There is an old saying in ministry that states, “Where God guides, God provides.” This is certainly true! The Bible shows that whenever the Lord engages His people in His purposes, He ALWAYS provides the means for them to do that which He commanded. God does not put His people in positions that require courage without also providing the courage. God does not put His people in positions that require strength without also providing the strength. According to Genesis Chapter 22, Abraham recognized that God is even the provider of faith and the means to receive it as “Jehovah Jireh,” the Lord Who Provides. There, Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice his “only begotten son” as a burnt offering. Before Abraham did so, God interrupted Abraham to provide another sacrifice in Isaac’s place. Abraham knew that God would do so and rejoiced when God did. Yet the circumstances show that God was testing Abraham’s faith the whole time, showing that God provided not only the sacrifice in place of Isaac, but also the faith Abraham needed to receive the sacrifice God would ultimately provide! In other words, the Lord is not short of resources, materials, and faith to empower, equip, encourage, and employ His people in His purposes. He is able to provide FAR beyond the means that we can fathom!
The truth of this matter is practically displayed in the appointment of the treasuries of the temple in 1 Chronicles 26:20-28. There, the Bible documents the work that King David did to organize the men that would watch over the treasury that was intended to store the funds and resources required to enable the temple work and the people doing the work. Here, it is important to remember that when David had men draw lots for the work of the gatekeepers, that the house of Obed-Edom was assigned to the storehouse of the temple. Obed-Edom’s household was the largest of the other families appointed as gatekeepers by far! Yet the family of Obed-Edom was full in their work showing that it was necessary for the largest family to manage the storehouse and the receipt of goods/resources coming into the temple. The Bible explains that several families took on the responsibility of managing the treasury of the Lord’s temple because of the extent of responsibility. These men were men with integrity and were diligent to ensure that the treasury of the temple was well accounted for, that it was well taken care of so as to be used efficiently, and that it was not stolen from. It took many families to manage this task, showing the extent of “treasure” that was brought there once it was completed.
The scriptures explain that the treasury grew to amazing heights on account of the work God did to stir up the hearts of His people. It is true that many of the resources and funds that were kept in the treasury were won as spoils from battles with the enemies of Israel. However, the scriptures explain that God was the One responsible for providing those victories, and also stirred up the hearts of God’s warriors to give unto His purposes. Much like Abraham gave a tenth to Melchizedek when he had victory in rescuing Lot from the kings of Sodom, the warriors of Israel’s army tithed often to show their thanks and gratitude for the Lord their Banner. The Bible explains that David contributed a great deal of the funds and resources that were in the treasury because he was the one that God used to fight most often in order to protect and establish Israel as a great nation. However, the testimony also mentions that the treasury had funds and resources that went all the way back to Samuel the prophet and seer. Samuel tithed to the Lord and contributed to God’s purposes by adding to the treasury. Even King Saul followed Samuel’s example and tithed to the Lord to add unto the treasury. The Bible also mentions Abner and Joab as being regular and faithful contributors to the treasury of the Lord – men who were not kings, but used to fight for the Lord’s purposes and thanked the Lord through their financial gifts and offerings.
The Bible shows that God was rich in resources to fund the temple work and construction because of the faithfulness of His people over the years. God was rich in power and provided that power to His people to win battles. God was rich in grace and provided that grace to enable His people to take great spoils. God was rich in intimacy and touched the hearts of individual men to stir them up to give unto His purposes by faith. God was rich in patience and provided that patience to those who managed the treasury before the temple construction to ensure that the resources were used for the right cause later in time. God was rich in resources to share of His increase with His people to fairly employ those who worked on building the temple and those who worked in the temple to lead the people in worship and sacrifice.
When considering the thousands of people that the Bible mentions, it is important to remember that each of them were paid for the duties that they were appointed to so that the temple could fulfill its purposes. The men were paid to do all of the works required to enable sacrifices and worship and provoke praise of God. The lives of these men were dedicated to the work of the temple to lead Israel’s focus on the Lord on a full-time basis. The testimony of 1 Chronicles 26:20-28 shows that there was PLENTY of money to pay for the work of these men, regardless of how many men there were. The fact that so many people needed to be in charge of looking after the treasury is a testament to the extent of financial resources the Lord had provided over time to ensure the enabling of His servants to perform spiritual services for His people. It was a privilege for the children of Israel to have the relationship that they had with the One True Living God according to the revelation and purpose He provided to them. It was an additional privilege to be called to serve His purposes through the workings of the temple – the house of the Lord. It was another additional privilege to be paid to do such work in a modest and fair manner so that the cares of the world would not compete with the spiritual responsibilities to be holy in their work. God was the provider of EVERYTHING that was required for His people to worship according to His commands, showing that He was the enabler, encourager, equipper, and employer of such things. Since God is eternally self-existing and self-sustaining, He is able to give of His never-ending increase to ensure His goodness flows through His people to do that which He commands by grace unto our privilege and joy.
The work of the Lord is organized and effective. God understands the nature of His creation. This means that He knows what His people can handle, and what is too much. The Bible teaches that the Lord places burdens of labor on His people, but that burden is NEVER more than the person can bear. He knows when enough is enough. He knows when the workload is just right. This is why God implements delegation and partnerships. God utilizes the concept of the assembly line to perfection. The omniscient God administrates His purposes through His people by using the philosophy of specialization in contrast to dramatic multi-tasking. To ensure that His people are not over-burdened, He distributes the total workload to many people that become experts in the specific field of appointed work. This way, those individuals can do their work with focus, not only on the task but also the Lord who appointed it. When God’s people become overwhelmed, it is usually our focus on Him that suffers first. Thus, God will keep His people in certain positions to teach them how to keep Him as the focus, and when they have learned well, will increase their opportunities by increasing their responsibilities to serve Him.
The testimony of 1 Chronicles 26:1-19 shows God working this way. This portion of scripture documents the organization of the gatekeepers for the temple. King David knew that his time in this life was short and made it his focus to help prepare the way for his son Solomon who was supposed to reign as king in his place. David exercised his authority, resources, energy and time to ensure that Solomon was well equipped to do the things that God had planned for him according to His eternally unconditional promises to reveal Himself as Messiah through the kingship in Israel. David prepared building tools and resources. David reserved funds and made investments to ensure Solomon was well funded to build the temple. David formed partnerships and appointed men to do the work of building the temple. David also organized the Levites and priests that had been working in the tabernacle so that they would all understand their work once the worship of God was moved into the building structure.
Since the temple that Solomon was going to build was going to be much greater in scope than the tabernacle, there were certain duties that needed to be accounted for to ensure the integrity of the worship that took place there. One of those duties was the position of the gatekeepers. The Bible explains that the gatekeepers were men that served as porters. They were caretakers that watched over the main four entrance gates of the temple complex and also served the various needs of the people upon entering the temple complex. These men weren’t just “bouncers” so to speak. They were in charge of ensuring that when people came into the temple complex, they came in the appropriate manner as God prescribed in the Law. They were in charge of ensuring the priests and the people were clean and were in charge of dealing with those who were considered unclean by the standards of the Law. They were in charge of helping people find their way around the temple complex and were to be of service to those who needed it concerning the transportation of their offerings, and in assisting the working priests in various ways.
One of the main jobs of the gatekeepers was to manage the receipt of goods that were brought to the temple complex. When the feast days were celebrated, millions of people would enter into Jerusalem and most of them would bring sacrifices and offerings. Someone had to be in charge of receiving, organizing, and storing those items during the feast days, and at other such times. When Israel would go to war and win spoils, the spoils of victory were often tithed to the Lord to be used for the service of the priests. Someone would have to manage those gifts and offerings as well. These gatekeepers had to be organized in their work. They had to be purposeful in their observations. They had to be strong and able men. They had to be cordial and bold as well in the cases of removing those who were unclean from holy places. This was an important job to ensure the integrity of worship that took place in the temple, and David made it a point to organize this work as well as the Levites and musicians.
The scriptures explain that David organized the families of the sons of Korah and Merari. There were twenty-four divisions of people that were appointed to the total work, and each was appointed to their specific duties in the same manner as the Levites and the musicians – by casting lots. The scriptures explain that all of the brethren were put in the same bunch so that no family was favored over another in the appointment and scheduling of their work. No one contended with David concerning the manner of his appointment since David had used the same system for every position. The people were understanding, submissive, and appreciative to serve the Lord in their specified capacity. Different families were appointed to each gate of the temple complex that was to be built. Some were appointed to the East Gate, some to the West Gate, some to the North Gate, and some to the South Gate, which was the storehouse for all of the sacrifices, tithes, and offerings were to be received and kept.
