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Who Is in Control?

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
July 25, 2021 7:00 pm

Who Is in Control?

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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July 25, 2021 7:00 pm

Join us as Pastor Doug Agnew continues his series on the life of David with a message entitled -Who Is in Control-- from 2 Samuel 17-1-23. For more information about our church please visit

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Everywhere. There is no place where you are not. You're omnipotent. You're all-powerful.

There is no one who can stop you or stay your hand. You are perfectly just. You always do right. You are perfectly merciful.

You care like we can't begin to imagine. You are perfect love. You prove that by the cross. You are holy, godlike, perfect in your being. Today we look at your sovereignty. May we be wowed by it. May we be motivated to trust you more.

May we also realize that your sovereignty does not diminish our responsibility. May we walk out of this building today rejoicing that our God is God. For it's in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. In Hebrews chapter 11, the scripture encourages us to emulate the faith of Old Testament men of God. Men like Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Moses. We are to have courage like David. We are to have faith like Daniel. We are to pray like Elijah.

But there's a problem. For these men are good role models but they are not perfect role models because these men are fallible. They were born with a sin nature just like you and just like me and their being is tainted with sin. And so what are we to do? We are to move on from them to our perfect role model who is the Lord Jesus Christ. I love the way that Paul says it. He said imitate me as I imitate Jesus. And then in Romans chapter 8 verse 29 he tells us that it is God's will for us to be conformed into the image of Christ. But there are other biblical people who we are told to urgently avoid.

People like Demas. Demas was on the ministry team of Paul and he left the ministry and he left Paul and he left Christ. The scripture says the reason was that he loved this present world. In Luke chapter 17 verse 32 Jesus told us to remember Lot's wife and he meant that in a negative sense because Lot's wife is the one who disobeyed God and turned around and longingly looked back towards Sodom wishing that Sodom was not being destroyed and the Lord turned her into a pillar of salt. And then probably at the top of that list is none other than Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver. And Jesus said it would have been better for that man if he had never been born. In 2 Samuel chapter 15 we see another biblical example from the Old Testament of one that we need to urgently avoid and that man's name is Ahithophel. He was kind of a counterpart to Judas Iscariot in the New Testament. In John chapter 13 and verse 18 Jesus quoted from Psalm 41 and verse 9 and Jesus said that this was a prophecy that he would be betrayed and the way he describes it is like this.

He who ate my bread has lifted up his heel against me. Now it was David who wrote Psalm 41 and when the Spirit of God inspired David to write that great Psalm he inspired him to prophesy about the betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot a thousand years before it happened. But he had a personal example in his present life at that time and that present example was none other than this man Ahithophel. Ahithophel was a wicked man. Ahithophel was a wicked man. He wanted David dead. He was actually the grandfather of Bathsheba and Absalom had had some long anger-raising conversations with Ahithophel. He had stoked the resentment in Ahithophel's heart toward David. It said look what David has done to you and your family. He has disgraced you.

He has taken your granddaughter and he has used her for his own sexual gratification. He has forced her to commit adultery and then he had her husband Uriah the Hittite murdered in order to cover over his sin. He has brought disgrace on your family Ahithophel and Ahithophel became very resentful of David and it was not just a frustration against David but he actually wanted him dead.

All right what's going on here? Absalom the scripture tells us has stolen away the hearts of Israel from his dad David. Absalom wanted the throne of Israel and so he gathered together a great army and he's going to get a war against David because he wants that throne so bad. He wants to take it from his dad.

He wants to be the king of Israel. Folks is it not amazing what political power does to people? People will steal, they will lie, they will even kill to gain political power and that which was true then may even be more true today. Well there are four points that I want to share with you today. Point one is deadly counsel. Look at verses one through four. Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom let me choose 12,000 men and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged and throw him into a panic and all the people who are with him will flee.

I will strike down only the king and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man and all the people will be at peace and the advice seemed right in the eyes of Absalom and all the elders of Israel. This man Ahithophel is a legend in his own time. In fact the scripture even tells us that people were equating the wisdom with Ahithophel with the wisdom of God.

That's an amazing statement but we see it in 2 Samuel chapter 16 verse 23. It says that in those days the council that Ahithophel gave was if one consulted the word of God. So was all the council of Ahithophel esteemed both by David and by Absalom.

