intervenes to bring victory, we see Samuel leading the people in a full national revival, culminating in justice and peace throughout the land.
This victory, however, must begin with the difficult task of preaching, repentance, and discipline.
The first thing Samuel does is preach. The message? Israel needed to remove the idols from their lives and homes: “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines” (1 Sam. 7:3).
It was a poignant message, considering everything we’ve learned since chapter 2. The priesthood was corrupted. They perverted the sacrifices of the Lord and committed adultery and fornication. They bullied the people who came to offer sacrifices, forcing them to go against the law and against their own consciences by leaving the meat raw with the priest (2:15–17). There can be no doubt that this began to take a toll on the people’s view of religion as well. The priests were not taking the law seriously. This sends a message to the people: God need not be taken too seriously. Over time, the people grow more and more lax. Perhaps the One True God is not so special after all. Soon they have welcomed foreign gods into their homes. “Ashtaroth” was a very prominent one, a goddess of sex and war worshipped widely throughout the Mediterranean region for centuries. She was a familiar idol to the Israelites who had adopted her already in times past (Judg. 2:13; 10:6).
As Israel learned, the problem with such idolatry does not manifest so much until a crisis hits. At such a time, you need a solid religious response—one that appeals to and glorifies the One True God. But if you have for decades diluted and perverted your faith, you will not know how to respond. Everything you try will be entangled with superstition and wrong doctrine because everything you believe is already corrupted so. This is exactly what we see when Israel tries to trot out the Ark as a magic remedy for military victory. We saw it with them again last time when the Ark returned. They did not know how to approach God or to relate to Him, and their religious presumption cost 50,070 of them their lives.
The Israelites ended up where all of man’s idolatrous babble ends up: confusion. They put the Ark in storage and left it for fear of any further judgments. Tthe Ark would sit there for the next twenty years. From all this we gathered that this people was not yet ready for God’s presence. They were not yet ready for revival. Their lives were still filled with idols of all sorts: foreign gods and Ashtaroth, as well as the all the collateral damage of idolatry that ripples throughout a worldview.
Thus, when the time comes to call the people to repentance, Samuel starts with the issue of idolatry which was at the heart of the problem. The call has two parts: first, removing the idols of the heart, and second, removing the physical idols from their lives. The message was phrased as a conditional statement: If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart. . . . The emphasis here is on “with all your heart.” The Israelites had already attempted to “return to the LORD” more than once, but they ended up defeated, routed, and wiped out. Why? Their previous attempts were presumptuous and sacrilegious—never “with all your heart.” Samuel preaches: It’s time to return, but you must do so with all your heart.
But it will do no good to talk about the dedication of the heart if we do not say what that entails in real life. This “If” statement from Samuel has a necessary “then” which follows: then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you. Unlike so many self-assured and misguided preachers today, Samuel’s preaching demanded a “works” application of what “gave my heart to Jesus” must entail if it is true. If you have given your heart to the Lord, then live like it, which means, follow His Law. For twenty years the Israelites had sat dejected, not knowing how to return with all their heart. Now Samuel draws them back to the Law which they had abandoned so long ago.
This was probably not a one-time event. It says he spoke to all the house of Israel (v. 3). But it is clear he had not gathered them all together yet. That happens a couple verses later (v. 5). Samuel was likely making a circuit throughout Israel, preaching the same message in various locations. At the end of this narrative, we find Samuel returning to the traditional role of judge (v. 15–16). Here we learn that he did so by making rounds, or on a circuit. The likelihood is that he was doing the same thing with his preaching at the beginning of the narrative. Why is this important to consider? Because it means that the preacher had to keep preaching faithfully until the job was done. This was not a Billy Graham crusade. George Beverly Shea didn’t sing everyone into heaven with a round of “Just as I am,” and then everyone went home believing a “revival” happened. Revival would require a return to God’s Word, but it had to be a continuous preaching and application of God’s Word over a period of time.
The people heard Samuel’s message and accepted it. They did exactly what he said, which is to say they did exactly what God’s Law said to do: they put away all the false gods among them. Finally, we see signs of faithfulness among the Israelites.
