Friday, April 8, 2016

How to Take a City for God

The city of Jerusalem is known around the world. Three religions; the Christians, the Muslims, and the Jews all claim that Jerusalem is a holy city. At first glance there is no good reason for Jerusalem to be famous. It is not a port city where ships can come and off load goods. It is not next to a river, the highways of the ancient world. Why is Jerusalem so famous?

Jerusalem is famous because King David chose Jerusalem as his capital city. But, King David did not always own Jerusalem. It one time, the city was called Jebus and was occupied by men known as the Jebusites. So, how did King David come to own the city of Jebus?

And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, “You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,” thinking, “David cannot come in here.” 7Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).8Now David said on that day, “Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul), he shall be chief and captain.” Therefore they say, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” 9Then David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the City of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward” (2 Samuel 5:6-9 NKJV).

The city of Jebus was on top of a mountain. It was surrounded by high walls of stone. Large wooden gates guarded the only entrance to the city. When David and his men arrived, the gates were slammed shut. It was impossible for anyone to enter the city.

The men of Jebus, the Jebusites, were extremely confident. They felt safe, hidden behind their high walls of stone. They made fun of David. They stood high on their walls and shouted down, “You shall not enter here.” They mocked, “Even if the only soldiers in the city were blind and lame, you still could not defeat them.”

EXAMPLE: The walls in the knights of Monte-Python.

But, somehow (perhaps through a spy), David heard about another way of entering the city. It was a tiny water shaft that extended from the valley all the way up the mountain and came out in the middle of the city of Jebus. Here was a flaw in the cities defenses, a tiny chink in its’ impenetrable armor.

David said, “I am so tired of these heathens making fun of me and saying that even the blind and the lame could defeat me.” David gathered his men together and promised, “Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites, he shall be chief and captain.”

The term “water shaft” bring to mind a well full of fresh water. The rocks would be slippery but for a mountain climber, it would be easy to climb up, pop out of the top of the well, and surprise the city guards. Nothing could be easier! It was a brilliant secret plan.

But, as I studied this passage, I discovered several commentaries that suggest that my picture of a fresh-water well is not entirely accurate. Instead of being fresh water, it is possible that this water shaft was actually a sewer.

What is in a sewer? It is full of trash, bones from dead animals, and feces. It stinks to high heaven. It is full of rats, flies and creepy, crawly bugs. Climbing this water shaft would require more than physical strength, it would also require a strong stomach and a stopped up nose.  

Never in their wildest dreams did the Jebusites imagine that someone could climb up the sewer. Who would push their way through the trash and waste gathered together in a cramped up space.

Imagine the slime and the smell. Climbing this shaft would make you gag and feel like throwing up. By the time you reached the top, you would be in no mood to fight the Jebusites. Your sword handle would be slick in your hands. This attack was no picnic. Sometimes you have to go through waste to take a city for God.

Waste, feces, poo, dung, shit, caca, stinky. It does not matter what word you use, the reality is foul.

Who was this hero?
David was surrounded by mighty men, but this mission required someone exceptional to lead. Usually, climbing through sewage is not heroic; it is a job for a trash man.

So, who would step up to this task? Who would lead David’s men? Who would earn the reward?

We have to go all the way to 1 Chronicles 11:4-6 to discover the name of the man who went up first.  And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. But the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You shall not come in here!” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). Now David said, “Whoever attacks the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain.” And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, and became chief” (NKJV).

Why did Joab volunteer for this dirty task?

Joab was the leader of David’s men for many years, but against David’s orders, he killed Abner (2 Sam 3:22-39) and fell into disfavor. He murdered Abner because Abner had killed his brother in a battle. Because of this he was demoted.

The attack on Jebus was Joab’s opportunity to regain his position. This is why he stepped up and volunteered to go first.

Taking cities for God requires heroes.

I have traveled the world taking cities for God. From personal experience, I can tell you it is not always a stroll through the tulips, it is not always a walk in the sunshine.  

Sometimes, it is hot.
Sometimes, it is freezing.
Sometimes, you have to take a cold shower out of a bucket.
Sometimes, it is smelly.
Sometimes, you have to use an outhouse.
Sometimes, the road is bumpy.
Sometimes, there are mosquitos.
Sometimes, you have to leave your wife and children.
Sometimes, there is conflict.
Sometimes, there is no money.
Sometimes, you sleep on a hard floor.
Sometimes, you are sick.
Sometimes, there is no food to eat.
Sometimes, you are thirsty.
Sometimes, you will have a gun pointed at you.

In order to take a city, you have to be willing to go through “dung.” Taking a city requires hard work and sacrifice. But the man who is willing to take the city will receive a great reward.