Shemot/Exodus 10:24 "Go - Serve the L-rd; except your flock and your herd, he shall be left"
Rashi comments, lest any should doubt, that the verb , which can mean to set in place, here means to be set in the same place: to be left behind. Here we see Pharaoh's third attempt at partial capitulation. The first comes after the plague of insects, when Pharaoh says, "Go and sacrifice to your G-d here in the land ...only you are not to go very far away" (Shemot 8:21,24(25,28), CJB). The second attempt comes three plagues later, in the negotiations before the plague of locusts: "Adonai certainly will be with you if I ever let you go with your children ... Just the men among you may go and worship Adonai" (Shemot 10:10-11, CJB). This, the final effort, comes after the plague of darkness and just before the final plague, the death of the firstborn; almost completely broken, Pharaoh concedes that all the people may go but he tries to retain one last vestige of control over the people by insisting that the flocks and herds remain. What is the man trying to do? Does he know that the people won't come back, so is trying to exact a financial penalty for the exit visas? Does he really think that the flocks and herds will be a sufficient inducement for the people to return, having tasted freedom? Or is he simply trying to save face and not give them everything they asked for, so that he can claim that he drove a hard bargain?
After Sha'ul had been anointed king over Israel, he is told to attack and destroy the Amalekites - to punish them for the way they treated Israel during the Exodus from Egypt. Samuel's instructions to Sha'ul are clear: "Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey" (1 Samuel 15:3, NASB). Sha'ul is successful in battle but keeps the Amalekite king and the best of the sheep and cattle alive, because they could not bear to destroy them. When called to account for his disobedience, Sha'ul tries to bluff his way out by claiming that he had been obedient in most of the instructions, but that the people had brought some of the best sheep, cattle and spoil to sacrifice to the L-rd at Gilgal. Samuel puts the issue firmly into focus by telling Sha'ul: "Has the L-rd as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the L-rd? Behold! To obey is better than sacrifice, to heed than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22, NASB). It didn't matter how Sha'ul attempted to wriggle or justify his position - he had disobeyed G-d and so was rejected as king.
Yeshua calls us to the same level of obedience and consistency in serving in the Kingdom of G-d today. At the end of a group of teachings about the cost of discipleship, He says: "No-one who puts his hand to the plough and keeps looking back is fit to serve in the Kingdom of G-d" (Luke 9:62, CJB). If we are to serve G-d then it must be wholeheartedly, with everything we have and without holding back or half-measures.
Further Study: D'varim 6:4-9; Luke 9:57-62
Application: How has your service been this last week? Have you served G-d with everything you have: lock, stock and barrel, or have you been holding something back: time, money, heart, attitude? Conduct a spiritual inventory and see if your accounts need some adjustments.
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
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