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The church is not a building, and we are not the church because we gather corporately once a week. As we refrain from gathering corporately due to the current pandemic of the coronavirus, reading through 2 Samuel 24, Todd teaches us about the census and about plagues, and how they apply to us today.
Christmas Eve: God With Us
Three Reminders to Remain a Healthy Church
Sunday, June 7 Watermark Fort Worth Service
“Races” Don’t Reconcile, People Do: How to Love, Listen and Live like Christ
When Racial Tensions Rise, So Must The Church
Devotion to Christ While We Disagree about How to Respond to the COVID (or any other) Crisis.
Sober Minded Living That Leads to Sanctification: How We Make War Against Sin
A Message from the Elders on Membership, Connection, Care and Community Formation
The Gift of Trials
Easter, It's Impossible to Overreact
Good Friday | In the Waiting (Plano)
Good Friday 2020
Plagues, Censuses, and Leadership
Leaders That Create Churches Others Are Thankful For: Plano Launch
Evening with the Elders
The Gospel Through Marriage
Our Lens: The Gospel
A Biblical View of Marriage
Who We Are
The Richness of the Gospel
Fort Worth Transition Update
Experiencing Our Purpose in Christ
The church is not a building, and we are not the church because we gather corporately once a week. As we refrain from gathering corporately due to the current pandemic of the coronavirus, reading through 2 Samuel 24, Todd teaches us about the census and about plagues, and how they apply to us today.
Hello, Watermark. Welcome to the great coronavirus Bible study of 2020. We already have had a great conversation talking offline a little bit about some very time-sensitive and relevant conversations, but now we're going to talk about something that's always relevant and always helpful, because truth travels, as I just got through saying, through time and through culture. So we're going to study God's Word.
I thought we would take just a little break from our study in 1 Thessalonians, and what we're going to do today is take a look at something that's happening in our world today. There are two things that are going on in 2020 that are worth noting. First, there's a census being taken. Secondly, there's a bit of a worldwide plague. There's a pandemic that is going on.
So, as I was thinking a little bit about how we could show the relevance of God's Word, I thought, "Why don't we go back and study a time when there was a census taken and because some things weren't done the way they ought to be done and because some focuses or because the leader's mind's eye wasn't where it should be, there was a plague."
Now, I want to say right from the top I don't believe this particular coronavirus plague is because we're taking a census. There are a lot of reasons for our world to have a plague. We don't need a census to give God a reason to get our attention. I'm really glad that in all things God is always trying to get our attention because he loves us. God whispers to us in our pleasures, but he shouts to us in our pain.
When things are disrupted, it does have a tendency to make us reorient our affections and our attentions. We're always, as believers, called to set our minds on the things that are above and not on the things that are on the earth, so let's take advantage of this time right now that might make our hearts, and certainly the world's, a little bit more receptive to things that are true beyond the particular day they are in.
Let's take a particular look at 2 Samuel 24. Open your Bibles. I would love for you to run and get your Bible. I hope you have your Bible. I always tell my children you should never go somewhere when you're meeting with somebody who you believe is going to speak to you (and every time you go to God's Word, I hope you believe you're meeting with somebody who wants to speak to you) without a pen in your hand and without a journal or paper to write it down.
We have sermon notes that are going to help you with your own ability to go back and reflect on some of the things we're talking about. As always, you can get those at watermark.org, but let me encourage you to take notes live. It shows and models for others active listening. It shows interest in the topic. It shows humility, and God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. So bring your Bible when we gather together, and certainly open your Bible right now.
There's an entire book of the Bible that is named after the census. It's the book of Numbers. It's when God had commanded the nation of Israel to number itself. In Numbers, chapter 1, verses 2-3, God tells Moses:
"Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' households, according to the number of names, every male, head by head from twenty years old and upward, whoever is able to go out to war in Israel, you and Aaron shall number them by their armies."
God told Moses to do this. What's really important is this isn't the first revelation in your Bible about what to do when you take a census. You're going to find out that God is going to hold the king accountable when he doesn't pay attention to what he has already said. The same is true for you and me. Let's just stop right now and pray that we can pay attention together.
Father, I thank you that if we humble ourselves and tremble at your Word because we don't want to miss it that you are always so gracious to be for us in our humility. Father, we don't want to lean on our own understanding. In all our ways, we want to acknowledge you. So I pray during this little moment where I'm going to open up my Bible with friends and study… You want to speak to me, you want to lead me, you want to guide me, so open the eyes of my heart.