Now brothers and sisters that's trust. People knew Ahithophel was a wise man and they believed that his decisions were trustworthy decisions. So here Ahithophel is telling Absalom what to do. He said you need to gather together 12,000 troops and those 12,000 troops are to go out and they are to to find David and they are to kill David. He tells them that this is not a situation where they're just to go out and start a war and kill all of the Israelites. No no no not at all but while Absalom is hiding they are to kill David and then Absalom can take the throne of Israel.

Roger Ellsworth said this way. He said this was very wise for several reasons. First it would have taken advantage of time when David and his men were most vulnerable.

When they were both physically and emotionally exhausted. Secondly it focused on the crucial issue Ahithophel knew that if David were killed the opposition to Absalom would quickly melt away and the nation would unite around their new king. Thirdly it protected Absalom from any possibility of being killed in battle.

This council was enthusiastically embraced by Absalom and the elders. Ahithophel was an evil man and it looked as if he had won the day. This was a brilliant brilliant plan and Absalom bought into it and he wanted to implement it immediately. Ahithophel knew David well. He knew that David at this point in time was mentally depressed, physically and emotionally absolutely exhausted and he knew that David's men would look at David and they would see him in this state and that would cause them to be wary and hesitant to fight. If they could attack at night and they could get David's men on the run then they could kill David and if they could kill David the rest of it would be a piece of cake and if they could kill David the people who had already had their hearts won over to Absalom would embrace Absalom and Absalom would immediately become the new king of Israel. One thing Ahithophel had not considered and that was divine intervention. Second Samuel chapter 15 verse 31 says this, it was told David Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom and David said, oh Lord please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. What did David do here? The first thing that he did was to pray.

What a novel approach. What a great idea that when things crop up in our life and all these problems that we would first of all pray. James chapter 4 verse 2, James the half brother of Jesus said, you have not because you ask not. Why is it that we act like prayer is kind of a last resort? If a problem pops up in our life we start thinking about it we say well I can implement this strategy or I can put in this program or I can do this or I can do that and then when none of that works finally we say well I guess it's time to pray.

Why don't we do that? Why don't we pray first? Folks we ought to pray first because the one that we are praying to has the answer to all of our prayers. Ahithophel was smart. He was a great strategist.

He had a great plan. By all human reasoning it should have worked but David said the first thing that I'll do is pray. Alright secondly point two, deadly counsel sovereignly overthrown.

Look at verses 5 through 14. Then Absalom said call Hushai the Archite also. Let us hear what he has to say and when Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him thus is Ahithophel spoken shall we do as he says if not you speak and Hushai said to Absalom this time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good. Hushai said you know that your father and his men are mighty men and that they are enraged like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field.

Besides your father is an expert in war. He will not spend the night with the people. Behold even now he's hidden himself in one of the pits or in some other place and as soon as some of the people fall at his first attack whoever hears it will say there's been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom. Then even the valiant men whose heart is like the heart of a lion will utterly melt with fear for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man and those who are with him are valiant men but my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you from Dan to Beersheba as the sand by the sea for multitude that you go to battle in person so we shall come upon him in some place where he is to be found and we shall light upon him as the dew falls on the ground and of him and all the people with him not one will be left. If he withdraws into a city then all Israel will bring ropes to that city we shall drag it into the valley until not even a pebble is to be found there and Absalom and all the men of Israel said the council of Hushai the Archite is better than the council of Ahithophel for the Lord had ordained to defeat the good council of Ahithophel so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom. Having all that happen I want you to go back to second Samuel 15 and we'll look at verses 32 through 37. Before Shimei got up on that hill and cursed David threw rocks at him that we saw last week and before Ahithophel even came up with this plan the scripture says that David prayed and what did he pray? Oh Lord please turn the council of Ahithophel into foolishness and the Lord led David to a certain man his name was Hushai and he gave him direction on what to do. Second Samuel 15 verses 32 through 37 says while David was coming to the summit where God was worshiped behold Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and dirt on his head. David said to him if you go on with me you will be a burden to me but if you return to the city and say to Absalom I will be your servant oh king as I have been your father's servant and times past so now I will be your servant then you will defeat for me the council of Ahithophel are not Zadok and Abiathar the priest with you there so whatever you hear from the king's house tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priest behold their two sons are with them there Ahomahaz Zadok's son and Jonathan Abiathar's son and by them you shall send to me everything you hear. So Hushai, David's friend, came into the city just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem. Good gracious. How did David know how to direct Hushai to give counsel to Absalom's men that would totally negate this great council and this great plan that Ahithophel had come up with?

