No matter what the year is, or which nation or people are being addressed, the prescription for the deliverance we seek is always the same.
“Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, ‘If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.’"
1 Samuel 7:3
The foreign gods referenced here are specifically linked to Baal worship. Baals were worshiped for their perceived connection to success or failure of crops and subsequently financial welfare—in other words “money”. The Ashtaroth were linked to “fertility rituals”—in other words “sex”. The worship of sex and money—sound familiar? There really is nothing new under the sun.
The gods of Baal and Ashtaroth were the gods of the Philistines, and yet, although they needed and wanted deliverance "from the hand of the Philistines," God's people were embracing and worshiping these foreign gods. Are we doing the same? Are we crying for deliverance and yet serving these same gods in our everyday lives?
And what about the Philistines referenced in this passage? When I hear the word Philistine, the first thing that always comes to mind for me is “uncircumcised”. Maybe this is because of David’s outcry against Goliath from 1 Samuel 17:26. “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?" If ever there was a season of the armies of the living God being taunted, it is now.
This word “uncircumcised” is also the adjective used in Biblical dictionary references to Philistines. Certainly, physical circumcision is not the issue for us, but rather, circumcision of the heart. As Paul tells us in 1Corinthians 7:19, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.” Again, in Romans 2:28- 29 Paul states, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”
Our modern day Philistines would be those whose heart is uncircumcised or desensitized to the things of God—whose “consciences have been seared”. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” 1 Timothy 4:1-2
It is also interesting that Paul links this state of un-circumcision to those who get their praise from men rather than God. Beloved, if we are going to whole-heartedly follow God, there will always be a line of demarcation for us where we must say, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
But the crux of this whole prescription is the “return to the Lord with all your heart.” If the state of the heart is wholeheartedness toward the Lord, the idols and the un-circumcision will become a non-issue.
Beloved, now is the time.
The prescription is the same.
Let Us Return To The Lord With All Our Heart.