Father, conform me into the image of your Son. Make me a good king. Make me the best of men, the best of women. Make me the best young adult, young child. I know that will happen when I am attentive to your Word and don't just fly through it but am careful to apply it diligently to my heart. Let us not, Father, be merely hearers who delude themselves but doers of the Word. So teach us now. In Jesus' name, amen.
All right. Here's what I want to do. I want to go to 2 Samuel, chapter 24. It's important to kind of set the table a little bit. Let me give you a little context. I don't have time to go back and read to you 1 and 2 Samuel. You probably have time. In 1 and 2 Samuel, you are introduced to a character in the Bible by the name of David. David is a man of no small import in the Scripture and a guy who's called a man after God's own heart.
There's a Real Truth. Real Quick. I did on David, and it was basically how David could be a man after God's own heart when David is most famous not just for falling a giant but for being a giant of the faith who fell. We all know what David did. If you're a VeggieTales fan, he had a tub full of rubber duckies, and he looked down and saw a guy with just one rubber duck, and he wanted that one. I assume there are kids in the room, so if they don't yet know what else David did, you can maybe explain it to them in your own way.
David made a horrible mistake in that particular moment, yet he was still called, after that, a man after God's own heart. That should encourage you. Go watch that Real Truth. Real Quick. and take about seven minutes and be encouraged as to why God could say that about David though he made that terrible mistake with another man's rubber duck. You're also going to see David make a terrible mistake here, a terrible mistake that led to the deaths of 70,000 people. After this, he was still called a man after God's own heart. Pretty incredible. We have a very, very gracious God.
So, let's spend some time reading together. Second Samuel 24. It's the end of David's life. David had already made the terrible mistake I just mentioned. He had already failed as a father to shepherd and lead his family. He had already lost his kingdom to a son who wanted desperately the power David had, and he had been restored back as the leader of Israel. After all of these things, we show up in 2 Samuel, chapter 24. It is the last of the stories of David.
So here we go. It says, "Now again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel…" What's really interesting about this particular phrase right here is this same story is told in 1 Chronicles 21. I'm reading to you, by the way, out of the NASB. I don't know what Scripture you have. If you want to know what Bible you should read, there's a Real Truth. Real Quick. on Bible translations, which we'll link to in the show notes, that you can go look at, and you'll understand the difference between formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence.
I read the NASB, just to let you know, because it's the Bible I've been reading for decades and that I've memorized most of the Scripture out of. So go check out that Real Truth. Real Quick. If you're just starting, the New Living Translation I highly recommend to you. The NET Bible is free and online. The ESV is certainly a lot of places that is excellent and as close to the NASB as anything that's out there, and then a lot of you guys read the NIV.
Here's what I would say. When people ask me, "What Bible should I read?" I go, "The Bible you're going to read," and make sure in reading it you don't just read it. The goal is not to get through your Bible; the goal is to get your Bible through you. So here we go. We see in 2 Samuel 24 it says, "The anger of the Lord burned against Israel." The ESV says it was kindled against Israel.
Then the NASB says, "…and it incited David against them…" The ESV goes ahead and says that it is God, and he incited David against Israel by getting David to go and number Israel and Judah. Now, I'm going to introduce to you a Bible problem. I told you 1 Chronicles, chapter 21, is the corollary text, and this is what 1 Chronicles 21:1 says: "Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel."
So what are we going to do with this? First Chronicles 21:1 says Satan stood up against Israel and influenced David, and 2 Samuel 24:1 says God made David do this. Here's the answer. You need to know something. God is sovereign. We do not believe there are two equal powers on earth. There is not a good and an evil that are equal and opposite forces that are having a tournament with one another to see who can win.
There is one Sovereign and there is one Lord, and his name is Jehovah. His name is Yahweh. He is Father, Son, and Spirit. The Devil is God's Devil, and that Devil, we know, is not able to do anything unless the Lord gives him permission. One of the things you and I need to know is that God is not even capable of tempting us, but he does test us, and one of the ways he tests us is by letting the Evil One tempt us.
What God is doing right here at the very end of David's life and what should have been a sign of grace to the man who was about to be king is he was going to remind by letting David be the one who took it on the chin. When leaders take it on the chin, a lot of folks suffer. All of us are leaders, and when we're not doing what God wants us to do, our neighbors suffer, our wives suffer, our husbands suffer, our children suffer. So pay attention here, church.