Here's the answer. The sovereign Lord of this universe led David to do it. People, we don't pray like we ought because we forget how great and how big and how glorious and how wise and how all-knowing our God really is. Listen, Ahithophel's council was excellent and if Absalom and his top military men had carried out that plan then David could have been killed and then they would have just ushered Absalom right onto the throne. But Absalom and his officers listened to Hushai. They listened to him and guess what? Hushai's plan sounded better to them than Ahithophel's plan. Now why was that? His plan was not a better plan.

In fact it was a worse plan. Why did they follow it? Why did they reject the instruction of one of the wisest men in all of Israel? Look at verse 17. 2 Samuel 17 verse 14, for the Lord had ordained to defeat the good council of Ahithophel so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom. Listen, if you're here today and you doubt the sovereignty of God and you think you're in control and you think you're calling the shots and you think that you're going to make things happen, think again. Think again folks. Take your pen right now and draw a big circle around 2 Samuel 17 14.

If you've got a highlighter, a yellow highlighter, go ahead and highlight it. Commit this verse to memory. Don't ever forget this verse. The Lord ordained to defeat the good council of Ahithophel.

It didn't matter how great a plan Ahithophel had, God was not going to allow it to succeed. So Hushai began to speak. Absalom and his men knew how that David was a mighty warrior and so Absalom began to play on, I mean so Hushai began to play on that. He said, you remember who this David is? This is the David when he was 17 years old, took the challenge to go out and fight Goliath when nobody else in Israel would take it. And he went out with nothing but a slingshot and a stone and he killed a giant and he cut his head off. The Philistine warrior and he did him in.

He became Israel's greatest military strategist. He had one group of people after another coming to fight him. The Philistines and the Amorites and the Malachites and all these came to fight against David and David defeated them all.

They dropped like flies before David's feet. And now David's mighty men, they are absolutely enraged at Absalom's rebellion. They are mad, they're raged and they're just waiting for an attack. And if you do what Ahithophel is telling you to do, then you can rest assured you're playing right into their hands and they will kill Absalom and they will destroy his followers.

Now what did Hushai just do? He put fear in the hearts of Absalom and his men. Folks, fear is debilitating. Fear is powerful. Fear will manipulate your thinking.

That's why God says through Paul in 2 Timothy chapter 1 verse 7, for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Hushai's argument was much weaker than Ahithophel's, but wonder of wonders, Absalom and his men fell for it. They fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Why was that? Was this just good fortune? No. Was it a stroke of luck?

No. It was a sovereign move of God. Folks, do we appreciate what we're seeing in these verses?

What we see in this verse 14 is this, if God intervenes, all hell can't stop it. And we need to know that. We need to stand on that.

And we need to live like it's true. About a month ago I received an email from Rick Harper. He and his family were in Colorado at the time. They were in preparations.

They were working, doing some things to get ready to move to Vienna, Austria where he's going to be working for a missionary group called Surge. And they were all ready. They were all excited about going.

The plan was that they were to leave in the middle of July. But Rick sent me this email and he said that the Austrian government all of a sudden sent them a message that they certainly weren't expecting, saying that we need all kinds of information that you've not given us yet. And they hadn't asked for it yet. And he said we need this document and this document and that document.

And your children need to be learning the German language. We've got to know. Are they doing this? And they wanted all this information. And I thought, oh my goodness, they are not going to be able to go at least when they wanted to go. This thing's going to be put on hold. And there's no telling when they'll be able to go.

And I started wondering. I thought, what's Rick going to do? He can't force the issue. He can't make it happen. He has no power over the Austrian authorities. He's not even there to plead his case. What can Rick do?

The authorities caused him this trouble. They don't care about Rick and his family. They don't care about the mission. They don't care about God.

They just have power. I prayed about it that day and at the end of the day I sent Rick an email and I wanted to read you the email that I sent to Rick. I said, dear Rick, I'm reading a book on spiritual warfare. And the author quoted 1 Thessalonians 2.18. Paul said, we wanted to come to you, but Satan hindered us. Paul doesn't say by what means Satan opposes and undermines missionary endeavors, but we may assume he disrupts travel plans or works on the minds of state officials to delay or deny the issuing of visas. We are never helpless when Satan attacks, but like Paul, we must turn to prayer and ask God for sovereign intervention. That is what we must do. So what happened?

