I am finding my study of II Samuel to be a fruitful blessing and the more I dig into it the more I am amazed at how relevant and timely it is for us in the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, so much so that I realized the end of this chapter which I was going to skip is also timely, so we will take that up next week. I hope you will read and pray over and meditate on this chapter and what God would say to us through it.
History shows us nearly every generation has its defining tragedy, some event that defines and exposes and shapes a nations character and conduct. Just the last century reveals several. The 9/11 Twin Towers terrorist attack, Sept. 11, 2001. The Vietnam War, 60s-70s. The assassination of JFK, November 1963. WWII The Stock Market crash and Great Depression, 1929. The sinking of the Titanic April 14, 1912. Along with events like those, there have also been countless plagues and epidemics. Again, just in the last century there has been the swine flu, the bird flu, Ebola, and the great Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, to which news reports have made many references. As I said last week epidemics and pandemics are not unprecedented. There have been countless plagues and pestilences all through human history. In fact, I dare say there has never been a hundred-year span of time without at least one. Biblical history bears this out. In the Bible the words plague, and pestilence occur over 130 times. The first time is in Genesis 12 when God afflicted Pharaoh’s house with great plagues because he had taken Sarai, Abram’s wife, into his palace, not knowing she was married. Then of course there were the ten great plagues that were visited on another Pharaoh many years later in Egypt, by Moses (Exodus 7-11). The tenth one killed a member of every Egyptian household.
There is a word that has snuck into our vocabulary over the past couple of months. We are hearing this word used a lot lately by politicians, the news media, medical people. In fact, you could almost say that the frequency of the use of this word is unprecedented. That’s the word, unprecedented. And of course, what is being called unprecedented is the Covid-19 pandemic. The word means without precedent, unique, unparalleled, without previous instance. Nothing like it before. Cancelling the CRC Synod meeting is unprecedented in our 160 year history. Now there is some truth to that. None of us in our life time have experienced anything quite like what we are going through now. It has some of the financial implications of the great depression, some of the life restrictions like the rationing and blackouts during WWII, some of the fear of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, some of the long school closures like the blizzard of 1950. But when you put all of that into one event and then spread it all over the globe it can certainly have an unprecedented feel to it. This will go down in history as a recognizable seismic event. One for the history books. One you young people will tell your kids and grandkids. But any student of history will tell you this pandemic is not so unprecedented in human history. There have been countless plagues and pestilences, epidemics and pandemics. Millions of people died in the Spanish flu and in various bubonic plagues and many others. Scripture says there is nothing new under the sun, except one thing, one truly unprecedented event, one event like no other before it or after it. One event without parallel.
Why are we in the garden on Palm Sunday? Remember we have been focusing on Satan’s attacks and lies, first on us by saying “did God really say,” and twisting Scripture. Then we looked at Satan’s attack on Jesus in the three temptations where Satan was again twisting Scripture. Now we are finishing with two other times when Jesus faced serious, strong temptations, last week from Peter telling Jesus He would never suffer as the Son of God. And now this week when the Son of God wrestles in a garden with the temptation to avoid suffering if possible. Human history began in a garden. Human history was completely rewritten in a garden. The first Adam ignored the will of God and results were disastrous. The second Adam sought the will of God and the results were hard but very good. Adam ate of the fruit in the garden and plunged us all into sin and death. Jesus agreed to drink of the cup in the garden and raise us all to holiness and life. In the first garden sin and Satan won and the curse was begun. In the second garden sin and Satan lost and the curse was about to be broken. Adam was put to the test in the garden and failed miserably. Jesus was put to the supreme test of His life and triumphed. We come to one of the most powerfully moving and emotionally charged scenes in the life of Jesus, certainly one of the most human scenes.