Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
2 Samuel 16 – Meanwhile, Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, meets him with food for his men. His master has stayed behind in Jerusalem believing that the overthrow will result in the restoration of his father’s patrimony to him. David then turns all he has previously granted to Mephibosheth to the servant Ziba.
There is incredible drama in this story. Mephibosheth is the lame son of David’s dearest childhood friend, Jonathan – Saul’s son. Out of David’s love for his friend, now dead as a result of the conflict between David and Saul, he brought Mephibosheth under his protection and care. But now Mephibosheth is joining a rebellion. David responds here by taking the properties he bestowed on Mephibosheth and giving them to Ziba. But the story is not over yet. Forgiveness and love are very much attributes of this king – David.
At Bahurim, a man named Shimei of the family of Saul, comes out and curses David and throws stones at him. He screams, “The Lord has avenged on all of you the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, disaster has overtaken you; for you are a man of blood” (16:8). Abishai (Joab’s brother) wants to kill him, but David reprimands him: “If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’. . .Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him” (16:10-11). They go to the Jordan.
Here too we see something very unique in David’s temperament – a willingness to hear unpleasant things, a willingness to let men “witness” before him. There was no First Amendment in this time, but David should be seen as laying the foundation for such freedom. Also, don’t forget, David is a king who has “on his staff” an honest prophet – Nathan – who is willing to challenge David’s actions and policies as King.
Back in Jerusalem, Hushai approaches Absalom and offers his loyalty. Absalom is suspicious, but accepts him. Then he asks Ahithophel for his advice about what he should do. He tells him to go in to David’s concubines, that it will communicate to Israel that Absalom has taken his father’s place and has become odious to his father as a result.
Mark 13:24-36 - After all the suffering, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” (13:24-27).
What shall we make of Jesus’ words? “I tell, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (13:30-31). And then these really troubling words: “No one knows, however, when that day or hour will come—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son; only the Father knows. Be on watch, be alert, for you do not know when the time will come” (13:33). What to make of them?
The mix of allusions in chapter 13–allusions to sufferings we know the disciples will all face after Jesus’ death and resurrection and allusions to what seems to be the end of the world – makes it very confusing. Clearly the first apostles of Jesus went out with an expectation that His Second Coming and the Parousia would come in their life-times. And when that did not happen, the apprehension about the “end times” became an obsession among many in the wider Christian community even to this day. Harold Camping thought he had it all figured out in 2011. Maybe the key is that the end-time comes for each and every one of us – at our deaths; and we should live our lives on alert to the frailty and transience of everything in this life, preparing it for Christ every day.