Wednesday a week ago, middle of July, exactly when they planned to go, they went to start their ministry in Vienna, Austria. That deep-sinking feeling that I had when I got that email just totally dissipated. And I thought to myself, why don't we pray more? Why don't we trust more? Why don't we focus on who God really is? Folks, God is God. He says, there's none like me. There is none like me.

There is no other. There's nothing that our God can't do except sin. I want to share with you several verses and I want you just to take a moment and meditate on these verses that just make us realize how strong our God is. Job 42 verse 2, I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Ephesians 1 11, in him we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will. Isaiah 46 9 through 10, remember the former things of old for I am God and there is no other. I am God and there's none like me declaring the end from the beginning from ancient times things not yet done saying my counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose. Daniel 4 34 through 35, at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted my eyes to heaven and my reason returned to me and I blessed the most high and praised and honored him who lives forever for his dominion is an everlasting Dominion and his kingdom endures from generation to generation all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand or say to him what have you done? Proverbs 16 9, the heart of man plans his ways but the Lord establishes his steps.

Psalm 135 verse 6, whatever the Lord pleases he does in heaven and on earth in the seas and all the deeps. I look at the evil in our world today, little children in elementary school being told that they can choose their gender depending on how they feel today. What garbage. I think of the high school girls today that are being told abortion is just another form of birth control. I think of what's going on in China now and the great military buildup that we see in China. I think of America right now and our government's attitude and disdain for true law and order and it makes me wonder where are we headed? Is there any hope? Can God handle this mess?

This passage says yes. It says he can and in his time and in his way he will. Folks, I love America. I pray for America. I want America to succeed but my hope is not in America. My hope is in Christ and Christ has said emphatically that this is the one thing that will not fail and that is his true church. He said on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

He didn't say that about America. America may not stand. I hope that it does. I hope that it will succeed.

I hope that there'll be revival here. I hope that God will turn this nation around but I don't know if he will or not. But I know this, the Church of Jesus Christ will stand forever.

Point three, human responsibility. Look at verse 15 through 16. Then Hushaw said to Zadok and Abiathar the priest, thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel and thus and so have I counseled. Now therefore sin quickly and tell David do not stay tonight at the fords of the wilderness but by all means pass over lest the king and all the people who are with him be swallowed up.

Hushaw convinced Absalom and his followers to go with his plan. Then David and his men started carrying that plan out and there was two men Jonathan Ahima has, kind of like spies, they went on ahead into a little city called Bahorram and they ended up being seen and so they had to hide. They went down into a well then they were able to get David across the the the ford and move on and and get where he needs to be so that he would be safe. But what I see what these men did was this, they were responsible and they worked hard. When Rick and Ann Harper got the news last month that that looked like they might be detained and might not be able to go, first thing they did was pray. Let me tell you what else they did, they worked.

Man they got busy, they got those documents together, they got the information that they were being asked to get, they started even hurrying up the process of teaching the kids the German languages. Here here is what they did, they trusted God's sovereignty and they carried out the responsibility that God had given them. Listen, God sovereign control of all things does not mean that you and I can live recklessly. The Bible teaches that God sovereignly elects his people, what does that mean? If God sovereignly elects his people does that mean I have no responsibility?

No, it does not mean that. I have the responsibility to pray, I have the responsibility to witness, I have the responsibility to get the Word of God into the hearts of people who don't know Jesus because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Roger Ellsworth said, this passage then lays before us a balance in dealing with evil, God's sovereignty and our responsibility. Many of God's people seem to forget the first part of that equation, they leave God out, they become either panicky or gloomy and despondent. They think everything depends on us and they do not see the church having the strength to stand against evil. Others take exactly the opposite view, they have a strong view of God's sovereign control and they sit back and they do nothing. Talk about Christians acting responsibly and they say, we should just leave things to God. The right way to respond to evil is not to choose between these two options but to embrace both of them. We must certainly trust God to be working behind the scenes to control evil but we must also not hesitate to cope with evil by speaking the message of God as Hushai did and by devotedly serving God as all David's friends served him. There's no doubt that Hushai believes strongly in the sovereignty of God but nowhere do we get the idea that this responsibility was not important. Nowhere does he say, it really doesn't matter what I do because God's already made his decision up.

