December 5, 2021
Following Absalom’s death, King David returned to Jerusalem—but his homecoming was not marked by joyous celebration. Instead, all the men of Israel withdrew their allegiance to David to follow Sheba the Benjaminite. As Alistair Begg explains, while David used his military might to crush Sheba’s rebellion, he could not establish an enduring kingdom. Only Jesus will reign forever in perfect righteousness when He returns to usher in His kingdom.
Sermon Transcript: Print
Two Samuel chapter 20:
“Now there happened to be there a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite. And he blew the trumpet and said, ‘We have no portion in David, and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!’ So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
“And David came to his house at Jerusalem. And the king took the ten concubines whom he had left to care for the house and put them in a house under guard and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood.
“Then the king said to Amasa, ‘Call the men of Judah together to me within three days, and be here yourself.’ So Amasa went to summon Judah, but he delayed beyond the set time that had been appointed him. And David said to Abishai, ‘Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom. Take your lord’s servants and pursue him, lest he get himself to fortified cities and escape from us.’ And there went out after him Joab’s men and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men. They went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. When they were at the great stone that is in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing a soldier’s garment, and over it was a belt with a sword in its sheath fastened on his thigh, and as he went forward it fell out. And Joab said to Amasa, ‘Is it well with you, my brother?’ And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab’s hand. So Joab struck him with it in the stomach and spilled his entrails to the ground without striking a second blow, and he died.
“Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. And one of Joab’s young men took his stand by Amasa and said, ‘Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.’ And Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the highway. And anyone who came by, seeing him, stopped. And when the man saw that all the people stopped, he carried Amasa out of the highway into the field and threw a garment over him. When he was taken out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.
“And Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah, and all the Bichrites assembled and followed him in. And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah. They cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and they were battering the wall to throw it down. Then a wise woman called from the city, ‘Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, “Come here, that I may speak to you.”’ And he came near her, and the woman said, ‘Are you Joab?’ He answered, ‘I am.’ Then she said to him, ‘Listen to the words of your servant.’ And he answered, ‘I am listening.’ Then she said, ‘They used to say in former times, “Let them but ask counsel at Abel,” and so they settled a matter. I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?’ Joab answered, ‘Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David. Give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city.’ And the woman said to Joab, ‘Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.’ Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king.
“Now Joab was in command of all the army of Israel; and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in command of the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and Adoram was in charge of the forced labor; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; and Sheva was secretary; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests; and Ira the Jairite was also David’s priest.”
We thank God for his Word. And as we seek God’s help in studying the text together, the prayer for the second Sunday in Advent is most appropriate:
Blessed Lord, who has caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of your Holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Well, I thought it was good for us to have two weeks to recover from my attempt at chapter 19. Some of you who were present in the evening know, because I told you, that in the afternoon, I had a text from somebody in Wales, and it just said, “Thank you, from an octogenarian”—because, you remember, there was the Barzillai part. And I wrote him back, and I said, “Oh, I appreciate your thanks, because I really bit off more than I could chew. In fact, I gave the congregation some kind of—you know, it was impossible for them.” And I was hoping, I think, deep down inside that he would write back and say, “Oh, no, no, it was okay.” But he didn’t. No. No, he didn’t. He said, “Parts of it were rather taxing.” So… It’s good for us to be humbled. So, you should know that.
But here we are. Some people have already reached the point—I know because I’m hearing it—you’re saying, at least under your breath, “When do we get to the part where it says at the end of the verse, ‘And they all lived happily ever after’? When do we get to that bit? I mean, how many more deaths and murders do we have to have?”
Well, we’re not going to get to that at the end of chapter 20, as you can see, because there are two murders here, and one of them is a beheading. So, the return of David to Jerusalem, which we’ve been anticipating—his humiliation was such that he had fled. All these things have happened in the interim period, over a short period of time. Absalom’s rebellion has ended with his death. His folks are getting him back across the Jordan into Jerusalem, but it is not a return to tranquility; it is certainly not to prosperity. A lot of water has flown over the dam since the narrator told us, way back in chapter 8, about David reigning over all of Israel, administering justice and equity to all his people. Those days are in the past. His kingdom now is fragile; it is unstable. There’s gonna be another thousand years before the one to whom this kingdom points finally arrives, when the wise men’s question rings out as we have rehearsed it and sung it: “Where is he that is born the king of the Jews? We’re looking for him.” And here David, a thousand years BC, his crown has slipped; his leadership has faltered; his failures have dogged all of his attempts to see things put back together again.
