The Wood of Ephraim
“With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing.” 2 Samuel 15:11 (ESV)
According to thegreatestbooks.org, William Faulkner’s novel “Absalom, Absalom!” is the 25th most critically acclaimed work of fiction ever made. The title refers to the Biblical story of Absalom, a son of David who rebelled against his father (then King of Kingdom of Israel) and who was killed by David’s general Joab in violation of David’s order to deal gently with his son, causing heartbreak to David. To read Faulkner’s novel gives one a sense that SOMEONE should have told Thomas Sutpen about Jesus just like SOMEONE should done the same for Absalom…well at the very best how to show grace and mercy to those who hurt you.
Now if you need a refresher on who Absalom was, here it goes…You remember King David in the Bible, a man after God’s own heart? Well he had a son named Absalom and he was praised as the most handsome man in all Israel. Then, Absalom killed his half-brother Amnon because Amnon raped their sister Tamar. This put David and Absalom in conflict and Absalom fled to a city of refuge provided by his maternal grandfather. When David finally invited Absalom back to Jerusalem (side note: David was pressured into doing this) Absalom worked to take the kingdom from David. Eventually Absalom would die by the hand of Joab (his barley field was sent a blaze by Absalom once) during The Battle of Ephraim’s Wood.
So where am I going with this? Well I am not too sure how this happens but every so often I find a book that Bill Welte use to own. (I think they all wind up in the Keswick Thrift Store) In this case the book I am paging through is titled, “Why Churches Die” by Mac Brunson & Ergun Caner, and it lead me to remember that I had a handout written by Dr. Dick Chase titled “The 12 Stages of an Absalom Spirit”. So, do you know where I am going now? If not, then stick with me and if you do…then stick with me, this is gonna get rough. Because I think there is time when we are sitting in the Sanctuary saying to ourselves, “Our church would better off if this, that or the other thing/person wasn’t here or happening.”
Now how far we going into these kinda thoughts should be of great concern to us. Because to allow an “Absalom Spirit” to settle into ourselves can lead to bad things for us and for those around us. Basically there are 12 stages that we can go through to exhibit that we’ve been influenced by the Absalom spirit of rebellion and disloyalty. And if we progress through these stages, any church we are in will experience increasing strife and disunity. Ultimately, if this “Spirit” isn’t dealt with, the rebellion and disloyalty that can spread throughout the congregation will bring a church split or the departure of many Christ-centered people.
What is important to grasp a hold of is this, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2Cor 10:4-6) So if you are being Christ-centered in your thinking in a very Romans 12:2 way the Absalom Spirit will not find its place in you. I will be going over those 12 steps in my next few Freedom Fighters but until that time think upon this question, “Is it unrealistic to want church to be a place of spiritual edification?” And then ponder why the people are there. Amen?
Think About This: “When you do not learn to forgive people for the wrong they have done to you, you become a victim a second time. You become ensnarled in a cycle of hatred, poison, and bitterness that has no end and has no solution. This is why Jesus told the offended person to go to the one who has wronged him. (If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.—Matt 18:15-17 MSG)”—Brunson & Caner
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17