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The Prodigal Who Didn't Come Home – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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January 29, 2024 1:00 am

The Prodigal Who Didn't Come Home – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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January 29, 2024 1:00 am

Prodigals often persist in their rebellion, even though they might wish they never left. Fueled by King David’s sin and passivity, Absalom embodies a prodigal who goes against his father. In this message, Pastor Lutzer shares insights from Absalom’s vengeful life. Even with our hardened hearts, can the Spirit lead prodigals home?

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Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer
Moody Church Hour
Pastor Phillip Miller
Fellowship in the Word
Bil Gebhardt
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Why is it that some kids want to break out and experience what the world has to offer? Often they end up in ruins, wishing they'd never left. Today, a look at one prodigal son who left and never returned. His name was Absalom.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, I'm not sure many people would think of Absalom as a prodigal son. Well Dave, the fact is that Absalom had a very famous father by the name of David. And I have to tell you that David was not a good father. As a matter of fact, the Bible says even when Absalom disobeyed and did evil, David did not speak to him. He did not deal with the issue. And the reason for that is because David himself had been morally compromised.

But here's the point. Absalom ended very badly. Running away from God, running away from his father. And you know, as we think about the relevance of this story, there are many parents who are going to be able to connect and to be able to say that they also have their prodigal, but I also want to always hold out hope. As long as that prodigal is alive, continue to pray, continue to believe, and we trust that that prodigal will come home. Also want to mention that we have available to you a very special resource, a book I've written entitled Conquering the Fear of Failure. I think it's going to be very helpful even as we confront our own fears. So at the end of this broadcast, I'll be giving you info as to how this book can become yours.

Meanwhile, let's listen to God's Word. Something that should always fascinate us is human nature. I think I've been a student of human nature for many years trying to understand why people do what they do. And what fascinates me is, first of all, on the one hand, the potential good that each person has, but also the potential for evil. Have you ever noticed that sometimes two children from the very same home, the same parents, one grows up and loves God and the other has nothing to do with God and goes a different direction? And you say to yourself, same parents, same home, why? It's the mystery of human nature, but it's also the mystery of God's providence.

Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated. The providence of God in all this gets part of the answer to our question. And today I'm speaking on prodigals, just two messages.

This is the first and then there'll be a second. And the word prodigal has to do with wastefulness. We say about somebody he got wasted. There's a good side to that word prodigal.

It also can mean very extravagant and giving, but seldom do we use it that way. When we talk about the prodigal son in the 15th chapter of Luke, which is the basis for the second message in the series, it says that he wasted his life with riotous living. And that's where the word prodigal comes from, wastefulness of your life. And I'm intrigued by prodigals because you know, we have been praying for prodigals here at the Moody church.

As a matter of fact, some time ago I said that I wanted all the pops in prayer meeting, pops meaning parents of prodigals and many of you came to prayer meeting and we have prayer lists and we're going to continue to pray for prodigals. And today I'm going to speak to you about a prodigal who didn't come home. We're going to look into his life. We're going to look into human nature.

We're going to look into the word and we're going to leave here today utterly transformed by God. His name is Absalom. Absalom had many advantages and some of those advantages were also disadvantages. Absalom was the king's son, King David's son. How would you like to have as your father, the king of Israel and the man who wrote all the Psalms about how his heart thirsted for God like a deer, pants for water brooks and all of those wonderful things that have become a part of scripture.

How would you like to have him for a dad? Well, it wasn't exactly everything that you might think it might be. As a matter of fact, Absalom had to struggle with who he was which is always true of children who have famous parents and also the expectations so that which was a positive was really a negative too. The other thing about Absalom that he had going for him is that he was drop dead good-looking, striking in his appearance. The Bible says in 2 Samuel chapter 14 that Absalom was more handsome than any man in Israel and when he cut his hair which he did once a year, it weighed 200 shekels which is approximately five pounds. He was drop dead gorgeous. Was that a plus?

