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Background “BLEATING” 

A commonly repeated phrase among Christians is that obedience is better than sacrifice. This was the prophetic reply from Samuel to King Saul when the king presumptuously offered a sacrifice unto the Lord. Samuel said to Saul: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king” (1 Sam. 15:22–23). Samuel revealed the need to obey the word of the Lord and, also, to heed or to submit to the ordinances and commands of the Lord. Obedience and submission are linked and hold more value than any other measure one may offer to the Lord—His Word! His Way!

Saul’s kingdom was lost and would be given to another—David. However, King Saul did not learn, did not repent, and was not deterred from his evil ways. He continued to pursue his own ends, doing everything according to his own desires. Self-rule and self-will overrode every godly directive. Saul would not heed the word of the prophet nor turn toward repentance. Saul’s pride, fueled by his own insecurities, kept him a state of pride; he would admit fault but blame others for it; he was full of offense and often turned to rage; he would overlook his own shortcomings, point out another’s, while seeing his own efforts as noble and good.

Then, the Lord commanded King Saul to execute the Amalekites; every person and every beast was to be cut-off the face of the earth. The Lord said, “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” (1 Sam 15:2–3). Oh my, what a command given by the Lord; the divine wrath expressed from above upon the vile and violent, the despicable and the deviant. The fierce judgment that fell upon the ancient world and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, befell the Amalekites. This was serious business and not to be trifled with in any way.

When King Saul received the command he did not argue with its ferocity, contend with its magnitude, or turn from its intent. King Saul went forth and engaged in the battle to carry out the will of the Lord. When the battle was over, all were annihilated except those Saul deemed valuable. He spared the prime beasts, as well as the evil Amalekite king, Agag. Saul did not spare the women, nor the children; he executed them without hesitation. Saul obeyed; however, he did spare the best of the beasts and he gave preference to the evil king; he found value in them. The beasts satisfied the desires of his men thus gaining their support and allegiance, and he spared Agag, which satisfied Saul’s own lustful pride, that is, to glory in besting this taunting, murderous king. Saul was able to victoriously prance about the presence of the defeated king, thus giving Saul’s pride a boost while covering his insecurities. Saul gloried in the presence of flesh.

In Saul’s mind, all was satisfied and fulfilled as ordered; he completed the task. Yet, “Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed” (1 Sam. 15:9). When Samuel, the priest and prophet of the Lord arrived, the first thing out of Saul’s mouth praised his own obedience. Saul said to Samuel, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD” (1 Sam. 15:13). Pride immediately pointed to the most right, ignoring the disobedience. Pride will point to where it is the most right or the least wrong in order to be seen in the best possible light. Pride will boast of its accomplishments, loudly praising victory and giving testimony so that it does not have to address the unbelief, the insecurities, and the disobedience. The pride of self will praise and pray, sacrifice and serve, as long as it does not have to obey the command.

However, regardless of the boast and greeting of praise given to Samuel by the disobedient king, the evidence of self-will and self-rule was present; it was bleating and lowing in the background. The sound of sheep and cattle dedicated to destruction permeated the gathering of the Lord’s armies; it was the sound of disobedience and defiance.

Samuel responded to King Saul, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” (1 Sam. 15:14). The evidence of disobedience was present and could not be denied; the background bleating was present among the army of the Lord. Amid the prideful praise of self, there was the background bleating that revealed disobedience and the presence of self-rule. King Saul only saw the “Look at all that I did,” thus, failing to see with the Lord’s perspective. Saul relied on his own thoughts and did not obey or trust the Lord; he did not heed the word of the Lord. This is unbelief, which always swells pride. Unbelief chooses self-will and self-rule. Unbelief relies on one’s own thoughts and chooses its own way; then, highmindedness defends the action, explains its decision, and will accuse others as needed to justify itself. So nasty!

