Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Heb. 4:16
The story of mankind in scripture is a history of willful separation from creator God caused by our rebellion. Adam and Eve chose death (as promised by God) over the loving commands of God (Gen. 3:6), and from that moment mankind was separated from the very personal presence of the Lord that was once enjoyed (Gen. 3:8). This relational tear would one day be perfectly repaired by the blood of Jesus, but Old Testament scripture recounts shadows of separation and reconciliation, all as an arrow pointing to our great separation from God and our desperate need for reconciliation.
One of those shadows is found in 2 Samuel 14. David, King of Israel, is separated from his son Absalom, caused by Absalom’s murder of his half brother Amnon. One day, Absalom is summoned from his exile to return to Jerusalem, however, David instructs that Absalom is to “dwell apart in his own house; … not to come into [David’s] presence.” Absalom’s invitation back into the capitol city is a sign of the King’s pardon of his sin, but the pardon does not lead immediately to a restored relationship. David mercifully pardoned Absalom from having to pay for his sin (through death), however that same sin still kept father and son apart. You could imagine the initial hope you might have as Absalom; hearing that the king has pardoned your sin and that you are allowed to return to your hometown. However, over time, it must have tore at Absalom that he would be allowed to return to such a close position to his father, and yet never allowed to see him face to face, that he would be pardoned and yet not reconciled.
Eventually, after quite some time apart, David and Absalom’s relationship is restored and Absalom is brought back to the King’s table. But it is the partially pardoned position of Absalom (living in Jerusalem but not allowed to see the King), that for many of us will strike a chord. For many Christ followers, though we know of the sacrifice of Christ, we still live as though we are separated from the presence of God. We live as if we have been allowed half way home, pardoned of our guilt, but that our sin still keeps us from fully enjoying fellowship with our creator. Sin is egregious; it is harmful to us, painful for those around us, and an affront to God almighty. The seriousness of our rebellion should not be downplayed, and yet if we believe that the sacrifice of Christ has only pardoned our guilt without reconciling our relationship with God, we have missed the whole truth of the gospel.
The story of Absalom and David is not our story! God,is not slowly inviting us back into fellowship with Him as time passes from our sins and we prove our worthiness to be reunited with Him. Instead, the King of all creation sent his righteous son out into exile, so that we might trade places with him and come and live in a place of honored fellowship. Jesus became the unjustly cast off, so that we could become the rightfully loved. He became a murderer so we could become an honored son. The impact of this truth is life changing. A reconciled son does not simply live near his father, but rather he lives with his father. A reconciled son is not kept from approaching his father, but rather he is given the ability to approach his father boldly, repeatedly, and whenever it is necessary or desired. A reconciled son does not live surrounded by the stain of his sin, but rather surrounded by the goodness of his father.
Christ does not grant us a passage halfway home. Instead, we are granted full access and fellowship with God in the way that man was created to experience his creator. By God’s grace, may we all stop living with a self-imposed separation from God when the doors to his throne room have been flung wide open for us.