Samaria, a city on a mountain
Samaria, a city on a mountain
The history of the city of Samaria has its inception in the dividing of the kingdom of David and of his son, Solomon. The northern part, Israel, was entrusted to a man by the name Jerobeam. In the writings of the chronicles of the two nations, the first king of the eleven tribes was described as a rebel and a pattern according to which the kings to follow after him was compared. Few were those who dared to divert from his evil ways, in a returning to the Davidic pattern of worship.
Omri, the father of Ahab, was among those who went beyond Jerobeam’s in rebellion and in evil practices. He was the one who “bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill, Samaria.” The city on the hill and its surroundings were indeed beautiful. It was a strong city, its fortifications were considered impregnable.
Samaria became part of the scene of the battle between the prophet Elijah and king Ahab and Jezebel. Elisha was involved in the training of young adepts in a school of prophets nearby. Samaria, the pace of mixture, was measured to face severe judgment. The people of the northern kingdom were to become replaced by tribal peoples brought in from far beyond by the Assyrians, as a severe consequence of their sin. Samaria was truly a place of mixture, culturally and religiously. But, the Davidic worship was nowhere to be displayed.
The dispersal of the eleven tribes and the influx of tribal practices stand as a forceful prophetic warning also in our days, regarding the common tendency to introduce foreign elements in Church worship. A mandate rests with the true Church, according to the pattern and practice of Elijah and Elisha, to speak against superstitious mingling and the blending of spiritual traditions brought in from beyond.
In an effort to strengthen the newly established kingdom, a slightly revised worship was introduced by king Jerobeam. He followed and copied the religious patterns of the kingdoms surrounding Israel, cultic practices solely aimed at securing fertility and prosperity. One calf, signifying spiritual strength and success, was placed in Bethel and another was positioned in Dan. The introduction of the self-focus in worship also aimed at breaking the hold of Jerusalem over men’s minds, as well as a reduction the perennial reminders of the purity and solemnity of the worship in the temple of Solomon.
The religious pattern secured by the king and the new priestly institution brought a unifying focus – prosperity and blessing in every undertaking, carnal ambition defined the limits. A freedom of expression was also released – each and every category of spiritual experience had its source in that which is vaguely defined as “god”, no discernment needed. The calves in Bethel and Dan were the outward expression of the source of blessing, they signified man’s projection of what was regarded to be a blessing from God. The kind of blessing which the carnal man is in search for is one which secures prosperity and security – but exclusively according to man’s definition. Jerobeam’s worship, the carnal worship, is summed up in terms of what man can get out of it. The Davidic worship contradicts carnality.
Samaria, the place of mixture, demonstrates carnal ambition intertwined with religious sentiment. Samaria is ruled by an Ahab, the utterly selfish king. At his side one finds a Jezebel, a woman disgustingly sensual and religious, surrounded by prophets by the hundreds. He stands for cruelty and personal greed of the worst kind – opposed by one of the great godly men, prophet Elijah. She is the demonstration of modern sloppy agape at its worst, feeding the many hundreds of swaggering vanity prophets, who promises prosperous undertakings at all times – covered by spiritual powers which can be swayed by carnal faith techniques.
Samaria, wherever and whenever it appears, will be confronted by a small company of committed, by men who dare to stand in purity according to the Davidic pattern of devotion, surrendered to godly living under the hand of the Lord. The mixture of Samaria must be confronted. The vanity prophets at the table of Jezebel are to become exposed by the judgment of God himself. The churches who profess to be “rich and increased with goods” will stand naked at the words of judgment of the Lord.
But there is grace in Israel, times of recovering. There are widows and orphans, who may expect days of recompense and restitution. These are the days of the Messiah, of the coming king, in which there will be a turning away from Samaria, a preparing of the saints for bridal purity. And the Father will intervene, when the pressure is too intense and powerful from the forces which dictate conformity to the Samarian way of worship. Ours is a returning to that which is Davidic, that which declares holiness unto the Lord. Ours is an ascent, a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to become partakers of that which will stand undefiled, of that which will stand for ever.
Reading: 1 King 12, 16:24, Rev 3:17
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