Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

God's Judgement on Pride (1 Chronicles 21)


Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Well, let's turn to God's Word in First Chronicles, Chapter Twenty One and continue reading and preaching through this history of God, this people, first chronicles twenty one through twenty two, verse one. Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joe AB, as the commanders and the commanders of the army, go number Israel from Beersheba to Dan and bring me a report that I may know their number. But Job said, May Jehovah add to his people a hundred times as many as they are. Are They not my Lord, the King, all of them my Lord's servants? Why, then, should my Lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel? But the king's word prevailed against Joe AB. So joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came back to Jerusalem, and job gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword, and in Judah four hundred and seventy thousand who drew the sword. But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering. For the king's command was abhorrent to Joe Ab but God was displeased with this thing and he struck Israel. And David said to God, I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing, but now please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly. And Jehovah spoke to Gad, David Seer, and saying go say to David, thus says Jehovah, three things I offer you. Choose one of them that I may do it to you. So Gad came to David and said to him, thus says Jehovah, Choose what you will either three years of famine or three months of devastation by your foes, while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or else three days of the Sword of Jehovah, Pestilence on the land, with the Angel of Jehovah Destroying Throughout all the territory of Israel. Now decide what answer I shall return to Him who sent me. Then David said to Gad, I am in great distress. Let me fall into the hand of Jehovah, for His mercy is very great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man. So Jehovah sent a pestilence on Israel and seventy thousand men of Israel fell, and God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. But as he was about to destroy it, Jehovah saw and he relented from the calamity and he said to the angel who was working destruction, it is enough, now, stay your hand. And the Angel of Jehovah was standing by the threshing floor of Ornand the jebusite. And David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of Jehovah Standing Between Earth and Heaven and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces and David said to God, was it not I who gave command to number the people? It is I who have sinned and done great evil, but these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand, Oh Jehovah, my God, be against me and against my father's house, but do not let the plague be on your people. Now the angel of Jehovah had Commanded Gad to say to David that David should go up and raise an altar to Jehovah on the threshing floor of ornand the jebusite. So David went up at Gad's word, which he had spoken in the name of Jehovah. Now ornand was threshing wheat. He turned and saw the...

...angel and his four sons, who were with him, hid themselves as David came to ornand looked day rushing floor and paid homage to David with his face to the round. And David said to orn him, give me the side of the threshing floor that I may build on it an altar to Jehovah. Give it to me at its full price, that the plague may be averted from the people. The norn end said to David, take it and let the Lord. Can't the king do what seems good to him? See, I give the oxen for burnt offerings and the threshing sledges for the wood and the wheat for a grain offering. I give it all the king. David said to Ornon, no, but I will buy them for the full price. I Will Not Take for Jehovah What Is Yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing. So David paid or an on six hundred shekels of gold by the weight or by weight for the sight. And David built there an altar to Jehovah and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on Jehovah, and Jehovah answered him with Fire From Heaven upon the Altar of the of burnt offering. Then Jehovah Command of the Angel and he put his sword back into his sheath. At that time, when David saw that Jehovah had answered him, at the threshing floor of orn and the Jebu side, he sacrificed there for the Tabernacle of Jehovah which Moses had made in the Wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were at that time in the high place that Gibbeon, but David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was afraid of the Sword of the Angel of Jehovah. Then David said, here shall be the House of Jehovah, God, and here the altar of burnt offering for Israel. You may be seated. Up to this point in the book of chronicles, things have been going rather swimmingly for David. Things have been going very well. He's been moving forward, conquering person or people after people, King after King, anyone who stands up against him. He's able to put down very well from the time where he conceived the the idea to bring the Ark into Jerusalem, his coronation, the Covenant God that makes with him these military battles, with the one hiccup of the arc a few chapters back in the handling of it. Other than that, of things have been going very well for David, especially recently. But this chapter reminds us that David was no Shoein as king and that God was not along for the ride. This has been the point all along. This is the thing that saw for God and that David has often, but not here a remembered that God is the one who's king over Israel. God is the one who's establishing his kingdom, and then earthly king is his under shepherd king ruling in his place. So many other kings of the ancient world often treated God and, as they thought of it, the Gods, as a something that was an external validation, we might say, for the things that they were doing.