The testimony of 1 Chronicles 26:1-19 emphasizes attention on the family that was appointed to the storehouse, which would have been a great responsibility and privilege to manage. The family appointed to the storehouse was the family of Obed-Edom. Recall that in 1 Chronicles 13:13-14 the Bible explained that the Ark of the Covenant was kept at Obed-Edom’s house for three months after David tried to transport the Ark incorrectly by the standards of the Law. The scriptures explain that the house of Obed-Edom was blessed during those three months, which strongly implies that Obed-Edom did well to take care of the Ark while it remained in his house. The blessing of Obed-Edom is explained in contrast to the judgment that God exacted against Uzza for mishandling the Ark. This suggests that Obed-Edom dealt with the Ark and the presence of God in a manner that was right according to the Law. Psalm 1:1 states that those who abstain from waling the counsel of ungodliness and separate from sinners are blessed by God. Psalm 34:8 states that those who trust the Lord are blessed. Psalm 84:5 explains that those who place their strength in the Lord and depend upon Him are blessed. Psalm 112:1 and Psalm 128:1 state that those who fear the Lord and walk in His ways are blessed.
Since the house of Obed-Edom was “blessed” it is important to recognize his conduct that pleased the Lord to bless his house. It is important to notice that it was “the house” of Obed-Edom that was blessed, not just the individual. This means that while Obed-Edom was a man that feared the Lord, trusted in Him, depended on Him, and separated from sin to please the Lord while recognizing His presence in the house (on account of his possession of the Ark), he also led his family to live in the same manner. Obed-Edom led a Godly household. He ensured that his home was a suitable dwelling place for the presence of the One True Living God who is holy and righteous. The Bible doesn’t say that Obed-Edom was an influential man that had great position, which shows that God doesn’t care much for those things. He is simply looking to bless those that take great care of the plain responsibilities He gives to them in their own homes, to manage that according to His holiness.
It was the house of Obed-Edom that pulled the lot of the storehouse. Though the Bible explains that David recognized how God blessed Obed-Edom for taking good care of the Ark by taking good spiritual care of his home, David did not appoint Obed-Edom to that job. Obed-Edom pulled from the same lots as everyone else. The Lord exercised His sovereignty to leverage the lots and ensured that Obed-Edom received a duty that was filled with honor. It was an honor to be promoted from the service of his home into the temple of God that would be built. Notice how God desires to increase the influence and responsibility of those who make it a point of priority to raise a godly household. Yet, it was an additional privilege to be appointed to the keeping of the storehouse, having the largest of the families of the children of Korah and Merari (sixty-two in total). The organization of the gatekeepers shows that God desires order for His servants. He split the work up among many people so as to give each individual focus. However, those who sought to do well with small responsibilities in their personal worship were given the privilege to manage greater responsibilities in the public place of worship. Though God doesn’t ever seek to overwhelm His servants with the burdens of His service, those who are faithful with simple matters are often entrusted to things of greater opportunity in His time.
Bible prophecy is perhaps one of the most misunderstood concepts of the Bible. Many people are misinformed about what Bible prophecy is. There are many people who struggle to understand the Bible’s definition of prophecy, and instead lean on the general assumption that prophecy is predicting the future like fortune telling. The limited understanding of Biblical prophecy has even caused some to misunderstand the subject of prophecy as a spiritual gift in the body of Christ. Some people refer to themselves as “prophets” and “prophetesses” today, and people get confused over that stuff. Thankfully, when there is confusion, the Word of God is available to set things straight! We don’t need to rely on how people and traditions define Biblical concepts. We can look directly at the Bible in order to know how God defines His own subject matter. Who better to explain spiritual concepts about God than God Himself?
The Old Testament, written in ancient Hebrew, uses the original language to define prophecy as divine communication and influence. Though this communication and influence can involve subject matter concerning the future, it is not limited to the future. The issue of prophecy is not specific concerning time, it is specific concerning a person. Consider these truths. Since prophecy is “divine” communication, we have to understand that God uses the Holy Spirit to divinely communicate to His people. In 2 Timothy 3:16, the Apostle Paul wrote that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God.” This means that God “breathed” His words into the hearts, minds, and hands of those who authored the books of the Bible. The Old Testament explains that the “breath” of God is synonymous with the Holy Spirit (Job 33:4). In fact, the same Hebrew word is often used to describe “breath” and the Holy Spirit. Additionally, Jesus taught that when the Holy Spirit was poured out into the world, He would testify of sin, righteousness, and judgment concerning Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah (John 16:8). Jesus also taught that the Holy Spirit would not testify of Himself, but of Jesus, His identity, His works, and His promises.
Since “all scripture” comes by the influence of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit’s job is to testify of the identity, purpose, and promises of Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah, then prophecy must be centered on the same subject matter since it comes by the same means in which scripture came. The entire Bible is a “prophetic” work because it is centered on God’s revelation of Himself through the conduit of Jesus by the influence of the Spirit. This manner of God’s communication involves future things because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternal in nature and are focused on doing work in this plane of reality that will have eternal implications. God transcends time and uses time as a tool of His revelation; so sometimes “prophecy” concerns the future. The point of “prophecy” is not the time of God’s work. The point of “prophecy” is that God is the One True Living God that is doing all work concerning all time for His glory.
Since this is how the Bible explains prophecy, the people of God who receive His prophetic word are expected to respond to His revelation in a certain way. If we understand that God is sovereignly controlling all things to reveal the essence of His goodness and grace unto salvation, shouldn’t that excite the people of God? If we understand that God alone is responsible for the bestowal of unusual benefits towards us even while we are still sinners, shouldn’t that provoke humble gratitude? If we understand that God’s revelation resolves in the forgiveness of our offenses towards Him, removes our guilt before Him, separates us from His judgment against evil, and enables us to live eternally in His majesty, shouldn’t we speak well of God and the wonderful things He does?
This is the reason that “prophecy” is important to God and the body of Christ. True Biblical prophecy should stir up the people of God to respond to God with humility, thanks, praise, and worship, exalting His name, His works, His eternal purpose, and the abundant mercy, grace, and patience He pours out to us while He does His thing. This is why the testimony of 1 Chronicles 25:1-31 refers to the musicians as men that “prophesied.” The testimony of 1 Chronicles 25:1-31 lists the musicians that David appointed before his death that were supposed to lead the praise of God’s people once the temple was built. David sought to order everything as best as he could to help his son Solomon. Solomon was charged and appointed by God to build the temple. David helped to prepare his son for his spiritual purpose, and in anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise, David also helped prepare the men that would serve in the temple upon its completion. David organized the priests and the Levites and gave them all specific duties according to the Law of Moses, then had them cast lots to know the schedule they were to follow to fulfill their duties. The testimony of 1 Chronicles 25:1-31 explains that David instituted the same process for the temple musicians.
The Bible explains that David divided up the musicians by the families that they came from. Each family was divided up by heads of the families, making twenty-four in all. Each family was also separated as a work group of twelve sons and brethren. These were the various groups that were to work in shifts throughout the day upon the completion of their other temple duties. Their shifts were organized through the casting of lots so that no one was given any preferential treatment. The elders, sons, teachers, and students all pulled from the same bunch making it so that every musician was put on an equal plane regardless of age, experience, or expertise. The scriptures state that all of the musicians were skilled in their jobs, so that their “timeslots” were not to be the major concern of these men. The Lord was to be their chief focus, which is why the Bible referred to these men in the manner that it does.
The scriptures state that these families were the descendants of Asaph, one of the priests of the temple. Asaph was also a musician and wrote several of the psalms of the Bible. The Bible also refers to him as a “prophet.” This means that Asaph received divine inspiration by the Holy Spirit to speak of things concerning the identity, purpose, and promise of the Son of God and the Messiah. Asaph communicated this revelation through music. The Bible goes on to explain that his descendants that ultimately became temple musicians did the same thing. Their music was considered “prophetic” by the Bible. The scriptures document that one of the heads of the musicians named Jeduthun “prophesied with a harp to give thanks and to praise the Lord.” Here, it is clear that the music of Jeduthun was centered on the Lord, who He is, and His response to that divine revelation was to thank Him. The Bible explains that “praise” is to speak well of something. Jeduthun used music as a means to explain the goodness of God, His purposes and promises, and thanked God for such favor.