Well, it seemed to be. Those of you who are striking in your appearance, those of you who are good-looking, you have many advantages that the rest of us do not have. However, in the end it can turn out to be a terrible, terrible disadvantage. Today in our culture to be handsome and to be strikingly beautiful means that you will be pursued by people.

It means sexually the temptations are going to be greater and the tendency to coast through life is going to be there. I've often been at airports watching people walk by and I think to myself of the wisdom of God of making most people strikingly ordinary. Absalom could never have done what he ended up doing if he had not been filled with charisma and charm and good looks.

Well, those are the pluses and the minuses. Actually there's a minus that I forgot to mention and that is he had no emotional connection with his father. You see in chapter 11 and 12 and you may take your Bible if you would please and turn to 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12 and following and we're just going to I'm going to walk you through a number of chapters. 2 Samuel chapter 11 and chapter 12 David commits adultery and murder and probably because of that he had no control over his children, no emotional connection, no involvement. He was a totally passive father.

We can understand why. He sees his sons rebel, he sees them kill one another and the Bible says he became angry and didn't do anything. He was a terrible father.

For example, Adonijah, one of his sons who tried to rebel, I'll mention him in a moment and did rebel, the Bible says that even though he did evil, his father never crossed him or asked him, what are you doing or why are you doing it? Typical absentee father, probably because of his moral failure in adultery and murder. If he were to go to his kids and get involved, they'd say, well dad, who are you to talk? So what do fathers like that do? They back out of the family and they just let all the dysfunction move ahead.

So that was Absalom. Now one of the things we discovered at prayer meeting as we were talking to prodigals and the way in which it went was this, everyone who had a prodigal would come to the microphone or come to me and they would tell us about their prodigal and we'd get a little bit of background so that we could pray more intelligently. What we learned is that there are two different kinds of prodigals.

There are those who are lured by the world. They come from good homes. That's the prodigal son that we'll talk about next time. Good home, but rejects it. And then there are prodigals who feel pushed out of the home because of the dysfunction.

They simply can no longer stand what's happening within the home and so they get out and they say to themselves, I hate my parents and I hate their God. And that's the kind of prodigal that Absalom was. But both kinds of prodigals, both kinds, what they do is they kick over the traces. They go through the fences.

They go on a wrong road and then they stay on that road because it's too difficult to return to the point of origin. They all do. What about Absalom? Absalom did two things.

First of all, he had a revenge killing, a revenge killing. Now you have to understand chapter 13 verse one. Now Absalom, David's son, had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar. Tamar and Absalom were full brother and sister. They were the only two of that particular wife. David had a number of wives, which really increased the dysfunction, I can assure you. So Absalom was beautiful and so was his sister, the confluence of genes. Their mother was actually named Maka. And when she and David came together, the confluence of genes produced beauty. But Amnon, who is another son of David, a half brother to this young woman Tamar, sexually assaults her in the worst possible way. I won't tell you the story.

You can read it there. Now Absalom wants revenge to his half brother for doing this to his full sister. They shared the same parents and Absalom harbors this in his heart over a long period of time. And then what does he do? He says to his father, I'm going to be meeting with the various brothers. I want all the brothers of the king.

Let's have a party. And Amnon goes there after doing this despicable deed. And when he's there, Absalom says to his servants, kill him.

I've given you permission to do that. And that's exactly what happens. Amnon is killed. By the way, what happened when there was incest in the home? You know, in chapter 13, the Bible says in verse 21, this is after that terrible incident when King David heard of all these things, he was very angry.

Well, thank you, David. Would you do something? Would you get involved? Would you help Absalom work through his grief?

Would you go visit Tamar and do something and try to bring about some kind of reconciliation after the mess? No, I'm just very angry. He will not act. What a bondage to families to have fathers who do not act. No emotional connection. Mike Singletary, who used to play for the Chicago Bears, visits prisons and he keeps asking the question, how many of you had a good connection with your father? And he is still waiting for the first hand to be raised.