But how do we know this really was true faith? After all, anyone can get emotional after a sermon and throw away material objects like statues and amulets. I remember youth groups in my Assembly of God days having “CD smashing” nights where kids were encouraged to bring their “secular” music CDs and literally smash them to pieces with hammers. Yet they would be right back listening to the same music weeks later. Such a “solution” to one’s sins is an idol in itself: it’s a low-cost substitute for true dedication and sacrifice. For the price of a few dollars (in lost statues and amulets), we can pretend we’ve abandoned idols and returned to the True God.
What follows with Israel illustrates a more genuine revival. Samuel calls out the whole nation for corporate meeting. Four things followed as demonstration of their repentance: libation, fasting, confession of sin, and judging (7:6). The pouring out of water, called “libation,” was simply a symbolic act of self-sacrifice unto the Lord. We will visit this in a moment. The people also fasted. Once in these postures of humility, Samuel led the people in corporate confession of sin and then “judged” them. The latter act would certainly have been case-by-case, and could have related across the board to personal and familial, as well as civil and legal matters. The personal side we would consider today under the heading of church discipline, and the latter we would consider as civil justice. Being a prophet, a priest, and a judge, Samuel most likely performed both at this setting.
Corporate confession and discipline go together, and build upon one another. Sin is always at the heart of social failure and strife. But getting to the heart of many of the problems requires that we get personal and specific. This is impossible to do in a corporate setting alone. So God’s people must engage in both corporate and individual confession of sin. Both are part of corporate worship, and both are addressed in prayer, preaching, and sacrament. But individual and interpersonal sins sometimes also need to be dealt with according to church discipline, mediation, and even church courts.
That the Israelites were willing to submit to all of this personal sacrifice, scrutiny, and discipline demonstrates true repentance. They were now restored—“members in good standing” so to speak. But that standing in faith was about to be tested.
Hearing that the people of Israel had gathered together, the Philistines would have only drawn one conclusion: Israel was preparing for war. The Philistines responded by gathering themselves for a preemptive strike. But Israel was not preparing for war, they were gathering for worship. The Israelites were afraid. How would they react?
Here we have a standoff similar to that back in chapter 4. Israel had lost a small battle and stood in fear of the Philistine army. Remember how the Israelites failed then? How they ignored Samuel’s preaching, ignored Samuel totally in Shiloh, and rushed out the Ark instead? They ignored true worship and reacted in superstition. Now they faced pretty much the exact same test.
This time they would react in faith—faith manifested in a call for prayer to the only God who could save them: And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines” (7:8). Finally, after twenty plus years, we see the fruit of Hannah’s first prayers. Samuel was rising up to be the leader for whom she prayed and sacrificed of herself. The faith of that one little lady had led to the beginning of a national movement. Never underestimate the power of a righteous, fervent prayer—even to change the world. Her prayer and sacrifice eventually led the whole nation to pray and sacrifice.
This call for prayer exhibits the same singular faith in God as Hannah’s: the Israelites had come to understand that no idol could help them, and no ritual or liturgical accoutrement could save them. They learned a lesson which forms a theme and a refrain running from Hannah all the way to the end of 1 Samuel: the battle is the Lord’s. The Israelites confessed of God that He was the only one who could save. But this is no mere lesson about personal spirituality. As we will discuss again when we get to chapter 17, the recovery of this concept was nothing short of a return to the Law of God. The Mosaic Law for warfare called for a priest to declare to the people not to be afraid because God would fight for them to give them victory (Deut. 20:1–4). Just as Hannah had returned to the Nazirite vow of Numbers 6 (holy war), so the Israelites were learning proper warfare according to the Law once again.
In response to the call for prayer, Samuel performed his priestly function and prayed and offered sacrifices to God. The Philistines advanced into position as the service was taking place. Facing imminent attack, Samuel cried out unto the Lord on behalf of the entire nation (7:9). The Lord answered: the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel (7:9). Indeed, the battle was the Lord’s. This blessing of salvation for the Israelites was one of pure grace.