God allowed David to be tempted in a way that God knew David was vulnerable, and David was not modeling for Solomon what Solomon needed to be consumed with. The Scriptures talk about how the sins of a father go to the third and the fourth generations. That's not a family curse. There's a Real Truth. Real Quick. on family curses, which we'll put a link to and you can go back and look at and see why you don't have to worry about if you have to cast out the demon of rebellion or the demon of alcohol or the demon of porn addiction that's in your family.
What you have to do is cast out the demon of sin and rebellion against God that's in the family of Adam and the family of Eve, and Jesus is the means to do that. Go back and listen to that Real Truth. Real Quick. on that particular link. Let me tell you what's happening here. When it says in the Scripture the sins of a father go to the third and fourth generation, it's just saying you learn a lot from your daddy. He is your discipler, a lot of times. You learn to roll the way he rolls.
If your daddy is walking in ungodliness, you're not trained in godliness; you're trained in apathy. You're trained in disrespect. You're trained to lean on your own understanding. You're trained to live according to emotion or the wisdom of man if you have an ungodly father. So, Dad, by the way, do you have your Bible open right now? Do you have your journal open? Are you taking notes? You're already modeling for your son, your daughter, and others, one way or the other, if you have something to learn or if you're just going through some religious moment.
God allowed Satan to test David. The writer of 2 Samuel went ahead and said God did it because, ultimately, God is accountable. Why is this plague here that we're in the middle of right now? The answer: because God allowed it. Why are there tornadoes? The answer: because God allowed it. This world is not the world God created. This world, as it says in Romans 8, is longing for redemption. This is the world sinners create.
God is still Lord of heaven and earth, but we gave ourselves away to a deceiver, to the Prince of this world…not the King but to the Prince of this world…who is an accuser and a liar and who comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and we follow him. So the world we have is a mess, and it has tornadoes, divorce, abuse, death, and novel coronaviruses.
Frankly, it should make all of us not love this world and should have all of us longing for what God intended, and we should celebrate that God in his grace makes a way back to what he intended. You're going to see that even today. So David… There are a lot of folks who speculate about what's about to happen here, but this is what it says:
"The king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, 'Go about now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and register the people, that I may know the number of the people.' But Joab said to the king, 'Now may the ** Lord ** your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see; but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?'"
Joab was saying, "David, why are you doing this? God hasn't told you to take a census. What are you up to?" We can only speculate. David was probably setting Solomon up for success, and David had his eyes on the wrong thing at this moment. David thought he was going to set his child up for success by giving him a mighty army and showing Solomon all of the men of war who were available to him.
I'm going to keep pushing back to Real Truth. Real Quick. episodes so you can go and listen to these things. How much of an inheritance should you leave for your child? I've answered that in a Real Truth. Real Quick. Some people believe the way to set their child up for greatness is to give them a great trust fund, a great inheritance financially.
Go listen to that Real Truth. Real Quick. Let me just say, there's some subjectivity on how much generational wealth you should leave to succeeding generations, but there is no ambiguity in Scripture about what you should leave with your posterity in terms of their affection for and their commitment to God and his Word. David had his eyes, if you will, a bit off the ball.
Here's a good note for all of us. Remember what our job is. As we live authentically, we are to admonish each other faithfully and counsel biblically. Joab fell short here. He did the right thing by saying to David, "I don't know if I'd do that, David," but he relented. He relented too quickly. He didn't open up God's Word and tell David what I'm about to show you from God's Word David should have done.
He didn't remind David of things that ultimately were true, and he became, at that point, a guy who probably wanted to remain the commander of David's army more than he wanted to remind David of God's commands. Don't make that mistake in your Community Groups. Be faithful to the end. So Joab said, "Why would you do that? David, I hope God gives you a ton of men you can go to war with, but why are you going to count them?"
Unfortunately, because of Joab's lack of appropriately widening the circle and doing what God would have him do or because David just bullied through it, it says in verse 4, "Nevertheless, the king's word prevailed against Joab and against the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to register the people of Israel." And they numbered them.
We're going to find out there were anywhere between 1.3 to 1.5 million individuals who were numbered during this particular census.Pick it up with me now in verse 10. This is what it says: "Now David's heart troubled him after he had numbered the people." What a great little Scripture for us to focus on. Our hearts are never satisfied with sin.
