Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
2 Samuel 15 – Absalom steals the hearts of the people of Israel (15:6) by being available to them to give judgment on cases that affect them. After four years of this, he asks his father if he may go to Hebron to offer a sacrifice there he promised to make while he was in Geshur. Hebron was a holy site to Jews in that time, the place where Abraham and Sarah were buried, the place where David had been anointed king. The plan Absalom really has is to have the people proclaim him king there.
He sends messengers to all the tribes summoning them to Hebron—they are innocent of his intentions. When David finally learns of the growing conspiracy, he gathers his people together and leaves the city of Jerusalem to escape his son. He leaves his ten concubines behind to look after the house. The Gittites, Cherethites and Pelethites—peoples who served David as protectors—stay with him as do Abiathar and Zadok. The ark, which accompanies David as he leaves the city, is sent back with the two priests and their sons. David believes that if God favors his cause, “he will bring me back and let me see both it and the place where it stays” (15:25).
David ascends the Mount of Olives “weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot; and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went” (15:30). He learns that Ahitophel, a trusted advisor, is among the conspirators. He prays that Ahitophel’s (usual) wisdom will be turned to foolishness. He sends another advisor, Hushai, over to Absalom to be a spy and help to him there. His job will be to defeat the counsel of Ahitophel. He should report to the priests in Jerusalem—their sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan will report it back to David. He goes just as Absalom enters the city of Jerusalem with his men.
Mark 13:1-23 – Coming out of the Temple, a disciple points out the huge stones that make it up, but Jesus is not impressed. Even a great building like the Temple is fragile in God’s hands. “Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down” (13:2). This prophecy would seem to relate to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70. This would fit with a Pauline vision of God’s displeasure with the Jewish rejection of Jesus, but I haven’t read much to indicate that others tie Jesus’ words to this event.
They have a mysterious conversation about when this will happen and the larger implications of it happening—is it meant to mark the coming parousia? The end of the world? The beginning of the end? The beginning of a period of chaos that will culminate in the end of the world? Jesus describes the unrest but does not clearly state what he is addressing. As for the treatment his disciples will receive, this he outlines fairly graphically beginning in verse 9. They will be brought before governors and kings; they will be handed over, tried, and beaten; brother will betray brother and they will be hated “because of my name” (13:9-13). But Jesus tells his disciples that they are not to worry. He will send the Holy Spirit to give them words that will help them spread his message of salvation (13:11). Jesus’ language becomes even more puzzling and his description of coming turmoil even more disturbing. There will be false messiahs and prophets who will lead people astray.