Just because salvation is by grace through faith, however, does not mean that works don’t necessarily follow. The battle is the Lord’s, but the Lord will use his faithful soldiers in the battle unto victory. Thus we do not see the Israelites sitting on their hands once the Philistines were defeated before the Lord: And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car (7:9). From Mizpah to Beth-car is roughly eight miles, so this was quite a mopping-up operation. The progressive slaughter likely lasted more than an hour or so. The whole way the Philistines were hapless, kept running, and kept losing men. For eight miles bodies were strewn about the way. Not only does this show the works of faith, but it shows endurance and commitment to performing the works God has prepared (Eph. 2:10) to their end.
The victory was so great that the bondage to the Philistines was broken completely. They were so subdued that they did not again enter the territory of Israel (v. 13). Some believe this was the end of the 40 year subjugation begun in Judges 13:1. This defeat of the Philistines would then coincide with Samson’s sacrificial victory (Judg. 16:23–31). Consequently, Samson’s repentance would have coincided with Israel’s repentance in Mizpeh as well. Whether this view is accurate or not, the battle of 1 Samuel 7 is a definitive victory for Israel over the Philistines. While the Philistines would indeed lead border skirmishes and win some battles (especially over Saul in chapter 31), they would never again possess and subjugate Israel. The war was over, so to speak, even though a few important battles would remain.
This great victory established Samuel as a leader in Israel. Until now he was recognized as gifted, but largely ignored, probably due to his youth and the people’s dullness. But this event changed all that. Through this, Israel was restored to faithfulness, peace, and justice in the land. Samuel initiated it, presided over it, and ruled as a judge afterward. His gift had been joined with authority and legitimacy in the eyes of the nation.
The works of God’s saints may involve many hardships, temporary defeats, and long periods of patience, but in the end they lead to victory, peace, and dominion.
One of the necessary works which must follow true faith is the advancement of true knowledge and education. Samuel wanted to make sure that the lessons learned about faith and God’s unrivaled preeminence in the land were not forgotten. So he set up a memorial. He raised a stone at the site of the victory, and named it Ebenezer, meaning, “stone of help.” It was a memorial that God was their only help in this moment. It was, after all, Israel’s forgetfulness of the Law and of the true God which had led them into this mess. Samuel moved to prevent this from happening again.
The stone was thus an educational tool. It would act as a witness and a reminder to Israel of their God and their covenant with Him. Recall that God had originally instituted a similar form of pedagogy:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deut. 6:6–9).
As a prophet of God, Samuel was taking it upon himself to educate the children of Israel in the Law of God. In this case, it was a memorial of the fact that there shall be no other Gods, no idols, and that the battle belongs to the Lord.
From this we can also deduce the importance of teaching history, and teaching it correctly. Along with this, primary subjects of “memorial” or education must be theology and biblical law. Without these, a nation is without anchor or direction.
The final verses of the narrative show that true revival brings with it a restoration of godly civil justice as well. Once the battle was over and the memorials established, Samuel returned to normal and began judging throughout the land:
Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel.
Samuel set up what was perhaps the first circuit court. Indeed, the great commentator on English Common Law, William Blackstone, notes Samuel in this regard. He traveled throughout the land deciding cases at law and maintaining justice.
The whole chapter is nothing short of a return to the Law of God, and God’s blessing in return. But these concluding verses indicate that no “revival” should be considered complete unless it also produces reform of public institutions. Whatever happens in the worship services on Sunday, let’s not get too excited until we also see God’s Law exalted and justice in the land.
What we’ve just covered is nothing less than an account of a national revival. From it we can derive necessary elements that form something of a blueprint.
1. Preaching of the Law.
2. The removal of false gods from our hearts, our homes and in the land.
3. Repentance, corporate worship individual
4. A Self-sacrificial attitude among the people
5. Faithful response to crises (in prayer and action)
6. Perseverance in faithful action
7. Return to godly education
8. Restoration of predictable justice according to God’s law
We will not comment on all of these at length, but let us look at a few.
1. We must preach the Law
In this time of national depression, Samuel set about preaching the Law of God and faithfulness to it. Let us note what Samuel did not do. Samuel did not preach about personal prosperity such as your best life now, or positioning yourself to prosper, or power thoughts, or the ten commandments of health and wellness. He did not preach theological niceties such as the chiastic structures of David’s flight narratives, or the emphatic need to return to fourth-century canticles and costumes. Some of these things may have a place in the kingdom, but not when there’s a work of reconstruction and restoration to be done. For this, we must set aside the filigree of religion and get to the raw material of Christian living: God’s Law.