Wow. So King David here gets angry, but he does nothing. Amnon is murdered. Absalom flees because you see, once you do evil against someone else, you're not only disconnected from God, you have to be disconnected from others.

And so Absalom flees into isolation where he stays for three years. All right, that's the first thing. A revenge killing, which deadened his conscience, you see. And now that he was on that path, he had to follow it wherever it would lead.

Secondly, you have a revenge stealing. This passage is so remarkable. What insight this gives us about charmers, charmers. Charmers can sometimes be very nice people. They're the kind of men that all the women in the church wish they had married. And then you discover that there are charmers who are the real deal, but then there are also charmers who are abusers and behind their charm, they use charm to kill. That's Absalom.

Oh, let's read the text. Chapter 15. After this, Absalom got himself a chariot and horses and 50 horsemen to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early. This is second Samuel chapter 15 and he used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when a man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, that's his father, David, Absalom would call to him and say, Hey, from what city are you? And he said, your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel. Absalom would say to him, see your claims are good and right, but there's no man designated by the king to hear you. Even Absalom would say, Oh, Oh, that I were a judge in the land that every man with a dispute or a cause might come to me and I would give him justice.

And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the people. Why is this kid so mad at his dad that he wants to kill his dad and take over the kingship? Well, you know, Absalom after he fled to Gesher because of the crime against Amnon, he was reconciled to his dad. It's a story you need to read, but there was no resolution of the issues. He didn't have to confess to anything.

His father eventually brought him back because of some information and the wisdom that supposedly was imparted to him. And they just pretended this is the way dysfunctional families work. They pretend that everything is okay. Let's smooth it over.

Let's not deal with it. And there's no doubt that Absalom was angry with his detached father, the great and wonderful king of Israel. It's possible for a man to write the Psalms and be a bad dad. I guess so because David was. All right, now here he is. He steals the heart of the people.

He couldn't have done that unless he had attractiveness, unless he had charisma, unless he was very naturally gifted. And so he uses charm to kill and he has a rebellion against his father. It's a long story that you can read on your own.

Remember, we are on our way to some life changing lessons. I'm only giving you, I'm only increasing your interest in curiosity so that you read the story on your own. All right, now Absalom is rebelling. David has to go up the Mount of Olives.

He has to leave Jerusalem. Absalom takes David's harem and has a relationship with them sexually right on the rooftop for all Israel so that people will know that Absalom absolutely can never be reconciled to his dad so that those who are in the insurgency will bond with Absalom and know that there's no hope of reconciliation here. And then Absalom goes riding and eventually he is killed. The Bible says in chapter 18 now, and Absalom happened, I'm in verse nine, to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule. The mule went under the thick branches of the great oak tree and his head caught fast in the oak and he was suspended between heaven and earth while the mule that was under him went on.

Wow. And then Joab comes along and takes three arrows and finishes him off. Joab was David's military commander. Joab had disobeyed David because David kept giving orders and saying, whatever you do, don't touch Absalom. Don't touch Absalom.

Unrealistic. What do you mean don't touch Absalom? You've got a civil war going here. You have to kill the leader because he's trying to kill you. David hears the news and I want you now to feel the pathos. Would you enter into David's sandals for just a moment? It's the end of chapter 18.

I'm reading at verse 33. David gets the news that Absalom had been killed and the king was deeply moved and went up into the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, Oh, Absalom, my son, my son, Absalom.

Would that I had died instead of you. Oh, Absalom, my son, my son. Of course he loved him, but he didn't know how to show it and he didn't know how to get involved in the life of his family.

Later on, he had to be jerk back to his senses. Joab went to him and said, you know, you're crying. You should be rejoicing. We were willing to lay down our lives for you.