But why would we be surprised? That is not a unique story. That is actually the story of all earthly kingdoms. It is the story of all empires. And that is why we need to make sure that what we affirm about the Word of God as being light in our darkness and hope for the hopeless and so on, that we actually truly believe. Because here we are in the final weeks of a year, of a period of time that has gone almost to two years, where the cry of the community has largely been “Is this thing broken forever? Has the world spun off its axis? Is there nobody that can repair the brokenness in which we find ourselves living? And if there is somebody who is able to do that, we certainly would love to hear from them.”
And so we have listened to the stories of how education is necessary, and we affirm the place of education; it’s vital. But if it was education that would cure us, we’d be cured by now, I think. Perhaps science will fix us? But science can’t agree with itself. Perhaps we will be able to find eventually the great political nirvana for which we’ve been longing. After all, we got rid of King George. We thought that was the answer. Little did we realize that others would emerge, just as bad as him and not even, many times, as good as him.
And here we are at this point in history, and people are saying to themselves, “If there is an answer, please stand up and say.” And perhaps some of you are saying, “I wish you would, pastor.” I don’t get letters so much from you, but I get letters from across the nation saying to me, you know, “Why don’t you take these issues on? Why don’t you speak about this? Why don’t you speak about that? You have a voice. Use it!”
Well, I have been given a voice, and I am using it. But the one thing they think is ridiculous to do is to do what we’re actually doing: “Why would you spend your time reading an ancient history of Israel? People are in need. Things are crumbling. Bits and pieces are broken. And you’ve got us all tied up, and if we hear you correctly, even though you give us a break, you’re gonna come back and subject us to the exact same thing! We might have thought that you would forget you had even started and we could move on, but no, we will be there again. Why are you doing that?”
Because, in short order, the answer to the brokenness of our world is in this book. It’s actually, in a very specific way, in 2 Samuel. Because it is the promise that God had made first to Abraham, now reinforced to David in 2 Samuel 12, that speaks to the answer of the longings of the human heart for the one who can save and rule and who can reign, so that what we’re actually doing is at the very heart of the matter.
And it was the promise of God that sustained the people of God all the way through the history of their lives. So, for example, when Nebuchadnezzar came in, in the vastness of his power, when Babylon seemed to crush everything that the people of Israel knew—when they took away the elements of the temple, when they paralyzed the people, when they took their best into exile, when they were tempted to quit their songs and hang their harps on the olive branches—what does God do? Well, he raises up a few young men, and Daniel. And Nebuchadnezzar can’t sleep. And one of the reasons he can’t sleep is because he dreams. And worse than that, he can’t even remember what his dream is. So he can’t even go to the soothsayers to explain his dream, because he doesn’t know the dream. He needs somebody to tell him the dream and then tell him what the dream was about. Who in the world could ever do that? God’s man!
Do you remember what the dream was, this great big thing? And Daniel says, “Well, I can tell you exactly what that is. And it is simple: all the kings and all the empires that are represented in this great statue will actually be destroyed one day.” And we’re not here to study Daniel, but in Daniel 2:44, in case you go looking for it, he says, “And in the days of those kings…” Alexander the Great. The Roman Empire. Add any empire you want to it, if you like: the USSR, Hitler’s fascists in Germany, the British Empire, the American crumbling empire as we live it. Put them all there, and listen to what he says: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed,” and “it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” Forever!