The Bible also mentions a man named Heman, who was David’s personal “seer.” As a “seer,” Heman was the one David trusted to speak and interpret things of God in various circumstances. He was the king’s personal prophet, employed to provide the king with exceptional spiritual perspective. According to the scriptures, Heman was also a musician and leveraged music to communicate “the words of god, to exalt his horn.” In other words, Heman sang songs about God to the king to remind the king of God’s purposes and promises concerning the throne of Israel. The king’s seer was supposed to be a spiritual advisor, much like Samuel the prophet was for king Saul. Heman used music as another method of communication to remind Kind David that his throne had GREAT significance to the plans of God. Since God was using the throne of David to fulfill His eternally unconditional promises concerning salvation through the Messiah, Heman sang songs that were focused on reminding the king of that truth so that the attention of the king could be focused on God’s eternally spiritual purposes.
The scriptures explain that this is how the musicians played and sang. They didn’t write songs to express their own relationships, frustrations, or successes. They didn’t write songs to gratify themselves. They didn’t sing and “perform” to exalt their own name and tickle their own flesh. These men didn’t play music for entertainment. The work of the musicians was serious and spiritually-focused. The efforts of the musicians were to leverage a creative form of communication to keep the Lord, His purposes, and His promises in the minds of God’s people all day long. The Bible explains that the musicians were instructed in “songs of the Lord” and leveraged their skill to play those songs. These men increased in skill so as to use that skillset to exalt the name of the Lord God Almighty so that the people of God could remember who He is, what He’s working towards, and what that means to God’s people. This was the original “church music.”
Today’s music is created in much different ways with much different purposes. Perhaps if God’s musicians would recognize the privilege and responsibility of exercising the gift of “prophecy” to spiritually encourage and exhort the people of God to focus on Him, the church might function differently. Perhaps if God’s musicians began writing songs that are divinely inspired of the Spirit to testify of Jesus’ true identity, spiritual purpose, and eternal promises, the church would walk in fear, humility, and gratitude more regularly. The standards that God approves of are already documented in the “prophetic” Word of God. Lord help us to encourage those who seek to live by faith according to the standards of your Word without compromise or deviation.
Modern ministry is often a far cry from the patterns of service that the Bible gives. Many times, those who work in full-time ministry are overloaded with burdens and tasks. Often times, those who work for the church are placed with an unusual amount of duties, and this is a great tragedy when that person is the one mandated to teach the congregation the Word of God. Often those preachers and teachers are weighed down with the responsibilities of doing other things to keep the church clean, functional, and growing. It is often a joke that senior pastors wear many hats that they must swiftly be able to change on the fly throughout the day. Ministry workers are often forced to become exceptional multi-taskers, but more often than not, this work-style ends up resulting in burn out for those who need to work this way. On the other hand, there are those who are appointed to do specific tasks and are simple and focused in nature, but many times those duties are performed with an attitude of jealousy and competitive edge. They may have clearly outlined responsibilities that are focused in nature, but often yearn for something more. This attitude can then lead to people working against one another rather than complimentary. Neither of these types of circumstances match the model that God gives in scripture.
God’s organizational standards are clearly laid out in the testimony of 1 Chronicles 24:1-31. When David’s life neared its end, and David knew that Solomon would begin building the temple, David dedicated the time he had left in order to make sure that the people were understanding of their roles and duties. This way, when the temple was completed, there would be no confusion about how to make it functional for sacrifices, praise, and worship of the One True Living God. David made great strides to organize the people in order to ensure that the administrative and logistical issues of the temple would not restrict the people from doing their primary jobs, focusing the attention of Israel on the Lord God Almighty. David made efforts to organize the priests and the Levites in ways that were fair and publicly recognized so that the men who performed their work clearly understood their role and the time in which they were to perform it. Having this simple understanding, David hoped that the priests and Levites could focus their attention on the things that mattered most – their individual sanctification unto the Lord in humility according to God’s righteous commands.
The testimony begins by stating that David organized the priests and Levites by families. Each family was appointed to certain tasks, and then each member of the family was appointed a schedule to work that was determined by the casting of lots. Since the families were uneven, David relied on the lot-casting system to make things fair. The Bible shows that David made great efforts to make himself blameless of favoritism and partiality. He figured that if the families casted lots for their schedules, it would be as fair as fair could be. No one could complain about their slot since many believed that God directed the lots that were cast. No one could make an accusation of bias or nepotism. Solomon later wrote, “Casting lots causes contentions to cease, and keeps the mighty apart (Proverbs 18:18).” Perhaps it was Solomon’s witnessing of his father’s exercise of Godly wisdom in organizing the priests and Levites that caused him to come to such a conclusion.
The organization of manpower in 1 Chronicles 24:1-31 shows that God is clearly a God of order. The Lord not only gave each man a particular job to do, but also a certain time to do it. The priests and Levites were organized like a body, much like the church is supposed be organized as “the body of Christ.” Each member did a unique job that was complimentary to another. There weren’t priests or Levites doing the same job competitively. There weren’t priests or Levites over-burdened with tasks, duties, or responsibilities that kept them from doing the jobs God appointed them to do specifically for worship. Those who were gatekeepers were gatekeepers; not gatekeepers AND makers of the showbread. The high priest was the high priest; not the high priest AND the gatekeeper, AND the cleaner of the utensils, AND the musician. Each man did his job and his job alone. David went a step further to ensure that each one did their job at their appointed time. Their time was not every moment of the day. Their time was not for a short time in the day. Their time was set based on the work that needed to be done to contribute to the total body of sacrifice, worship, and praise according to God’s Law and commands. David used the system of casting lots to make things fair. In fact, when the Levites casted lots, David included the older men with the younger in the same group. Older men were not given special privilege on account of age. Younger men were not shunned because of their age. Wherever the lot fell is where the man surrendered to his duty by faith.
This was the system that God approved of. This was the organization that enabled the children of Israel to thrive when the temple was first built. This was the ways that God protected His people from jealousy, competition, being over-burdened, and being underutilized. When people follow God’s standards, the body functions well so that each member can have satisfaction in accomplishing their particular role as a complimentary piece within God’s bigger body of work. Any deviation from these standards resembles the flawed wisdom of mankind, which will not produce the same results. When people interject “self” into the standards of God, people add corruption to God’s righteousness. In order for God’s organization to produce the fruit that is seen in scripture, God’s people must first be empty of “self,” trusting in God’s ways as supreme.
When the Bible shows that the children of Israel were in danger of God’s judgment, it was usually on account of the poor spiritual leadership in Israel. In fact, the first time the Lord reveals Himself as “the Lord of Hosts,” it was on account of the corruption that was going on in Israel with the priests. Israel didn’t even have king at the time. They were being governed by judges and were supposed to be spiritually led by the priests, but the testimony of 1 Samuel explains that Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas were acting corruptly in their duties and leading the people astray. God sought to reveal Himself as “the Lord of Armies” to show the extent of sovereignty He’s exercise when going to war on behalf of His people in spiritual matters. This goes to show how important it is for the spiritual leaders of God’s people to get it right! When God judged the children of Israel by Babylon, He candidly explained that the spiritual leadership was the chief cause of Israel’s sin. Recall that it was the Jewish religious leaders that led the crowds of people against Jesus. When Jesus gave the Book of Revelation to the Apostle John, it was with the intent to circulate that collection of letters to the leaders of the churches He addressed.
The leaders of the church are important to the Lord. Those who have been appointed to lead the people of God in the ways of the Lord according to His Word have been charged with GREAT responsibilities. These responsibilities are so great that the Lord even warned against those who desired these sorts of positions without having been called to them because those who have been called with be judged in a stricter regard (James 3:1). God’s chief concern is the spiritual integrity of His people and it is the leaders of spiritual things that God uses to draw His people to Himself. The Bible shows that this quality of work has always been the center of God’s attention so that the Levites, priests, and high priests were always dealt with in unique ways. The testimony of 1 Chronicles 23:1-32 explains that the work of God’s spiritual leaders is supposed to be focused, thorough, intentional, and purposeful so that those who are called to spiritually lead God’s people can be focused and properly equipped to do so.
