The Tragedy of Disobedience: A Lesson from Beth Shan, Israel

The Tragedy of Disobedience: A Lesson from Beth Shan, Israel

Is it a big deal to ignore God’s commands? Many apparently think not. But Jesus said otherwise, and offered a loving warning about not obeying God. There is a great lesson to be learned here from the ancient city of Beth Shan in Israel. It’s one of me and Becky’s favorite sites to visit in Israel.

In the days of Jesus and Paul, it was a massive Roman city. It was state-of-the-art. The world view in Beth Shan screamed out, “ME!” There were marble columns, mosaic sidewalks, a large theatre, a hippodrome, public baths etc. This was the “Beverly Hills” of ancient Israel. While Jesus grew up about 12 miles away, there are no records of Him visiting here.

Beth Shan is also where King Saul met his final end. After his tragic death near Mt. Gilboa, the Philistines cut off his head and took his corpse back to Beth Shan. There, they nailed his headless body to the walls of Beth Shan (cf 1 Samuel 31). King Saul had not only been humiliated in life, by his disobedience, but also in death on the gates of Beth Shan.

The lesson of King Saul’s life is clear: disobedience to God has tragic consequences. While David had his own sin issues, he was a man who repented when confronted–Saul did otherwise. Instead of repentance, Saul rationalized his sin. Beth Shan stands as a haunting reminder of the difference in David’s life and in Saul’s life–it was Saul’s tragic end. May we learn that rationalizing sin will always lead to a tragic end. Instead, let us learn from David. Namely, even when we sin big time, let us seek God in humble repentance (Psalm 51) and find the joy of our salvation all over again. What a powerful lesson!

by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor
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