Now, here’s the question that is posed to us by such a statement: Do we believe this? Pregnant pause. Purposeful. Rhetorical question. And if you’re saying yes, then surely the exhortation to our hearts must be, “Dear Lord in heaven, help me to believe what I believe. Help me to doubt my doubts and believe my beliefs.” And that’s why I say to you that the study of the ancient kings of Israel is as up to date as anything we could possibly be considering, confronting us with this reality.
Now, there is a sense in which I have just provided you with the end of the talk—which, of course, some of you are saying, “Good, let’s just leave it there.” But no, I have in one sense. Because let me tell you how I framed this chapter: first of all, by considering the opposition of a worthless man (that’s there in the text); secondly, by considering intervention by a wise woman; and thirdly, by recognizing in it the only possibility of restoration for a weary world. “You are the God of the weary. You help those who are in need.” Where is this God? Where do we meet God?
You see, one of the things that the Old Testament does for us is it leaves us with unanswered questions. It’s kind of like, in many ways, it’s an unfinished symphony. You find yourself saying, “But there must be a coda to this. There must be… This must resolve. This must get back to the primary chord. It’s not gonna end on a sixth, is it?” And, of course, it doesn’t, because it takes us forward.
Now, with that said, let me try and push through this. I will endeavor to do two of the three headings, keeping the third one for this evening, for no other reason than we’re not gonna be able to get to it. All right?
So, first of all, if your Bible is open in front of you, let us see what the Bible says. These things were written down for us so that “through endurance and … the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
“Now there happened to be there a worthless man.” Here we have the opposition of a worthless man. Absalom’s rebellion has been put down, but the end of 19 has made it very clear to us that all is not well. There’s tribal tension. There’s squabbling. There’s jealousy. There’s instability. And in that context, Sheba, this fellow from Bichri, sees this as an open sesame for him. He sees it as an opportunity to do what Absalom has been unable to do, and that is to divest the kingdom from the control of David. If you like, it is an attempt at secession rather than an attempt of taking over the kingdom.
So, he is a troublemaker, and he rallies the disenfranchised folks, of whom there are quite a few, with the blast of a trumpet. You will notice that as we get to the end this evening, the trumpet blows again: at the beginning, it blows in order to say “We’re commencing,” and the trumpet blows at the end to say “We’ve concluded.” And so he sends out the word, there in verse 1, “We’ve got nothing to do with David. There’s no future for us with this son of Jesse,” which is a disparaging comment; “Every man to his tents, O Israel. Let’s get out of here! Let’s get out of here. We’re not going to live under this dominion.”
And as a result, we find in verse 2 that “all the men of Israel withdrew from David.” A wholesale collapse. They go to follow Sheba. “But the men of Judah,” which is a smaller number, “followed their king steadfastly.” So you have Sheba and his boys; they clear off, and Judah and the followers of the king cling steadfastly to him.
And then, quite strikingly, you have verse 3. “But,” you say, “verse 3 would naturally follow verse 2.” I get that. But isn’t it fascinating that this little statement here is right in your face? In other words, what happened to these concubines could have been a PS, couldn’t it? It could have been at the end, when he does that list and he says “So-and-So was in charge of such-and-such and so-and-so. And by the way…” But he doesn’t do that.
So, the narrator wants us to come face-to-face with this. “And David came to his house at Jerusalem.” Going home! Going home. If you’ve been watching the Beatles thing by Peter Jackson, you’ve heard him sing it again: “Two of us counting something, on our way back home. We’re going home, we’re going home.” There’s just something about being able to go home. “I’ll be home”—right?—“for Christmas.” We should be going home. But to go home and meet this! The music has stopped. There’s no band playing.
How do you think it felt as he walked up to this place? Yeah, it was his home, but it was really a “house.” Remember, when we studied earlier, we said that his decision to leave the concubines behind to look after his house would prove to be a really bad decision. Some of you read ahead and discovered why. Others of us have only just followed it as we encountered it in the text. But if he had never taken a harem, Absalom would never have been able to do what he did to the harem. And so he would not be returning to this sad, sorry place.
