Continuing in this Do NOT Pray series,
Now, the passage we will consider in this post is 1 Samuel 12:19-23. How the LORD had spooked Israel- as Samuel had asked the LORD to spook them. For their rejecting the LORD as King (8:7). And for their demanding another.
We will consider how Israel was spooked by great thunder. Causing “all the people” to fear for their lives. Just as the nasty Philistines had just been spooked by “great thunder”… which caused the Philistines to fear for their lives and be routed by Israel (7:10).
We will consider how Israel was so spooked by the “thunder and rain” that they asked Samuel to pray for them (after praying against them). And Samuel replied that it would be a sin NOT to pray for them! A sin to “cease praying” for Israel. At least for him. Now why would that be a sin, you ask?
Well, I submit that it is because it was Samuel’s job to pray for Israel. Because Samuel remained Israel’s high priest. Remained constrained to “listen to Israel’s voice” (8:9). And remained constrained to serve his calling.
And that job description given to Samuel had NOT been abrogated by the LORD. Despite Israel’s arrogant demands that the job description of their LORD be abrogated.
Just as Matthew Henry states on this passage,
It is a sin against God not to pray for the Israel of God, especially for those of them that are under our charge.
Which begs the rhetorical question, ‘Is mighty Rome “under our charge”’? Is mighty Rome under our job description?
And Henry continues,
Our rule is to pray without ceasing; we sin if we restrain prayer in general, and in particular if we cease praying for the church
Which begs the question, ‘Is Rome actually “the church”’?
Now we could dig into the Old Covenant theology stuff of Henry. And dig into Rome’s current Latitude of Grace… but we won’t. Suffice to say, ‘The church is not necessarily Rome’. And not necessarily of Romish ‘desire’ either. No matter how Rome tries to qualify this.
And we should consider where Henry’s “pray without ceasing” is intended. We are instructed to “not cease praying” for the “saints and faithful brethren in Christ” (cf. Col. 1:2,9). Which leaves precious little time for the unfaithful and the aints that are NOT in Christ.
And we should consider if Rome is the “Israel of God” as well. Because they look pretty much like the Israel that demanded a new king. Pretty much like those people that demanded a king to lead them… because the King of kings is kind of spooky.
Yes, Rome looks pretty much like a people that would prefer to serve the Baals and his mysterious Ashtaroth [a ‘female consort to Baal’-not unlike the “Mother of God”/ Mary]. Despite being repeatedly told to serve the LORD alone (1 Samuel 7:3,4).
Now, Rome will tell you that they do not actually serve the Pope. Or that they do not actually worship the “Mother of God”. But then Israel wasn’t really serving other gods. Or worshipping a golden calf either. Or were they (cf. 1 Samuel 8:8, Deut. 9:12)?
Israel was just using this golden calf as a catalyst, right? Just an iconic supplement, right? They were just making a little “god who will go before us” (Exodus 32:23), right? A god with a little “g”, right? A little god to supplement the big God, right?
And Israel was just making a little king that might “go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:20), right? A king with a little “k”, right? A little king to supplement the big King, right?
And Rome was just making a little pope that will ‘go out before the Church… to fight the churches battles’, right? A pope with a little “p”, right? A little priest to supplement the big Priest, right?
Well, the big King wasn’t buying this hooey and He thundered. And just as He thundered with His commandments (Exodus 20:18)… He thundered at their sinfulness. Thundered at their unfaithfulness (1 Samuel 8:7). Yet granted them their tyrannical king. Not to bless them- but to oppress them.
Which begs the historical question, ‘When and where was the thunder that spooked Rome to appoint a pope’? The overwhelming noise needed to frighten a people into granting universal kingship to a man?
Well… at the risk of appearing ahistorical, I would defer to historian- Philip Schaff. Defer to him in suggesting that “Rome assumed universality somewhere between 604 and 715 A.D”. Somewhere between Gregory the First (who actually protested his job description of Universal Bishop) and Gregory the Second.
A tumultuous period, when Boniface IV expanded the Pantheon. When this alleged pope dedicated the Roman Pantheon of the gods… into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Creating an Ashtaroth of sorts.
A monumental dedication that Mohammed was contemporous (608A.D.) with.
A dedication which may very well have influenced Mohammed to consider Mary as being a Christian consort of God.
But primarily a period where “the progress of Mohammedanism and its encroachment on the Greek empire likewise contributed to the rise of their [Rome’s] independence”.
Indeed, a period where a Universal Pope was considered absolutely necessary to fight the churches battle against these neo-Philistines. Against the marauding Muslims. Against a thunderous Muslim expansion.
An expansion that razed Alexandria (the greatest library of that time) in 633 A.D. An expansion that plundered Jerusalem in 637 A.D. An expansion that ruled over a realm as large as the Roman Empire in 653 A.D. An expansion that was subjugating Spain in 711 A.D... and was headed for St. Peter’s and their beloved Pantheon. An enormously spooky expansion.
Spooky enough for Rome to annoint a Pope. A Universal Bishop… to counter this expansion.
But enough history. Suffice to say, that Rome looks pretty much like an unfaithful Israel anointing a king there. And as history shows… a tyrannical king.
So, if we were to find time, and if it were our calling… how would we pray for an unfaithful Rome? Would it be like the prayers of Samuel? Not praying for Rome- but rather praying against Rome? Praying that Rome be spooked?
Spooked enough to abandon her king and consort? And return to the King to kings?
Hmmm, sounds pretty much like the prayers of the Reformation!