Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Absalom, My Son, My Son

This past Sunday morning I had the privilege of preaching in our church because our pastor was out of town. The father son relationship between David and Absalom at first may seem an odd topic for a Father's Day sermon, but here is the shortened version.

If you are unfamiliar with Absalom, I recommend reading II Samuel, however some of the pertinent events that took place are as follows:
  • David's son Absalom took vengeance on his half brother (and David's first born) by killing him.
  • Absalom burned Joab's fields just to get his attention.
  • Absalom "stole" the hearts of the men of Israel so that he could take David's throne.
  • Absalom "took" David's concubines in the sight of the people to humiliate David.
  • Absalom sought to kill David even after he had taken his throne.
But here is the point of the sermon:

We are Absalom. You and I have been not a bit better than Absalom in how we have treated our heavenly father. Any time that we put our own will ahead of God’s will, we have tried to take his place. Anytime we place our own desires above God’s desires, we attempt to sit on his throne. Which of us has not been disobedient to God our Father? Which of us has not tried to usurp his throne. Ever since Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the promise that they could be as God, every person born has likely been tempted to place themselves on God’s throne in his place.

Has not God, like any good father, set out rules for us to follow? Are we obedient?

When Jesus was asked which was the great commandment he answered:
Matthew 22:37-38 .....Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.

How many of us can say that we have even begun to keep this commandment. Any time we willfully and knowingly commit a sin, we are saying "I love myself more than I love God"! And by saying that, are we not conspiring like Absalom to sit on God’s throne is his place? This great commandment is so important, and yet so beyond our ability to keep. And if you think you fare better in keeping some of the lesser commands, you likely need to take a closer look at them. Personally, I have found myself to be guilty of all.

Which of us does not have a problem with pride? How many of us are proud of our talent, proud of the quality of our work, or even proud of our looks? Just like Absalom who loved to have chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him, we love to get the glory for the things we do. But what do we really have to be proud of? What do any of us have in the way of talent or position or possessions that we did not receive from God our Father. And yet we seek our own glory as if we gained these on our own or by our own merit. But God says he will not share his glory with another!

"O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" David loved his son Absalom. Loved him to the point that he stated that he wished he could have died in Absalom’s stead.

That plea of David reminds me of a passage in the New Testament where Jesus says in
Matthew 23:37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

Can’t you hear that same mournful tone in both of these. David mourning for the son who had sinned against him so constantly. Jesus mourning for unrepentant Israel who sinned against him so constantly.

So, if God mourns for those who have sinned against him, why does he not simply forgive all those who have offended him? Because he is as much a Holy God as he is a merciful God. His being a God of love is not at the expense of his being a God of justice. Because he is Holy, he cannot lower his standard of justice in order to be merciful! A perfect justice requires a penalty for lawbreaking. In order to be a loving and merciful God, it was necessary that someone pay the penalty for sins. Jesus paid that penalty for our sins. He did for us what David could not do for his son Absalom.

What a great and loving Father we have! Despite how we have treated God, and though we are no better than Absalom, he sent his son to suffer and die a cruel death on the cross. That is our Father’s love!

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