Where are the Samuels who have heard the voice of God, who have been awakened by the Holy Spirit and have received a revelation of soon-coming judgments upon a backslidden Church? Why aren’t all preachers of the Gospel grieving over the sinful condition of God’s house? Why aren’t all pastors and evangelists crying out as watchmen on the wall? Scripture says that Samuel was given a vision in which God pronounced the end of a backslidden religious structure, and “Samuel told [Eli] everything, and hid nothing from him” (1 Samuel 3:18). I ask you, pastor: Are you telling it all? Are you holding back hiding the truth, afraid of offending your people?
Yet in spite of those who are afraid to come forth with the full message for the Church, I believe that the Lord God always brings in a “Samuel company” who will hear His voice in a time of spiritual decline. This company is made up of men and women who care nothing for tradition, promotion or denominational boundaries. They represent pastors and lay people who have an ear to hear God’s voice and know what grieves Him.
Without question the message of the Samuel company is not a pleasant one. “Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision” (verse 15). This vision was overwhelming; but Samuel could not help but share it with the one on whom judgment would fall. God would no longer put up with a form of godliness that did not have the power of holiness.
Yes, God was about to remove His presence from Shiloh, but He would do a glorious new thing in Israel. He said, “I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever” (1 Samuel 2:35). This verse describes the Samuel company of believers and ministers who share the very heart of God. They know the Lord’s mind and His will, and they walk in fear and holiness before Him. The Samuel company is a praying people; it was while Samuel was in prayer that God revealed to him the fearful things to come. And because they are in touch with God they know and share His grief.
God is speaking in these last days to those who are shut in with Him. He reveals His heart to those who hunger and thirst for more of Him, who pant after Him as the deer pants after the water, who have died to every selfish ambition and who have no goal in life but to bring pleasure, glory and joy to His heart. I say this unflinchingly: God will not choose a denomination to deliver His Word to this last generation. He will not call on a committee to hear His voice and ignite the last-day gathering of the remnant. Instead, when the angels of the apocalypse go forth to smite the earth, denominations and religious leaders will be found hard at work protecting their interests and strengthening their authority, drawing up bylaws and making resolutions. But the Samuel company will be found in the secret closet of prayer, seeking their Master’s will and sharing His grief over sin.
Samuel, the man God raised up to serve as judge and prophet for the Israelites, bore God’s grief over His people to the very end of his ministry. The Bible says Israel eventually lusted after a king so they could be “judge[d] . . . like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5). At this Samuel fell on his knees, greatly displeased. God spoke these sad words to him: “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:7).
Samuel went to the people and warned them of the hardships they would have under a king, how he would conscript their children and take their lands and produce, but the people insisted it was what they wanted. “Make them a king,” the Lord said, and their history changed again even as they broke God’s heart.
Everywhere you turn now a growing number of God’s people are rejecting the Lordship of Christ. They are clamoring to be “like the nations.” That is the essence of compromise or mixture: to be just like the world. They are saying, “We want God and the world, too!” They want the world’s recognition and prestige, the world’s pleasures and the “good life” of luxury. But thank God for the protesting Samuel company! They have heard from God, and they know where all this compromise is going to end. They see the frightful results of apostasy ahead, and like Samuel they sob a piercing, heart-rending cry of grief.
Those who weep over sin in the Church and discern her errors are called doomsayers. Many who know them say, “I don’t like to be around them. They sound negative and morose and they look so sad.” But such onlookers simply do not know these weeping people. They do not understand that those who truly grieve with God are given a leaping heart of joy in Jehovah. “Although the fig tree shall not bear fruit; neither should there be any provision on the vines; the produce of the olive should fall, and the fields not yield subsistence; the flocks should be cut off from the fold, neither should there be any herd in the stalls. Yet will I leap for joy in Jehovah. I will exult in the God of my salvation. Jehovah my Lord is my strength.” Habakkuk 3:17-19, Spurrell Original Hebrew.
Such joy comes from knowing that God will always have a pure ministry through a holy and separated people, even in the most evil of days. These people know that God will honor them with His constant presence. They draw strength from believing in the majesty and power of God, whose judgments are always righteous. With Habakkuk they can say, “Though all else fails, my heart will rejoice in God alone.” Even when failure seems to surround them and they see little evidence of fruit, their grief gives way to ecstatic joy because they are near to the heart of the Lord. And, like Paul, this grieving remnant can say, “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:10).
It seems that Samuel had little joy during the disastrous reign of Saul, the chosen king, for he continued to mourn for him (I Samuel 15:35). Finally the Lord said, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons” (1 Samuel 16:1). This was, of course, the young David, a man who shepherded Israel “according to the integrity of his heart” (Psalm 78:72) and who prefigured the Messiah.
It is, in fact, David’s words that encourage us to believe that sharing God’s grief will result in rejoicing. Speaking from his own wealth of experiences as one who hungered after the Lord, David said, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
So may it be for the hungering people today! May we find that our hunger leads to the prayer closet to share His grief, and to the Body of Christ to share His joy.