2 Samuel 20:1-26 (Part 1) – Defining Morality for Ourselves

Posted: August 14, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel

2 Samuel 20:1-26 (Part 1 of 3)
The Revolt of Sheba

Currently, as I had mentioned recently, I have begun the third semester of four of course-based studies for my D.Min. degree. After that fourth semester, the fun part (yeah, right!) begins – the dissertation. This third semester, I am taking a class about Missions & Evangelism. There are two required books to read and then we must select on average 5 other books from the recommended reading list so that our total pages read for the first half of the semester will be around 2,000. I have plowed through the first two books, the required texts. Now, I am reading one of the five books that I personally selected to read. This one is called The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation by Thomas Rainer and Jess Rainer.

It has been an interesting read so far. It confirms some knowledge that I had of millennials (people born between 1980-2000) from my own experience with my Millennial generation daughters and stepdaughter and from what I have seen in the workplace in recent years. I take issue with some of the findings as if the Millennials are vastly different than previous generations. First, the authors really harped on the fact that Millennials desire to make a difference in the world to a greater degree than previous generations. I simply think that is finding that is just not true. Yes, currently, in 2018, the Millennials are ranging in age from as young as 18 to as old as 38 and as such as the young generation. And as such, being the youngest adult generation, they are indeed most likely more hopeful of making a positive impact on the world. I would agree with that data in the sense that is always true of the youngest adult generation alive at the time. Generation X (those born from 1964-1980) and Baby Boomers (those born from 1946-1964) were both hopeful at these ages. Thus, it is my contention that the data suggesting that Millennials are America’s most hopeful generation is simply a function of their age and that their hopefulness is cross-generation when each generation has had its “time in the sun” as the youngest adult generation.

One of the confirmations that I have taken from the book so far is that I had an assumption that the Millennials, in general, were the least religious of any American generation in our nation’s history. They were most likely raised in homes where their parents were not attending church at all. Although there are about 13% of Millennials that define themselves as devout Christ followers, most do not see religion as a critical part of their lives. 65% of Millennials do not attend church and do not consider themselves even mildly religious. Most of them grew up in homes where they parents had divorced and of those a majority split time in homes where both of their birth parents had remarried. Thus, their lack of Christian upbringing and living in homes where a failed marriage, divorce, and remarriage was common, this generation is one of tolerance and mediation. They just want everybody to get along. This desire for their to be equilibrium in relationships has brought about this desire of all to tolerate one another. Since they grew in the homes of Baby Boomers where questioning traditional values was the mark of that generation, they have come to define tolerance as a key thing in their lives. In this desire for everyone to get along, there has come a relativistic attitude toward spiritual matters. What is true for you is OK for you. What is true for me is OK for me. Although this generation is spiritual, it is self-defined. Biblical illiteracy is a significant issue since church attendance and deep involvement in the discipleship processes of a thriving church are not important to them. As a result, the moral compass of the Millennials is defined by a centrist desire for tolerance. Since morality is defined by general consensus rather than a belief in a morality defining God, their moral values are and will most likely be situational.

It is this idea of a generation of Americans that is now the largest segment of the population (the ones born between 1980-2000) where the great majority no longer cares of believes in a morality defining God and believes that man defines his own morality is the idea that I thought of this morning when we run into Joab once again. Here, he is murdering again to protect and/or regain his position as commander of the king’s armies. It is clear that Joab has situational ethics. Let’s read now about his latest murder in 2 Samuel 20:1-26:

Chapter 20
1 There happened to be a troublemaker there named Sheba son of Bicri, a man from the tribe of Benjamin. Sheba blew a ram’s horn and began to chant:

“Down with the dynasty of David!
We have no interest in the son of Jesse.
Come on, you men of Israel,
back to your homes!”

2 So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stayed with their king and escorted him from the Jordan River to Jerusalem.

3 When David came to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to look after the palace and placed them in seclusion. Their needs were provided for, but he no longer slept with them. So each of them lived like a widow until she died.

4 Then the king told Amasa, “Mobilize the army of Judah within three days, and report back at that time.” 5 So Amasa went out to notify Judah, but it took him longer than the time he had been given.

6 Then David said to Abishai, “Sheba son of Bicri is going to hurt us more than Absalom did. Quick, take my troops and chase after him before he gets into a fortified town where we can’t reach him.”

7 So Abishai and Joab,[a] together with the king’s bodyguard[b] and all the mighty warriors, set out from Jerusalem to go after Sheba. 8 As they arrived at the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa met them. Joab was wearing his military tunic with a dagger strapped to his belt. As he stepped forward to greet Amasa, he slipped the dagger from its sheath.[c]

9 “How are you, my cousin?” Joab said and took him by the beard with his right hand as though to kiss him. 10 Amasa didn’t notice the dagger in his left hand, and Joab stabbed him in the stomach with it so that his insides gushed out onto the ground. Joab did not need to strike again, and Amasa soon died. Joab and his brother Abishai left him lying there and continued after Sheba.