Now, we can’t delay on this, but I want to say something about it. For when you drive to the airport, it says it, doesn’t it, up on the righthand side? “Trafficking Happens Here Too.” The movement of women, girls. The great focus of the media on the residual impact of Epstein and whatever else is involved in that. You say, “How could our world ever descend to such a thing?” Our world was in it right here. Murder, incest, chaos is as a result of the fall. It’s not as a result of the pressures of an alien world. It is as a result of the heart of man.
What did it mean for these women? Look at what it says he did for them. He “put them in a house under guard.” Imprisoned them? No, I think maybe protected them. After all, look what had happened when he was gone. He “provided for them.” But he didn’t use them as his playthings. And “they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood.”
We’ve talked in the past about what it is to be beautiful or handsome. Don’t you think they would have occasion to curse their beauty? I was reading this week somebody who was very prominent in the world of politics at an earlier era, and she commented on the fact, quite fascinatingly—she said that not being beautiful was a blessing, because, she said, the pretty girl has a handicap to overcome. It’s a reminder, isn’t it, that it is one thing to make yourself look attractive; it’s another thing to make yourself look seductive. And girls know the difference, and so do we men. Let us learn the lesson that the picture of purity and beauty provided in 1 Peter is the one for which we strive and for which we long for our children and our grandchildren, and that is “the imperishable [jewel] of a gentle and [a] quiet spirit,” a beauty that cannot be eroded by time or by the ravages of age or by the influences of a culture.
This surely—verse 3—is one of the saddest pictures in the entire story. But life has to go on. It goes on for these women; they live essentially in widowhood until the day they die. And now David has to make sure that what is before him in terms of Sheba gets dealt with. And so you will notice that urgently he addresses this uprising. He assigns Amasa to call together the men of Judah, to do it within a three-day period, and to get here himself. Amasa doesn’t manage it for whatever reason—we don’t know, we’re not told—and David goes to plan B. He decides, “Well then, let’s use Abishai.” And so he tells Abishai, “This guy Sheba will actually do more harm to us than Absalom has ever done. And so what I want you to do is get the people together and pursue him and prevent him from being able to hole himself up in a fortified city.” That takes us to verse 6.
In verse and 7 following, first of all, we’re introduced to the men. They are described as “Joab’s men.” Joab may have been set aside in preference for Amasa by David, but he is at the very heart of things all the time. And the combined forces appear to be determined by his influence. The mission in verse 7 is as stated: “Pursue Sheba.” And then in verse 8, there is a meeting that takes place at a stone—which obviously was a significant meeting point in Gibeon all those years ago; we could never find it today—and “Amasa came to meet them.” We don’t know whether he went there by appointment or whether he just met them, but nevertheless, he arrived. And he could never have known—he could never have known—that he was walking to his death. He could never have been singing to himself, “And that’ll be the day that I die.” But it was. And then you have the record of this murder, the setup described there.
It’s interesting how we don’t really have description of clothing and everything, by and large. But here, the soldier’s garment had a belt. There was a sword fastened on his thigh. As he went forward, it fell out. We can’t tell from the text whether it fell out purposefully or whether it fell out inadvertently, but there is no question that if it happened inadvertently, he scooped it up quickly, and as he did so, he had it in his left hand, and with his right hand he lays hold of Amasa. And in Eastern fashion, he takes hold of his beard as if to give him a kiss, and he says, “And how is it going with you? How are you?” Fast-forward a thousand years to a garden in Gethsemane, and the traitor comes, and he embraces Jesus the King, and the King says, “Would you betray [me] with a kiss?” “How are you doing?” He doesn’t care how he’s doing. He has a plan. Joab has his own reasons for wanting to eliminate Amasa. He does so swiftly, silently, and mercilessly, and there he lies in a pool of blood.
One of Joab’s young men is given the responsibility to try and make sure that the people fall in in pursuit of Joab and Abishai. Notice the sentence there at the very end of verse 10: “Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri.” I mean, the coldhearted brutality of it is quite immense, isn’t it? That he kills him with one blow, it’s a devastating impact, and he turns around, and he says to his brother, “Okay, let’s go. We’ve gotta get Sheba.”
