SermonEmpathy Frees Creation
An all-creatures Bible Message

Empathy Frees Creation
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
1 July 2018
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References

2 Samuel 1:1-27
Psalm 130:1-8
2 Corinthians 8:16-24

Empathy frees creation, because itís only when we truly feel the pain and suffering of the whole of creation (humans, other animals, and the environment) that we are committed to free it and no longer contribute to its corruption.
As an example, when people feel the pain and suffering of the animals, they can no longer consume anything made from them or by them; in fact, statistics show that 90% of the people who become vegan for reasons of compassion and empathy remain vegan, but only 10% of the people who become vegan for other reasons such as health or for environmental reasons remain vegan.
Unfortunately, the Bible doesnít speak very much about the specifics of freeing creation from its present corruption, other than it will come from the children of God, as Paul tells us in Romans 8, so it is left to us to realize that itís the children of God who have the empathy to feel the pain and suffering of the whole of creation.
However, all through the Bible we have examples of people with hardened hearts who lack empathy.
As an example, in 2 Samuel 1:1-27, we are shown the lack of true unconditional empathy in King David; empathy frees creation only when it is unconditional.

1. Now it came about after the death of Saul, when David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, that David remained two days in Ziklag.

To us, the term, slaughter, means wanton killing that is definitely not in the heavenly will of God for it lacks empathy, and it reflects that same way the people treat animals; they slaughter them for their human lust, greed and gluttony.

2. And it happened on the third day, that behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul, with his clothes torn and dust on his head. And it came about when he came to David that he fell to the ground and prostrated himself.

This is an example of the overly dramatic things that people did to show others that they were repentant and in mourning, but it doesnít mean that they are truly repentant or in mourning in their heart and soul; itís only an outward symbol to try to impress others.
However, God always knows the truth, and people canít fool Him as they do others.  

3. Then David said to him, "From where do you come?" And he said to him, "I have escaped from the camp of Israel."
4. And David said to him, "How did things go? Please tell me." And he said, "The people have fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also."
5. So David said to the young man who told him, "How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?"

This is a logical question that any of us would ask, but it doesnít tell us what was in the heart and soul of David or this young man.

6. And the young man who told him said, "By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and behold, Saul was leaning on his spear. And behold, the chariots and the horsemen pursued him closely.
7. And when he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I said, 'Here I am.'
8. "And he said to me, 'Who are you?' And I answered him, 'I am an Amalekite.'

Remember that they were fighting the Amalekites, and they were slaughtered as we are told in the first verse, so we are left with the question of why would an enemy of Israel go to David?
Some of the things in the Bible just donít make sense, and they are not explained properly.

9. "Then he said to me, 'Please stand beside me and kill me; for agony has seized me because my life still lingers in me.'
10. "So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown which was on his head and the bracelet which was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord."
11. Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so also did all the men who were with him.

Again, this is only an outward sign of mourning, and does not reflect the true feelings of their heart and soul.

12. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan and for the people of the LORD and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
13. And David said to the young man who told him, "Where are you from?" And he answered, "I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite."

From what happens next, we believe that David only asked this question, for which he already knew the answer, as an excuse to kill the young man.

14. Then David said to him, "How is it you were not afraid to stretch out your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?"
15. And David called one of the young men and said, "Go, cut him down." So he struck him and he died.

We hope we all see the hardness of heart in David, for he only seems intent on killing.
And, in our opinion, such as act makes David a murderer.

16. And David said to him, "Your blood is on your head, for your mouth has testified against you, saying, 'I have killed the Lord's anointed.' "

No, the blood is still upon Davidís head, for he ordered the killing, which was not necessary.

17. Then David chanted with this lament over Saul and Jonathan his son,
18. and he told them to teach the sons of Judah the song of the bow; behold, it is written in the book of Jashar.
19. "Your beauty, O Israel, is slain on your high places!
How have the mighty fallen!
20. "Tell it not in Gath,
Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.
21. "O mountains of Gilboa,
Let not dew or rain be on you, nor fields of offerings;
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.
22. "From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty,
The bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
And the sword of Saul did not return empty.
23. "Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life,
And in their death they were not parted;
They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions.
24. "O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
Who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,
Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
25. "How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!
Jonathan is slain on your high places.
26. "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
You have been very pleasant to me.
Your love to me was more wonderful
Than the love of women.
27. "How have the mighty fallen,
And the weapons of war perished!"

If we are going to live in the heavenly will of God, then we cannot let things like an outward show of repentance and mourning or chant distract us from the hardness of heart in the people.
Psalm 130:1-8, is a psalm of ascents chanted on the way up to the Temple, and it is something that we should all think about.

1. Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O LORD.
2. Lord, hear my voice!
Let Thine ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

If we are truly repentant, the Lord will hear our supplications.

3. If Thou, LORD, shouldst mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4. But there is forgiveness with Thee,
That Thou mayest be feared.

Or we could say that because of this grace of God, people will reverence Him.

5. I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.
6. My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
7. O Israel, hope in the LORD;
For with the LORD there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
8. And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.

The writer of this psalm knows the truth about how we should approach God with a repentant heart, and one that is filled with empathy for the whole of His creation, for empathy frees creation.
Letís now take a look at 2 Corinthians 8:16-24Ö

16. But thanks be to God, who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus.
17. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord.

When we are living in the heavenly will of God, we generally feel the same urgencies, and thus act accordingly, which appears to be what is happening here.
However, to us, there seems to be one main urgency that Paulís ministry neglects: the plight of animals. The only time he comes close is in Romans 8, where he writes about the children of God freeing creation from its present corruption.
Empathy frees creation, and in turn if frees the animals from their exploitation.

18. And we have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches;
19. and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our readiness,
20. taking precaution that no one should discredit us in our administration of this generous gift;
21. for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

And even though Paul recognizes this fact, as we all should, he still seems blinded to the ending of the exploitation of animals.
Perhaps, some of the lack of empathy that he had when persecuting the church is still with him; he should be reflecting every aspect of Jesusí life and ministry in his ministry, because empathy frees creation.

22. And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent, because of his great confidence in you.
23. As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ.
24. Therefore openly before the churches show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.

Paulís message seems to only concentrate on believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and showing hospitality to other Christians, which is the problem with most of the churches today; they say they believe, but their hardness of heart is still causing them to live in the corrupt ways of the world.
We need to feel the pain of the whole of Godís creation, for only such empathy frees creation.

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