11 One of Joab’s young men shouted to Amasa’s troops, “If you are for Joab and David, come and follow Joab.” 12 But Amasa lay in his blood in the middle of the road, and Joab’s man saw that everyone was stopping to stare at him. So he pulled him off the road into a field and threw a cloak over him. 13 With Amasa’s body out of the way, everyone went on with Joab to capture Sheba son of Bicri.

14 Meanwhile, Sheba traveled through all the tribes of Israel and eventually came to the town of Abel-beth-maacah. All the members of his own clan, the Bicrites,[d] assembled for battle and followed him into the town. 15 When Joab’s forces arrived, they attacked Abel-beth-maacah. They built a siege ramp against the town’s fortifications and began battering down the wall. 16 But a wise woman in the town called out to Joab, “Listen to me, Joab. Come over here so I can talk to you.” 17 As he approached, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?”

“I am,” he replied.

So she said, “Listen carefully to your servant.”

“I’m listening,” he said.

18 Then she continued, “There used to be a saying, ‘If you want to settle an argument, ask advice at the town of Abel.’ 19 I am one who is peace loving and faithful in Israel. But you are destroying an important town in Israel.[e] Why do you want to devour what belongs to the Lord?”

20 And Joab replied, “Believe me, I don’t want to devour or destroy your town! 21 That’s not my purpose. All I want is a man named Sheba son of Bicri from the hill country of Ephraim, who has revolted against King David. If you hand over this one man to me, I will leave the town in peace.”

“All right,” the woman replied, “we will throw his head over the wall to you.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the ram’s horn and called his troops back from the attack. They all returned to their homes, and Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem.

23 Now Joab was the commander of the army of Israel. Benaiah son of Jehoiada was captain of the king’s bodyguard. 24 Adoniram[f] was in charge of forced labor. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. 25 Sheva was the court secretary. Zadok and Abiathar were the priests. 26 And Ira, a descendant of Jair, was David’s personal priest.

In this passage, we see once again that Joab has not changed a bit. Here again, he murdered someone who was a threat to his position as commander of the king’s armies. If you asked Joab, he would probably give you many reasons as to why these murders were completely justified in his mind. Eventually, as we shall see early in 1 Kings that justice did catch up with him. It may seem that sin and treachery often go unpunished, but God’s justice is not limited to this side of eternity. Even if Joab’s life had not been cut short by his execution and he had died of old age, he would still have had to face his day of judgment before the Lord.

As we close out this blog, first let me say that I am not anti-Millennial by any means. My daughters and stepdaughter are Millennials. Each of them, I am very proud of. My oldest daughter has found salvation in Jesus Christ. However, as is typical of her generation, she does not see it as terribly critical for her and her family to be active in a local church. Then, with my stepdaughter, she is right on the edge of accepting Christ as her Savior if she has not already. She, too, does not seem to evidence a desire to be deeply involved in church life. However, she does often have deep discussions with her mother about matters of Jesus Christ, Christian morality, and so on. My youngest daughter is still searching for meaning in life and is trying to find her way in the world so I am just not sure where she is at with regard to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, as examples of this generation, these three girls of mine make me proud in the sense that when my generation retires that we will leave this world in the hands of a generation that does care about making the world a better place. So overall, I am pro-Millennial.

However, the concern that I have with the Millennials is the fact that they do not see religion as important. Yes, they consider themselves spiritual on the whole but organized religion seems to turn them off as a generation as a whole. Thus, their understanding of the Christian faith is so completely limited. They see the Christian faith as do’s and don’t’s and not as it should be, a relationship with Jesus Christ. Because of their general lack of understanding of the Christian faith, they see Christianity as just another option in a menu of self-actualization spiritualities. It is a take-it-or-leave-it, no impact decision either way to them. It is certainly not a central core of life thing to them. Thus, morality then becomes self-defined over time. Morality tends toward what is right for me is OK for me and what is right for you is OK for you.

In this passage, we see Joab in the same light. He is a higher up in the kingdom of Israel. He knows the Word of God because of his position within the hierarchy of the kingdom of God’s people. However, he twists God’s Word into what is best for him at any given moment. He is defining what morality is. He is picking and choosing what he wants to believe and uses only that which serves his self-interest. His morality is situationally based. Though the thing that disturbs me is that he is the commander of David’s armies. David is known as a man after God’s own heart. But yet, here’s Joab committing murder because it suits his morality of the moment. Then, where is David’s discipleship? He must have worked closely with Joab! Why was their no guidance given? Why was there not greater influence on Joab’s life?

Likewise, with the Millennial generation, we as the church must wake up and recognize that the Millennials are not going to come to us. They generally don’t know anything about us. What they do know about us is negative based on media reports. Therefore, we must engage them. We must go to them. We must teach them about the gospel message in a way that breaks down their stereotypes of religion and do’s and don’ts. We must go them and teach them about Jesus Christ and his transforming power than changes us from the inside out. We must get them to understand that there is a Creator God that loves them so much that He gave His only Son to give them a way to be reconciled to Him. The Millennials are big on relationships. That’s where we begin. Developing relationships with Millennials and teaching them about the relational nature of Jesus Christ.

Amen and Amen.

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