The testimony of 1 Chronicles 23:1-32 documents the descendants of the Levites and priests that were numbered to do the work of the temple that Solomon was going to build. Before David died, he made sure things were in order so that Solomon could engage in God’s command to build the temple, and also so that the Levites and priests could perform their duties in it. David’s focus was the spiritual integrity of the people. David wanted to make sure that Israel continued to follow the ways of the Lord according to His righteous declarations of the Law after he was dead. David set up his son Solomon to make sure that he was leading with the right spiritual focus, and that he had the proper support system as God ordained so that God’s people would remain connected to the Lord. David knew that the Lord promised peace during the reign of Solomon. David knew that God would administrate and distribute His peace through His spiritual leaders, and so made efforts to refresh their purposes and appoint new ones to those who had been working in the tabernacle but later would work in the temple.
The scriptures state that there were 24,000 men of the tribe of Levi that were counted to do various things for the temple that was to be built. These men were men that were twenty years of age and older, thereby qualified to do the duties that God set before them. However, the total number of Levites that were counted were 38,000 men that were over thirty years old. This shows that over seventy-one percent of the numbered tribe of Levi was dedicated specifically to various works to make the temple functional! This is a great amount of dedicated resources. The temple was going to be built so that the people could worship, praise, offer sacrifices, and celebrate the feast days of the Lord. The presence of the Lord would dwell in the Holy of holies that was going to be built in the temple. David appointed 24,000 men to perform various duties 24/7 to ensure that the house of the Lord was ALWAYS in proper condition and to make sure that the duties involving worship and sacrifice were not ever being neglected. Clearly this was important to David as it was important to God Himself.
The scriptures explain of the 38,000 Levites, 24,000 of them were appointed specifically to look over the house of the Lord (the temple). 6,000 of these men were to serve as officers and judges according to God’s righteous standards of the Law. 4,000 of them were to serve as gatekeepers so ensure that certain people entered the temple complex in the appropriate manner according to God’s righteous standards of the Law. 4,000 men were appointed to lead the congregation in the praise of the Lord through song during their off-time of their normal temple duties. These are large numbers of people that were set apart to do very specific duties that were dedicated to leading the congregation of Israel in sacrifices, praise, and worship. These men worked full-time and worked hard to specialize in certain tasks. They shared the total workload of the temple operations so that no single man was doing all of the work. The scriptures state that so many men were appointed to these works so as to support the work of the high priest. The high priest was appointed to lead Israel performing certain sacrifices and offerings as “a blessing to the Lord forever.” The rest of the priests helped in preparing those offerings, cleaning the utensils, and feeding the servants of the Lord so that they could do their jobs.
The testimony of 1 Chronicles 23:1-32 shows that the spiritual leadership of God’s people was well equipped, organized, and encouraged. The people had adequate help and that help was fairly paid by the tithes of the people to do their spiritual duties full-time without hindrance or distraction. The spiritual integrity of God’s people was serious to the Lord so that the workers of the temple were fully committed to their work that kept the people focused on the One True Living God as He desired. The Levites were appointed to specific tasks so that the workload was shared. Though the high priest had a special title and certain duties, he did not undertake the responsibility of managing the entire temple. He did his job and let the other men do theirs. No one person did everything. In fact, the only “multi-taskers” of the temple were the ones that served in the music ministry because their music was secondary to the regular labor they performed. The Levites were encouraged by the king to do their work with focus, diligence, humility, and holiness. David appointed these men according to the declarations of God’s Law and reminded them about the manner in which they needed to conduct their work – in holiness. These men were to be separated from “normal” manners of living so that they could lead the people of God in holiness according to God’s own holiness. David had focus in his heart to equip God’s spiritual leaders in this mandate before he died so that his son Solomon would continue after the fact. The appointment of resources and focus to the spiritual leaders in Israel was a testament to how important this is to the Lord. Nothing has changed. God’s people would be wise to start thinking this way again…
When Jesus came into the world, He said that even though He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, He did not come to be served, but instead to be a “servant of all.” Though Jesus is the Creator of all things and entitled to the most intense form of praise and worship, He taught that even foxes of the earth have holes and birds of the air have nests, but He as the Son of Man had no place to lay His head. Jesus wasn’t poor. Everything is His. The Bible teaches that Jesus forfeited the comforts of this life because they weren’t essential to His ultimate purpose. In fact, we could make the argument that worldly comforts would have been a hindrance to Jesus’ purpose. In the Apostle John’s first epistle, he wrote that Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the devil. Putting all these ideas together, it is clear that Jesus had one mission and had a very particular way of doing it. He was sent into the world by the Father in the form of flesh to die for the sins of the world as a servant of all. Since Jesus’ mission was centered on death, Jesus didn’t seek to do things that indulged His flesh, thereby making His purpose in death all the harder to deal with. Jesus’ life was a clear picture of how seriously He considered His purpose. Jesus’ life seemed radical because His purpose was radical and He did everything that needed to be done to ensure His purpose was fulfilled. Jesus was not thinking about Himself because His purpose did not concern Himself.
The Book of Philippians calls for the children of God to live in the same manner. There, the Apostle Paul wrote:
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, [and] coming in the likeness of men.” – Philippians 2:5-7
The people of God and followers of Jesus Christ are also supposed to live with serious consideration of our purpose in this life. We are to undertake the extreme position of lowly servanthood like Jesus did because that is the means by which people are saved. Jesus did not bring salvation to the world by pursuing selfish gain. Jesus emptied Himself and served the spiritual needs of others at the expense of His own life. This is who the true people of God should be focused to live. This was the mind of Christ and should also be the mind of all God’s people.
The Bible shows that this isn’t a new command or expectation of the Father. The testimony of 1 Chronicles 22:6-19 shows that King David had this same approach to life, especially in his later years. It is true that David made severe mistakes. He is a sinner with a depraved soul like anyone else. Yet the bulk of David’s body of work shows that he was more often seeking to do the will of God and by extension, was helpful to the spiritual purpose of those around him. David didn’t indulge in himself even though he had the right to as the king of Israel. David didn’t just sit back and enjoy the fruit of his labor in his later years, feeling entitled to certain comforts. When the king of Tyre built David a huge house to congratulate him as king, David was humbled to the point where he sought to exalt the name of God by building a temple, not jump into retirement and recreation time. When David had fulfilled the bulk of his purpose as a warrior to keep the children of Israel safe from threats, he looked to pour himself into others in a different way, and like Jesus, sought to spiritually connect people to the Lord as His servants according to His purpose.
The testimony of 1 Chronicles 22:6-19 explains that after David made preparations for building materials and workers to build the temple, he called his son Solomon and spoke with him. David charged Solomon to build the house of the Lord according to God’s promise. David explained that it was actually his own desire to build the temple of the Lord but that the Lord did not permit it. David explained that God appointed Solomon to that task. David’s job was to protect and increase the children of Israel, which required David to shed a great deal of blood. God told David that his hands were too bloody to do the work of building the house of God. This was not a slight against David. It just shows that God has different purposes for different people at different times that collectively work together to fulfill His greater purposes. David explained to his son Solomon that he had fulfilled his job. It was time that Solomon fulfill his duty unto the Lord as well.
David explained that Solomon’s appointment to build the temple was not simply his personal desire for his son. Solomon’s charge to build the temple was a command of God according to His promises that were part of the direct work God would do to reveal Himself as Messiah. God planned to use Solomon as a prophetic picture of the quality of blessing in rest that God gives. David labored greatly so that his hands were stained with blood (so to speak). God promised that the reign of Solomon would be peaceful. God wanted to show His people what His peace can look like when He is the center of focus in the lives of His people. God wanted to show how good His blessings are when His presence dwells in the midst of His people according to His righteous commands. Solomon had the privilege of being used by God in that way, and David committed to ensuring Solomon knew this.
David told Solomon that God had a desire to be connected to him as a father is to a son. David told Solomon that God wanted Solomon as His own son, thus enabling him to prosper in ways that were beyond any inheritance David could leave. David wanted Solomon to prosper, but only on account of the prosperity that God Himself would bring. David taught Solomon that he needed to be connected to the Lord as one is between father and son in order to receive true prosperity in peace. Being connected to God, Solomon had to obey the commands of the Lord by faith in order to receive the prosperity of God. Solomon had to know the Lord himself and have his own relationship with God, not leverage David’s relationship. Solomon had to fulfill his purpose to build the temple. Solomon had to rely on the wisdom and righteousness of the Lord to receive the prosperity of the Lord. These were the things that would enable Solomon to success. These were the things that David taught his son. These were the things that David’s heart was focused on.
