AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH August 1, 2010
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
THREE FOUND UNFAITHFUL IN SOME THINGS,
ONE FOUND FAITHFUL IN ALL THINGS
There is the celestial scope of history, there is the beauty of the paintings that depict it in advance, called prophecy, there is the grand sweep of perspective given through Israel; but there is far more in the Bible that demands attention. One such element is the moral, the twang and the rebound, the jeer and the sneer, the temptation and the discipline, the development of Christian character, of what is more than a form of godliness, but genuine delight in the only authentic God of power and truth, to whom mercy and pity are inseparably attached; for the gods are mere grass for poisoned cattle, before they die of swollen stomachs for their folly.
There is thus a great deal to find in the biblically provided coverage of some of the more intimate dealings, progressive excursions in the life among mankind, and few surpass for drama and impact, those to be found in I and II Samuel. We come to that heroic, that merciful, that lover of goodness, King David, to find some of the divine training schedule, seen in retrospect.
DAVID and ABSOLAM
This is a sad site for listing David, a man after God's own heart. Alas, we all like sheep have gone astray, every one to his own way, but for some, there is healing by faith through His stripes, because on Him is laid the iniquity of ALL who are so healed, who have received His redemption. Henceforth, new creations, they are not subject to the sovereignty of sin; but alas, now here, now there, each one may slip, and in this may lie much evil.
Such was the case with David. While living a life of sympathy, brotherliness, kindness, courage, fearless dependence on the Lord as he fought often in danger, always with vigour, for Israel, and led it, almost a model leader, yet once, when he became well established, that old disease, complacency amid success, seemed to taint him. Seeing a woman who drew him, he desired her, and sending a message to the military commander to send her husband to the forward line and then withdraw, he became guilty of something separated by only a fine line from murder.
The prophet Nathan was sent to confront him, and despite forgiveness, he gained a discipline to confront him for much of his life. It was trouble in his own family. He caused trouble to another callously; he could now find its meaning of trouble in his own family.
It came. A son of one wife became infatuated with a daughter of another, and pretending to be sick, asked for her to be sent to nurse him. Using this to violate her, he then lost interest in her, and a brother of hers, Absolam, seeking vengeance, arranged a feast in which he instructed servants to kill him when merry. David learned of this and Absolam fled. You see how sin within sin, or laid upon sin, like rock strata becoming mingled in heat, can readily surge into understandable and even violent actions. Peace departs. Will is on the throne.
David, at last induced to have back his erring son, did not see him; but that same Absolam, using his father's love for him, a handsome and winning fellow, set out by deceit to raise an army to replace his father, showing the danger of an affection so great that it is willing to stretch things past truth. The father, David, not wanting the death of his son, and perhaps trouble to Jerusalem, withdrew, one Shimei adding to his travail by cursing him as a bloody man, a charge David in his singular remorse for the sin committed long ago, did not deny.
Many of the people, including commander Joab, went with him. However, Absolam was tricked by one of David's men, pretending to be for his rebellion, into delaying pursuit of his father, saying he would be fully roused, but in fact the delay gave him time to regroup. David had this mole in the enemy camp!
When they did at length go, Absolam was caught, ironically, by his so beautiful head of luxuriant hair, in a tree, and Joab, contrary to instructions from loving father, David, summarily killed him. David was heart-broken, wishing that he had died instead of Absolam. In this, he presented an image of the love of God, who DID sent His everlasting word as a man who DID die for us. Absolam, alas, was ready for no one to die for him, but in rebellion was looking closely after number one.
So David lost two sons in this way and had a daughter violated as well, while having to withdraw for a time from his capital. Indeed, he nearly lost the kingdom, while mourning for the death of rebel, Absolam, a thing not well received by a people who had risked their lives to restore him as king!
That is the name of the king's commander who slew Absolam. While this killing was at least understandable, for Abner had been a major State enemy (not No. 1, for that is the devil), he also killed two other persons, freely by his hand. Understandable ? yes, but right ? no. This surely is a lesson: DO NOT do what is understandable, giving rein to this vengeance, that vendetta, that recrimination, this loss of temper, that hateful attitude to someone. Seek good and to overcome evil with good; and even if you must confront evil, keep the law of God in the process, and let not love evacuate from your motivation!
