Have you ever wondered how Jim Jones, Charles Manson, and other cult leaders wielded such influence over their followers? When I read about Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Mao, and other dictators, I was stunned. They turned entire countries to go against conscience and commit cruel and heinous acts against their own people. Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Mao are just a few, but there have been many throughout time and history who have murdered, starved, and tortured trillions of their people. Something deep inside all humans yearns for a hero. We look to sports, figures, entertainers, politicians, and even religious figures. Our misplaced need for a hero expands to groups and not just people. It may take time but that always burns us. The problem with that is humans cannot handle that amount of power without becoming corrupt. There’s only one hero who can help our helpless state, and that’s Jesus.
“All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”Lord Acton
The Rape and the Bitter Root
King David didn’t enact justice for a horrible event within his family. When Absolem’s half-brother raped his beloved sister Tamar, and King David did nothing about it. Absalom lost respect for David at that moment and the bitterroot for the injustice grew within Absalom’s heart. By doing nothing, King David created a monster of rage within Absalom that would one day threaten his life and kingdom. Bitter roots become manipulative tools of Satan and others like sociopaths and narcissists. Hebrews 12:15, says that a bitter root can defile many. It happens in Hollywood, politics, and families by those who want control and power. Someone slithers in and begins stoking the flame of resentment, creating a division that eventually ends in a total division.
See to it that no one falls short of God’s grace; that no root of resentment springs up and causes trouble, and by it many be defiled…Hebrews 12:15
Assuming the Best & Parental Guilt
From the pages of an ancient playbook, Absolem, King David’s son, turned the kingdom against their legitimate and beloved leader. Absalom was charming and gorgeous by Biblical accounts and was well known in the domain before any coup took place. King David loved him. He was greatly favored and, like many of King David’s kids, spoiled and indulged. David failed to see that his kids didn’t have the same experience and were different people than he was. We do this as parents, but the kids don’t have the same heart, trials, and experience with God. David assumed that Absalom had a heart like him and trusted him when he shouldn’t. We fear being judgemental, so we believe the best in others while ignoring the glaring facts. Because the king did this, Absalom was able to build a coup right under his nose.
3 Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” 4 Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.”2 Samuel 15:3-4
Validation & Saviors
Stoked with the fire of bitterness, Absalom used his charm and influence to stir up the people’s bitter roots. Absalom intercepted people who were coming to the king for justice. He sympathized with their cause and fed the root of the judgment of the king. Then presented himself as the problem solver. A technique that’s worked for thousands of years. As a prince of Israel, he had a clencher, as the people came to pay him honor and kissed them. He put himself on the same social level, something Absalom would never seriously do. It was only a manipulation to make the people feel that understood them. The Bible said that he “stole the hearts of the men of Israel through those actions.” Politicians and predators do this too. They deceive us to believe they feel our pain and will fight for us so that we will put them in power.
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. 6 Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.2 Samuel 15:5-6
Manipulating the Numbers
Absalom campaigned for four years gaining followers along the way. Then he asked King David’s permission to leave the area to fulfill a vow to God. He was only getting out of Doges to implement the next step in his grand takeover. He made himself look even more popular by paying someone to make a big announcement for him as king. He then coordinated 200 unsuspecting people to be with him to bolster his numbers. It’s a lie that doesn’t feel like an actual lie. Politicians do this with camera angles and press. Predators bring up stories of their own abuse, of other atrocities committed by an authority to stir up our emotions. It also makes us feel sorry for them and relate to them. They connect with us touching our own pain and bitterness. Then they mobilize.
…Absalom sent secret messengers throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then say, ‘Absalom is king at Hebron!’” 11 With Absalom went two hundred men from Jerusalem who were invited guests, and they went in their innocence and knew nothing. 12 And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for[c] Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.2 Samuel 15: 9-11
In the end times, no one is above being deceived. In Matthew 24:23-25, the Bible says that even Christians can be deceived.* How? The root of bitterness defiles many. It separates kings, countries, families, communities, and friends. People who are embittered will do things they never imagined doing. We, like King David, think out of wanting to believe the best doesn’t look at what’s brewing under our noses. Absalom turned the hearts of people against the king is a picture of how Satan, cast down from heaven, turned people’s hearts against the King of Kings. Let’s be wise as serpents and innocent as a dove and not be manipulated by our bitterness. This helps guard us against deception.
And then many will fall away[a] and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:10-13
What Can We Do?
Right now, you may be saying, “Sandy, this is stressful and depressing.” It can be, but it doesn’t have to be for us as believers because we have his promises. God knew all this would happen; he gives us the wisdom to avoid the pitfalls, and the promises for joy, strength, and peace. Sometimes we can’t do much about what’s going on in our lives. The only control we have is how we feel about a situation. It boils down to the crux of the Christian life. When we take care of what we are supposed to do, through his grace, he takes care of the rest. Let’s use his word, make sure we don’t have a root of bitterness that can leave us open to deception, and let us know that God is on our side when we are on his and his grace fills every gap.
33 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]John 16:33