In our own day of national confusions and depressions, the pulpits of America ought to be pronouncing clearly the Law as reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Yet finding a sermon on the Law of God and its applications to family, church, and state is nearly impossible. Instead, we get the hype of prosperity and health, or theological and historical distractions. Even in churches that preach the Gospel faithfully, they rarely advance beyond the introduction. Simple Christians remain sitting in their simplicity for fifty years while hearing the same three sermons about Christmas, Easter, and salvation by grace through faith. Even when applications are made, they rarely advance beyond the individual person’s quiet time, prayer life, and “heart.” Rarely does a message challenge us to make substantial and sacrificial changes in our lives based upon faithfulness and conformity to God’s Law. Because of this, too many Christians think “asking Jesus into my heart” is the supreme end of the Christian life.
Also, because of so much law-less, shallow preaching, we also don’t even properly understand the private side of Christian life to begin with. We hear sermons all the time about “the heart.” And of course we must have our hearts right with God, no doubt. But far too many, indeed most, Christians mistake the concept of “my heart” for an emotional or sentimental feeling. Church services often reinforce this with music chosen to evoke emotional responses. We may even consider our sins in the setting, but once the right prayer is said or song is sung and the desired feeling is reached, we arise and leave thinking all is well with us and God, and our hearts have returned to the right place. But this is to replace God’s definition of heart-felt religion with a human emotion. It is thus a humanistic response to God’s Word.
Samuel tells us exactly what it means to serve the Lord “with all your heart” (7:3): it means to read God’s Law and apply it to your life. The key evidence of a heart dedicated to God is the knowledge and practice of His Law. It’s that simple: if you don’t preach, teach, and walk the Law, then don’t talk to me about letting Jesus into your heart, because you haven’t.
This is how Jesus put it also. When asked what is the greatest of all the commandments, Jesus explained:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 22:37–40).
There is often a temptation to see this as teaching the opposite: that we don’t need the Law, but instead only need a heart-relationship with God. But this misses two key points. First, these two “heart” and “love” commands are the Law. Both are quoted from the Mosaic code (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18). So they could not be negating the Law. How could the Law be against itself? Rather, Jesus was upholding the Law. We see this more clearly in the second point, which comes from the last sentence quoted: “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” These two points within the Law summarized and encapsulated the rest of it. To proclaim the short version was to pronounce the need for all of it. And the rest of it explicates what devotion and love really mean. There is no other definition.
So what was Jesus implying here? He was saying the same as Samuel: the Law demands serving God with your whole heart, and serving the Lord with your whole heart means keeping the whole Law. In fact, the context of that greatest commandment is interesting in that regard. We are called there to love God with our whole heart, and the very next verse says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart” (Deut. 6:6). In short, give you heart to Jesus, and He will write His Law on it.
Lesson: If you don’t have the Law in your heart, you don’t have Jesus in your heart, either.
Our pulpits today have got to return to preaching the Law. Our daily devotions have got to return to studies and applications of that Law. Without this, our Christian walk is no walk at all. And large part of the failures in families and societies today stems from the pulpits’ neglect to preach God’s instructions for living in these areas.
2. Put away the idols
Samuel focused on the commandment against idolatry. Idolatry is the representation of the true God by a false god or image. It reveals that you have a deficient view of God, a perverted view of divinity. Since theology is at the root of all philosophy—be it philosophy of education, politics, economics, ethics, or other—then your weak view of divinity will result in a weakened and perverted view of everything else that flows from it. A compromised view of God leads to compromised worship, compromised families, compromised governments, compromised ethics and law. Well does the early Church father Tertullian open his treatise on Idolatry by calling it the “principal crime of the human race, the highest guilt charged upon the world, the whole procuring cause of judgment.”
Samuel draws the obvious application: put away the false gods and idols. It is good medicine for us, too. Considering the vast array of idols through every facet of our society, the pulpits of America ought to resound with calls to put away the idols of our homes, our institutions, and our land. Christians distract themselves and waste their time and money gluttonously for entertainment, consumption, glamor, beauty, self-image, vicarious experiences, and living beyond our means. Really the list is endless. The pulpits must proclaim the Gospel, yes. But they must also reprove, correct, and train Christians in very specific areas to remove idols and live with dedicated faith to God.
