"God be merciful to us & bless us, & cause His face to shine upon us.
That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.
Oh, let the nations be glad & sing for joy!"
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Revival and Reformation Pt 4: Building a Head of Steam
[Click on the link and listen to the Sermon Audio File while perusing the manuscript below]
Now, Lord God, as we move into the
action of 1 and 2 Chronicles, grant us the ears to hear what we need to hear so
that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have
When you’re up to your eye-balls in trouble and trauma, it is
very easy to get swallowed up and drown. When you can’t get your head above the
water line enough to see the rescue boat speeding your way, desperation and
defeat can set in and drag you under. What we need in those moments is some way
to see beyond the storm so that we get our bearings, and everything is put back
in proper perspective. That’s something of what is going on here in Chronicles.
Before launching into 19 straight chapters on David – his
reign, feats and enterprises – the Spirit-guided editors/historians bring us – out
of the blue – to the end of Saul’s life. We get plopped down, like a great
Shakespearean play, right in the middle of a main scene. The suddenness is an
attention-getter, which is one reason for the editors doing this. The other
reason we begin at the end of Saul’s life may not at first sight be obvious –
thanks to chapter breaks – but we are back to another contrast (much like
5.18-26). For the disheartened and discouraged folks returning from exile,
slinking their way back into the land, (1) the message is intended to say
clearly: Not that way, but this way. (2) But also, the whole David section
(Chapters 11 through 29) is aimed at rekindling their hopes and anticipations
that “a shoot from the stump of Jesse” will “come forth” (Isaiah 11.1). And
they are to yearningly look for one who is like David.
***Observe the pattern
of 10.1-11.9: Downhill flow in chapter 10 is reversed chapter 11.1-9.
Things Fall apart (10.1-12) [a title from the Southern Catholic fiction writer Flannery O’Connor]
Israel runs (1)
Sons die (2)
Saul dies (3-6)
Israel runs (7)
Philistines desecrate (8-10)
Exception (11-12) – the honorable men of Jabesh-Gilead. This
story has the same kind of flavor as the story of the woman who anointed Jesus
“beforehand for burial.” There Jesus promised, “And truly, I say to you,
wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be
told in memory of her” (Mark 14.3-9).
Faith Breaking (10.13-14). Westminster Confession of Faith 3.1: “God, from all
eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will freely, and
unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the
creatures; nor is the liberty or
contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” This
section clears up the clutter of rationalizing, excuse-making, and spin-doctoring.
(1) There’s no wiggle room; it gives no truck for lawyering-up. These two
verses are like a biblical knuckle-sandwich, something of a divine jab to the
solar plexus, for the purpose of knocking the wind of excuse-making and
down-playing out of our lungs, so that we recognize clearly who this God is,
and what he requires of us (WSC 3). (2) The people of Israel were in exile for
acting just like their first king (9.1),
and if they wanted to know what they needed to remediate so it didn’t happen
again, this was the primary place to start. Don’t walk in the steps of Saul;
turn your back on that way (and by implication, turn your face toward the
Savior). (3) But, finally, it brings out the glaring contrast with chapter 11.
Things Fill Up (11.1-3). “Then” relays the
contrastive connection with chapter 10. Unlike Saul, where he was experiencing
diminishment and defeat, David is being filled up. // Even though this is the
first anointing as king at Hebron by Judah, yet the editors (in their
economizing) are making it stand for David being handed the whole kingdom (de facto then de jure). // Unlike Saul, who in his
faith-breaking life experienced decline and the disapproval of God, David
undergoes God’s pleasure, God’s promises, and God’s prospering. (And so,
around which star should you toss your lasso?)
Fighting Fine (11.4-9). And here is the first
example that shows the polar opposite of what Saul went through. David defeats
the Jebusites and captures their capital city. V.5 He took the stronghold; V.7
he lived in the stronghold; V.8 he built up the stronghold (Just as our Lord
describes his launching the kingdom in earnest by his coming and defeating
demons: “When a strong man, fully armed,
guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he
attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and
divides his spoil” (Luke 11.21-22). Already a bright day is dawning anew on
God’s people, because it is dawning anew on God’s anointed one, as summarized
in v.9. And if God’s anointed one is
becoming “greater and greater, for the LORD of hosts was with him” so also it
is going with God’s chosen people. David’s being blessed overflows to them; David’s
triumph becomes their; David’s success makes them successful; David’s
satisfying walk with God spills over to them; etc (this relationship between
king and country will flesh out in all the rest of 1 Chronicles).
1.In this section we see the principle
of 2 Chronicles 20.20d laid out and the anti-principle, if you will. This is
meant to reassure the returning rag-tag
remnants of Israel that God’s pattern was experienced by their 1st
and 2nd king, and they can bank on it for themselves (Galatians 6.7).
And as we saw last week, Paul tells us in Romans 15.4, that this was written
for us; to spawn endurance in us and to encourage us to have hope. The offer is
there: If we will turn our back on Saul’s ways and embrace David’s – and for
us, the Greater Son of David, then we will know God’s stabilizing power in our
church and lives. Isaiah 26.3-4 “You will keep you in perfect peace…” and
“I have said these things to you, that in
me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart;
I have overcome the world” (John 16.33)!
2.Likewise, notice that in both chapter
10 and 11.1-9, God’s people are confronted by God-resisters. Philistines and
Jebusites did not want God’s kingdom to expand, grow and flourish. But because
of Saul’s faith-breaking, God allows his kingdom of God to take a step back; whereas
through David’s faith-keeping God furthered his dominion. This also would have
been the point to the returning exiles surrounded by God-resisters like he
Tobiahs and Sanballats and Geshams the Arab and the rest of their enemies
(Nehemiah 6.1): Keep faith with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and he will
be with you (Psalm 44). And the message is there for us as well, as we too are
surrounded by God-resisters who will use force, legislation, the judiciary,
media, educational establishment, shame and ridicule, and worse, to oppose the
Kingdom of Jesus. But our hope is in the name of the Lord – the Lord Jesus, to
whom has been given all authority in both heaven and earth. This does not mean
instantaneous triumphalism, for there will still be IEDs, Firefights, wounds,
concussions and hardships until Jesus returns riding forth with the two-edged
sword projecting from his mouth, treading out “the winepress of the fury of the
wrath of God Almighty” (Revelation 19.15). Until that day we look to and follow
the King who leads us out: cross before the crown; the gore before the glory
(Hebrews 12.2-3). Nevertheless success is inevitable. Until that day, we keep
faith and “share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy
3.But lastly, the deep connection
between the King and the country; the Ruler and the ruled. What is his spills
over to us. His righteousness before the Father cloaks us; his death for sin
becomes ours, and his rising justified turns out to be for us. His being the Son
in whom the Father is well-pleased transfers to those identified with him. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our
spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God
and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may
also be glorified with him” (Romans 8.16-17).
The Holy Spirit inspired editors are saying to us: this is
the way of real, genuine revival and reformation; so walk in it, for it is the
good way where you will find rest (Jeremiah 6.16).
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