Some of our people were killed in this civil war. Wow. What a story. Five lessons now that I want you to write down. I want you to keep, put them on your refrigerator until you know them all by memory. You're dying in a hospital someday. And the doctor says, now, what were those five lessons that Pastor Lutzer taught you about Absalom? And you spit them out one right after another because now we get to pay dirt.

Now the transformation happens. What are the five lessons? Number one, although a father might repent of his sin, children might not.

Although a father might repent, children might not. David bounced back from murder and adultery. He was back in fellowship with God.

You read Psalm 51. I mean, he was pouring out his soul. He was admitting to everything. And God even restored the joy of his salvation. But he lost his family. And after he committed adultery and murder, God says to David, he says, you're going to pay for this sin fourfold.

And four of his sons died. First of all, you have the baby that Bathsheba bore died. And you remember David wept and prayed that God would heal the child. But when the baby died, he washed his face and they said, that's unusual.

Why are you not mourning now? David says, I will go to him even though he will not come back to me. David said, I expect to see my baby again.

We will be reunited. And I'm sure that they have been. But when it comes to the other sons, you have Amnon who was murdered by Absalom. You have Absalom who was caught in an oak tree and murdered by Joab. And then you have Adonijah. Adonijah rebelled after David died. He wanted the kingdom, but David had given it to Solomon.

So they had to kill Adonijah too. And when David wept over those sons, he could not be comforted because he knew right well that he would never see those sons again. They parted their ways, not only in life, but in death and forever, because there is no evidence that Absalom ever received God's grace or forgiveness or help or reconciliation.

He went his own way. And I'm sure that that was true of rebellious Amnon and Adonijah too. Parents separated from their children forever. No wonder David would not stop weeping. And yet, you know, I speak to parents today who weep. There has to be a point at which however you accept what has happened, your child has had an opportunity to go in the right way and has chosen the wrong way.

As I like to emphasize, as long as the son is living or the daughter, what you want to do is to continue to pray, to encourage, and to hope. This is one of the last days we're making a very special resource available for you. It's entitled Conquering the Fear of Failure.

It's actually an exposition of some of the experiences that Joshua had when he entered the land. Now for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to That's, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I believe that this book will enable you to indeed face your fears with confidence that God is on your side. Once again, that contact info,, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

And from my heart to yours, I want to thank you in advance for helping us, because of people just like you, running to win is heard in 50 countries in five different languages. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Old habits die hard.

That's why an anonymous listener is appealing for help. He writes, I am a former alcoholic. I've been a Christian now for 10 years and stopped drinking when I was first converted.

I began drinking again six years ago. I don't want to, and I frequently pray about this. I know that by getting drunk periodically, I am not being a faithful witness. What am I doing wrong that is stopping me from living the life God would want me to lead? Well, my brother, I just want to tell you, first of all, indeed, God does want you to be free of drunkenness, free of the, what shall I call it, the power of alcoholism, the bondage of alcoholism. That's probably a better word.

What are you doing wrong? You know, my friend, there are some things that are sin and then there are other things that grow into addictions and they can be very, very difficult to get rid of. I suspect that what you need is really serious accountability. Are you a part of a men's group in your church? Are there those around you who know that you have a propensity to alcohol? They are the ones who can help you through this.

That's number one. Number two, cut yourself off from any avenue that allows you to get drink. You know, when the Bible says flee from temptation, it means put physical distance between you and the temptation because that temptation is always going to be with you. You know, you talk to alcoholics and they say that at any time they could go back even though they've been sober for perhaps 20 years. So what is the avenue?

Where do you get it? Whatever you do, block that door so that no matter how desperately you want it, it won't be available. And in this way, I believe that God is going to enable you to walk in victory in this area of your life. Do your kids defy you? Next time on Running to Win, more on the roots of Absalom's Rebellion and lessons for parents today who have prodigal sons or daughters. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-21 09:55:10 / 2024-02-21 10:04:23 / 9

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