Oh no, he said, I see what I am. I am an instrument in God's hands. 1986, I began to come to an understanding of God's sovereignty over all things.

It was life-changing for me, changed everything, changed how I believed about ministering and pastoring and being a witness. I realized that at that point in time that I was pretty much just a little thing. I couldn't save anybody. I didn't have the power, I didn't have the wisdom, I didn't have the ability to save anybody but I could be God's instrument. I can preach and I can witness and I can pray. I can be a friend. I can do those things but could I make it happen? No, I can't make it happen. I've come to realize this, all I am is a FedEx man.

All I can do is deliver the package. The fourth point is the certainty of judgment. Look at verse 23. When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey. He went off home to his own city. He sent his house in order and hanged himself and he died and he was buried in the tomb of his father. When Ahithophel's counsel was rejected, he committed suicide and why did he do that? Was it a pride issue? Did he feel so unloved and so rejected that he said, well I may as well just kill myself?

I don't think so. I think that he knew that Hushai's plan was going to backfire and that he knew that Absalom was going to be killed and not only that Absalom was going to be killed but that David was going to live, David was going to continue to be the king and he knew that David now would probably take him, charge him with treason, take him off and have him executed. I don't think Absalom, I don't think Ahithophel was a man of God. I don't think he knew the Lord. I think he was a man that just believed that when you die, you cease to exist. So he said, I'll go ahead now and I'll take my life, that way I won't have to deal with all the pain and the embarrassment of an execution.

So that's what I'll do and that's what he did do. Folks, little did he know that death would not end his misery. Little did he know that it would create an eternal misery for him in hell that would never cease. We have people in America that are committing suicide every single day in this nation and why do they do that? Because they think this way, they say I'm going to end it all, I'm going to stop this and all my pain will be ended.

Folks, they are dead wrong, dead wrong. Listen to what Revelation chapter 20 verse 14 through 15 says, dealing with the destiny of those who reject Christ. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second day at the lake of fire and if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. This should be a reminder to all of us, this life is not all there is to it. Folks, this world is not our home, we're just passing through.

Our lives are like a little vapor, a little puffer steam, they're here and before we realize it, they're gone. So if you're here today and you're not a Christian and you're here today and you're not sure about where you're going to spend eternity, can I give you this encouragement? Would you run to Christ?

Would you trust him by faith? Would you turn from your sin and submit to the lordship of Jesus? After you're a Christian today, what should you do? The scripture tells Christians that whatever we do, we're to do to the glory of God. That's where we should be headed, that's what our life ought to be about, and I want you to know this, that our faithfulness and our love to God will follow us to glory.

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, what a humbling passage of scripture we're dealing with today. It forced me to realize that I really don't trust you like I should. You took an extremely intelligent man's wise counsel and you brought it to nothing. Lord, no one can stay your mighty hand. No one can go one step further than you have ordained. Father, we read this in the scripture. We say yes and amen, then a problem crops up in our life and we go right back to our devices.

We go right back to scheming and plotting and depending on self. Please take the Word of God today and use it to change us. Help us to go to prayer as our first resort and not a last option. And when we pray, help us to realize the magnitude of your greatness and glory for it's in the precious and holy name of Jesus Christ that we pray. Amen.

Would you stand with me as we respond this morning to the truth that we've heard? Oh my day or my night, rainy or steaming, thy presence my light. Be thou my battle shield, sword for my fight. Be thou my dignity guide. Thou my soul shelter, thou my power. Raise thou me heaven, O power of my power. Rich as thy heat, thou romantically praise. Thou my inheritance now and always. Thou art and thou only first in my heart. Thy heat of heaven, my treasure thou art. High heat of heaven, my victory won. May I be heaven's joy, O bright and sun.

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my Hijra, O ruler of all. Thank you for coming and working with us today. Cindy and I are getting ready to go on vacation.

She's forcing me to go. So we're going to be gone next week. Eugene will be preaching next Sunday and Eugene's preaching tonight, preaching a sermon from Psalm 73, Reorientation. I'm sure that's going to be a blessing. So be here for that if you can. In closing, let me encourage you with these words. Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. And all God's children say it.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-20 03:31:30 / 2023-09-20 03:44:24 / 13

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