How many times have you done things going in that you knew God's Word said, "I wouldn't go there. I wouldn't click on that. I wouldn't speak that way. I wouldn't live out of that emotion," that would just go, "But it's going to feel good. It's going to make me feel powerful. It's going to make me be prideful as I give to my son a mighty nation. I can tell him what I have set up for him to be successful." But we know it's not the right thing to do, and dadgum! if right there on the other side of sin and rebellion against God we're just like, "Ugh."
Sin always leaves a bad aftertaste. It's never a blessing. It's always a lie. Many of us have lived this moment with David. The second we're done with that sweet nectar of sin, the poison of the aftertaste of the bitterness of the rebellion against God does more than upset our stomachs. Let us remember that. Can I just encourage you to go back and read your journal about times on the back side of your census and to remember the pain of disobedience you felt so you can benefit from it even today?
One of the things I tell guys in the midst of facing the horror of their choices is, "Hey, don't waste this pain. Journal it, because believe it or not, you're going to forget this moment. You're going to forget how awful and bitter and hateful this is to your soul, and you're going to go back." We all do, like dogs to vomit, like pigs to slop. If we're careful to memorialize it in the way we should, to keep those scars ever-present before us, we're going to be less likely to go back there.
So, sin never satisfies. David found that out right away in verse 10. "Now David's heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the ** Lord **, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done.'" Now the question is…What had David done that was such a great sin? We already know he had done something wrong. Some scholars debate a number of different reasons about why he had done that.
Some people would say he was exhibiting pride, as I made mention of just a second ago, in putting his confidence in the power of the number of his people. He wasn't trusting in the promise of God he made to Abraham that God would multiply the people himself. Some people speculate David was taking a census because he wanted to be able to tax the people and get more wealth for himself or, some would say, there was no clear command of God to take a census. That's true, but there's also never a command in Scripture to never take a census.
I do want to just stick this in right here. Part of us starting a work in South Dallas… I want you to use this. This is going to be helpful to you. I was in a meeting with leaders in South Dallas, and they were talking about the importance of the census. Our government determines how much representation we'll have based on census information. It determines how much government benefits will be allotted to specific areas based on census information.
So fill out the census information. I think there are a lot of people who are fearful if they fill it out the government is going to use that as wild conspiracy theories. I have news for you. If you have an Amazon Dot or an Echo in your home, they don't need any more information; they can listen to you anytime they want. If you own an iPhone, they can listen to you anytime they want. So if you want a conspiracy theory, go that route.
Fill out your census information. I would tell you, especially in communities where there's maybe an insecurity about the government, even a concern that they're going to use this to hand them over to immigration officials… It's appropriate that immigration laws are enforced, but the census is not going to be the means through which that is done. So all of us ought to fill out the census. God doesn't forbid a census, and it's not unwise. In fact, it's wise to respond to census information in your home. That's how resources are going to be allocated.
All right. Here we go. In 2 Samuel, we know what David had done was an offense to the Lord, and we're trying to figure out a little bit why. I'm going to show you in just a moment, but let me show you what's going to happen here, first of all. It says David's heart was troubled, and he said, "I've sinned greatly," in verse 10. He asks for God to take away the iniquity of his servant, for he knows he has acted foolishly.
Verse 11: "When David arose in the morning, the word of the ** Lord ** came to the prophet Gad, David's seer[prophet], saying, 'Go and speak to David, "Thus the **Lord **says, 'I am offering you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I will do to you.'"' So Gad came to David and told him…"
If you go to the 1 Chronicles passage, you're going to see the first one doesn't say seven; it says three. There's probably what's called a textual error here. The Bible never contradicts itself. What is true in 2 Samuel is true in 1 Chronicles. What's in 2 Samuel 24 doesn't contradict, if it's accurately manuscripted, what's in 1 Chronicles 21. Probably, Chronicles is correct. The manuscript evidence… All manuscripts are are handwritten copies of the original.
We don't have the original autographs of Scripture.The first time Moses wrote it down or whoever that particular author of Scripture was… We don't have any original copies. Why? Because we'd probably worship the copies, and God doesn't want us to worship the copies; he wants us to worship and follow him. There is some debate about what was here, but let me just tell you that the right answer… If you go back and read the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 21, I think the 1 Chronicles passage is correct, so it should read not seven but three.
