Tuesday, November 02, 2010

“Uriah: Faith of a Foreigner”

“Uriah: Faith of a Foreigner”
It is impossible for us in our own strength to maintain the conflict; and whatever diverts the mind from God, whatever leads to self-exaltation or to self-dependence, is surely preparing the way for our overthrow. The tenor of the Bible is to inculcate distrust of human power and to encourage trust in divine power” (Ellen G. White, Conflict and Courage, page 177).
This week’s lesson contrasts the fidelity, loyalty and principled life of Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s “mighty men,” with the treachery and evil behavior of the subsequently repentant King. David was a man after God’s own heart with this exception: “Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5).
Names have significance in the Bible, and Uriah’s name followed this pattern. The literal translation is “God is my light,” or “flame of the Lord.” 
How could a Hittite with a pagan heritage, a resident of the conquered territory of Canaan, gain a Hebrew name and identity with God’s people? Uriah’s identity was formed by beholding and dwelling in the light that God revealed through His faithful messengers in Israel. The promise of the everlasting covenant was clearly in force for the world prior to its articulation by Isaiah:
Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer.for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
--Isaiah 56:6,7.
As we read the exploits of the mighty men of David in 2 Samuel 23:8-39, we can readily see that their accomplishments were of such a nature as to show divine power acting through human agencies. These men knew what it was to trust in God, and not in self, for victory. God could do much through men such as these. They were true sabbath-keepers, resting in His power, and as such, were themselves “flames” of the Lord, active in the battle against evil.
The contrast between the effects of living after the Spirit as opposed to living after the flesh is stark in this story and in its aftermath. In the context of the great controversy, many lessons can be learned:
·       While mercy and grace are freely given, the consequences of sin are serious lasting.
·       Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.
·       Self-reliance in any form will topple the ladder of Christian growth in 2 Peter 1:5–7.
·        In the final judgment, Uriah’s faith will justify the “flaming fire” against those who use David’s unfaithfulness as an excuse for sin.
·       Faithfulness is more important than sex -- indeed, more than life itself.
·       Past success in the Christian walk is no guarantee of success today.
·       Life here can be unfair -- only God can and will bring true justice to the oppressed.
·       Indirect evil is just as heinous as personal action.
“Whoever under the reproof of God will humble the soul with confession and repentance, as did David, may be sure that there is hope for him. Whoever will in faith accept God's promises, will find pardon. The Lord will never cast away one truly repentant soul. He has given this promise: ‘Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me’ (Isaiah 27:5). ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon’ (Isaiah 55:7)….’He shall restore fourfold,’ had been David's unwitting sentence upon himself, on listening to the prophet Nathan's parable; and according to his own sentence he was to be judged. Four of his sons must fall, and the loss of each would be a result of the father's sin” (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, Page 726, 727).
“There was a great change in David himself. He was broken in spirit by the consciousness of his sin and its far-reaching results. He felt humbled in the eyes of his subjects. His influence was weakened….Now his subjects, having a knowledge of his sin, would be led to sin more freely. His authority in his own household, his claim to respect and obedience from his sons, was weakened. A sense of his guilt kept him silent when he should have condemned sin; it made his arm feeble to execute justice in his house. His evil example exerted its influence upon his sons, and God would not interpose to prevent the result. He would permit things to take their natural course, and thus David was severely chastised” (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 723).
“‘He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool’ (Proverbs 28:26). There is, indeed, a Christian independence which passes among men for self-reliance; but it is only trust in God. The man who distrusts himself, and depends wholly on God, can be the boldest, and the most unmoved by the opinions of others; but the worst folly any man can commit in this world is to depend on himself” (E. J. Waggoner, The Present Truth,  November 21, 1901).
“‘FOR so [in this way, by this means] an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ There is no other way opened, there is no other means provided by which that abundant entrance can be ministered unto us. Here is our work set before us each day as it comes. We live but a day at a time, and the Lord wants us to live in to-day. ‘To-day if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts.’ Each morning as we arise set our faith anew upon Christ as our Saviour; then show the virtue, the worth of our faith by confessing him before men, both in our words an our lives; then study the words of God for knowledge to guide us during the day; then practice the temperance—the self-control—that is enjoined everywhere and in all things in the word of God; then add patience in all the affairs of the day; add godliness by exemplifying the life of Christ among men by doing good; add brotherly kindness in all our associations with our neighbor; and all crowned by adding sweet charity, the bond of perfectness; the love of God shed abroad in the heart, loving him with all the heart, and loving our neighbor as ourselves, thus completing the day with a well-rounded Christian character. Can it not be done one day? Can it not be done to-day? That is all the Lord asks of us. Do ‘these things’ to-day ‘while it is called to-day,’ and so to-day each day as God gives us opportunity to do. And we shall then never fall, but unto all such an abundant entrance will be ministered into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (A. T. Jones, Signs of the Times, June 11, 1885).
--Todd Guthrie