David then explained the amount of work and resources that he put into the preparation of the temple so that Solomon could be engaged in his purpose unto God. He explained that Solomon had unlimited money, resources, and manpower to do the work that God appointed to him. David explained that his life was spent fighting and God increased Israel with great spoils. David told Solomon that he was not using that money and resources for his personal gratification. David was not using the man power for the people to serve his personal needs. David explained to Solomon that he had already commanded the people and attributed the resources to God’s purposes, which Solomon was charged to oversee. David spent his time, energy, and devotion to prepare his children for their purpose in serving the Lord according to His eternally unconditional promises. After David explained these things to Solomon, he went to his leaders and repeated the instructions so that everyone was on the same page.
This testimony of David shows that David was focused on equipping others for their service unto the Lord – especially his own son. David could have indulged his flesh with an abundance of resources at his disposal. The mistake he made with Bathsheba shows that he was prone to that desire just like anyone else. However, having learned many tough lessons through miserable mistakes that he made, David spent the later part of his years looking more like Jesus as a servant to all. David was the king, but invested his time into the work required to prepare others for their service to God based on the declaration of His eternally unconditional promises. David made sure his son knew God’s Word and promises. David made sure his son was equipped to do the things that God said. David made sure his son understood the need to be individually connected to the Lord God Almighty. David made sure his servants were also prepared to engage in the work of the Lord alongside his son. David didn’t use his excess to gratify himself. David used his time, resources, and desire to pour into others so that they could fulfil the will of God.
This is what it is to serve the Lord. Will we be people that seek the Lord’s own heart like David so that we can know His eternal purposes and promises? Will we have the minds to die to self so that we can equip our children to know the Lord, know His purposes, and know His promises? Will we properly identify “prosperity” according to scripture so that our children have a heavenly focus rather than a worldly one? Will we leverage our time, energy, and resources to prepare our children for the work that they might undergo in their service unto the Lord? Will we keep the excess God has provided us to ourselves to gratify our flesh, or invest it into the spiritual purposes of those around us? David’s life resembled the life of Jesus Christ because he did these things. According to Philippians 2:5-7, this is the same mind that ALL of God’s people should have as bondservants of our Savior and King Jesus Christ.
The wisdom of the world suggests that people be “forward-thinking.” We should plan for the future. This is actually good wisdom to a certain degree. The Bible agrees with this type of thinking to a certain measure. The challenge with this thinking is determining how far in the future we should plan, and also determining who is involved in those plans. How can you plan for the future when today provides so many unknown variables? Who will be around in the future to plan for? What circumstances will have to be dealt with concerning the future? With the amounts of variables that exist in daily life, is it really possible to plan for the future? How far down the road is “the future?”
The Bible teaches that we should thinking far bigger than “the future.” The Bible teaches that God’s people should think eternally and plan that way. This is a much more difficult endeavor but is far more certain. The scriptures teach that God is eternal. Therefore, the promises of God will be eternal in nature. The scriptures teach that God’s children are heirs to His eternal promises. The Lord even provides the Holy Spirit for assurance of our position in Him to guarantee our inheritance. If we have God’s Spirit, we are truly His children, and if children, we are heirs to His eternally unconditional promises. This means that our preparation should be in anticipation to receive the fulfillment of God’s ETERNAL promises, which calls for the people of God to think beyond this life, and into the next. This is why the things of Jesus make sense when He said that those who desire to receive eternal life must be willing to lose this life. Why would you need this life or the things of it if we are thinking of the bigger picture of eternal life? Why would we be focused on things of this life and the things of this world if we are citizens of God’s eternal kingdom?
There is a saying that criticizes this sort of thinking. Some say that some people are “so heavenly thinking that they are no earthly good.” In other words, people think so much about the eternal nature of God’s promises that they miss out on the fulfillment of their purpose in this life before getting into eternity. So, this shows that there needs to be a balance. The things we do today in this life should be profitable in an eternal capacity. The fruit and profit that we labor to produce should not be limited to the circumstances of our lives now, but should be lasting, as was the case for Jesus.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares [us], and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
Here, the Bible shows that Jesus came into the world as God in flesh for a simple purpose. His purpose was to author and finish the faith of His people through His atoning sacrifice. Jesus was “forward-thinking” in this way. He did not look only to the moment of the day so as to focus on the difficulties of His purpose. Jesus looked at life through the bigger picture of eternal life. He despised the shame of the cross but was willing to embrace and endure the crucifixion because He understood the results of His death. Jesus was willing to use the days He had in this life to invest into the gift of eternal life for others through His own suffering. According to scripture, this is how God’s people should think as well.
This isn’t only a New Testament principle. According to the Bible, those who have loved God and understood His eternal nature have always desired to leverage their days on this planet for greater eternal purposes in order to glorify the God who shares eternal life graciously. One such example is King David. In 1 Chronicles 22:1-5 the Bible explains that David spent the last parts of his life making preparations. When people grow older in age, it is common to “put things in order.” This phrase refers to creating last will and testaments, working on the distribution of inheritances, and so forth. When we die, we leave things behind, and it is sometimes wise to document final wishes in how those things are to be dealt with and distributed. That’s not what David did however. David didn’t spend his time worrying about how possessions would be distributed to his kids (and he had A LOT of them). David didn’t spend his time using retirement funds to enjoy his final years with “bucket list” activities. David considered his circumstances through the lens of God’s eternally unconditional promises and made efforts to ensure his final years were in preparation for the fulfillment of those promises. David believed God would fulfill His eternally unconditional promises and so David made efforts to see that his people were in favorable position to be used by God in that work.
The testimony of 1 Chronicles 22:1-5 explains that David’s heart was still on the house of the Lord that he desired to build. God told David that he would not be allowed to build a temple, but David wanted to do his part. He desired the name of God to be exalted above the names of all other gods. David desired the majesty of God to be on display in Israel to remind the people about the holiness of God. David wanted the presence of God to dwell in a place that was as fitting as possible on this earth to communicate the glory of God. This was the focus of David’s heart, especially in his final years. Therefore, he commanded people to gather workers, supplies, and specialists in preparation to build a temple. God had sworn to David that a temple would be built through his son Solomon. Though David would not see the construction of that temple, David trusted that God would be faithful to use Solomon to build that temple. Therefore, David saw the work that God had done in his life to amass great wealth, resources, and manpower, and sought to leverage God’s provision for purposes that were glorifying to God concerning His eternal promises.
The Bible teaches that David prepared. He was not able to build the temple himself. He would not be able to see the temple construction completed. Yet, David trusted in the fulfillment of God’s promises and invested his life and the accomplishments of it into the work of the Lord concerning His revelation of eternally profitable promises. The Lord enabled David to have many great victories over foreign nations and the children of Israel took many of those people captive. David looked that that benefit through the lens of God’s promises and appointed those foreign people to purpose. They would be used to help cut stones, forge nails, and prepare building materials for Solomon. The Lord enabled David to take great spoils from various kings when the Lord provided various victories. David took the silver, gold, and bonze and started to prepare those goods as building materials to equip his son according to the purpose God ordained him for. David had developed great relationships with kings in other regions that had access to materials that didn’t exist in Israel, such as cedar trees. David got in touch with those kings and paid to have abundant amounts of cedar logs prepared as building logs and transportation vessels so that Solomon could get right to work when the Lord’s time would come.
The scriptures say that David made “abundant preparations.” David was not concerned with leaving an inheritance for his kids. David didn’t plan for the future in the traditional ways that people do today in the world. Instead of preparing an inheritance for Solomon, David prepared a purpose for Solomon. God promised David that He would use David’s family as a tool to reveal His glory, majesty, and authority as the Messiah. God swore to David that He would establish David’s throne by ensuring that Israel always has a king to sit in the position of authority like David, and that He would be that King. God promised that He would dwell with the children of Israel to rule over them, bless them, and then fulfill the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to bless the rest of the families of the world through Israel. David understood the eternal nature of God’s work and made preparations for his son to be an active part of God’s work. It is true that David prepared material goods for Solomon in a similar manner of an inheritance, yet David’s preparations were to ensure God’s glory by the use of those materials. David spent his time and energy seeking to leverage what he had to exalt the name of the Lord according to His eternally-focused purposes and promises.
