THE WORLD IS OUR CLASSROOM – GOD IS OUR TEACHER – AND WE ARE TESTED
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
28 JULY 1991
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Samuel 12:1-14
2 Corinthians 13:5
Preparation Verse: (Matthew 23:8)
“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.”
Ever since God created beings with free will, He has been testing us to see whether or not we would be obedient to His will.
Adam and Eve failed the test when they ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A third of the angels in heaven failed the test when they followed Satan when he tried to set himself up as being equal to God.
King David failed the test of the power of his office when he used that power to have an adulterous relationship with Uriah's wife, and then had Uriah killed in order to try to cover up his other sin.
But God knew the truth!
If you were God, what would you do in a case like this?
Let's take a look at what God actually did concerning this sin of David's. Turn in your Bibles to 2 Samuel 12:1f.
1. Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said,
"There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.
2. "The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.
3. "But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb
Which he bought and nourished;
And it grew up together with him and his children.
It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom,
And was like a daughter to him."
Even with all the evil that David did, he was still a sensitive person.
God knew that David would relate to the feelings of this man: that this ewe lamb was not an animal for food, but a living, feeling being who returned the love that was bestowed upon her.
And though David had failed God's test with Uriah, God was giving David another chance to redeem himself through hearing Nathan’s story.
Let's see how God does this; for this should be an example to all of us in dealing with each other.
4. "Now a traveler came to the rich man,
And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd,
To prepare for the wayfarer who came to him;
Rather he took the poor man's ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."
Without accusing David directly, God has set up a situation that is quite similar to what David did to Uriah; but David doesn't yet see himself in this situation. Note how he responds:
5. Then David's anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die.
6. "And he must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion."
From a worldly standpoint, what this man had done was far less serious than what David did, yet David considers his lack of compassion worthy of death.
Since David failed his own test of compassion, because of his lust and pride of office
as king, but then as king has passed judgment in this case, Nathan delivers
7. Nathan then said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.
8. 'I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!
9. 'Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.
10. 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.'
11. "Thus says the Lord, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your companion, and he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.
12. 'Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.' "
This is quite a failing report card, isn't it?
We all have a tendency to not see our own sins as others see them.
The key element is whether or not we admit our sins when confronted with them, or whether we try to excuse them away.
How do you think David reacted to all of this?
13. Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.
14. "However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."
The sin is forgiven, but the punishment is still administered. The child dies, and his own son rises up against him and is the one who takes his wives.
On the surface this punishment seems strange, and even misdirected; but as we look further, it is a perfect example of salvation by grace.
David's acts are deserving of death, and no act that he could perform afterwards could take away this sin or the fact of his deserving to die for what he did.
But God forgave David because he repented.
However, because everyone in Israel knew what David had done, God would make David suffer the same heartache that he brought upon others.
And what about the innocent child?
As we find out later, by God’s grace he went to be with the Lord, and he would not have to suffer for the acts of his parents, about which unforgiving people would be certain to remind him.
Look at our society today. Adultery is so common that people rarely think of murder as a means of covering it up, if in fact they even try to do so.
Which sin is greater: the attempt at cover-up, or the acceptance of it as no big deal?
I personally don't believe there is any difference in God's eyes.
When confronted, David admitted his guilt; but what about the Church today? What position do we take about this kind of sin, or for that matter, any kind of sin?
For the most part, we tolerate them and fail the test; for God has made us aware of these sins every day of our lives, and we do very little about them – thus failing the test.
Perhaps that is why He, likewise, does very little for us –
– God also tests our faith.
Just as God got angry at David, and David's angry burned against the man that killed the ewe lamb, Mary and I find our own anger burning against the people who torture and kill billions of animals every year for food, clothing, and research.
And we find ourselves getting angry at the lack of empathy of the people who support these activities with their money to satisfy their lusts, and at the politicians and government officials who support these cruel activities.
But unlike David, we don't want these people to die in their sins, we just want them to wake up, we want them to feel the pain and suffering they are causing, and regain their soft hearts, and turn away from their wicked ways.
We even find ourselves getting angry at God for allowing these horrors to continue for thousands of years, and not putting and end to it, and perhaps this is part of our test of faith.
Turn with me in your Bibles to John 6:1f, and let's take a look at one of these kinds of tests.
1. After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias).
2. And a great multitude was following Him, because they were seeking the signs which He was performing on those who were sick.
There are some who come to the Lord seeking forgiveness, healing, and everlasting life; and there are others who come just out of curiosity.
Those who come in faith pass the test and receive God's blessing.
But those who come seeking other things not only fail the test, but they lose having a personal relationship with the Lord.
Sometimes, even we who believe come before the Lord for the wrong reasons; and in these times, we will receive His correction.
We can compound our error by denying what we have done, or we can repent, be forgiven, and once again be part of the true body of believers.
It is our faith in God's forgiving nature that brings us to true repentance and overcomes our fear of punishment, which is our reason for denying the truth. We sin because we lack love, and we fear for the same reason: because we lack love.
I guess the question we must often ask ourselves is, "Why am I following the Lord, both now and at other times?"
Let's return to the Lord with the gathering of the multitude:
3. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
4. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.
5. Jesus therefore lifting up His eyes, and seeing that a great multitude was coming to Him, said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?"
6. And this He was saying to test him; for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.
7. Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little."
Wrong answer, Philip!
8. One of the disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him,
9. "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?"
The first part of Andrew's statement is in faith, but as soon as he says it, doubt enters in and he questions the Lord's ability to multiply this food in the same miraculous way that He healed the sick.
So, he too fails the test.
But Jesus, in His love, once again shows the disciples and those gathered there that nothing is impossible with God; and the five thousand are fed, and Jesus didn't kill any fish to do so, He just multiplied what was already before Him.
In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul gives us a very important way of
reminding ourselves about our own faith:
5. Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?
And then comes the true test of our faith: that, in love, we will unselfishly pray for others, even when we have problems of our own, as Paul did.
Let's listen to what he told the Ephesians, beginning at 3:14.
14. For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father,
15. from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
16. that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;
17. so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18. may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19. and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.
20. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask and think, according to the power that works within us,
21. to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
If we would only receive this gift of God's grace to the fullness that Paul prays for us, there would be no need to do anything more than to add our “Amen.”
But most of the time, we seem to let our personal situations and problems stand in the way of our faith relationship with the Lord.
This not only fails the test of faith, but also that of the greatest commandment – love.
For if we truly love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, then we will also trust Him.
And if we truly trust Him, we will have the faith to know that He is faithful to do what He says He will do.
Thus we pass the test.
Your Comments are welcome
| Home Page | Sermons Archive |
| Home Page | Animal Issues | Archive | Art and Photos | Articles | Bible | Books | Church and Religion | Discussions | Health | Humor | Letters | Links | Nature Studies | Poetry and Stories | Quotations | Recipes | What's New? |
Thank you for visiting all-creatures.org.