Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sacrifice


In yesterday's story David was the shmuck. He went against his conscience. 70,000 people were killed by the angel of God. The announced punishment was only a third of the way done.

Today he is the hero again, a position we are much more comfortable with...

David had chosen to accept the punishment of having God stike down the people of Israel for three days, choosing to throw himself on the mercy of God.

"The angel of God had just reached the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David looked up and saw the angel hovering between earth and sky, sword drawn and about to strike Jerusalem. David and the elders bowed in prayer and covered themselves with rough burlap.
17 When David saw the angel about to destroy the people, he prayed, "Please! I'm the one who sinned; I, the shepherd, did the wrong. But these sheep, what did they do wrong? Punish me and my family, not them."

That prayer, and that humility, effectively stopped the slaughter. God spoke to David through His prophet.

18 -19 "That same day Gad came to David and said, "Go and build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." David did what Gad told him, what God commanded." No time lost. David wanted to do WHATEVER God said.

20 -21 "Araunah looked up and saw David and his men coming his way; he met them, bowing deeply, honoring the king and saying, "Why has my master the king come to see me?"
"To buy your threshing floor," said David, "so I can build an altar to God here and put an end to this disaster."
22 -23 "Oh," said Araunah, "let my master the king take and sacrifice whatever he wants. Look, here's an ox for the burnt offering and threshing paddles and ox-yokes for fuel—Araunah gives it all to the king! And may God, your God, act in your favor."

This loyal subject, a little intimidated by the king's presence, offers anything he has for the king's use. Here is where David's greatness is demonstrated once again.

24 -25 "But the king said to Araunah, "No. I've got to buy it from you for a good price; I'm not going to offer God, my God, sacrifices that are no sacrifice."

This principle rings true today as well. We call our offerings "gifts". That is the wrong word. It implies that what we have is ours to do with as we will. It implies that what we give to God is discretionary. We can give, or not, based upon our whim. I think the word "sacrifice" explains better that we recognize that God is God. He own it all.

"So David bought the threshing floor and the ox, paying out fifty shekels of silver. He built an altar to God there and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. God was moved by the prayers and that was the end of the disaster."

David paid full price for the land and the ox that was to be sacrificed. The coolest part of this story, is that God was moved. God was pleased. God was impacted by what David did.

Big lesson there!

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