Let us see how these special killings by Commander Joab came to be. When David, after being persecuted by King Saul, earlier in life, at last became King, he viewed with favour the offer made and decided to allow what had formally been the commander of the army still loyal to Saul, one Abner, to go out to summon that part of Israel still not with David, to return to him, and so gather all Israel to his own side.
However, Joab was not so good at relenting. His athletic brother, Asahel, had once in battle been killed by this same Abner, and so Joab took advantage of the recent cessation of hostilities between David's men and Saul's, after Saul's death, to kill Abner.
In fact, Joab's brother had died after a strange pursuit, when Abner tried to warn that young man, to desist from running after him; but he would not, and was struck by a deft thrust of Abner's spear. When therefore Abner urged David, later, that it was time this war stopped, Saul being dead, and peace was made, Joab decided to strike. Abner had already gone to bring ALL of Israel back to the kingdom; but Joab, on hearing of this, dishonestly had him recalled, and appearing to want to talk privately, simply suddenly stabbed him in the stomach. Murder and rebellion alike!
Again, when the rebellion of Absolam, later, was over, David made the commander of the rebel forces, Amasa, into commander instead of Joab (II Kings 19:13), since Joab had just unlawfully killed his beloved son, Absolam. When, however, David sent out Amasa, when peace came with victory, to deal with a rebel leader, there was delay in his return. Joab, sent to investigate, simply met Amasa, now commander, and taking him by the beard as if to kiss him, like a fox in human form, asked him if he were in health and slew him with his sword which had fallen from its sheath. With such duplicity, he killed him in an act which from his point of view, might have been for his country, but which presumed to judge contrary to the King's order, and by pretence made assault.
All these things were mixed, unpleasant, with guile and evil, just as David had ONCE shown to gain Bath-Sheba, wife of slain Uriah. How aptly the Lord disciplined him, showing the nature of his sin so that he might learn thoroughly to hate it; and David did no more of that kind!
So did David's commander, Joab, who co-operated with him in the fall of Uriah, NOT co-operate concerning Abner; alas, as so often, blood begat blood. Once it was for revenge, he acted; once more with the knowledge of his own demotion, and fear of treachery. Both times, he lacked all restraint.
But what of Joab, the king's martial commander who had co-operated with him in the fall of Uriah ? Blood begat blood. Once it was for revenge, he acted; once more with the knowledge of his own demotion, and fear of treachery. Both times, he lacked all restraint. Alas, he had transgressed into self-appointed killer twice, and though a hardy and valuable soldier, taking the law into his own hands, proved unfaithful. Later, when David's son, Solomon, became King, Joab was found seeking with others, an alternative King, with what might perhaps be called his audacious liberty, and was killed for it. He had earned death; here he got it.
Unfaithfulness had thus become a feature, though limited, even in the illustrious kingdom under David. How large a chunk of goodness can be lost, like a section of cheese, when warmed in the sun, it goes off, emits an unpleasant odour, and becomes repulsive! How valuable are our tests, what grounds for learning they provide when we fail, and how much better it is NOT to fall in the first place, and NOT to allow oneself any liberties, whether swollen with some kind of victory or success, or languid in regrets...
The thing can move nationally or personally, and who can be trusted among men ? Thus even in Afghanistan, not once, there has been concern that some, even highly placed, in Pakistan are giving only pretence of co-operation with the USA, and are in fact helping enemy forces in Afghanistan. Such double-dealing is the bane of the unfaithful, and if present, can make the lives of many fall for folly. Thus the USA should never have sought to make religious treaty, which is close to what both Bush and Obama have done, with Islam.
You do not need to make military war with what, as a Christian individual, President or not, is contrary to the uttermost degree, to the righteousness which God offer in Christ. We Christians need to seek good even for our enemies; but NOT to praise their follies. If you do, then you drag down your nation, and Obama has gone further in his 'holy book' reference to the Koran, virtually anointing with praise, what is as far from Christ as was Judas; for Muhammad misused Christ's name and reputation in the Koran, creating a dumbed down christ of his own ideas, while acting as if to gain authority from his talk of Jesus and the prophets, as if they were preliminaries to his own absolutely contrary and unfounded teaching, whereas his contradiction of them could not be greater*1.