When Samuel confronted Saul’s lack and pointed to the bleating of the sheep; the king immediately highlighted his own goodness and then blamed others for any lack. When Samuel had pressed Saul, the king emphatically said, “But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites” (1 Sam. 15:20).  Then he added, “But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal” (1 Sam. 15:21). Oh my, how this coping mechanism, birthed in the Garden of Eden, is still employed by self all the time, everywhere and with everyone; it is so full of self-preservation. Pride looks to all it is doing unto the Lord to avoid the thing it is not doing; to stay in unbelief and remain unloving toward the Lord. Saul was unloving, unforgiving, and unbending toward the ways of the Spirit. He was hard-hearted and demanded grace and loyalty and complete obedience from others, while refusing to do the same unto the Lord. Pride will demand from others what is refuses to give and yield.

The prophet Samuel responded by the Spirit rebuking the foolishness of Saul’s boast. The background bleating and lowing of the cattle drowned-out Saul’s defense. This background bleating was the evidence of Saul’s disobedient, self-willed heart and mind. The bleating of disobedience infuriates the Holy Spirit and it should raise the ire in every believer. Those not bothered by disobedience and unholy character are those enjoying the benefits of it.

Saul’s highmindedness, unbelief, and pride are at work in so many Christians today; they are quick to point out their acts of obedience, but they live by trying and rely on flattery from others; they are soothed by music and are easily offended. This foolishness is saturating the Christian community as believers gather for Bible studies yet share words that are rooted in the imaginations of their own desires. Like Saul, they are was elated with their own accomplishments and pride themselves on how well they are doing; weakness is accepted, failure is expected, and ignorance and immaturity is excused; to validate themselves they will vilify the prophetic voice. Sadly, so many Christians at every level are doing as Saul; they are doing what is right in their own mind while claiming obedience.

Saul would curse his own son who would align with David; he would throw spears at David and chase the man of God about the countryside looking to eliminate David’s presence so that he, Saul, could excel. David was a threat to Saul’s need to glory in the presence of others. Saul was elated with himself or those who flattered him. The cry and comment of pride begins with placing fault on others; it says, “Well You,” thus pointing out any perceived fault that will satisfy self’s needs.

Since this fierce judgment came upon these Amalekites and Agag, then every person should consider their ways. King Saul was the anointed king and received a new heart, yet he opted for own ways and gave place to his pride. Saul lost the kingdom and was rebuked for his disobedience. There is a fierce judgment waiting for those who tasted the Lord’s anointed touch, yet opted for their own ways, relied on their own thoughts, gave regard to their own fleshly standards, and allowed pride to sway their decisions and walk. Paul wrote and warned, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them” (Eph. 5:6–7).

Beware! Pride is always ready to do everything and anything except the one thing commanded or demanded. Pride will give as long as it doesn’t have to die to self. Pride will attend church and serve where needed, as long as it doesn’t have to financially give. Pride will fish for flattery to soothe self’s own form of spirituality. Pride is self’s defense against those who speak the truth. Pride is full of self, and it will do all that it can do except the one thing it doesn’t want to do—that one thing the Spirit commands. Pride will listen to the voice of truth, but it is actually waiting for the opportunity to express itself. Pride will be willing to do everything and anything but that one thing; the thing that requires death to self. The pride of self is saturating the church; immaturity, ignorance, and indifference is plaguing the church from the leaders to the congregation.

Also, the humanistic mindset is now heavily influencing the church. Many avoid the fierce judgment of the Lord demonstrated in these verses and simply consider it all under the times of the Old Testament; therefore, it is deemed antiquated truth. They completely miss the message of righteous anger of the Lord and the righteous ire that must be in His people, as demonstrated in Samuel and David. Samuel turned and hacked Agag to pieces before the Lord (1 Sam. 15:33). Yet today, Christians despise the Lord’s command because it was harsh toward the animals. Oh my! Such foolish flesh speaking! Humanism demands fair treatment for these poor beasts who did nothing wrong; but these beasts were in the camp of the Amalekites. This is a spiritual battle, just as in the days of Egypt or Jericho.