Meanwhile, what happens is the precursor to what we refer to now on the freeway as rubbernecking. And there he lies. And as he lies there, the people that are coming by are all stopping to have a look. And so he leaves one of his boys there to say, “If you’re on the side of Joab, which puts you on the side of David, just keep moving, please. Just keep moving.” But still they stop, until he finally realizes that you have to do what happens on 480 on an average morning, and that is you get somebody to pull the wreckage out of the way so that once it’s gone, people will not have occasion to stop, because there’s nothing to look at now. And they always say that on 104.9, that nice lady’s voice in the morning: she always says, “And the accident at such-and-such a road has now been cleared, and the traffic is moving along again.” And then we all feel good. And that’s exactly what is here. Verse 13: they moved him out of the road, and “all the people went on after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bashir.” So they all knew what they were doing.
And Joab once again acts true to form. He seeks to advance his cause by besieging the city. We’ve seen him do this before. He’s good at it. He’s a military man. He’s an enigma, isn’t he, in many ways? Because what is his commitment? His commitment is to the anointed king of God. His commitment is to David and to the establishing of his kingdom. His motive, it would seem to be largely right. His methodology is bizarre. He’s already left a trail behind him of death, and he continues to do it.
Basically, he’s a warning to each person who is tempted to say, “You know, I think we can advance the kingdom of God by military might, by muscle, and by power.” The fact is that such a notion is alive and well. If it’s not alive and well, then I’m not reading the press. I’m not reading the evangelical press. I say it to you again: there’s a constant refrain that comes my way that says, “We take this on. Let’s get up there!” They’re not actually saying, “Let’s seize the Capitol,” but it’s as close to that as you can get: “We’re gonna have to do this. There’s not gonna be another way to handle this. Now, let’s be going.” That’s the Joab way. And Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would [fight].” But they don’t fight.
You see, we’re not involved in building an American empire or a British empire or, frankly, any kind of empire. We are the servants of the humble King who’s the friend of the broken, who received far more interest from prostitutes than he did from religious professors, who welcomed into his fold some of the most unlikely people you could ever imagine. His own family tree is punctuated by messed-up, broken people, because he came to save messed-up, broken people. No, beware if you find the Joab coming out in you. Take yourself in hand.
You say, “Well, you’re nearly done.” Yes, I am, but point two, we can do it very quickly. It’s time to hear from a woman, don’t you think? That’s, I’m sure, what the women are saying.
“Then a wise woman called from the city…” Oh, we just almost can take in a breath, can’t we? Oh! This is good. We don’t have to listen to any more of this mayhem. Finally, let’s have some wisdom—and certainly from a wise woman, a shrewd woman, a woman who is able to think outside the box. Joab had previously used a wise woman, remember, when he tried to bring reconciliation between David and Absalom. You can read that in chapter 14. We’re not told the woman’s name. We know Sheba’s name; he’s a troublemaker. We don’t have her name, but her influence is powerful. Powerful!
I got diverted on this during the week. Because I sat there for a long time. (You’d be surprised how long I sit just staring.) And I just was staring and staring and thinking about women. I started to think about Thatcher; I thought she was a pretty wise woman. And then I thought about a few others, and I said, “You know the one I think of most? Golda Meir. Golda Meir.” Most of you are too young. But she died at the age of eighty, forty-three years ago this coming Wednesday—remarkable lady, powerful in her influence, able to think outside the nine dots, and bold enough to make tough decisions.
In fact, I got so diverted that I started to write down quotes from her. I’ll only give you two. One: she says, “One cannot and must not try to erase the past because it does not fit the present.” Wow! What are we doing at the moment? Exactly what she said you shouldn’t try to do. She’s a wise woman—and shrewd! Here’s another one. “Old age is like a plane flying through a storm: once you’re on board, there’s nothing you can do.” That’s pretty good.
