on an unsavoury truth

Then all the tribes of Israel went to David at Hebron and told him, “We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, when Saul was our king, you were the one who really led the forces of Israel. And the LORD told you, ‘You will be the shepherd of my people Israel. You will be Israel’s leader.’”
So there at Hebron, King David made a covenant before the LORD with all the elders of Israel. And they anointed him king of Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in all. He had reigned over Judah from Hebron for seven years and six months, and from Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.
David then led his men to Jerusalem to fight against the Jebusites, the original inhabitants of the land who were living there. The Jebusites taunted David, saying, “You’ll never get in here! Even the blind and lame could keep you out!” For the Jebusites thought they were safe. But David captured the fortress of Zion, which is now called the City of David.
On the day of the attack, David said to his troops, “I hate those ‘lame’ and ‘blind’ Jebusites. Whoever attacks them should strike by going into the city through the water tunnel.” That is the origin of the saying, “The blind and the lame may not enter the house.”
So David made the fortress his home, and he called it the City of David. He extended the city, starting at the supporting terraces and working inward. And David became more and more powerful, because the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies was with him.
Then King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar timber and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built David a palace. And David realized that the LORD had confirmed him as king over Israel and had blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. —2 Samuel 5:1-12

There’s a trend in Christianity today that likes to focus on one part of the Bible, and forget about the other bits. Christians sometimes justify this by saying, Well, it’s 2016, some things in the Bible aren’t relevant anymore, or We don’t want to say things that are complicated or frightening, because we don’t want to scare people away. So Christians often don’t talk about sin, or hell, or eternal punishment. The songs we sing in church increasingly follow what I call the Jesus-my-boyfriend pattern, which focuses on mushy feelings and spiritual experiences instead of solid truths from the Bible.

This is not a good trend, and I’ll be the first to admit I often fall into it too. Like how when I was studying in London, there was a street preacher near my church who stood near the train station; every day he would take a loudspeaker and yell at everyone and tell them they’re sinners and they’ll all burn unless they turn to Jesus. And when my non-Christian friends sniggered about him I wouldn’t say a word, or I’d snigger right along with them.

Now here’s the thing: Jesus Man (as we liked to call him) with his loudspeaker, probably wasn’t doing it right. But I will say this: he had the guts to publicly proclaim some very uncomfortable truths from the Bible. I myself don’t like talking about sin, I don’t like talking about hell. It’s offensive, it’s scary, it sounds hopelessly out-of-date. But the gospel is powerful, it is offensive – why do you think the Pharisees killed Jesus? And this passage is no walk in the park – in fact, I had wanted to say some nice-sounding fluff, but better people than I convinced me to stick to the context of the passage. Today’s passage is going to get pretty real, so let’s dive in.

In this passage, King David is gearing up to become King over all of God’s people, in the land God promised to give to his people. But one last enemy stands in his way: the Jebusites.

Remember, the Jebusites were the last of the Canaanites. When God’s people conquered their homeland 200 years earlier, the Jebusites’ great-great-great grandfathers had survived, while all the other Canaanites had been wiped out. The Jebusites had been spared, they were given a chance to come under God’s kingdom.

But for 200 years, they never took this chance. For 200 years, living side by side with God’s people, they never turned to the God of Israel. Now here was God’s chosen King, coming to their city gates, and the Lord Almighty was with him. Today that name is a bit of a joke, the way you hear old-timey preachers talk about the LAAWWWD ALMIGHTY, but this was not supposed to be a funny name. The original Hebrew name is Elohim Tsaba, meaning, God, the Commander of the Angel Legions. And so King David, chosen by God, Commander of the Angel Legions, finally conquered the Jebusites after this 200-year grace period.

So what does this have to do with us today? Here is where I will offend many of you, but Bible-believing Christians hold this to be true: that the world was made on God’s terms, the world will end on God’s terms; humans were created on God’s terms, and we will end on God’s terms. God’s chosen King will return one day, and those who don’t know him will be crushed.

For some people who have suffered injustice, hurt, pain, this is good news. It is good that there will be justice. People in parts of the world today where there is war, or corruption, or abuse of power – when they hear that there is justice for people who resist God, they will rejoice.

But for many people, this message is too much. I’ve seen it before. And I understand. Are you threatening me?, some say. Are you holding a heavenly gun to my head and demanding I believe in Jesus?

I know it sounds crazy. And I know it is offensive. But I beg you, with tears, to think about what this passage is saying. We here, today, are in many ways like the Jebusites. We have been given a chance by Jesus to come into God’s kingdom. And that is a good, beautiful thing. But let’s remember that this offer will not be available forever; let’s remember that Jesus will come back a second time, at the end of days – not as a loving, humble man, but as a conquering King, here to retake the kingdom that belongs to him. And those who don’t recognise him as King will be crushed.

We, today, are living in a grace period, just as the Jebusites were given a grace period. But even though God’s grace is rich and deep, it will not last forever. There will come a day when he stops giving us a chance – like how he eventually shut the door of Noah’s ark, how he eventually finished off the Jebusites, how he eventually kicked his own people out of their homeland because of their sinfulness, and how Jesus will eventually come again, not with open arms, but with a sword.

Let’s remember that being given a chance is a great thing. But let’s not abuse the chances we get, the grace we get; because while we’re here on earth, grace is running on a deadline. If you choose to ignore all the Jesus stuff I’ve talked about, then may this be your take-home: don’t abuse second chances. But again I beg you, with tears, please, please think about what this passage is saying. King Jesus coming back will be just as real as King David coming to finish off the Jebusites. For some this is a comfort, because there will be justice, and because we know that God’s wrath has passed over us, because Jesus paid that price.

But for others it is ridiculous. But please, let’s not harden our hearts like the Jebusites. Let’s turn to Jesus as King while we still can.

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