This is how the Lord wants His people to plan for the future. Clearly the Lord desires for His people to use what He has provided His people with today to invest into the next generation of His servants that will exalt His name tomorrow. The Lord is not simply interested in the impartation of stuff. He instructed His people to teach who He is and what His purposes are so that the next generation of people knows God and His eternally-focused purposes. He gives time today to leverage for that purpose. He gives resources today to leverage for that purpose. God pours His essence into one generation so that those generations can teach and pour His essence into the next generation. Our consideration of the future should not concern worldly wealth and gifts. Our consideration for the future should concern our diligence to impart our children with spiritual purpose, equipping them to serve the One True Living God of the Bible according to His eternally-focused promises as documented in scripture. This is what David did as a man after God’s own heart. Those who love the Lord would be wise and genuine to follow in his steps.
The Bible teaches that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. We have songs that proclaim this truth. This truth is plastered on images all over the internet. It is a mantra that brings great hope and comfort to the hearts of God’s people – and rightly so. Yet, there are many who struggle to find the “good” in certain difficult circumstances. Many people have interpreted the promises of Romans 8:28 to mean that all things will be good for God’s people. This is not what the verse teaches. In fact, Jesus promised that His followers will experience suffering. The apostles knew that life wasn’t all good for followers of Jesus as in Acts 14:22 it states, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
The point of God’s promise in Romans 8:28 is to remind people about the depths of God’s sovereign control. Though bad things might happen to God’s people, He is able to produce a good result out of it anyway. Though God’s people suffer in various ways, many times for His own name’s sake, the Lord is able to provide benefits and blessings anyway. Sometimes these benefits and blessings are manifested in this life time, but the context of Romans 8:28 speaks to eternal life. Hence, even though the circumstances of this life can beat God’s people down, we will still be conformed to the likeness of Jesus’ resurrection in glory, and there isn’t anything that can change that! The outcome of a person’s life can result is great tragedy, even as a follower of Jesus. Christians were not promised special exemption from the consequences of sin in this life. Instead, we are promised that God will forgive the sins we commit and STILL be able to produce a glorious outcome and blessing. Though the quality of ingredients God uses are corrupted and awful, He is able to produce something sweet anyway.
Evidence of this truth is found in the testimony of King David. In 1 Chronicles 21:18-30 the Bible describes that there was tremendous tragedy that took place in Israel on account of David’s sin. The parallel account in 2 Samuel 24:1-4 explains that God was angry with Israel because of their ungrateful and self-righteous hearts. The people rebelled against God’s purposes and plans and sought to do things their own way. Therefore, God sent the devil to tempt King David. God wanted to show the extent of His sovereign control in two ways. God wanted to show His control in one way by showing that, even though the devil opposes God, he is still subject to God. Secondly, God wanted to show that, even though the devil is able to do great harm, the extent of harm the devil causes doesn’t affect God in the slightest degree so that He is unable to accomplish His purpose. No matter the extent of influence the devil might have, and no matter how extensive the devil’s destruction might seem, it is NEVER enough to foil God’s purposes and plans.
The devil was effective to cause a mess in Israel. The Bible explains that the devil tempted David to conduct a census in Israel, which was specifically prohibited by God. The circumstances of the census seemed like a small matter, but it was in direct violation of God’s command. The devil played the strings of David’s ego so that David wanted to quantify the greatness that God produced in the kingdom of Israel. David knew it was wrong. David’s chief commander Joab knew that the census was wrong. Yet David forced the issue and went against righteous advice by going through with the census anyway. God enabled this transgression of David to use David as an illustration of the rest of Israel. God wanted to show David’s clear and obvious rebellion was emblematic of Israel’s rebellion that was hidden in their hearts. God wanted to use David as a tool that represented the evil of the rest of the people. So, while all Israel suffered the consequences of David’s specific sin, it was because they were guilty of the same internal issues.
After David conducted the census, God told David that He would judge Israel by sending the Angel of the Lord to destroy many people over the course of three days. The Bible explains that God killed seventy thousand people of Israel as a result of the census. David wanted to measure Israel’s greatness as a testament to his own greatness. God cut that number down swiftly to remind David that He alone is great. The scriptures explain that David actually saw the Angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth with His sword drawn ready to strike all of Israel again. When David saw this, he was terrified and repented. He confessed his sin for the second time, but this time from a position of great humility. The first time David sought God’s forgiveness, he didn’t see the bigger picture of his depravity and the depravity of Israel. The second time David sought the Lord’s forgiveness, David took the elders of Israel with him and they all pleaded with the Lord for mercy. Thus, while God was severe to destroy seventy thousand people, He was merciful to spare the rest of the people who were also guilty and worthy of punishment. Additionally, God was faithful to provide mercy towards His people by relenting in such a manner where David could take great comfort.
The scriptures explain that the Angel of the Lord spoke to a prophet named Gad, and commanded Gad to have David offer sacrifices. David was swift to obey, recognizing that even though animals would have to be slaughtered, it was a privilege that God would accept the blood of animals rather than the blood of his people. Recognizing that the Angel of the Lord was dwelling over the home of a man named Ornan, David asked to buy his threshing floor in order to build an altar to the Lord there to honor the presence of God that was residing there. David wanted to offer the sacrifices as commanded and wanted to exalt the name of the Lord in the place where His presence dwelt. Ornan didn’t hesitate to enable David’s intentions. However, Ornan wanted to give the land to David outright for free. David was offended by the idea. The Bible explains that David offered to pay a high price for the threshing floor because he wanted to ensure that his sacrifices were meaningful. Ornan wanted to give what he had unto the Lord’s purposes and also offered the cattle for the sacrifices. David rejected that notion stating that he would not be able to offer something to the Lord in good conscience if it did not have any cost or value associated to it.
The scriptures show that David built up the altar in Ornan’s home and offered the sacrifices all according to God’s command through the Angel of the Lord. David specifically offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. David’s burnt offering was given first, in which the animal was totally consumed by the fire on the altar. In fact, when David gave this offering, the Bible testifies that God immediately consumed the sacrifice with a great fire from heaven showing that He was STILL a “consuming fire.” Secondly David offered a peace offering, which was a voluntary offering in which a portion of the animal was shared with the Lord. The Lord would consume His portion on the altar from the same animal that was consumed by the one offering the sacrifice to picture a meal being shared. It was the burnt offering of David that enabled the opportunity for a fellowship offering with the Lord. Nevertheless, the Bible explains that after David gave these offerings he did not go before the altar again because he was afraid of the Angel of the Lord he previously saw standing over Israel with His sword drawn.
The Bible shows that the Angel of the Lord ultimately relented in His judgment. No more people died as a result of the census after David obeyed God’s commands to build an altar and offer sacrifices. God was merciful before and continued to show mercy on account of David’s obedience. When considering the full context of 1 Chronicles Chapter 21 it is clear to see how God worked things “together” for good. The hearts of God’s people were rebellious and evil. They despised God’s purposes and works and sought to do their own thing. The temptation of the devil caused David to deliberately sin against the command of God and seventy thousand people died. However, it was the swift judgment of God that caused David to confess his sin twice. The second time David sought the Lord’s forgiveness, he took the elders of Israel with him to encourage them to repent as well. In this way, God’s judgment caused the rebellious and self-righteous leadership in Israel to confess their sin, seek God’s forgiveness, and get right with the Lord. The repentance of Israel’s leadership was outwardly manifested in two ways. First, David exalted the name of the Lord by building an altar unto Him. Second, the sins of Israel were atoned for when David offered sacrifices. The people were ultimately spared.
It is true that many people died on account of their sin against God. Yet, even by direct influence of the devil, God did a great work. The temptation of the devil resulted in the manifestation of God through the Angel of the Lord. The revelation of the Angel of the Lord resulted in the people fearing God again instead of complaining against Him. God then revealed Himself as a consuming fire because He was willing to accept the burnt offering of the people as atonement for the sins of His people. All the while, God was offering mercy and David was providing a prophetic picture of the Messiah through his own actions. David’s intercession on behalf of the people was in the manner of Christ. David’s unwillingness to provide a valueless and free offering to the Father was in the manner of Christ. David desired to pay the greatest price possible at the time for the sacrifice that he desired to give, which was parallel to Christ. David’s sacrifice was a burnt offering, which then enabled a peace/fellowship offering in obedience to the Lord in order to exalt His name. All of this is parallel to the work of Christ.
