A Way of Return

Ok . . . so I don’t know if it is appropriate to say this sort of thing or not . . . but it occurs to me that, just as I have my favorite portions of Scripture, I probably have a few that are my “least favorite” passages. This morning’s reading in 2Samuel is one of those. It’s a few chapters of God’s word that I would just as soon exclude from my reading plan. This morning I read 2Samuel chapters 13 through 15. Yuck! What a downer . . . what a mess.

A daughter of David violated . . . the life of a beautiful young girl ruined. And nothing is done about it for two years. And then her brother, Absalom, takes vengeance for his sister’s disgrace into his own hands. And now there’s murder. Absalom flees into exile . . . and David’s a mess. Three years later, David finally calls for Absalom and eventually has a reconciliation of sorts but then Absalom determines to overthrow his father and take the throne . . . treachery . . . treason. David now has to “get out of Dodge” and leaves his throne empty for Absalom to fill. And that’s not all of it . . . I know more distasteful and heart-wrenching stuff is yet to come. Talk about your dysfunctional family . . . dysfunctional with a capital D. And it is so not what I would want to see in the family life of a man who has a heart after God’s own heart.

It really is kind of depressing. So much sin packed into so few chapters. Ego . . . selfishness . . . weakness . . . lives ruined . . . lives lost . . . bad choices . . . poor discernment. You brood over this passage and the sky goes grey . . . not much sunshine here. Such a stark reminder that the wages of sin is death . . . physical death . . . emotional death . . . death of a family . . . heavy sigh!!!

But in the midst of this gloom . . . in the midst of this brokenness . . . there is a gem which shines bright.

We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and He devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.    (2Samuel 14:14 ESV)

God devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast! Praise God!

Yes, the wages of sin is death for everyone who sins . . . and that’s everyone. We are all like water spilled on the ground. But God’s desire is not to take away life. He is not willing that any should perish (2Peter 3:9). Instead, God makes a way of return . . . so that those banished by sin might not remain an outcast.

This morning I also read of that way of return in Galatians 3. The way back is the way of Abraham who “believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness” so that “those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Gal. 3:6, 9). The way back, the way of reconciliation, is the gracious way of God’s redemption. Christ having redeemed the outcast from the curse of the law by becoming, Himself, a curse of us (Gal. 3:13). He restores those damaged by their sin, having, once for all, taken the wages of their sin upon Himself.

Yes, sin is an ugly reality. The Law was designed to reveal it for what it is . . . the dysfunction . . . the destruction . . . the determined offense against a holy God. But the law was also designed to be “our guardian until Christ came” . . . leading us to the One who would make possible our justification by faith (Gal. 3:22-24). And despite the mess, despite the wretched condition, God’s desire is that none would be permanently estranged from Him. In fact, for all those who, by God’s grace, accept the way of the cross as the way back, He declares that they are, in Christ Jesus, children of God through faith . . . “baptized into Christ” . . . “one in Christ” . . . “heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:26-29).

Sometimes you have to read those least favorite passages, and be reminded of the depressing realities of a sin-damaged world, in order to glory afresh in the magnificence and wonder of the love and grace of God. Sometimes you have to be reminded how far the soul can stray, in order to rejoice in how far God has gone to make a way of back.

A way of return. Only by the grace of God . . . only for the glory of God.

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