GOD'S SEEKING ACTIVITY AND RESULTS
I Samuel 3:1-10
1 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple [a] of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am." 5 And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down.
6 Again the LORD called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." "My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down."7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD : The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 8 The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
43The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me."44Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."46"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip.47When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."48"How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." 49Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." 50Jesus said, "You believe[a] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." 51He then added, "I tell you[b] the truth, you[c] shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
Isaiah 55:11) - "My Word... shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose..."
Says God through Isaiah, Chapter 55. (That's not the Text, but it's a good starting point for today's meditation.) — We might note that in some instances, such as the Pharaoh's response to God's message by Moses, what God's Word accomplished was the hardening of Pharaoh's heart. — The overall context of what we just heard from Isaiah, though, pictures God's Word producing flourishing, fruitful growth.
What His Word does primarily is to Seek-out people to follow Him in a close relationship, and then to extend that Seeking through them to others. — The Old Testament and Gospel Lessons appointed for today each yield some important insights about God's Seeking Activity, and they booth provide examples of Fruitful Response to God's Call on the part of young Samuel, and Phlip and Nathanael. (The aim here now, therefore, is to examine some aspects of God's Calling them, then how they did respond.)
____ He is the Initiator
First, in each instance, is borne-out the Bible truth that the "Seeking" began on God's part. — Jesus once reminded His disciples that "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appo8inted you that you should go and bear fruit...(John 15:16)."
Samuel, still very young and under-apprenticeship to Eli the Priest, was not praying, studying, or practicing priestly rituals, trying to get God's attention. He was laying down trying to go to sleep for the night! — Of Philip (in John 1:43) we're clearly told NOT that he conducted any quest to find and see Jesus, but just the opposite; — Jesus found him!
That's one of theology's foundational truths, - that any "Seeking" for real contact and communion with God always begins with His activity. That applies just as well to us and all Christian believers and is a comfort, really, that He cares enough about each of us to have first reached out toward us. - As the Catechism teaches, we, enslaved with sinful natures, were spiritually blind, dead, enemies of God, ourselves unwilling and unable to make any first right-step toward Him.
___ He already knows Those Whom He Seeks, Even by Name
A second insight is that the comforting security is shown to run a whole lot deeper than just a poke at friendly contact from God, though. - A child who gets a new neighbor may shyly approach next door and offer"Hi, my name is Judy; what's yours?" – Sales and Witness training materials suggest that it's good to know something about people before calling on them, and especially to know their names and use them in your conversations.
That's where God's at! He's already thoroughly familiar with the lives and personalities of whom He seeks, and knows them by name:
Jesus saw Nathanael... and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!" (Then to him), "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you" (And you can believe that Nathanael was duly impressed!)
"Samuel, Samuel!" God called in the Old Testament Lesson.
We're taught that the same is no less true of us when, by Baptism, God called us "By Name" and made us His own. So precious to Him are His children that He says through Isaiah:
___ — Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. (43:1)
___— Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My Hands... (49:16)
He already knew and had designs for us before our Baptisms and coming to faith, though — even before our births! To Jeremiah God said: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you... before you were born... I appointed you... (1:5)
King David confessed: Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou discernest my thoughts from afar. ... My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was being made in secret... Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in Thy Book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them (Psalm 139:2, 15-16)
How cherished of God we each are! (Those are powerful statements of support for a "Pro-Life" point of view.)
___He Persistently Renews His Call
A third point, (this one from the account about Samuel), is God's "Persistence." – He didn't give it up after a time or two, deciding that Samuel was in outer-space, looking in the wrong corner, too young and not yet ready to suit His purpose. God repeated Himself 4 times over until He got it through to Samuel that it was HE who wanted Samuel's attention and to make him useful.
God is "Persistent", ever renewing His call with us. It didn't quit at our Baptisms, but every invitation to worship and receive the Means of Grace by Word and Sacrament is His ever and always "Seeking" after us for our blessing and welfare.– Such "Persistence" is another comment on the immense worth we have in His sight!
___He seeks close, personal, direct relationship
This fourth point about "God's Seeking" is no doubt the most important, though. – What He seeks for every human-being is a close, personal, and direct relationship.
No longer did the orders and messages reach Samuel indirectly through Priest Eli. From now on it would be " up close and personal" between Samuel and the Lord; - direct, and face to face as it were.
To get even closer, God presented Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ to Philip and Nathanael. - The invitation to "Follow" (and which is extended to us all) entails much more than just learning about Jesus. What God Seeks and intends is our becoming part and parcel with Christ. He was nailed to a wooden Cross and died to pay Blood ransom and release humanity from its enslavement to sin. Laid lifeless on a slab in a cave-like tomb, He overpowered Satan and even death itself, rising from death with power and glory - breaking sin's death grip on us.
Our liturgical worship and Communion, weekly repetition of Confession and Absolution, Baptismal ceremonies and renewing of our Baptisms - are NOT more powerless, meaningless rituals representing something about Jesus. Rather, the DOing of the Means of Grace, of Word and Sacrament, is God in Person at work incorporating us INto Christ. His Atoning Death is made ours, being reckoned as if we were put to death for our sins. His resurrection is the guarantee of ours, and every form in which Calvary's forgiveness is conveyed to us in a granting of the new life already which will be completed in us at our Lord's Final Coming!
The "Seeking" began with God, who already knew us even by name, and Who remains Persistent after our hearts because we're so precious to Him and He wants to use us. Most important, though, is the fact that He lovingly and literally intends for us to be made ONE with His perfect and beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in His death to sin and rising to eternal life!!!