WE STAND BY GOD’S GRACE – by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Last Friday people all over America celebrated the 4th of July – our Independence Day. Many of us had delicious food with family and friends. Some of you spent time on the Lake or at the Beach. Others went to the parade or went shopping. Then in the evening we enjoyed the fireworks. All that is wonderful and we should continue to do that. At the same time, 4th of July comes each year to remind us that we as a nation stand only by God’s Grace. That’s why our national motto is “In God We Trust.” By the way, that should be our personal motto as well.
1 Chronicles 21:1 1 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it.” 3 And Joab answered, “May the LORD make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?” 4 Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Therefore Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came to Jerusalem…7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He struck Israel.
Overall Background: The incident we just read comes from the final years of King David’s life. As you may know, David was the second King of Israel. Compared to King Saul before him and his son Solomon after him, only David served God faithfully. The Bible refers to him as “a man after God’s own heart.” Nonetheless, the Bible never covers the sins of its heroes. As Alan Redpath said – “The Bible never flatters its heroes.” Twice in his life David did something that displeased God. One which most of us are familiar with is when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered and the second is this one. If you go by the consequences, this one was worst. In the incident with Bathsheba 4 of David’s sons died – the baby, Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah. But in this situation, 70,000 people died! For some reason, this sin was more heinous in the sight of God. It was the sin of pride.
Application: This morning, God is speaking to all of us. First, to our nation – Are we giving God the glory that He deserves or have we become prideful? Second – Are we giving God the glory in our own life or have we become prideful? Let me add something to this – the worst kind of pride is when a person refuses to receive the sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross for his/her sins. Do you think you can stand on the Judgment Day without God’s Grace?
3 important lessons from this incident that remind us that we stand only by God’s grace:
I. THE DANGER IN SUCCESS
1 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.
What in the world is going on here? This was a glorious period in the life of Israel. We all know how it began when David killed the Philistine giant named Goliath. All he used was a slingshot and a stone. It was clearly a testimony to the grace of God. Now it has been 55 years since that incident – David has been the king of Israel for sometime. He is much older and Israel has won victory over the enemies. Others have killed – not just one but many – giants. David even composes a beautiful psalm in II Samuel 22-23 – 2 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; 3 The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. 4 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.
On the surface it appeared that all was well. But that was just a façade. They were no longer relying upon the grace of God. They were trusting in their own strength and wisdom and God knew that. In the parallel account in 2 Samuel 24:1 it says, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” God knew that they were giving Him lip service but their hearts were far from Him. Hence, He allowed Satan to take advantage of the situation and tempt David to do what was already in his heart – Number Israel. In His pride – David wanted to see how far he had come.
National census was not wrong – God had laid out some rules for it in Exodus 30. It was done to bring in annual money into the temple. David’s reason for the census was to see how big his army was. Let me also clarify – it wasn’t wrong to measure the strength of the army because in Numbers 1 and 26, they had done that too but David’s motive for the census was ultimately pride. Listen to verse 2 So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it.” 3 And Joab (not a godly man) answered, “May the LORD make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?”
Here’s a statement worth remembering – “We’re most vulnerable when we are on the mountaintop.” Success is not the problem but how we handle success. I’m not telling you to live in panic mode or wait for the other shoe to drop. What I am telling you is to never get so comfortable that you feel you don’t need God.
Application: Saved – When was the last time you sincerely gave God glory for how much He has blessed you? It’s not by my strength, personality, or family tree. It’s only by God’s grace. Lost – Do you think you don’t need the grace of God. You keep rejecting the grace of God. As a nation, we have been blessed and sadly we have forgotten God.
II. THE COST OF PRIDE
For the next 9 months and 20 days, Joab and his captains went the length and breadth of Israel, numbering the men of Israel who were twenty years of age and older – fit for military service. How did God see all this? 1 Chronicles 21:7“And God was displeased with this thing…” How about David? 2 Samuel 24:10 “And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. The Hebrew word is nakah = attacked or assaulted.
Application: There are 3 groups of people when it comes to sin: first, those who feel the conviction of sin and return; second, those who feel the conviction of sin and run; and third, those who feel no conviction of sin.
What did David do? 8 So David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing; but now, I pray, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” What was God’s response? 9Then the LORD spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying, 10“Go and tell David, saying, “Thus says the LORD: ‘I offer you three things; Meaning: Not so easily David. This think you have done is wrong and I will deal with it.
Here are some questions: If God is all gracious, why did He have to bring this judgment? Didn’t the man say that he was sorry? God is loving and He is gracious but He’s also holy. This means he takes every sin very seriously. God allowed the judgment to come over David to show us how seriously He takes sin. Just like Ananias and Sapphira died when they lied to the Holy Spirit but people lie to the Holy Spirit today but they don’t die. Why? They died as an example to tell us that God takes sin very seriously. Sin has to be purged. It has to be punished. Either sin will be punished in you or it will be punished in your substitute. If you know Jesus as your Savior, He is your substitute. He has paid the price for all your sins. If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, you will die in your sins.
What is God’s answer to David’s sin?10“…Thus says the LORD: ‘I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.…12 either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the LORD—the plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’
Why so tough on this sin compared to the sin with Bathsheba? Sin of adultery was a sin of the flesh – just a moment of lust. It was wrong. But sin of taking the census was a sin of the spirit – it was full of pride and God hates pride. Pride is the ultimate sin. It brought the downfall of Lucifer. It is the breeding ground of every sin there is.
Listen to David’s response 13 And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. The Hebrew word is tsarar = all tied up or cramped. In other words, “I’m all tied up in knots.” “…Please let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”
Application: Saved – Is Pride your sin? Are you willing to fall into His hand this morning and cling to His grace or would you rather justify your sin? Lost – Is Pride keeping you from being saved? Are you willing to fall into the nail pierced hands of Jesus Christ? As a nation are we willing to fall into the hand of God?
III. THE GRACE OF GOD
14 So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. 15 And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the LORD looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
Isn’t it amazing that even in God’s Judgment there is mercy?!!
Application: Let’s not forget saved or lost we stand only by the grace of God. Let’s not forget that as a nation we stand only by the grace of God.
16 Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.
People ask me “Is God through with America?” Not if the people and their leaders are willing to fall on their face before God and repent. There’s still hope for our nation. God is doing a new thing in our nation. He is raising up a new generation that will bypass our generation. Where we failed, they will be successful. Where we lost the fight, they will win the battle.
But something else happens here – 18 Therefore, the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David that David should go and erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. If you read it, it will tell you that Ornan tried to give it to David but David wouldn’t take it for free. Listen to what he says in verse 24 “…No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.”
Why did David insist on paying six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place? This was Mount Moriah – the very spot where Abraham had put his son Isaac on the altar. This was the place of sacrifice. David was going to pay for it because it would become the site for the future temple of Israel where thousands upon thousands of lambs will be sacrificed, all pointing to the Lamb of God who would pay the price for us.
26 And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the LORD; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering. 27 So the LORD commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath.
Application: Saved – Is there sin in your life? Today if you repent and obey, God is willing to empower you with His holy fire from heaven. He is not only willing to forgive but also work all things together for your good. Lost – Are you willing to receive Jesus as your Savior? He is willing to forgive all your sins and give you a new beginning. As a nation – God wants to send His holy fire upon us, not to consume but to bless.