The natural-minded opts to determine its own standard for right and wrong, good and bad. The self-righteous will protest the assault on the women, babies, and children that were destroyed, demanding just treatment for them. The self-righteous person will honor flesh, forming its own form of spirituality. The self-righteous will not receive the Lord’s justice; he was executing justice as promised. The self-righteous will always stand-up for things of the flesh, the natural life, without giving deeper thought to the Holy Spirit’s message: His plan and purpose. I have witnessed some close their Bibles and say, “That’s not my God.” They refuse to accept the Lord’s warning. More so, they will not align with His divine perspective. They allow for the bleating of the sheep because they spare what the Lord calls evil. They allow for the presence of Agag, who the Lord condemns.

The humanistic viewpoint will despise this command and bring the Lord God into the judgment room of his own pride. The humanistic natural-minded will rail against the Lord while placing great value on the fleshly lives; they will be quite bothered with the Lord’s will. However, you must see all things from the divine perspective—He sees evil as evil and flesh as flesh. Since the Lord does not give regard to flesh and no flesh will glory in His presence, then evil and flesh must always be cut-away. This is the prophetic end for all evil and all flesh—the message has been clear from the beginning. Again, what was Samuel’s response to King Agag’s defeated presence? “Samuel said, ‘As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.’ And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal” (1 Sam. 15:33).

If the Lord did not spare the Amalekites for their infractions upon the plan, purpose, and people of God; then He surely will not do so now; especially for those who have tasted of the Lord yet turned to their own way, entertained the fleshly-minded and opted for self-rule and self-will. Saul was chosen and anointed but rejected for his unbelief and unrepentant ways. Saul is a standard to pass judgment on this sort of disobedience.

Today’s modern-day church world is saturated with background bleating. Some are set on the letter of the word while ignoring the Spirit. Others are only focused on the spiritual aspects of ministry and give little regard to the word of truth; everything is feelings and beliefs are founded on, “I Think.” The background bleating is drowning out the preaching, teaching, and the reaching-out ministry programs. Churches are saturated with an overflowing presence of lowing-cows and bleating-sheep; the church is drowning in self-praise, works that require no faith, and a salvation message that ends with church attendance. There is no fight in the faith; it is swallowed-up in tolerant love instead of triumphant love, coping in place of conquering, and the ministries of accommodating the frailties if the flesh who are quick to cry foul if they hear a message of offense.

Today’s church is content to handout meals, blankets, and toys; to give haircuts and fix homes. They invite people to church and offer smiles and hugs, all to make people feel welcomed just as they are; unfortunately, that is the way they leave as well. Today’s church will gather and open their Bibles for study, but everything is built on the “I think, I feel, and I believe, without any true conviction of truth that boldly proclaims with the power of the Holy Spirit. The Christians are consumed with being nice, show politeness, and be sure everyone speaks with a soft, kind voice. Any content of truth is moved aside to give place to the way something was said or done; it should make the Christian sick to the stomach-; it is so lukewarm. The church gathers to sing songs of praise, give testimonies of good things happening, and listen to sermons; however, the background bleating is present, and it is a swamp of self-will and self-rule. The Holy Spirit is set aside so that offerings can be taken, donuts can be munched, and people can exit the doors to get on with their lives. Prayer is a formality to ask God for help, rather than give up self and receive His life.

Please accept this newsletter as a dire warning. The church is in great need of truth in the inward parts—To learn the truth, live the truth, and love the truth. The church has fallen in love with itself and now praises its accomplishments, prefers the fleshly-minded, and promotes love that excuses the need for holiness. Surely, the bleating sheep, the lowing cattle, the voice of Agag, the whine of Saul, and the demands of Saul’s army, will rise up to drown out the voice of this article. Today’s modern-church is doing much like Saul; they are preaching David, but they promote and propagate Saul. The modern-day church is saturated with salt that has lost its flavor (Matt. 5:13). The church needs an awakening to righteousness and a revival of consecration.

I encourage you to print this out and read it with others in the family of faith.

I urge you to share this message with others.

In the Service of Christ,
Dr. Gary H. Cote 
(#DrCote)  (#TruthBeKnown)



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