In the text we find out the people were serving Ashtaroth. This was not mentioned back when we were introduced to the corrupt priesthood. Now we learn it was not all the priests’ fault after all, for the people were complicit in the worship of false gods. The people were just as corrupt. This is a good lesson for us. There is rarely if ever a case of the establishment being corrupt while the masses remain perfect, or of the establishment shining purely while the masses are vile and unredeemable. There is always sin and corruption on both levels. The leadership will be judged more harshly, but neither side should be totally absolved. In truth, both sides probably fed and abetted the sins of the other.
Take that concept and apply it to other divisions among us: Republicans and Democrats, free marketers and socialists, anarchist and communists, whatever. They’re all filled with corruption from the heart, and they will be susceptible to it to differing degrees until Christ returns. We should uphold the standard and remedy of God’s Law for all equally. Why should we throw away Ashtaroth and keep the Baals? Why should we lay down the Law upon Dagon and then protect Baphomet from scrutiny? None should escape judgment and discernment of the Law. Some will measure up more closely than others, but we should never uphold one group or other as a knight in shining armor until that knight has bowed the knee before King Jesus and set aside all others. Judging these groups according to the standard of God’s Law and not human rationalizations will slow our eagerness to join hands or arms with certain movements or parties that may not be as pure as we once thought.
We could preach an entire series of sermons preaching one the idols in American life and never cover them all, but it is more important to acknowledge the far-reaching effects of our idolatries on society. Just as we mentioned that a wrong view of God flows into wrong views of pretty much everything else, it is not a far stretch at all to say that one reason we are oppressed by so many Philistines in our government is because we make room for the influence of so many idols. We have idols in the market, in the academy, in the home, in the field, in the Church, in law, in the military (is that an understatement!), and beyond.
It is not enough, however, to complain about idols—we must actually remove them. You can’t complain about taxation when you profit from it. You can’t complain about “big government” when you’re part of it. You can’t complain about Hollywood and the decline of culture when you’re consumed with entertainment. You can’t complain about the effects of leftism from schools and colleges when you keep sending your children there. You can’t complain about tyranny when you’re too afraid of freedom to try it. You must take sacrificial steps actually to remove the idols, or else you lose all moral authority and you lose your society along with it.
Especially in the early days of a movement, when people are depressed, discouraged, defeated, unmotivated, putting away the idols is difficult. People do not really even know what true freedom is. They do not even know what serving the Lord with all your heart means. When they learn, they often fear. They are afraid for two main reasons. First, the life of liberty would require too drastic a change. People fear change in general, especially on a large scale. They prefer the comforts of predictability, even under tyranny, over the uncertainty of change, even toward liberty. Second, and more importantly, the comforts of tyranny often involve self-interest or investment. Change would require the discomfort of sacrifice. People prefer even immoral comfort to sacrifice even for God.
This is one reason the pulpits are so important to the Christian reconstruction of society. They must assuage the people’s fear of freedom by upholding the truth and promises of God. They must call the people regularly and systematically to put away our idols, for only by returning to God in this way can we advance against the enemy in a way in which God will fight for us instead of judging us.
If the pulpit fails in this regard, it is left to grass roots relationships, the most important of which will be the homeschool community. Here are people who have made the first fundamental sacrifice: abandoning the wicked idol of government schools—an idol funded by theft, filled with humanism, and coated on the outside with saintliness. If ever there were an expression of “Satan disguising himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), it is the modern tax-funded school. Some have seen this and fled immediately. Others understand the problem and yet struggle to make sacrifices to their lifestyle. Some end up making it, some end up rationalizing why they stay while knowing better. Still most Christians continue to fight for their right to take your money for overpaid teachers and administrators as well as “free” schooling. Apparently it takes real insight these days to apply the Law, “thou shalt not steal.” But those who do, and who make the sacrifice to remain faithful to it, constitute a rising force of revival in this land. They have gone beyond talk and have actually put the idol away from them.
