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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
 sites.google.com/site/rcoamaru/
 
Title:On The Mount Of The Lord It Will Be Provided
Text:1 Chronicles 21:1-22:1 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Covenant faithfulness
 
Preached:2019
Added:2020-04-10
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


1 CHRONICLES 21:1-22:1

(Reading: John 19:16b-27; 1 Chronicles 21:1-22:1)

 

On The Mount Of The Lord It Will Be Provided!

 

 

Congregation in our Lord Jesus Christ…

            Our text seems simple enough, doesn’t it? I mean, David got too big for his boots, didn’t he? After seeing how blessed King David had been with his many victories, isn’t this just a case of it all going to his head? “Pride comes before a fall,” and all that.

            It does seem to be a simple open and shut case. That’s the danger of depending upon your earthly possessions. Like the rich man Jesus talked about, the one who was going to build a bigger barn – until the Lord took his life away.

            But it’s not that simple, is it? That rich man paid the price for his vanity. David didn’t. Or at least not what he thought he should have had.

            So, let’s take it from the beginning. What is really happening? The very first verse says, “Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.”

                        That’s it – the devil made him do it!

            How many people still today use this excuse?

                        They say, “The devil made me do it!”

            The commentator C.F. Keil explains, though, that Satan is mentioned here to show how ungodly David had become. From James 4 verse 7 we know that we must resist the devil and flee from him. This time David didn’t do that. He allowed himself to be tempted. In fact, so set was he on his idea of making Israel into a military state – a state strong in its army instead of depending on its covenant with the Lord – he overrules Joab’s objection.

            And it’s quite something that Joab was objecting! He could be a most ruthless operator himself at times. No qualms for Joab about putting Absalom to death while he was hanging helpless in that tree!

            Joab’s seen this attitude before, though. King Saul had had this same pride blow up just before he fell so ignominiously.

                                   

            Congregation, SERVING THE LORD IS NOT A NUMBER’S GAME. This is our first aspect to the test.

            You see, David had it all going for him. He had defeated all those around him who were any threat at all. He was on a high!

            But there was still what was inside the nation. From his own people he had faced two severe civil wars. Both times many of his subjects had suddenly and viciously turned against him. He was going to count them all as his own?

            Now, taking a census otherwise would have been fine within the Lord’s guideline. This was an ego trip, though.

            What? Did he really dare to believe they were now all his?

            It’s interesting, in this light, that in the parallel passage in 2nd Samuel 24, God is described as the One who incited David. In fact, verse 1 there states that God incited David against Israel.

            So, who’s right? Is Chronicles here wrong?

            Indeed not. The Lord still incited David. But here we see the way he did that – for here Satan is merely the minister of God’s purposes. Unlike many Christians believe today, the devil is under the Lord’s control.

            So – for whatever reason – this has to happen. Here is a preparing for something. Something that must be very important if God uses David this way.

            Joab obeyed David’s command. Though he did not do that completely, as he left out the Levites. By law he couldn’t count them anyway. And he left out the Benjaminites. After a previous punishment they were very small in number.

            But all the same, he did disobey the order. As much as he was politically able, he showed his point. This was repulsive to him! That’s how obviously egotistical it was. David plainly ignored the Lord!

            C.S. Lewis once described David’s attitude shown here. He wrote, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you.”

            It’s easy to slip into! As the saying goes, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Still, it should never have happened from David. SERVING THE LORD IS NOT A NUMBER’S GAME.

            This now struck David because the Lord punished Israel. He realised how terribly wrong he had been. Suddenly his soul was wretched because of what he’d done. He pleads with his Lord in verse 8, “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.”

            The king is humbled. He confesses the unbelieving way he’s been acting. He knows he’s shot!

            Dear friend, have you ever felt the same? Has it ever gripped your heart when you went against God? Did you know then you were worse than a pagan? And that was with a more deliberate evil thought than some of the worst of them!

            But especially with David – the king of the covenant people; the anointed one himself – how much more wouldn’t that have hurt the Lord? He was the man described as being “after God’s own heart”. He was to be the one to restore the Lord’s peace in the land. This was what Moses had said so many centuries before they could have the peace in the land. So how could God fulfil his promise through David if he was just like everyone else – full of sin?

            The king was meant to be a shepherd. He was supposed to look after the sheep. Now they were going to get slaughtered!

            I mean, David didn’t lack anything to be that king. The Lord doesn’t place us where we also cannot draw on him for strength and guidance.

            The apostle Paul reminds us of this in Galatians 6. In the verses 1 and 2 there he writes, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”

            And then he says what happens if we don’t think of others – especially God. For verse 3 declares, “if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

            “Don’t forget what you’re really like,” the apostle says. Something David knew well enough because of his previous failings. But he does it again!

 

            ‘The number’s game,’ that trying to give the credit to yourself and so build up your own petty empire, it only ultimately brings you shame. And so we come to a second aspect in this text. For now we will see that DISOBEYING THE LORD ONLY BRINGS YOU SHAME.

            Sin brings suffering. And what suffering David had to choose! “David,” says the Lord in verse 10, “you’ve got three options.”

            Yet three choices to do what? They’re all devastating! And they are only choices to punish others – not himself!

            So, why not David? After all, David had been personally punished in the past. Still, here there is a greater preparing going on. The people must be cleansed. And David would be punished by not being the good shepherd who looks after his sheep.

            Verses 11 and 12 are quite explicit about this. Through Gad the prophet we hear these words, “Thus says the LORD, ‘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 the LORD, pestilence on the land, with the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.”

            It’s terribly grim! Sin always is because it brings judgment. It has consequences!

