“But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” (Reference: 1 Samuel 15:22-23 )
This passage and the meaning that the historic Anabaptists attached to it is actually a warning against sacrifice. From this passage they took the idea that obedience is better than sacrifice. King Saul has offered up the best, finest, and fattest of the plunder they had gotten in battle. God, through Samuel, has told King Saul to destroy it all. But Saul was convinced to offer up the best to God, as he had been taught from birth I imagine. But Samuel said God wanted obedience rather than sacrifice and because King Saul could not follow that, God’s support (and Samuel’s) was withdrawn.
So beloved, do you think the sacrifice that the historic Anabaptists made of their lives was what God wanted? There are more days where “Sacrifice” is the theme, and as in previous days, I am sure we will read a broader span of interpretations.
Ydse Gaukes wrote from his prison cell, in 1571, to someone who I am pretty sure was his wife, “My much beloved, now that you know that the day is approaching when you must have [the faith that has been given you], take earnest heed lest you lose [that faith]; for if you should lose it the last day, it could avail you nothing; though one had kept it a hundred years, it could not avail him anything; as the prophet says: “If a man hath done good all his life, and walked uprightly, and turned himself to unrighteousness, all the good that he hath done before shall avail him nothing.” See, how the Lord requires obedience of us, as the prophet Samuel said to Saul: “The Lord delighteth more in obedience, than in sacrifices.” 1 Sam. 15:22. . . . Hence, look diligently before you, lest ye be deceived; for Christ has truly said, that many false prophets shall rise and cry: “Here is Christ, there is Christ.” Matt. 24:11, 5. Therefore, my chosen, beware, lest you be deceived.” There is much theology and faith beliefs in this short writing. And it would exhaust my fingers and your eyes, I am sure, to take it all in. In brief, one slip from obedience means all the good that has gone before means nothing. Having faith is synonymous to being obedient to God. Both obedience and faith can be ruined by listening and following false beliefs.
Heed the word of God beloved, so that all your days are spent obeying God. Selah!