If you don't know anything about textual criticism, then introduce yourself to it. There's a message we'll link to at the bottom called Why the Bible Can Be Trusted where I specifically talk about the manuscript evidence of your Bible and why it, amongst all ancient Scriptures, can be trusted. Ever heard the term textual criticism, higher and lower? Get that message Why the Bible Can Be Trusted and check it out.
"So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, 'Shall ** [three] **years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes…'" That's the second option. "Or shall there be three days' pestilence in your land?"
Now, don't read ahead. You have God who came to you and said, "You have three options. Do you want three years, basically, of famine; do you want somebody to pursue you, an enemy that would come before you and pursue you for three months, an all-out assault; or do you want three days of a plague?" What would you choose? Well, David chose the three days, and here's why.
This is what he says: "'Now consider and see what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.' Then David said to Gad, 'I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the ** Lord ** for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.'"David said, "God is either going to be involved with the famine or he's going to be involved with the pestilence. I'll take the three hard days as opposed to the three hard years, and what I don't want to do is ever entrust myself to hard men."
The Lord disciplines those he loves, but God always does it perfectly and mercifully and graciously. If you're under the discipline of the Lord right now, thank him for his perfect love, his desire to form you into the man or woman he wants you to be, and thank him for his mercy. The Scripture says, "The lovingkindness of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never fail. Great is his faithfulness." So David chose to trust in God. "Let me fall into the hand of God, not of man."
Verse 15. Watch this. This is pretty great. "So the ** Lord ** sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died." Because of the king's disobedience, 70,000 Israelites died. Sin is never isolated. Sin is never just ours. There are always others downstream of us or around us who suffer from our disobedience. It should be a source of great horror to us when we don't model faithfulness and attentiveness to God.
Now, what was David's mistake? I'm going to share with you what the mistake was, and it's going to encourage you with how we finish this particular text. I mentioned what some scholars have speculated on, but I'm going to show you what God's Word says is the reason. You can find it way back there in Exodus in chapter 30, verses 14-15. God is giving various laws that we should follow. Remember, there had been other censuses that happened before this.
If you went back, you could read in the book of Numbers, and you would find out that when the census was taken in the book of Numbers, the command of Exodus was followed, but when you get to 2 Samuel 24, David wasn't concerned about following the law of the Lord. David was obviously motivated by something other than honoring God. The census wasn't the problem. David's inattentiveness to the Word of God was. The reason he did it was. And we know he didn't do it in a way that was honoring God, because he ignored what God said you should do.
Watch this. This is the sin of David in this particular instance. Exodus 30:14: "Everyone who is numbered [during a census] , from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the Lord." It talks in verse 13, which we're not going to read, about what the contribution was."The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less…when you give the contribution to the **** Lord **** to make atonement for yourselves."
You see, what God was establishing in the book of Exodus was that he was the Sovereign over Israel. You don't take a census so you know how many guys you have to go to war with. You don't take a census so you know how much to tax people. God said, "What we're going to do is we're going to take a census every now and then, and we're going to acknowledge how many people are guilty before the Lord. Every time you take a census, I want you to be reminded of all of the people God in his grace has offered to redeem through temple services and temple sacrifices."
It's God who sustains the nation of Israel, not mighty David, not mighty kings. It's the Lord who provides for the people. When you take a census, be reminded of all of the people that God in his grace is looking over sins (as it says in Romans 3) for a season until the final sacrifice comes and you make atonement for them, you ransom them. In other words, you buy them back from their debt of sin against God through a certain offering. Know that all that happens in the temple to redeem the people is for all of the people of the land if they'll just trust in him.
David wasn't concerned about reminding the people that they ultimately needed grace and mercy from the Lord. David, it appears, in 2 Samuel 24, was concerned about how powerful and great he was as a king. Let me give you a couple of other simple cross-references that I think are really helpful for us in this particular moment. We're going to find out in this instance why the plague came. The plague didn't come because of the census; the plague came because we had a godless leader who is always a plague to a land.
Dad, I'm going to say it to you again. If you're not earnestly seeking God, it is a curse and a plague to your family. Mom, friends, communities, if you're in a community with other people and you're not diligently seeking the Lord, it is a plague to your community. It may not turn into 70,000 people dying, but it's going to turn into 70,000 spiritual deaths. So take the Word of God seriously.