Right, you go and you conquer a thing and then you offer sacrifices to some God to show that you are invested with a kind of religious power as well as political, as a way of kind of shoring up your kingdom. But not so for David. This was for David Yahway's place in Israel was true. He was the one who was leading his people. It was David who was in the back seat, a lesson that he would learn again through these events here. So what happens in this chapter? Let's do a basic outline of the story. The first thing that we read is that Satan stands against Israel and incites David to sin. This is a reminder that Satan does desire, I'm to thwart God's kingdom, to destroy it, to take it down. David has been having success after success and and Satan wants none of it. He incites David. Now David, of course, has a choice in this. As Joe, ABB is commander, puts to him. He says, don't do this thing. This is obviously a bad thing, and David and decides to do it anyway. What is it that he does? Well, the easiest thing to say is that he he takes the census. That's obvious. Why is that a sin? Is perhaps not so obvious. There are some hints in the text and there are some various reasons that might be true why this is so offensive to God. But it seems to me that the chief reason is that this sensus is about David's personal pride as opposed to God's work. Censuses, if I don't know if you can make that plural in that way, but we will for the moment. The these countings are not in and of themselves sinful. God in a number of times throughout the Old Testament commands them for purposes of sanctuary, taxation or military things or population issues. There's various reasons that God commands census has to be taken, but we don't hear of anything them, of them here in this chapter, and that's one reason. It seems to indicate to me that this sensus is not about doing the Lord's work but about David and his pride. Another reason to believe that this is something of what's going on here is in Joe Ebbs appeal to David, he says in verse three, are they not my Lord, the king, all of them, the Lord's servants? Do you really need to go out and exercise this kind of political pressure on the people? Are They not loyal? Do you not have enough this sense? What seems to be going on here is David is using this very powerful political tool to achieve something for himself in Israel. But what reason, what possible reason, would he need to have this? God has promised him everything, God has given him everything. There seems to be something of David's personal pride at work here and not God's work. David wants something for himself. He wants to do wants to perhaps see this kingdom established in his name as opposed to the Lord's. And so we this is this is his sin. He does the Census and clearly God is displeased and he judges David for this. David commits...

...the Sin Anyway, despite the warnings of Joe Ebb. It kindles God Ang a God's anger, and he then punishes David. We read of God sending the Angel of the Lord to bring about this pestilence on the people of Israel. This is great irony that David goes out to count the people as a way to sort of shore up his power, but ends up losing seventyzero men as a result. The numbers decrease as opposed to increase, because of his pride, God is often very fitting in his judgments. A second thing to notice to here is who it is that brings this judgment. Earlier we read this section from Matthew and we read that an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, but here we do not read that an an, an angel of the Lord, appeared to Joseph, but the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph. Well, what's the difference? Well, it's quite a big difference. Throughout the Old Testament there is this angel, the angel of the Lord, who is remarkably different and distinguished from the other angels. Angel simply means a minister, one who is sent to Minister or to do God's work. But this angel is described in different terms throughout the Old Testament. For example, in Genesis Forty Eight, versus fifteen and sixteen and Malachi three one, he's called the angel of the Covenant. I'm he's given this very prominent status and terms of Israel's legal relationship with God. On in Genesis one hundred and thirteen, in speaking to Jacob, the Angel says I am the God of Bethel. In Genesis Forty Eight, we read that Jacob says the speaks of this angel in parallel with God and says this is the angel who redeemed me. In next it is thirty two, the burning Bush with Moses. We read that the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the Bush. That's in verse two of Exodus Three. Then in verse four we read that God called to him out of the Bush. I am the Lord You, I am the Lord, or I'm sorry, I am the God, the Angel says, of Your Father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isa Isaac, the God of Jacob. We read there an exodus three that Moses hid his face for he was afraid to look at God. So who is the angel of the Lord? On the one hand, he's distinguished from God and that as he comes to do God's work, he often will speak of God in the third person. God says this. God says that there is something distinguished between the person of the angel and the one who sends him. And yet at the same time there is a unity in which, in various places this angel is worshiped, this angel is called God, this angel, who appears to people, is called, is called and worshiped as God. So who is this angel? Well, as Herman Bobbing puts it succinctly, a true personal revelation and appearance of God. It is God, the Son I'm appearing in this particular form. Later on in the scriptures we read that he took takes on not the form of an angel but the form of man. Very remarkable thing. I...

...say all this to point out something quite significant, as will see a little bit later. God, in sending the angel of the Lord, in the son of God, as this great angel of judgment, is coming to do the will of the father. In this great and powerful way. He is called the Lord of hosts, the the ruler or the one who commands thousands, myriads of and this angelic army. But yet he himself is strong in himself to destroy this entire city. This is whom God sends. What happens then? David calls out to God, he begs him for mercy, and God holds back his hand a momentarily and reveals to him, reveals to Jay David on the fullness of this coming judgment. This is the moment when David and the elders see this angel. Can you imagine how terrifying that would be to look up and be able to see in the space between heaven and earth, somehow they are in the sky, we might think, up above the city, the angel of the Lord's Standing Ready, and not just standing there with all of his awesomeness and power, but with a sword unsheathed, standing over Jerusalem. The meaning of this is clear. God is about to destroy his people. This same angel, which has gone out and destroyed other people's is now standing there over Jerusalem, over God's people. And at this moment when God reveals the fullness of coming judgment, he then reveals a second thing. He sends this Prophet Gad and tells David to go and prepare a sacrifice, and he does this. He's he goes to the place where the angel is, he goes to Ornan, the JEBUSITE, and he buys at sacrifice to himself, this threshing floor in the oxen, and he prepares a sacrifice. What do we see in this? We see God's revelation of two things. One, his coming judgment, but also the possibility for propitiation, for atonement, for forgiveness through sacrifice. It's not David who comes up with this idea. Yes, David appeals to the Lord, but it's the Lord who provides the solution. He gives David this opportunity and he takes it. And as a result of these sacrifices, of the iniquity being forgiven, of the sins being propitiated, we read in Verse Twenty seven that Yahwi Commands the Angel Lenny put his sword back into his sheath, and when he saw this, this was confirmation that this is where the temple would be. This is where the Temple of God would be built, here on this threshing floor, here we are, judgment and mercy come together in this perfect witness. For All time, this place would be a mark that God will withheld judgment over his people because of sacrifice, and it's there that sacrifices would be given again and...

