Thursday, November 25, 2021

Will You Die As A Fool? Or Live Within Refuge?


    It was a refreshing mid-week Autumn night, the kind where the air runs across your skin at just the right temperature.  My wife and I had just bolted from my in-laws and were in the middle of embarking to a thrift store in close proximity. "We aren't going to make hun.." I told her.  "We will, we will!" she snapped back.  I wasn't going to argue, the truth was I wanted her to be right.  My foot weighed heavy against the pedal, I was hopeful that we would get the items that we were seeking after.  After wearing the edges of my tires from some sharp turns, we found ourselves planted in front of Goodwill with seconds left.  In running to the doors much to our surprise, they weren't locked! "Yes, we made it!" I say out loud. Upon entry, I recall being met with ten sunken eyes pasted on the heads of five employees. It was safe to assume we knew the words that were coming.  "We're closed," four said in mantra-like unison. "But..but..." my wife protested.  The fifth employee was a little behind, but knew this was his opportunity to parrot what he had missed, "We're closed." he pipingly stated.  Well... needless to say, we failed to make it within the gates of refuge.  We'll I mean we made it inside, but you get my point. We were denied access.  Although I exaggerated this story a bit, this illustration is a crumb similar to the type of picture we see with Abner and Joab, in the book of 2nd Samuel.  However, the picture woven in God's Word depicts a story with weighted eternal consequences. 

And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth? 2nd Samuel 3:33

    Abner died like a fool, why would David say this? After all, David respected Abner greatly.  Let's take a look at the background in order to rightly divide the context of the passage. Abner was a commander, and David had considered him a great man (2nd Samuel 3:38).  David had no doubt known him for years as he was the cousin to King Saul who had proceeded him.  In spite of God anointing David to be the next king, and taking the throne of Judah after Saul's death, Abner attempted to supplant Saul's son Ish-bosheth as the ruler over all of Israel. A confrontation inevitably ensued as Joab, David's nephew and commander, met Ish-boseth's commander Abner at the battle of Gibeon.  After Abner's retreat, Joab's brother Asahel confident and quick-footed decided to pursue Abner.  Despite Abner's warnings not to pursue, Asahel stubbornly ignored them. Although initially reluctant, Abner came to a point where he had no choice but to defend himself.  Spear gripped tightly in hand, Abner struck Asahel. The piercing was well calculated, the spear penetrated just below his fifth rib, killing him in an instant.  Upon the discovery of his brother's death, Joab desired vengeance and sought after Abner. Over time and as the war of the house of Saul and David continued, Saul's army waxed weaker and weaker.  However, it wasn't until Ish-boseth falsely accused Abner of sleeping with his father's concubines, that Abner sought to join David and was accepted.  Angered by  David's new recruit, Joab sought this as an opportunity for vengeance.  After coaxing Abner to meet at the city gates, Joab succeeded in avenging his brother killing in like fashion by stabbing Abner just below the fifth rib.  Abner died just outside the city of Hebron, the city of refuge.  David immediately mourns over Abner, calling him a fool for this very reason.

The city of refuge was a place of protection for Jew or Gentile (Joshua 20:1-9).  Hebron was one of several cities that offered protection from vengeance generally for unintentional manslaughter. A trial would have to be heard before judgment could take place.  Abner, acting in his own defense, during a time of war would have met this criterion of protection.  Yet Abner, as keen as he was on the battlefield, died as a fool by Joab's deceit. Abner died just outside his city of refuge, which would have been his protector. God's Word is full of symbolic pictures, and prophetic allegorical representations.  What is the bigger picture that God is illustrating here?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. Proverbs 18:10

Abner had died inches away from his city of refuge by foolishly choosing to believe his deceiver.  The fact of the matter is, all unbelieving men are just outside the spiritual gates of refuge.  Unbelievers are just a few inches from believing in the God of the universe, Jesus Christ who can be their strong tower.  In Psalm 14:1, the Bible states that the fool hath said in his heart there is no God.  You would have to be a fool as David put it, to trust in a deceiver (Satan) instead of your safety (Christ). If you don't know Christ, you are just outside the safety of eternal life found within His arms. God is a spiritual refuge available to all men, and none are turned away Jew or Gentile (Romans 1:16).  If you're reading this, you still have time (2nd Corinthians 6:2).  Abner's time expired unexpectedly, and so can yours (Proverbs 27:1). All God asks is that you come unto him.  Recognize your condition as a sinner (Romans 3:23) and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-13). He will in no wise cast all who come to Him (John 6:37).  You will be forgiven of all sin past, present, and future, and will be given of place with Him in heaven for all of eternity (Colossians 2:14; John 3:16). Eternal life is just inches away, will you die as a fool as Abner did?  Or will you live unto life everlasting with the only wise God who turns none away (1st Timothy 2:4; Jude 25).

Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us Hebrews 6:17-18

Joab the deceiver in this instance is a type of Satan, and the gates of refuge are a picture of God's protection of all who come to Him.  Abner is a type of unbeliever, and died as a fool, just as those who die without the Lord Jesus Christ.  All God asks is that you come unto him.  Recognize your condition as a sinner, believe in the Lord Jesus and you will find yourselves safely protected from the second death (Rev 21:8) within the eternal gates of refuge. 

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