These are just a couple of fun cross-references. There's no way men can be ransomed or redeemed except by the means through which God has said men can be redeemed. In Exodus, it's telling us how much was supposed to be given for each person to be ransomed back to the Lord, if you will, and you're going to find out in a moment what David does when the plague is increasing and moving into Jerusalem. God is going to have an atonement or ransom that is made.
Here's what you need to understand: there is no way to redeem men except through the method and the means through which God has ordained. Micah 6:7 says, "Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn [as a sacrifice] for my rebellious acts…" Of course not! No, what's required of me is my soul.
There is no way to redeem yourself, as part of the citizenry of Adam in this world that is ransomed, if you will, held captive by sin… There is no way out of that through any works of men. Micah 6 is just saying, "You can't even give your child. You can't give a thousand rams, a river of oil. No. You need something else." What is that something else? Well, that something else is what God said would be acceptable in his sight.
Go read Psalm 49 at some point. I don't have the time, necessarily, to read it with you right now. You might say, "Todd, you've got nothing but time today. There's nobody stuck in child care." Well, be careful or I'll read it right now. I'd love to. But go read Psalm 49, because in Psalm 49, it talks about, again, the same kind of idea, that God is not looking for what you can do to redeem yourself. There's nothing you can do.
That's going to bring us right back here to 2 Samuel, chapter 24. It says, "So the ** Lord ** sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men…died." **Verse 16:"When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem…" Specifically now, as it moves farther south."…to destroy it, the Lord relented…"** Remember David saying, "I'd rather trust in the mercy of the Lord than the mania of abusive enemies and men"?
It says, "…the ** Lord ** relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, 'It is enough! Now relax your hand!' And the angel of the **** Lord ** was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite."** If you go to 1 Chronicles, chapter 21, you're going to find out that the guy we call Araunah in 2 Samuel 24 has another name: Ornan. (I'm going to use Ornan from here on out, because it's a whole lot easier to pronounce than Araunah.)
Anyway, watch this. This is really important. It says the mercy of the Lord kicked in when it got to Jerusalem and came, specifically, to Ornan the Jebusite. The Jebusites used to dwell where the City of David was, and one of those Jebusites still lived right there by the City of David. Now, if you've ever been to Israel, you're going to find out the temple mount was right there by the City of David and, some people believe, almost inside what some people would think the City of David is today. It's an interesting study.
All that to say, right here by David, where he's at, there's something called Mount Moriah, there's something called Golgotha, and there's something called the threshing floor of Araunah or Ornanthe Jebusite. Now why is that important? You're going to be encouraged. Check this out. It says the Lord sent this pestilence. The angel got there.
In verse 17, it says, "Then David spoke to the ** Lord ** when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, 'Behold, it is I who have sinned…'" Watch what David is going to say here as a leader. This is what leaders should do in this moment. "It's not the people; it's me." David is seeing the fallout of his sin against all people, but David takes responsibility.
"'Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father's house.' So Gad came to David that day and said to him, 'Go up, erect an altar to the ** Lord ** on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.' David went up according to the word of Gad, just as the Lord had commanded.
Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants crossing over toward him; and Araunah went out and bowed his face to the ground before the king." Watch this guy, this godly citizen of Israel, this Jebusite. "Then Araunah said, 'Why has my lord the king come to his servant?' And David said, 'To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the ** Lord **, that the plague may be held back from the people.'
Araunah said to David, 'Let my lord the king take and offer up what is good in his sight. Look, the oxen for the burnt offering [they're mine; I'll give them to you] , the threshing sledges [I'll give them to you] and the yokes of the oxen for the wood [I'll give them to you] . Everything, O king, Araunah gives to the king.' And Araunah said to the king, 'May the ** Lord ** your God accept [all that you're going to offer] .'" He was like, "Hey, I'm all in. I know God demands a sacrifice for sin, so I'm going to give you what you need."
David says, "No…" This is a great line. "…but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the ** Lord ** my God which cost me nothing." Here's what's kind of amazing. When we acknowledge our sin before God, all it costs us is the truth. So many men are so prideful they won't even say the truth that we're sinners and there's nothing we could ever do to be appeased before God.
