July 15, 2011
1 Chronicles 19:1-21:30; Romans 2:25-3:8;
Psalm 11:1-7; Proverbs 19:10-12
1 Chronicles 19:1-21:30
As our reading begins, David sends condolences to the son of one of his good friends who has died. The son's advisers tell him that David's delegation is really there to spy out the land so that they can invade. The delegation is humiliated when their beards are cut off and their robes are cut at the buttocks. David is angry and sends the men to Jericho to grow out their beards. The Jewish men at that time did not cut their beards, so this would have been a great embarrassment.
David sends Joab to fight the Ammonites, who have hired the Arameans to help them. The bottom line on the several battles mentioned is that David is having to deal with many enemies. It is noted that Joab goes and fights the Ammonites in the spring, but David did not go at that time. It was during this battle, when David was home, that he slept with Bathsheba.
Next, a war breaks out with the Philistines. They have descendants of giants among them. David and Israel are victorious against these physical giants, but David is about to deal with a spiritual giant who gets the better of him.
It is understandable that as he dealt with these enemies, David would begin to look at his circumstances and try to figure out if his nation was powerful enough to withstand the external enemies. The Bible tells us that it is precisely at this time that Satan rises up against Israel and causes David, in unbelief, to count the fighting men of Israel. This may not seem like a big deal to you and me, but we are getting God's perspective on this story. It is only now that we realize that Satan was the motivator behind David taking a census. Just as Satan influenced Peter to tell Jesus that he should not speak of dying, Satan has caused David to doubt God and rely on numbers, rather than God. The history of Satan is the history of causing mankind to doubt God. Look at Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan said that she surely would not die, if she ate the fruit. She doubted what God had clearly told her, and then she sinned. David is in the same boat.
It is interesting to see that Joab is a reluctant participant in the census. He knows that it is a lack of faith in God that is causing David to do this. Joab obeys David, but not without protest. When David realizes that the Lord is displeased, he repents. He has a change of heart and asks for forgiveness for doing such a foolish thing. God forgives David, but there will be consequences for his sin. God gives David three choices for punishment. David chooses the punishment that allows the nation of Israel to fall into God's hands, rather than fight more enemies. David picks the plague and seventy thousand people die. In addition to this, the Lord sends an angel to destroy Jerusalem, but relents before its destruction. David and his men see this angel and put on sack cloth and ashes to show their repentance and humility before the Lord. David cries out to God that he is the one who sinned and he is the one who should be punished.
Lessons: David's sin was one of unbelief. There are consequences for acting upon your own unbelief in sin. Trust in God, not in your own strength. If you sin, you must have a change of heart and repent of your sin. You must trust in Jesus' death and resurrection to receive God's forgiveness for your sins.
David receives God's forgiveness when he asks in faith. The animal sacrifice was a sign to God that David believed that one day a Redeemer Child would die a sacrificial death for his sins. David looked forward to Jesus' death, we look backwards to the same event. Both positions require faith.
Do you rely on your own strength when times get tough? Do you repent when you realize that you have left God out of the equation? Are you trusting in Christ for forgiveness of sins?
Today, Paul introduces a very interesting concept. As you know, the practice of circumcision was given to Abraham by God as a sign of God's promise to bless the nations through Abraham. Throughout the centuries the Jewish people had come to see themselves as holy and set apart simply because they participated in this ritual. Unaware that this was a shadow of things to come, the Jews have begun to incorrectly feel that this ceremony made them superior in that it was a sign that they followed the Mosaic law. Paul is about to shatter that myth.
Now, Paul drops a bombshell. He teaches that you are not a true Jew unless your heart is right with God. He clarifies that true circumcision is the circumcision of the heart, which is really a change of heart that is only produced by God's Spirit. A person who goes through this type of change is not seeking to get man's approval, but God's approval.
Then, Paul addresses whether or not there is any advantage to being a naturally born Jew. He says that there is always the advantage of having been the people group who were entrusted with the whole revelation of God. As we know from our Bible reading this year, God trusted the Jews with His Holy Word and with bringing us the Messiah. The Jews have a special relationship with God, even until the end of time, not because they have been so righteous, but because God is righteous and true to His promises. The Church is built on the foundation of the twelve tribes of Israel. They do not go away. They are the foundation of our faith.
Paul attempts to deal with the arguments that some will say that our sins can continue because our sins highlight our flaws and as a result, they highlight God's truthfulness and glory in that they show how opposite He is from us. Paul states that this sort of attitude is wrong. He denies that his preaching promotes this type of thought.
Have you had your heart circumcised by God? Do you see changes in your life that reflect that you are now a true Jew?
Vs. 4 states that the Lord still rules from heaven. This makes sense considering what we read in the Old Testament today. He was certainly ruling from heaven.
If you have good sense, you will restrain your anger.
What did you notice today?