True Sacrifice — 1 Chronicles 21-23

Howdy, howdy! Great to see you back again.

Today’s reading is focused around the end of David’s reign in Israel. As you’ve probably noticed there has been no mention of some of David’s seamier episodes, but the theme of Chronicles is to demonstrate how prosperity and blessings come from faith in and obedience to the LORD.

True Sacrifice — After David’s disastrous census — amazingly enough even shallow Joab sees something wrong with it (21:3) — God decides to make the census meaningless through plague on Israel. David is devastated at what his foolishness has wrought and he earnestly seeks God’s mercy for the nation. Gad the prophet, on command from the LORD, tells David to build an altar on the hill north of Jerusalem, the threshing floor of Ornan (or Araunah). When David hurriedly approaches Ornan to obtain the area in question for offering sacrifice to God, Ornan offers to give David outright the threshing floor, oxen (for sacrifice), and threshing sled (for wood fuel). David refuses to take it as a gift on the principle that he should not make a “burnt offering which costs me nothing.” So, he buys it, makes the offering, and spares Israel any further plague.

In Romans 12:1 we’re told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Does this principle of David’s above apply here, too? And is your living sacrifice costing you anything? Popularity? Time? Effort? Money? Are you yielding to God’s will, when you’d rather be doing your own? Are you keeping your mouth shut, when you’d rather open it? Are you opening you mouth, when you’d rather keep it shut? Are you doing things you’d rather avoid? Are you avoiding things you’d rather do? Are you persevering, when yielding to the world would be much easier? Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote what is considered in Christendom to be a Christian classic during WWII entitled the Cost of Discipleship. In this book he warned against “cheap discipleship”.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Willing to fulfill his role — I think I would have been pretty disappointed to have received the news that I couldn’t build a Temple to the Lord. It wasn’t like David didn’t have enough wealth to do a good job; he seems to have collected a lot of building material in preparation for Solomon’s effort. It wasn’t like David didn’t have the right heart; he was the man after God’s own heart. It just wasn’t David’s job; he had shed too much blood in the his engaging the battles of the LORD. But to David’s great credit, he takes the news pretty well, and submits to passing the baton to Solomon. He collects materials, finds the son who will succeed him on the throne and finish the work, and commissions that son with great advice:

“”Now, my son, the LORD be with you that you may be successful, and build the house of the LORD your God just as He has spoken concerning you. “Only the LORD give you discretion and understanding, and give you charge over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. “Then you will prosper, if you are careful to observe the statutes and the ordinances which the LORD commanded Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and courageous, do not fear nor be dismayed.” 1 Chronicles 22:11-13, NAS95.

True humility is rare. Willingness to submit to a role God wants you to play in his grand scheme is rare. David and Jonathan both seemed to have shared this great characteristic. Would that all of God’s people — men and women, married and single, elders and folks in the pew, husbands and wives, parents and children — had such attitudes. Selfish ambition is never pretty, never helpful, never uniting — never.

See you tomorrow, Lord willing.

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
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