The devil might have done a terrible thing to cause a wave of miserable consequences against many of God’s people but God used those things to reveal His goodness, mercy, and grace. God used the temptation of the devil to cause fear in the hearts of His people, which led to repentance, which led to the manifestation of Jesus as the Angel of the Lord, and also led to the manifestation of Jesus’ characteristics in David. Israel was forgiven. God’s promises continued on. David and Israel’s leadership was humbled and repented and God’s name was exalted through the erecting of an altar, the miraculous consumption of sacrifices, the reinvigorated desire for obedience, and the continued work of God to fulfill His eternally unconditional promises to Israel. Clearly, that which the enemy intended for evil, God was able to use for good! This is why God alone is worthy of praise and worship! Who but the One True Living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is able to do such work?
There are many people – including God’s own people – that despise the judgments of God. It is true. The judgments of God are miserable and painful. It is impossible to look at the judgments of God with joy while the judgment is taking place. The Bible states that the Lord judged His own people many times over and those judgments resulted in literal deaths through violence, pestilence, famines, and other forms of intense suffering. Those who lived as witnesses of these tragedies didn’t document the events of God’s judgment with joy. For example, the prophet Jeremiah is referred to as “the weeping prophet” because of the amount of distress he endured while witnessing and experiencing God’s judgment against Judah. In Hebrews 12:11 the Bible says:
“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
This verse is important to understand. Disciplinary action of any kind is not enjoyable at the moment that it is administered. Yet, the discipline of the Lord is intended to produce a good result. It is true that God’s judgments cause many deaths and great suffering, but it is important for the people of God to understand how the Lord is producing goodness out of that suffering. According to Hebrews Chapter 12, God chastens those who He loves, and the chastening we receive is actually evidence that we are His children. The pain is awful, but the effect is glorious. When the Bible documents the judgments of God, it is important to recognize both the severity of God’s anger and the issues that cause it, and also the outcome of God’s actions in judgment to see what the results are for His people.
The Bible explains that God judged the children of Israel in a unique way in 1 Chronicles 21:7-17. This portion of scripture documents God’s response to the work of David to conduct a census in the land of Israel. The commands of God clearly prohibited the kings of Israel from counting the children of Israel. God promised that He would make Israel a great nation so that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were to be like the stars of the sky – innumerable. The greatness of God’s promise to Israel was unquantifiable so God prohibited the kings from trying to quantify His work. God wanted the kings to simply trust in the work of God to make Israel great in size and influence. The Bible states that God recognized discontentment in Israel so that the people complained and rebelled against God’s purposes. This angered the Lord so that the Lord sent the devil to tempt David unto sin. The devil temped David to measure the greatness of God’s promises by taking the census. Though God enabled Joab to warn David of his sinful desire and oppose the work, David was stubborn and went forward with his evil intentions anyway.
In 1 Chronicles 21:7-17 the Bible says that God was further angered. Recall that God sent the devil to provoke David to begin with because the parallel testimony in 2 Samuel 24:1-4 said that God was already angry. God was angry with the discontentment and rebellious hearts of His people. The people were rebelling against God’s provision, against His appointment of King David, and generally despised God and His righteousness. David falling into the temptation was evidence that the people were not willing to endure temptation in order to fulfill the righteousness of God. When David took the census, God was further angered because the evil hearts of His people was on clear display, starting with the king that He appointed to lead the people in righteousness.
When God saw the sin of David, the Bible says that God struck Israel. God let the people endure the consequences of their discontentment and bitterness. God expressed His anger against the people so that the people suffered. David immediately recognized that the misery of the people was on account of his sin. David immediately confessed his sin by admitting that his desire and work to take the census was wrong. David confessed that his heart was wrong and that his sin was against God. David admitted that he acted foolishly and prayed to the Lord to take away his sin. David did the right thing and sought the Lord for forgiveness, hoping to receive the benefits of God’s mercy. Here, it is clear to see the benefit of God’s judgment. God’s judgment caused David to acknowledge his flaws and seek the Lord for correction. Without the judgment of God, David never sees his errors and subsequently would not have sought the Lord for correction. However, while David did seek the Lord for forgiveness for a particular deed, he did not seek the Lord to correct the bigger issue of his heart that caused the sinful deed to be done – pride.
It is critical to remember that God was angry with Israel before the devil tempted David. God was angry with Israel before he struck them with judgment. God was angry with Israel because of pride and self-righteousness. The people felt that God’s ways were insufficiently good. The people felt that their ideas were more “right” than God’s commands and appointments. So, while David confessed a specific mistake, he did not confess the greater issue of his depravity. David did not confess the pride and self-righteousness that caused him to fall into the devil’s temptation and take the census. David did not realize that the census error was simply the effect of a greater problem much like a fever might be a small outward indication of a greater internal infection. Therefore, God’s judgment did not cease.
Though David sought the Lord’s forgiveness, God did not relent in his judgment. Instead, God sent a prophet to David named Gad and gave David a proposal. God gave David a choice between three different judgments. God said that He would either produce three years of famine, three months of defeat from their enemies, or three days of pestilence and death from the Angel of the Lord. Each choice was miserable. Each choice would result in death. Regardless of what number David counted in the census of his people, God was going to shrink the number greatly! David hated his options as anyone would. Yet, he was wise in his selection of judgment. David told the Lord that he would prefer to be judged directly by the hand of God rather than have the hand of God use the hands of other men. David knew that God was merciful and that His mercy endures forever. David was counting of God’s merciful nature to lighten the consequences of God’s judgment. David figured that if God delivered the judgment Himself, it might be more painful at the beginning, but would not be overly excessive to the point of their total demise.
When David made his selection of judgment, God executed the judgment. The Bible explains that God sent “the Angel of the Lord,” which many believe to be the Lord Jesus Himself, to execute His judgment in anger against His people. The Bible testifies that the Lord did not restrain Himself in judgment. The measure that He set out to judge by in the beginning was maximized. The Lord killed seventy thousand men of Israel! When David saw the extent of death that was taking place, he pleaded again with the Lord for mercy. This is important to consider. David desired judgment directly from the hand of God in hopes to receive His mercy. God executed the full extent of judgment that He previously determined, yet David pleaded with God for more mercy after seeing the death of seventy thousand people. Was God merciful? Did David make the right choice hoping that God would relent in His judgment?
The situation gets more complicated. When David prayed to the Lord and sought more mercy from God, the Bible says that the Angel of the Lord stood above the home of a man named Ornan with His sword drawn, ready to fully destroy the region, but the Father told the Angel to stop. This shows that God did show restraint. God could have destroyed more and would have been right to do so since He was displeased and angry with ALL of Israel previously because of their unified rebellion against Him. Seventy thousand deaths is a great number, but is nothing compared to the death toll had God killed the full 1.1 million people that Joab previously counted.
The scriptures testify that David lifted his eyes to the Lord and actually saw the Angel of the Lord “standing between heaven and earth” with His sword drawn. When David saw this, his plead for mercy changed. David gathered the elders of Israel together, they all put on sackcloth, and humbled themselves before the Lord. David pleaded with God stating that he was the one that sinned and was hoping that the people would not be punished for the sin that he committed. Some have interpreted David’s prayer in such a manner that suggests God was wrong to kill seventy thousand people. Did those people deserve to die if David was the one that sinned?
The prayer of David reflects a great deal of spiritual ignorance. David was a man after God’s own heart but did not have the benefit of scripture and hindsight of God’s wisdom to show God’s perspective regarding these circumstances. First, God was right to kill the seventy thousand people and would have been right to destroy all of Israel. God saw the hearts of His people before and was already angry with them before David took the census. The sin of David was not the cause of God’s judgment. The sin of David was merely the outward evidence of all the people’s depravity. David was not accusing God of being wrong, but instead was humbling himself to confess that his sin had bigger implications than he originally considered. Where David was merely sorrowful for his actions before, the further judgment of God was sufficient to humble David to see the bigger issue. Notice that when God continued to judge, David humbled himself and invited the elders of Israel to join him. It was not only the sin of David that God was angry with, but all of Israel. In that the elders also humbled themselves before the Lord shows that God’s judgment was sufficient to deal with the root of the issue – pride and self-righteousness.