...again. In a tone, it would be made that in the temple and in the Ark, God would live and dwell with his people. So in all this, God says, I am King, and I am King in a very particular way. I'm establishing a Kingdom of grace, a kingdom of mercy, a kingdom in which the very place of my throne is a reminder that your sins have been forgiven that I belong to you, not because of your great works, not because of the things you have done, but because I have turned judgment away. This is not about David he is no shoe and he's no great military leader who just happened to have enough charisma and good looks and strength to rally a people together for the good of God. Know there are powers at work against the Kingdom of God, and God will overcome them. There are satanic powers. It is Satan who incites this. It's Satan who tempts, tempts David Justice. He tempted Adam in the guard and just as he tempted Jesus and the Wilderness. Satan seeking to take this anointed one of God and keep him from his temple building. He wants to take these chosen ones of God and keep them from doing the work that God has called them to do. There is this very real threat in Satan, and then there is this very real threat in sin, in which not only Satan but man himself rises up against God and says, not your will, but mine be done. I will do things in my own way, I will establish things in my own power, but God says no, but instead of just smiting everything, he offers sacrifice, he gives us his mercy. Satan would seek to undo this, sin would seek to undo this, but God rules over them both. God is king, is righteous in destroying his enemy, and David a confess but David confesses and leans on something else that is true of God. David Appeals to God's mercy. You see, this is all. This is the mark of someone who has been marked and chosen by God. It's someone who, in the time, I am of their great sin, does not only look to the Lord in his Justice and confesses that he is righteous in in bringing about justice, but also knows and sees the mercy of God and calls out to him. And this is what David does well. In all of this we have great reminders about ourselves as the church, foreshadowings of and lessons about who we are. The church today is one, with Israel having been grafted in, and as much as that is true that we are an administration of God's kingdom, but at its core, as with this kingdom we call we belong to and are under God by that same principle of mercy. Just like Israel was established here, Jerusalem and the temple. It is also through atonement that the wrath of God is turned away and that we stand as citizens in the Kingdom of God. It is that reason...

...that the angels minister to our needs, as Hebrews says, rather than strike us down for our sins. This is an amazing thing that the angel of the Lord who stood over Jerusalem here are ready to destroy them, would one day become incarnate and take on the form of man and be destroyed by the people in Jerusalem. But he would do so that he would take down that temporary temple and build another one, a permanent one, one that each of us would belong to. And how much better is that? The temple, as it has, as it is to day, has no sight, no specific place, no found geographic foundation, because it is spiritual, it is universal and located in Jesus himself, in Heaven, and that is good news because it means that it can't be destroyed, it can't be undone. The temple that David Built, the temple that Solomon built, would be destroyed, and the temple after that, but not this one, because this temple that is founded not on a fallible king but on God himself, it means that the Kingdom of God, the Temple and the people have already passed through judgment because of the sacrifice, an atonement of Jesus Christ. It means that the temple and we, as his people, belong to the age to come, founded on cry least. There is therefore no king, no church leader, no secular power that can undo us, and this is just as true in our individual lives as it is in our corporate lives. God, who has come, has founded us in a permanent and saving way. So as we conclude, we can remember this that, as with David in Jesus, God has established his Kingdom of grace with us. We belong to it because of that same principle of mercy, but we belong to it in a permanent way. Before, the sacrifices in the temple were offered over and over and over and over again, year after year, the priesthood being established again and again and again, or rather continuing on priest after priest, because they kept dying. But we have a priest who lives forever, who offered a sacrifice that atones for our sins forever, that established a kingdom that cannot be shaken forever, so unlike David. This is all true because our king is also God in in that we need to never fear that our king might sin or fail in every any way. As those who are established in God's kingdom through Jesus, the king, this son of David, we don't need to worry that Jesus might mess up and Seventyzero of US might die. That's good news. Jesus is a permanent king, a good king, a perfectly righteous king, and he rules in that way. The Angel of the Lord has sheathed his sword for us and we are under him by grace, and so let us worship him and stand in him and have courage in him and be confident in him. Earlier we sing saying several hymns about the work of Satan in this world and the powers that are there. We don't need to fear these.

We don't need to fear that Satan might incite Jesus to some great sin, because he tried already and he completely and utterly failed. Jesus is our great king and he rules and reigns forever on our behalf. Let us praise God for this and when we sin, let us remember the forgiveness that he offers to us in Christ, the sacrifice that he has made, this perfect sacrifice that forever turns away his wrath. Let us pray.

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