So, we just have to draw this to a close. Let’s listen to the woman as she shouts out: “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab…” Now, try and think about this for a moment. The city is being besieged. They’ve built a big ramp. They’re gonna batter the walls down. So it’s not like sort of Saturday afternoon in the park and “Excuse me?” No, it’s like bam!, noise, everything. She goes, “Quiet!” “Who said that?” “She did.” “Oh!” “Listen! Listen! Would somebody tell Joab I want to talk to him?” She’s up here. Joab’s down there; he’s on the mound. “Tell him to come here so that I can speak to him.”
And he came near, and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” And he said, “Yeah.” And she said, “Listen to the words of your servant.” And he said, “I’m listening.” Then she said, “You know, they used to say that Abel, that you’re trying to destroy, was the place that held the answers. It’s kind of like a mother city of Israel. People used to come here so they could get answers to their questions. And you’re just trying to destroy it? I am a peaceable and faithful servant. Why do you want to tear down God’s heritage? Because this is the place of his people. This is the place of his presence. What are you trying to do?”
Now, the irony in his response ought not to be missed by us. “Why would you do this? Why would you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?” And Joab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy!” Are you kidding? There’s a pool of blood lying halfway down the street here that has got your name written on it. You are essentially Mr. Destruction when it comes to the deal! But of course, he’s actually distinguishing between that and what he’s really on about. “It’s not true,” he says. “I’m not here to destroy the city. I’m here to get ahold of Sheba, the son of Bichri, because he has lifted up his hand against the king. He deserves to be destroyed. You can’t do that.” “And the woman said to Joab, ‘Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.’”
Well, I don’t know whether he went like “Whew!” or he went like “Yes!” or—I don’t know what he went like. He must have looked at his guys and said, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that, but that’ll do, you know?” So, she’s up, they’re down, Joab’s not going in, Sheba’s not coming out, and all they’re waiting to see is if his head is coming. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so sad, wouldn’t it? Because I can imagine one of his soldiers saying to him, “Hey, where did the lady go?” Because all of a sudden, she’s no longer up there. “Where’d she go?” Well, she went “in her wisdom,” notice in the text. She went to share her wisdom with the people. She’s a wise woman, so she went to talk wisdom to them. In other words, she went to tell them her plan. So he says to Joab, “Do you think they’ll go for it?” Joab says, “Well, we’ll find out soon enough.” And then, as Sheba’s head comes bouncing down at their feet, he says, “Well, I guess we got our answer.” The head landed. The trumpet sounded. The men went home. Joab returned to Jerusalem, to the king.
So then, I say to you again: Is it safe to conclude that all things finished well, that all lived happily ever after? No! There’s still more to come. David is gonna suffer the indignities of old age. His life is gonna continue to tumble into ruin. He wasn’t wise enough or good enough to establish a kingdom that would last forever. There is only one person wise enough, good enough, to establish a kingdom that lasts forever. “And it’s not by might, and it’s not by power, but it is by my Spirit,” says the Lord.
Throughout the world today, the kids of the kingdom are meeting in all kinds of places, sharing the same songs, declaring the same King—namely, Jesus. That’s why, you see, the Old Testament ends with a period of four hundred years of silence and darkness, where generations are left simply with the promise of God. And when grandchildren would speak to their grandparents and say, “But what in the world is going on here? What about when they were in the exile? I know we came back from that. What about those days? What about the kings? What about…” they said, “Listen, listen, listen: God promised. He promised. He keeps his promises.” “Well, they seem to be long delayed.” True! “Come…” “Come, thou long expected Jesus.” “Come…”
What is the cry of the New Testament church? “Come, thou long expected Jesus. You are Israel’s hope and consolation. You are the only hope for a broken world. You are the only hope for my personal little broken world.” He comes to save. He comes to rule. He comes to reign.
That’s tonight: the restoration of a weary world.
 See 2 Samuel 8:15.
 Matthew 2:2 (paraphrased).
 Romans 15:4 (ESV).
 John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Two of Us” (1970). Lyrics lightly altered.
 Kim Gannon, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (1943).
 1 Peter 3:4 (ESV).
 Luke 22:48 (ESV).
 John 18:36 (ESV).
 Zechariah 4:6 (paraphrased).
 Charles Wesley, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” (1744).
Copyright © 2023, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.