Some would look at the judgment of God and despise it thinking that seventy thousand deaths is excessive. This is the wrong perspective. The right perspective is to acknowledge that seventy thousand deaths is better than the 1.1 million+ that was deserved! Additionally, it is important to see that God restrained Himself from destroying more people. The Father told the Angel to stop His work before David prayed to the Lord. God’s stoppage was not on account of David’s prayer. God’s stoppage was on account of His own mercy. He had determined in His mind the amount of judgment He would wager and fulfilled that unto its completion and then stopped. Consider the results of God’s judgment. It might seem excessive that God continued to judge the people after David confessed his sin, but David didn’t see the bigger picture of his inward issues. The elders of Israel were also part of the problem but the Bible doesn’t show that they sought the Lord’s forgiveness when David did. The issue was pride and self-righteousness and it was the continued judgment of God that caused the people to recognize that. The judgments of God should not be despised. Instead, we should despise that God must judge to such a degree until our eyes are opened to the actual issues in our own hearts!
The severity of God’s judgment expresses the extent of God’s power and control, but also shows the extent of mankind’s depravity. The intensity of the remedy is only a reflection of the magnitude of the ailment. God judges harshly because we need it. Without the harshness of God’s judgment, we would never see the true extent of the issues that condemn all people. Thankfully, God is able to deliver a quality of judgment that is both effective AND merciful. God destroyed seventy thousand people, but preserved the full integrity of the nation of Israel in order to restore their spiritual health through repentance. Lastly, it is important to acknowledge the means by which God made this all happen. It was the revelation of the Angel of the Lord that caused David and the elders to fear God and His righteous judgment. It was the authority of the Angel of the Lord as Judge that caused the people to humble themselves in the sight of the Lord. It was the Angel of the Lord that stood between heaven and earth as the manifestation of the Father’s anger, righteousness, and mercy. In the same manner, it is the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Messiah that causes people to receive the fear of the Father’s judgments that leads His people to repentance and the receipt of His mercy.
It is often hard to harmonize the ideas of God’s sovereign control and omniscience. God knows everything even before it happens. God is able to see into the spirit realm and knows things of the heart and soul as well. People work diligently to put up fronts and disguise the true matters of daily life, but God sees through it all. The Bible explains that EVERYTHING is open and naked before the Lord God Almighty! Additionally, God is able to control all facets of life – physical and spiritual. God has supreme control over all people and elements of this life. God also has supreme control over all angels and demons, including the devil himself. Hence, it is important to recognize the places in scripture that describe how God exercises His sovereignty based on that which He knows. Sometimes the description of those circumstances can be troubling, but it is important to remember that God seeks to work all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
One of the first places that God exercised His sovereignty to reveal His wisdom was in the Garden of Eden. Many people wonder why God put forbidden fruit inside of the Garden of Eden if God knew that Adam was going to eat it. Why would God set up people for failure that way? This is a flawed way of thinking. The Bible says that God is true and every person is a liar. Therefore, we must examine the testimony of the Fall in the Garden of Eden through that perspective. When God created all of the vegetation on the earth He declared that it was “good” at the end of the day. This would have to include the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From God’s perspective, nothing was wrong with that tree. Why then did God command His people to abstain from eating of it if God considered the tree to be “good” like all the others?
Another detail to consider is that, though God made mankind in His own likeness, human beings were the only creatures formed out of the dust of the ground instead of being the direct bi-product of His Word. God made mankind in His own likeness in that He made humans triune in nature like Him. As God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, people have a physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual essence. It is the spiritual essence that separates people from the rest of God’s creation; but it is this same spiritual essence that makes us corrupt according to the Bible. In Romans Chapter 5, the Bible explains that Adam sinned and brought death into the world, and thus, all sin. This does not teach that Adam was the first to sin. Satan was the first to sin. Adam simply acted in the devil’s likeness, which was ultimately rooted in his heart. The specific actions of Adam were not the chief causes of death for a consequence. Adam’s sin is described by his purposeful and conscious desire to do that which God forbade. Thus, Adam’s actions were merely the outward representation of his inward desire to rebel against God. It is the natural desire to deny and disobey God in unbelief that causes death, not the specific things we do. The things we do merely prove the inward depravity that can’t be seen otherwise.
This is where the tree of knowledge of good and evil comes into play. God considered that tree to be “good” because of what it accomplished. God used the tree as a tool to expose that which He already knew of Adam’s heart. The tree was merely a physical element that exposed the hidden desires of Adam’s heart to disobey God, not trusting in the supremacy of God’s revelation of “good” and desiring to know “evil.” God knew what He had created and the weakness of man’s spirit. He put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden so that the things He knew of the soul could be put on display to everyone when Adam committed actions that were in line with his corrupted soul. Thus, as God knew Adam’s depravity and the need to address it, God used His sovereign control in creation to make that truth known to everyone, thereby making God’s judgments fair and His offer of salvation from judgment gracious!
This basis of God’s work is important to understand because God continues to work in this manner throughout the Bible. Without knowing the basis of how God’s wisdom and sovereignty reconcile, some testimonies in scripture can be troubling. God worked in this exact same manner in 1 Chronicles 21:1-6. In this portion of scripture, the Bible explains that Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to count the children of Israel, which was a direct violation of God’s command. It is important to see that Satan sought to attack God’s people by infecting the influential men of those people to lead them in sin. The devil doesn’t need to go after all people, just the ones that are able to lead and influence others into transgressions. Notice that the devil “moved” David, which means that he convinced and provoked David to do something contrary to God. Satan didn’t make David do anything. Satan lied and convinced David that doing evil would produce a good result. His temptation was successful because it played on the ego of David. Therefore, it is clear that Satan didn’t show up and have a persuasive conversation with David, but instead stimulated the ego and spirit of David to exalt himself at the expense of exalting God.
This testimony gets troubling when compared to the parallel account given in 2 Samuel 24:1-4. There, the Bible actually says that God provoked David! The Bible testifies that God was angry with Israel and He was the One that caused David to do evil. Once again, the scriptures need to be set in context of the FULL counsel of truth. The Book of James teaches that God does not tempt, nor can He be tempted. When the circumstances of 2 Samuel 24:1-4 are set in the context of Israel’s previous history, it is clear why God was angry, which then explains what He was doing to cause David to do something against His own commands. The Bible explains that David’s son Absalom had led a rebellion against David and caused much of Israel to deny their king. Absalom was rebellious against God’s appointment of David as king, and it didn’t take much persuasion for the children of Israel to follow in his rebellion. God saw the rebellious hearts of his people and sought to use David as an example of the spiritual condition of all of His people. God knew of Israel’s sin and exercised His control to reveal His knowledge to everyone so that His judgments would be proven right, and His grace considered profound!
God did not tempt David, but instead used the devil as a tool to expose that which He already knew existed in the hearts of His people. Satan provoked the pride of David so that David sought to exalt himself instead of the Lord. When Satan planted the idea about the census, David immediately embraced it without much resistance because deep down, David already had the desire to deny the Lord and His commands. This was representative of the inward affections of all of God’s people. Yet, God also provided a way of escape. It was not as if David was sent to the devil just to be led into failure. The testimony of 1 Chronicles 21:1-6 explains that David commanded Joab to conduct the census, but Joab refused at first. He implored with David to try and convince him of the evil he was committing. Joab reminded David that God told the kings not to number the people. Joab tried to warn David that he was doing a terrible thing and that there would be severe consequences. God exercised His control to send a messenger of righteousness to warn His servant David of the foolishness of his heart. David didn’t want to hear it. David denied the advice and wisdom of Joab and went forward with counting the people. Joab despised David’s decision and performed his duty in an incomplete manner. While Joab did provide a number of people, Joab did not count the tribes of Levi and Benjamin.
This testimony is a great lesson that explains the depths of God’s wisdom and control. He knows what is in the hearts of His people. He knows the deepest parts of the human soul and understands our motives even though we might not. He knows when His people are trying to hide things. He even knows when our hearts deceive our own minds to make us think we’re doing things for one reason when we are really desiring something else. God exercises His supreme control to reveal that which would normally be unknown of our hearts. If not for the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam would not have had an object to which he could fulfill the evil desires of his heart. While that seems like a good thing, it is not. Jesus taught that sin begins in the heart, and that those who simply desire to murder and commit adultery are guilty of those things whether they physically do so or not. If not for the physical manifestation of symptoms, how would we know of an issue, how to properly diagnose it, and what remedy to seek?
God was angry with the children of Israel and used Satan as His tool to expose the reasons why. The people were full of themselves in pride and self-righteousness. If God did not exercise extreme control to reveal this truth, this truth might have gone undetected and Israel’s sinful issues remain unto death. Hence, God’s sovereignty is exercised on the basis of mercy and grace, manifesting God’s desire for repentance upon the acknowledgment of deep rooted spiritual issues that He can clearly see.