Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 20 and Psalm 52
- the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.
- the process of repairing or renovating a building, work of art, vehicle, etc., so as to restore it to its original condition.
- the reinstatement of a previous practice, right, custom, or situation.
- a model or drawing representing the supposed original form of an extinct animal, ruined building, etc
- the return of a hereditary monarch to a throne, a head of state to government, or a regime to power.
I wanted to start with this word today to give us some inspiration for the new year. It’s my third year as your Sunday night blogger and therefore my third Easter post! I like to think of the Monday after Easter as the beginning of a new year. The spiritual energy of the Easter season is far more captivating for me than the celebration of Christmas. We’ve just finished celebrating Christ’s resurrection and perhaps more importantly, we’ve mourned his death. I had the opportunity to be on the stage side of Eastview’s Night of Worship on Good Friday. As we lifted our hands and voices in worship, we witnessed hundreds of people literally cry out to God. We heard the sound of the nails being driven through Jesus’ hands and feet. We wept for his pain and suffering on our behalf. That sound of a hammer pounding a nail was so real, so palpable it stuck with me. Tonight, as I read through 2 Samuel 20 and prepared to write to you, that sound came right back to me. As we hear about the Sheba rebels trying to overthrow David we’re suddenly exposed to some really graphic details. First there’s the little encounter with Joab and Amasa:
“When they were at the great stone that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing a soldier’s garment, and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened on his thigh, and as he went forward it fell out. 9 And Joab said to Amasa, “Is it well with you, my brother?” And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab’s hand. So Joab struck him with it in the stomach and spilled his entrails to the ground without striking a second blow, and he died.” 2 Samuel 20:8-10
I know right. Entrails. Not exactly the lily white Easter message you were expecting today. None of this seems very Godly and honestly it’s tough to read. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t get any better! Just a few paragraphs later, Joab is pursuing Sheba in order to restore justice and peace among the tribes of Isreal. A wise woman stops him from destroying the city by promising she will have Sheba killed and his head tossed over the city wall.
“And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.” 2 Samuel 20:21-22
When I first began studying this scripture I really worked at spinning it into a beautiful celebratory Easter message. But the word of God can’t be spun. It isn’t meant to be spun. Joab’s story is messy. His murderous act went unpunished and he went on to be the king of Jerusalem. The world we live in today is the same. There are acts of violence in our city and there are leaders that rise to power despite a sinful past. But there is also grace. 2 Samuel 20 is really about the restoring the stability of the 12 tribes of Israel. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we too have the opportunity for restoration. We can begin our new year by identifying the structural cracks in our spiritual life that need repair. There might be a need for demolition and rebuilding but through Jesus we have the tools we need. Sometimes the details of our human lives are graphic, our truth isn’t always Easter white. By returning to prayer and restoring our relationship with Jesus we can be made whole.
Happy Easter New Year!