This is what obedience is, after all: doing what is right, even when you are not comfortable with it or when it requires sacrifice. This is why the people’s repentance was characterized by acts of sacrifice: public confession, fasting, and pouring of water. The last in the list is interesting in that it was purely symbolic, but important in that it symbolizes the full empting of oneself in service to God. This is the example of Messiah: “he poured out his soul to death” (Isa. 53:12). Christians can be expected to follow gladly: “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all” (Phil. 2:17).
The bottom line: if you say you follow God with all your heart, you should be willing to apply His law to all your actions, and gladly be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be faithful.
3. Face crises with perseverance in faith
We saw how the Philistines gathered for war when Israel returned to God. We can expect that when the saints get serious about their faith, the enemy will mobilize against them. The moment we put those idols away and make the sacrifices of faithfulness, we can expect that new and vexing challenges will confront us, making us doubt whether we have made the right decision. This is nothing but a test of faith, and we must respond to it the way reconstructed Israel responded: prayer and perseverance. We turn to God for help, and then continue in the battle ahead of us until it is finished.
We should note that we must engage in both of these virtues as both private and corporate duties. We pray privately, and we do all we can to persevere in our faithful works individually as well. But we see Samuel here leading corporate prayer and worship, for social change is a corporate event. We see the same here in regard to perseverance as well. Each man pursued and struck the sword for himself, and yet would they have finished the job had only one gone? No, they needed the full support of the whole believing community. Likewise with us. In our corrupt society full of Philistines and Philistine institutions, a faithful lifestyle sometimes requires the level of sacrifice that needs the support of a faithful community. The enemy confronts us at inopportune times and weak moments. We may be prepared to fight, but our strength alone is often not enough to finish the job. Families in the community must support one another: some sacrifice more at one time when they are able to help those who are down; the others reciprocating the time and care when needed. This is the Law in action: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). I believe God specifically gives us tasks that are larger than we can accomplish alone so that we may learn what the church is really about: it is an organic body in which many members work together for good.
Let us remember these things in times of crisis and need so that we may remain faithful and not fear. Remember always to begin in prayer and worship. Then let us remember to continue fighting until the battle is done, no matter how many miles long the pursuit of victory may be. For should we let one enemy remain within the purview of our mission, we would not be victorious over him, and we would be faced with the same temptations again in the near future.
4. Restoring justice
Once the victory of the Philistines was complete, we see Samuel establishing circuit courts throughout the land. He also judged the people during the gathering at Mizpeh. Simply put, genuine revival should lead to an effort to restore of godly justice in the land.
Let’s be perfectly clear: if there is true revival among the people, it will extend to the institutions of civil justice. If the institutions of civil justice remain corrupt and humanistic, then whatever revival we claim to have had must be admitted to be limited or incomplete. If, even worse, justice tends to decline in the land, we should be quick to check the House of God, for it may very well be her neglect of God, her idolatries, and her refusal to preach God’s Law that have setback and failed society as a whole.
The goal of the kingdom of God includes the following:
For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Isa. 2:3–4).
There is no revival without the advance of God’s Law, godly judgment, justice, and peace. Until we have reached this point, we keep working faithfully. But we must do so with this goal in mind. We must have an eye at reforming law and justice. When God affords us opportunity, we must be ready to reform the civil justice system according to His Law. Let us not forget, therefore, that justice is a foundational characteristic of the kingdom. The pulpits ought to be proclaiming this as well.
From the looks of things, the opportunity for reform may be a long way off. Remember, Israel waited for twenty years before God allowed them this reform. We may have such a wait ahead of us as well; or maybe not. There is more work being done behind the scenes than perhaps you are aware. Things on the surface are not always what they appear. There are always Samuels working patiently through that time of silence. They have an eye toward a comprehensive revival that begins in the hearts of individuals and flows like rivers of living water into every crevice of society. When the moment is right, they know it, and they lead the revival with confidence in the Lord, and direction for life. It is our job to be those Samuels, preparing now, and ready to lead when the time comes.
 From this word and passage we get the line in the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” which says “Here I raise my Ebenezer, here by thy great help I’ve come.”
 See Blackstone’s Commentaries, III. 4. XI (1979 University of Chicago edition, 3:58).
 Called “Astarte” by the Greeks and “Ishtar” by others, she is the goddess of fertility from whom we get the name “Easter.” Her symbols were fecund things like eggs and rabbits—perhaps a sermon for another day.