This is where David is a man after God's own heart. David didn't take free grace. He didn't just wink at sin and go, "Good! God even made provision for sin. I'll take it." No. David knew it was going to cost him something. Now look. It just costs us, like I said, the truth and confessing, and for so many men, their pride is what keeps them from coming to God, but it cost God the Father something.
He did for us what we couldn't do. He offered his Son. He gave the life of Jesus. Guess where? The same mountain that there's a sacrifice about to be offered, right there on Mount Moriah, Golgotha, where Isaac was offered up. Same place. That's the exact same place David was: right here, offering a sacrifice for the sins of the king and the people according to the census God required. God is telegraphing what is going on.
Let me read to you some texts that do a great job of capturing some of this. In 2 Chronicles 3:1, it says, "Then Solomon…" When he went to build the temple God told David he couldn't build because he was a man of blood. "Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of…" This is why I gave you the name Ornan earlier. "…Ornan the Jebusite." It's the same guy.
Mount Moriah. It's where Isaac was going to be offered by Abraham and God said, "Nope. Micah is going to remind you you can't offer your own son as a sacrifice. I'm going to give you the ram." That ram later was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. The sacrifices of David in 2 Samuel 24 were on Golgotha, the hill where God did what man can't do at great cost to God. He didn't just wink at sin. He paid for sin for you and me.
I just thought this was a great little text to show the seriousness with which God tells us we should take his Word. Do you know what's interesting? As God set David up to pass on leadership of the nation to his son Solomon, what David should have done was reminded him, above all things, not to trust in an army, not to trust in his ability to tax the people.
What Solomon needed to hear from David was, "Above all things, trust in the Lord and do good. Solomon, dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. I don't need to give you an army of 1.5 million fighting men. I need to let you know the Lord God is your army." In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God said, "When you appoint a king over you in the land… When that king becomes king, he should write down the word of the law in the presence of the priests," so he didn't skip over any sections.
Go read Deuteronomy 17:14-20 and, as a leader of your family or a leader in your Community Group, as a leader of your own heart, just ask, "Am I attentive to the Word of God so that before I do anything I'm going to know what the Word of God says and I execute it?" When David was establishing the next generation, what he should have done was what you and I should do in establishing the next generation.
"These things which we have heard from each other in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men that will teach others also." We don't tell men, "You're going to be fine because you have money, because you have armies, because you have power, because you don't have a plague." No. You tell men they're going to be fine because the Lord their God is with them. What David should have told his son Solomon was this. This is 1 Chronicles 28:9-10:
"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be courageous and act."
Watermark, what's behind me is not the church. What I'm speaking to is the church, and the Lord has told you that you can build the temple of the Lord. First Corinthians 3:16 says, "Don't you know that your body is the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you?" So what are you doing to build the temple? You know it's only through the grace of God that you can become a holy man or woman. By trusting in God's provision for you on Golgotha does the plague of sin move past you.
God gave Solomon the right to build the temple, and David said, "Be courageous and act. Get about it, and just know that he's there if you seek him. But if you ignore him, it's going to be more expensive than a 70,000-person plague. It's going to cost you forever." There are a lot of people in the world right now who are concerned about the coronavirus and the plague. You need to let them know there's a God who is so concerned about them he provided for them what they could never provide for themselves.
As you, in your own life, become the men and women God wants you to be, as you become the people of God, the church of God, Christ in you the hope of glory for a watching world, would you tell the world, as his ambassador, what Christ has done for them? I'm so grateful for you, church. I'm so proud of you, church.
May we not be flippant with the Word of God. May we not think that passing on to our posterity wealth or power or privilege or anything man can give is the primary thing we should pass on. What we should pass on is an affection for God's Word and the knowledge that if they seek him they will find him.
Grace is available to you and me, and grace should be made known to others through you and me. So we proclaim him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we might present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose God has left you here to labor, according to his power which mightily works within you.
So be about it, church. I'm grateful to be a member of this body and a person who's receiving the gracious gifts of God with you. It has been fun to study God's Word with you. I look forward to doing it again. I hope you do it with each other. Until we meet again soon, we'll keep you updated. Let me pray for you, and then let's charge into being faithful in our neighborhoods, in our communities today.
Father, thank you for this time. Thank you for my friends. Would you be glorified as we try to live as your people by seeking you with all of our hearts, by leaning not on our own understanding but in all our ways acknowledging you. You are a good and kind God, and we love you. In Jesus' name, amen.
Thanks, gang. Have a great week of worship.