This he did, without anything comparable for himself, any ground in reason, or any test but might of arms. Is it then surprising if the USA, having here fallen like David, is also being betrayed! God is not mocked
It is often said of someone, He knows the score! meaning that he has his wits about him, and is thoroughly versed in some situation. But what IS the score ? How are you going in the match of life ? As we see, even the best has his lapse, error, fault which can come out here or there with significant results. This is no excuse, for errors do not have to be physical, but may lie in pride, ambition or false motivation just as easily.
There is an array of tests, into which those walking in Christ are repeatedly delivered from failing; and they can be very deep: moreover as we have seen, OBEDIENCE to the word of God can carry you far from these complicated and sometimes sophisticated regions. Yet the man, son of Adam, who does not sin, is yet to be found. Sin does not rule the Christian's life, far from it (I John 3:9); but it is not excluded by any fiat. There is much to be learned (I John 1:7ff.), and our own weakness when we tend to be self-satisfied, is one lesson; God's power to deliver is another.
The Lord Jesus Christ, however, HE did not sin in ambition (being God already), in earthly desire, when tempted by Satan (for His placement on this earth, in order as man, to save with the power of God, was exceedingly lowly), or even in seeking personal satisfaction by using the powers given to secure salvation, for mere relief (as in the fasting when He declined to turn stones into bread for personal relief, those powers being otherwise bent by commission). Nor did He sin in weakness (as when weak after fasting), but rather meeting the point at once, He preached the Kingdom and repentance right after the 40 day fast (Mark 1:15). "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel," He declared.
Lesson one: get to the point and stay with it: do not be misled by combination of good and bad motives. Rejoice with trembling (Psalm 2)and serve God with reverence in heart, mind and spirit.
Further, Christ felt a natural repugnance to accepting sin from others, since as God He loathed its vile ways of spoiling creation. In Luke 24, we find Him asking,
"My Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me" (Matthew 26:39),
meaning the necessity to go through so prodigiously horrible an operation. After all, how gross it was for Him, as about to experience separation from God's acute fellowship as known from eternity, while for a little, enduring the penalty of sin: for sin separates (Isaiah 59:1-2). But He overcame this vast temptation, by adding:
"Nevertheless, NOT my will but Yours, be done."
Even when the powers of immortality were temporarily forsaken, in His human body, though His Spirit was received back into His Father's hands, He did not flinch, though He surely FELT the horror deeply enough!
Lesson two: Be unflinching, however deeply you feel a test, however much you may loathe a necessary part of the discipline of life; and always be ready to obey, even when this seems as far off as the Antarctic. Don't melt like the declining ice-cliffs in that area, but stand fast till your job is done (Ephesians 6:13-14).
Then came the resurrection. He might have had QUITE enough of the insidious hypocrisy of little people, moral midgets, and self-aggrandising frauds, indeed of this world with its lures and traps, its feeble-hearted princes and lying frauds. Yet He returned to complete the testimony of eternal life, and lovingly re-taught a fallen Peter the meaning of love, commissioning him to feed both lambs and sheep. Knowing that weak though that apostle had been, there was here a heart for truth and reality, He entrusted him with what He might well have declined to restore to him, and that for very good reason. So Christ here forgot vengeance, to judge harshly, and saw rather the open door for restoration, and though dumped by Peter for a little while, foresaw with the love which bears all things, a role still left for that same apostle.
Lesson three: seek good and not evil, and hope all things. Never be bitter, seek to do better, with love and wisdom as one.
So do we contrast the unfaithfulness of men, even at this or that time, highly endowed people, and the faithfulness of the Messiah, of Jesus Christ, and so TRUST in this living God without reservation, complication or reneging, in all things.
Here is wisdom, here is love, here is a site for the heart, and a rest for the spirit (Isaiah 11:10, Matthew 11:27ff.), and to leave it is like leaving home for the streets.
"And in that day, there will be
a root of Jesse, who will stand as a banner to the people:
for the Gentiles will seek Him, and His resting place will be glorious."