What a crushing message. To me, those are some of the saddest words in the whole Bible. Forsaken by Jehovah and counted as an enemy by Him. How awful.

We can hear the sadness in Abraham’s voice when he talked of burying his beloved wife Sarah (Genesis 25). Our hearts are touched by the sorrow of David when he learned of his son Absalom’s death (2 Samuel 18). Losing a person that is dear to our heart’s can leave us in great mental anguish. The one to whom the above words were spoken, though, lost a lot more than an earthly connection with another human – he lost the Lord. There can be no greater loss!

King Saul is the one to whom Samuel said, “So why do you ask me, seeing the LORD has departed from you and has become your enemy” (1 Samuel 28:16). Saul was frightened by the thought of an impending battle with the Philistines, and when he “inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him” (28:6). In the end, Samuel, who had already died (25:1), was empowered to speak the somber words to Saul about God’s departure and Saul’s doom.

Surely there was a reason. There is no way that God arbitrarily would forsake a person, is there? Of course not. Saul’s kingdom would be torn away and given to David. Why? As Samuel put it to Saul, “Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek . . .” (28:18). When God gave Saul the instruction to destroy utterly the Amalekites, Saul did not do so. In God’s language, Saul’s action in that instance was “evil” (15:19), “rebellion” (15:23), and “stubbornness” (15:23). Twice in that setting, Samuel told Saul that he had “rejected the word of the LORD” (15:23,26). Note this: when one rejects God’s word, that is the same as rejecting God Himself. And what does Jehovah say about one who rejects or forsakes Him? “. . . if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). It is clear now, is it not, why the Lord departed from Saul? It was not simply a matter of Saul making mistakes. He was rebellious. He failed to humble himself and correct his wrongs.

In simple terms, one either walks in darkness (1 John 1:6) or else he walks in the light (1 John 1:7). Put another way, one either walks with the Lord or else he does not; he is either God’s friend or else he is God’s enemy. There is no middle ground. What did Jesus say? “He who is not with Me is against me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30).

Who wants to live before the Lord in this life or stand before Him in the final judgment and have Him consider us as His enemy?! We recall Elymas (known also as “Bar-Jesus”), whom Paul described as “son of the devil” and “enemy of all righteousness” (Acts 13:10). That is the equivalent of being God’s enemy.

Romans 5 reminds us of the great news that God’s love for us was demonstrated when Jesus died for us. Look at the different language which the Holy Spirit used in describing those for whom the Christ willingly gave His life. In due time “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6); “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8); “. . . when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (5:10; all emphasis mine, rdc). Connect the thoughts in those statements and what do you get? Those for whom Jesus died were ungodly sinners, that is, enemies of God. Yes, ones who have never obeyed the gospel are “alienated and enemies” due to their “wicked works” (Colossians 1:21). And, when one of God’s children turns his back on Him, just as Saul did, then that person becomes His enemy, too. It is not the only way that such takes place, but some members of God’s church become his enemy by falling in love with the world: “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you now know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). That is a strong message. Are we listening?

But wait. There is another side to the story, so to speak. Just as it is possible for a human to be the Lord’s enemy, it is also possible to be His friend. Are you sure? A friend with the Creator? Abraham was (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). How? By walking by faith (Romans 4:12).

Jesus told His apostles, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). None of us living today are apostles, but we can still live by our Lord’s commands. None of us is an apostle, but we can still love Him (John 14:15; 1 Peter 1:8) and know Him (1 John 2:3-6). In the same way, we can still be counted as His friend when we walk in the light as He is in it (1 John 1:7).

The LORD has departed from you and become your enemy.” How horrible those words sound. Brothers and sisters, let us take to heart the teaching of Hebrews 3:12: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” We certainly do not want to hear Him tell us on That Day to depart from Him because He never knew us.

 — Roger D. Campbell

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