            But note the way David responds. He throws himself before the Lord. He pleads with the prophet Gad, “I am in great distress. Let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is very great, but do not let me fall into the hand of men.”

            David’s going to hold on to his God, even though, notice, it will strike the very thing he took his pride in! Seventy thousand men of Israel are killed! His mighty army is devastated! And yet David’s faith is proved!

            Verse 15 is most vivid about this. It says, “And God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, the LORD saw, and he relented from the calamity. And he said to the angel who was working destruction, “It is enough; now stay your hand.”

            Congregation, you may well ask, ‘What’s going on?’ Well, what was happening was the whole theme of Chronicles making itself quite clear.

            You see, though the few chapters before our text had spoken of David’s military conquests, why did they happen? Very superficially we would say, because the Lord was with him.

            But which greater plan was at work? How was this leading up to who all of Scripture is really all about? In which way is this the way to Jesus? Why is it his Story – the vital history?

            Well, why did the angel stop? The time wasn’t finished. Not every part of Israel had been ravaged. Many more than 70,000 men should be dead. What was happening?

            To answer this we need to take a look at where the angel had stopped. The text goes into some detail about this place. It is the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. The angel is hovering there, holding that sword in his hand over Jerusalem. And below him is David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, absolutely prostrate.

            What an expectant scene. The divine judgment is waiting. The greatest plague was yet to come. And David sees it! Right before his eyes, death stares him in the face. So why does God do this now?

            Here we need to go back in time. When did the Lord cry out before in Israel’s history to stop death? Because then the Lord had also said death had to happen.

            Ah, it was when Abraham was about to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. There on Mount Moriah the knife was placed over the boy. It was certain death. But God cried out!

            Congregation, this is Mount Moriah! The threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite was on the same hill!

            Not that David would have been thinking of it then. He only sees the sacrifice he should be bearing. As he says to the Lord while clothed in sackcloth with his elders, “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, O LORD my God, be against me and my father’s house. But do not let the plague be on your people.”

            But that doesn’t happen. His family isn’t punished. At least not yet. Because the Lord tells David to build an altar to him right there on the threshing floor.

            It might not seem so strange. Yet sacrifices should really have been made at the tabernacle at Gibeon. Though – not now! This would be the place from now on.

 

            You see, the number’s game - which is your own selfish gain - only brings you shame - for you’ll suffer for it sooner or later – because THE GLORY IS ALONE IN THE LORD’S NAME! We come to the third aspect to the text.

            It was for the sake of himself that God held back the last deadly blow! It was because of what he was going to ultimately do that the Lord provided Abraham with a ram, and David with the animals bought from Ornan.

            The promise of God in Genesis 22 verse 14 is being fulfilled. For there we read that on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.

            God was keeping that promise. And one thousand years later he would keep his promise for all eternity. Then, on this very same place, his own Son would bear the sin of the world on the cursed cross of Calvary!

            The writer of Chronicles was showing how the Lord prepared the way for the temple to be placed here. But on the same hill, though just beyond the city wall, all those sacrifices ever to be offered in the temple here, together with David’s and Abraham’s, would be fulfilled!

            David wouldn’t have thought at all of this place as the spot for the temple. But when he called on the Lord for the offering God answered with fire from heaven on that altar! Mankind – put aside your petty dreams! Let your sin cause you distress! Because it is in spite of who we are, God yet shows his love to us!

            David knew that the mercy of the Lord was far greater than what he would get from his fellow men. Could he ever have imagined, though, that the Lord’s love would be shown through his sin?

            It all proves that while David’s family is special in God’s plan, and through his line the Messiah will come, it is yet all of grace. There’s absolutely no credit on David’s side!

            Congregation, God’s justice is stayed – it’s stopped – right where his presence would be in the temple. But it’s also halted on the same mount where his people would be saved eternally!

 

            Despite us, God works out his will. He is the most thoughtful Father there could ever be! For he doesn’t only promise with words, he shows decisive action!

            Children of God, look to him! Like David in verse 30, don’t dare go where the judgment of the angel’s sword could strike you down! THE GLORY IS ALONE IN THE LORD’S NAME.

            Dear believer, what a scene it is. We cannot know exactly everything going on, or why things are happening the way they are, but through the brokenness of it all, listen! It’s the Lord’s call! “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

            And it was. He was!

            Congregation, it wasn’t for no reason that Psalm 121 verse 1 sings about the lifting of eyes to the hills. Because it wasn’t the nice scenery those pilgrims they were thankful for. Nor was it either because that was simply the way they were going. Rather, it was the place to which they were going. It was where their God would meet them.

            THE GLORY IS ALONE IN THE LORD’S NAME. And it was he – Christ Jesus – who came in the Name of the Lord to reclaim his own. On this hill his death would be so shattering the earth would shake and the rocks split!

            This hill would never be the same again! The tombs would break open and the bodies of many holy people would come to life.

            Dear friend, may this sight strike you spiritually within, right now! Like the centurion and those others guarding and watching Jesus, may you too realise that this is the hill that changes everything! Because your soul is struck!

            Be terrified! Fall on your face as David did! Fear God as Abraham showed!

            And may the Roman Centurion’s confession be yours. For he exclaimed when Christ died, in Matthew 27:54, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

            On the mount of the Lord it was provided. But did he pay the price for you?

            Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray…

            O Lord Jesus, do visit our hearts right now by your Spirit.

                        Don’t leave any stone unturned in your plan for our good.

                                    Help us to trust your promise – it was fulfilled!

            And now in you we can forever enjoy the shalom – the peace – of the Jerusalem which is above.

                        Because the glory is in your Name, we pray, Amen.

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2019, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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