(Today’s post by Wayne Bunting)
1 Chronicles 21:1-22:1
1 Chronicles 21:1-22:1 follows a section in 1 Chronicles that details some of the conquering that King David did. Some of the things that he did are pretty amazing; he is definitely not someone who is playing around when it comes to doing battle. An interesting side note: Jesus has many similarities to David. David was an extremely compassionate man who cared deeply for others and especially for the Lord. He was meek and humble in this way. He was also a bold and brave warrior who was fearless in battle (as we see in the previous chapters). Jesus in his first coming came as a meek and humble servant. When He comes again He will come as a warrior riding on a war horse fighting and ultimately defeating the forces of darkness in Revelation.
In 1 Chronicles David, in his pride, took a census in order to determine his military strength. It was incited by Satan, so right away we see that it is bad. The Lord is angry with David and punishes him. But while the angel that is punishing Israel is attacking Jerusalem, God tells him to stop. Interestingly, the place where the angel stops is the threshing floor of a man named Araunah. A threshing floor was a place where farmers would separate the good part of their crop from the bad, especially with wheat. Many metaphors are seen in the Bible based on this. Interestingly this specific threshing floor is on Mount Moriah, the same mountain where Abraham was going to sacrifice Lot, and part of the same set of heights where Jesus died on the cross.
The idea of sacrificing to the Lord for the sake of the sins of the people is a common one in the Bible, especially the Old Testament. What we see in this chapter is that David seeks a means to keep the angel of death from punishing the people. So the Lord tells David to make an altar on the spot of what is a threshing floor. This altar is the beginnings of what will be the Jewish temple, a place where Israel’s sins as a nation would be atoned for. So this place has significant value and symbolism for God’s redemption of His people. Here we see that it is the place where the angel of death was prevented from carrying out its task of seeing the ultimate end of people’s sins.
Remember the angel of death in Exodus? The angel was going out over the whole land of Egypt and would kill the firstborn of everyone who did not have the blood of a sacrificed lamb over the doorpost of their home. God’s people had the covering of the blood, and the others did not, resulting in their death. Here in Chronicles we again see sin lead to its logical end: death, and once again we see a sacrifice take place to stave away its effects. The ultimate sacrifice is Jesus, who died in the same pattern of forgiving sins and preventing death. His sacrifice is the one to end all sacrifices. There is no more need for the sacrificing of animals because Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for sin once and for all.
What the Lord is doing is establishing His redemption of the world in and through His people. He is using the foolishness and sins of man to show Himself to the world, to show the world His grace, mercy, truth, and righteousness. He does this throughout the Bible which culminated in Christ. God told Abraham that his descendants (Israel) would be a blessing to all nations of the world (Genesis 22:18). Ultimately this means that the redemption of the world that He was setting up through His people Israel would be realized through Christ and the Holy Spirit’s subsequent working through His people, the church, as they bring Christ to the world. Through Christ the world will be given the option to be redeemed of their sins and death by the sacrifice of Jesus following the same pattern of redemption through sacrifice that is throughout the Old Testament.
So this section of the Bible in 1 Chronicles that seems to many as an example of how God is a mean and vengeful God is actually an example of how God is a caring and loving God, willing to redeem us despite our sin and stupidity. David had wondered for a while before this where the temple should be built (Psalms 132:1-5), and the Lord answered him despite his sins, providing a place for those sins to be redeemed.
The point of all of this is to show God’s redemption of the world. And the point of the redemption of the world is so that the world can enter back into relationship with God. We are able to commune with God if we are redeemed, and out of that communion comes a desire to serve the Lord. We see who God is through His redemption of us. As He redeems us we are allowed a glimpse into His grace and redemption the more we delve into knowing Him. This does not change the fact that He is Holy. He desires us to put away all sinful desires in order to remain in this fellowship. His grace is not to be taken advantage of. But it is to be understood as a loving act from a loving God who calls the world to know Him and to be free of death through the sacrifice of Jesus. So lets be who we are called to be as the church and delve deeply into who God is. And let’s take who He is to the lost in the world that are under spiritual oppression and the curse of death.