Commentary on "Abiathar: The Priest"
Day 4: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - Absalom's Revolt
Today’s lesson, Absalom’s Revolt, is a general review of the story of Absalom, the son of David. One paragraph in this lesson contains an idea that we must be careful to identify. Found on page 82 of the Teacher’s Quarterly we find the following:
Taking the ark of God, Abiathar and the priests prepare to leave the city, but David orders that the ark stay. David has learned that carrying the symbol of God’s presence does not necessarily mean that God is with you. Wearing a cross, displaying a religious slogan, or keeping a set of rules does not guarantee God’s presence or compliance. God cannot be manipulated. The ark was to stay where it belonged. Leaving the ark there was also an act of faith on David’s part. He trusted that God would save him and bring him back to Jerusalem once again.
There are two statements here that must be addressed. We are in full agreement that “God cannot be manipulated.” Symbols, slogans or rules are all worthless if we think that using those makes us look good in God’s eyes.
The cross has long been a popular piece of jewelry, worn by many people, including those who would deny that Jesus even existed, or deny that his death on the cross is the means by which he saves us from our sins. Fallen human nature would have us use the cross in a superstitious way, thinking that it has some power or ability to protect.
Most Christians, those who have been born again, know that the cross is the central symbol of our belief in the finished work of Christ on the cross. The cross is frequently identified in the New Testament as an important fact that should always be central.
Believers are to preach the power of the cross, which is foolishness to the world. 1 Cor. 1:17-25 reads:
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
The cross is offensive to the world, and should be as Paul states in Gal. 5:11:
But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.
The cross stands in opposition to the law and those who would identify righteousness as acting in accordance with the Old Testament law. It is by the cross that we are made into a new creation. Gal. 6:12-15 reads,
It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
The cross is the means by which we are reconciled to God, and the means by which the hostility of the law against us is abolished. Eph. 2:13-16 states,
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
There are many enemies of the cross of Christ. Believers press on in the upward call of God, imitating those of great faith who have gone before us. Phil. 3:14-18 states,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
The cross is the means by which the record of debt with its legal demands (the Old Testament law) has been set aside. We read in Col. 2:13-14,
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
The lesson author is correct in stating that the symbol of the cross does not mean that God is with you. However, let us never forsake the cross, even the symbol of the cross, for it is the cross by which we are saved, by which we are more than overcomers and in which we glory.
If someone in your Sabbath School class has objected to the use of the cross, he or she needs to read the scriptures identified above to learn the passion the early church had for the cross.
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