Monday, November 6, 2023

David builds an altar where Abraham offered up Isaac: The future site of Solomon's Temple

Here we find the last chapter of 2nd Samuel, the very last overview of the life of David and all that was done in the name of the Lord. King David had done so many great things, from defeating Goliath, to conquering enemy nations, to building up the nation economically and militarily. He had made his choices in the fear of God, trembling before the Lord and carefully ordering his life. He’d also made mistakes, terrible mistakes, but had repented from them, and given Himself into the hands of God almighty.

Now, we see in the last chapter of 2nd Samuel, a strange account, we see the account of when David called a census of the nation, to count all the young men of fighting age throughout Israel.

Something similar is done in the United States, I recall when I reached a certain age I had to register for a possible future military draft if it was necessary.

But this entire situation was connected with trouble in Israel. God was displeased with Israel, and the conduct of Israel.

This had to do with Satan, the adversary, provoking this census in David’s heart. According to 1 Chr. 21:1 Satan provoked the census. But God also provoked David toward this decision as well.

I’m tending to believe that Israel was involved in corruption, worship of foreign gods, and mistreating the poor.

Both God and Satan push it forward. I recall in my life, there’s been times where I’ve plotted to do something bad. Satan is influencing me to do something bad. I start making a plan to do something bad. Then I’m sure, for the purpose of teaching me my lesson, God says alright do it, see how it goes for you. Sometimes you parents know that as your kids get older, you can’t protect them anymore, and if they’re heart set on doing something bad, you end up saying well, good luck, and you’ll find out how bad it is if you go this route.

So I think something similar is going on here. David and Israel are doing bad, Satan is provoking it, David is allowing, so God says alright, fine, do it, let’s see how it goes for you.

It says this, in 2nd Samuel 24: Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”

2 So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”

3 But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”

4 The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel.”

So Joab advises David against it, but David overrules Joab and moves forward with the census.

The census ends up taking 9 months and 20 days, and then they return, it says, this: 
(verses 5-9)

“After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, south of the town in the gorge, and then went through Gad and on to Jazer. 6 They went to Gilead and the region of Tahtim Hodshi, and on to Dan Jaan and around toward Sidon. 7 Then they went toward the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah.

8 After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.”

9 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand.

So it’s reported back to King David, you have about 1.3 million fighting men available in both Israel and Judah. But David quickly realizes he shouldn’t have taken this course of action.

It’s interesting there will be times when I attempt to take a bad course of action, and God will prevent it. But then there are times when God will allow it, even move it forward, and it seems to be for the purpose of teaching me not to sin in the future. But at the time he allows it, even provokes it, to teach me something, or change me in some way.

David is immediately troubled by what he’s done.

It says in verses 10, “David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.””

Here we find our first point today, when we sin our conscience will be stricken, we will feel as if something is wrong. We will feel guilty. We will feel troubled. We will feel, I’ve done something bad.

That’s not just true for Christians. Even a person of the world will feel guilty when they steal or guilty when they cheat. We all have a moral law written in our minds which tells us there is right and wrong, good and evil.

David immediately prays and asks for God’s forgiveness.

We too should immediately bring our sin to God, pray, and ask for God’s forgiveness. If we’ve harmed someone else, we should go to them and ask for their forgiveness as well. If we’ve caused material harm, we should make amends.

But remember this wasn’t just about David, this was about the entire nation of Israel having provoked God by doing evil things.

So let’s see what happens next, in verses 11-15, “11 Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: 12 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’”

13 So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come on you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”

14 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”

15 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died.”

So we see judgment coming on the people of Israel, and many die in a great plague upon the land. It’s a disaster for the nation. So many die. But they have been by their actions, disobedient to God, harming one another, and God is correcting the nation.

Second point today, the judgment of God is real. He judges peoples, he judges nations, and he will deliver swift justice. We should remember that God is a just judge and put sin to death in our lives.

Otherwise there will be consequences. Either we kill sin by the Holy Spirit or sin begins to drive us away from God.

Next in verses 16-17, “When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

17 When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.”

Point number three today, David takes responsibility for his position as a leader. He takes responsibility for his family. He takes responsibility for himself. We should do the same. Let’s not play the victim. Let’s not pretend we’re oppressed. We need to take responsibility before God for what we’ve done.

So now the voice of God to the nation, the prophet Gad comes again to David and gives him new instructions from God.

It says this, in verses 18-21: "On that day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up, as the Lord had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”

“To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”

Point number four today, when all else fails it’s time to worship God. When you’re struggling, when you’ve messed up, when you don’t know what to do, put on that worship playlist on Youtube and start singing along. Sing out to God, worship God, built an altar to God, pray to God and turn your living room, your bed room, your bathroom into a sanctuary of God. Worship God in the storm.

Next, we see David purchasing this place from Araunah.

It says in verses 22-24: Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 Your Majesty, Araunah gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the Lord your God accept you.”

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

Point number five today, worshiping God will cost you something. It isn’t free. There will be a cost. It will cost time. It will cost service. It will cost money, giving tithes and offerings. It will cost you pain and struggle. Understand the high calling and the high cost of being a disciple of Jesus.

David refused to take the place for free from Araunah, he pays him for it, it needs to cost him something.

At dinner church we get a free meal, but we also pass the plates around, so we can give back, it shouldn’t cost us nothing, we should give back. Similarly when we follow Jesus faithfully, there will be a cost.

Lastly in verses 24-25, “So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. 25 David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.”

Point number six, obey God carefully. David obeyed the instructions from Gad very carefully. He went to Araunah and built an altar on his threshing floor. What if David had gone to gibeon and built an altar, or what if he’d gone to the threshing floor but prayed instead of built an altar? He would’ve missed God’s instructions. When God calls you to something, obey Him. When you read a command in his word, obey it carefully. That’s not always easy. But a little attention to detail can go a long way toward proper obedience.

Lastly, for point number seven, we want to understand why this is the last chapter of 2nd Samuel. Why?

Well, it’s because it shows King David was just a sinner, who struggled with pride, I tend to think we initiated this census out of pride that was inspired by Satan, and God played it through so David could learn his lesson, and to bring us to this moment right here at the threshing floor of Aruanah.

David builds an altar at the exact same place that hundreds of years earlier, Abraham came, and built an altar there as well when he was told to do so by God. And Abraham was told to offer up his only son Isaac on the altar. But at the last minute God said, stop, I myself will provide a sacrifice.

And then guess what? One day many years later, King Solomon, David’s son would come to that same place. It says this, in 2nd Chronicles 3:1, “Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David.”

This threshing floor on Mount Moriah would be the place where the temple would be built where God would dwell with Israel. David didn’t know it then, but he was at the same spot Abraham came to, to sacrifice Isaac before God. And the same spot that one day his son would build the temple upon.

And one day, I believe, will be the place where Jesus Christ rules and reigns over the Earth during the 1,000 year millennial reign of Christ. Imagine that! The same spot, it could be.

So to review, applications include: 

1. When we sin our conscience will be stricken

2. The judgment of God is real

3. David takes responsibility for his actions

4. When all else fails it’s time to worship God

5. Count the cost of being a disciple

6. Obey God carefully

7. Past, present and future will all line up just right if we follow God’s will for our lives