Accept No Substitutes 21 December 2008
2 Samuel 7 Pastor Mark Nieting
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ on the 4th Sunday of Advent, 2008.
This week marked a significant milestone in my young life because (and I know
you will find this hard to believe), Wednesday was my 60th birthday! My younger
sister always takes special care to be the first to wish me another year older and
this year being no different, our phone rang at 4:30 AM. Later, becoming actually
awake, I opened her card and this is what I saw. (Scanned card on the screen
with my picture at age 6, oh was I cute!) During the day my parents called and
mom left a message saying she was “still ok after giving birth to a 9 pound son”
and that “still, after all these years, she would accept no substitutes for me.”
Hmmm….let’s see. I remember pushing her entire stack of cereal bowls out the
other side of the cupboard and down onto the floor. My stock sure went down
that day! Or the day I STABBED a huge number of ants that were running
around on our new, redwood picnic table? I think she would have traded me for
any one of those little critters. Or in 8th grade, when I was “detained” for shop-
lifting? Let’s not go THERE again! Then there was….no, let’s not go there at ALL!
The point my dear mother was trying to make was even with all my “sins and
iniquities,” as we call them in our confession, she would “accept no substitutes!”
That was her promise and knowing my mother, it’s a promise I can TRUST.
How are you when it comes to PROMISES? When you make a promise, is it with
your fingers crossed behind your back…..or can people take your promises to
the bank? I’d be willing to bet that there are people in your life whose promises
you KNOW are “as good as gold” and then there are people whose promises are
not worth the air it takes to speak them. (Please…no rib jabbing here in church.)
Today’s OLD TESTAMENT lesson takes us back 3,000 years to the time when
David was the king of Israel. Before we address God’s promise to David, let’s
“way-back” a few more years to the time when God, through Samuel the prophet,
was choosing a new King for the people of Israel. God had promised that the
new king would be from the family of Jesse, the son of Boaz and Ruth
(Remember Ruth? There’s a book about her in the Bible!) When the time came
to anoint the King-to-Be, Samuel went out as Jesse paraded his sons, one by
one in front of him, from the oldest on down. First was Eliab…nope. Next came
Abinadab: not to be. Then Shammah…sorry. Fourth came Nethanel. Nix on him.
Then Raddai…..good riddance! Finally, Ozem, and God said “Oh No to Ozem!”
Imagine now how worried Jesse must have been getting. After all….God had
PROMISED that the king would be one of his sons; and he was down to one last
son….little #7 named David….relegated to sheepherding duty out in the fields.
But God would accept no substitutes. David was called in from the fields and
Samuel anointed him as the next King of Israel…..a promise from God that we
know came to fulfillment.
In today’s lesson from 2 Samuel, David WAS the king and God made him
another promise: “David, I took you from the pasture and made you the king. I cut
your enemies off and built your kingdom. Now I will make your name one of the
greatest names on earth! Your house and your kingdom would last FOREVER!”
We KNOW David was a great king. We know he built Israel into a great nation.
We even know that Mary, Jesus’ mother and Joseph, his “legal” father, were from
David’s family. Here’s the question of the day: What does God’s promise
have to do with us, thousands of years later?
Promises ARE important. IF you promise something to a little child and fail to
honor that promise, they will be crushed! Promise your spouse a few days of
“getaway” over Christmas and then head back to the office instead. How’s that
going to work out for you? Promises COUNT! In fact, break a few promises and
you’ll get a reputation as someone who can’t be counted on…..and then see how
well things go for you. That’s why New Year’s Resolutions are such jokes among
us….how many of us actually KEEP them?
But the promise of a Savior? The promise of an everlasting kingdom? God isn’t
just making a promise that He’ll help us exercise more or quit smoking….. He’s
not just promising a random blessing here and there…….He’s promising to
include us in HIS KINGDOM, the Kingdom of Heaven that lasts forever! It’s a
promise not just made to David and his descendents, it’s a promise us, living
3000 years after David and 2000 years after Jesus.
Not only is that God’s promise, it also comes with a lifetime guarantee!
Most of us have done a fair bit of shopping lately. It seems that when I buy
something at one of the “big box stores,” they always want to sell me an
“extended warranty.” Do you buy them? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. A
while back our phone died. I dug out the warranty, took it in and got a new one,
no questions asked. That was a better experience than the transmission on my
Dodge Caravan that blew up 2 months after the warranty expired!
And what about warranties and guarantees on marriages? On children? On our
health? I don’t remember my surgeon writing me a warranty when I had my
Yet that’s exactly what God does for us when we receive the gift of faith in Jesus
Christ: it’s a lifetime guarantee of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation!!!!!
Once again….given God’s promise that with Jesus on the throne of our hearts
we will be a part of His kingdom forever, who would accept anything as a
substitute? Who would be that foolish?
Years ago I was walking down a street in New York City and a man came up
trying to sell me watches…literally just the way you see it in the cartoons, out of
the inside of his jacket. “It’s a ROLEX,” he exclaimed as he held out this beautiful
watch. And it looked good….heavy and shiny, until I looked VERY closely and
saw that the “L” was actually a “T.” Would you buy a “ROTEX” watch? I found a
website that actually listed itself as “Replica Fake Sunglasses,” and it’s obvious
that they’re doing well.
Fake watches and knockoff clothing might save us a few bucks but they aren’t
going to imperil our souls. Only when we accept a substitute for Jesus Christ do
we endanger our ability to receive what God has promised. It’s when we remove
Christ from the Kingship of our lives and put someone else….or something else
on the throne of our hearts that true trouble stalks our souls.
Remember Adam and Eve as they walked down the street in the Garden of
Eden. The Evil One came up, flipped open his snakeskin sport-coat and said,
“Sssy Adam, Sayy Eve, do I have a deal for you!” It’s been like that ever since,
as people accept one substitute after another for the Real Son of David, the Real
Throne of God, and the Real Savior of their Souls, who is Christ the Lord!
In these last closing days of Advent, take inventory of what’s in your heart and
who’s on the throne of your soul and remember: Accept No Substitutes for Christ
as your Savior and Your Lord! After all, from the 3rd chapter of Genesis onward,
God promised that when the time was right, He would send the Savior. Prophecy
after prophecy came, each bringing more detail and each bringing the day and
time of its fulfillment closer.
Finally the Peace of Rome had made the travel of the Good News possible.
Finally the House of David and the little town of Bethlehem were ready. Finally
John the Baptist had been born to prepare the way. And when these and all the
other pieces of God’s plan had come together, God made good on His promise
and the Savior was born, who would establish His throne forever.
Will you accept anything or anyone else as a substitute?