Tuesday, 27 May 2014

(148) May 28: 1 Chronicles 20-22 & John 10:22-42

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider why the events surrounding the census are recorded.

To ponder:
Joab’s attack on the Ammonites is the context for David’s sin of adultery and murder (20v1, see 2 Sam 11), but it is not mentioned here. Despite the hint that David should have been “at war” we simply read of two further victories through his men. The extension of his rule is stressed in his wearing the Ammonite king’s crown and “subjugating” the Philistines by defeating their mighty men. Christ wins his victories through his people too, as we overcome by the “testimony of Jesus” and not even shrinking from death (Rev 12v11).
            21v1 portrays “Satan” (lit. “adversary”) as God’s means of inciting David to take his census (compare 2 Sam 24v1 and notes). David’s sin is not to trust God to fight for him. What is added to 2 Samuel 24 is his decision that “the house of the LORD” be built on the site where the angel ceased his judgement (22v1). What is particularly striking is that this was on a site owned by a God-fearing Canaanite (21v18), again, showing God’s concern with the nations coming to worship him. Indeed, both Araunah and his four sons were priveledged with seeing the angel.
David built an altar on Araunah’s threshing floor according to God’s word through Gad, and sacrificed burnt and fellowship offerings (stressing devotion and peace with God). In calling on the LORD, David may have just sought mercy. However, God displayed his acceptance of the burnt offerings by sending fire from heaven to consume them (see also 2 Chr 7v1, 1 Kgs 18v38). The LORD then told the angel to sheath his sword (of judgement), the plague stopped, and in response David offered more sacrifices. His subsequent fear of going to enquire of God at the tabernacle is ironic as the events actually show how necessary the tabernacle and temple were, and how appropriate the site for the latter: There priests would act as mediators specifically so that people could approach the holy presence of God. We should be thankful that because Christ embraced the sword of judgement and acts as our mediator, we no longer need to fear approaching God (Heb 10v22).
            Although David was not permitted to build the temple, his heart was so taken up with honouring God (22v5) and seeing his promise fulfilled (22v9-10) that he then devoted himself to making preparations, considering Solomon too young and inexperienced to do the job properly. So David appointed stonecutters, provided materials, and charged Solomon to do the building as God had said he would. David explains God had forbidden him from building because he had “shed much blood.” We’ve seen David was not wrong to fight his wars, so this may refer to the fact that just as contact with dead bodies made Israelites unclean and so unfit for worship, contact with so much death made it inappropriate for David to construct the place of worship. Alternatively, the prohibition may have been to stress that the temple was a sign of Israel entering a time of “peace and rest” and so had to be constructed by a king of that period (22v9). God may not fulfil our desires in Christian service. Nevertheless, we are to be so caught up with his honour and promises that we seek to further his purposes to whatever degree we can. 
             David's speech to Solomon prays God would give him “discretion” and “understanding” as he abundantly did. Like Moses handing over to Joshua for a new phase in Israel’s history, David prays this would mean that Solomon keeps God’s law so that he has “success,” urging him to be strong and courageous (Jos 1v6-9). David then tells Solomon to add to what he provided and begin the work on the temple, ordering the leaders to help him. His point is that now the land is “subject” to the LORD and people, they are to “devote” themselves to seeking the LORD and begin to build the temple so the ark and sacred items can be brought into it. The kingdom will then be fully established. No longer having to lead Israel to the land or into battle, God’s presence will have settled amongst them.

Praying it home:
Thank God for making full atonement for sin so that we can draw close to him. Pray that you would devote yourself to doing whatever you can to honour him and see his purposes furthered.

Thinking further: Numbers in 1 and 2 Chronicles
The perceptive reader will note that the statistics in 1 and 2 Chronicles often differ from the equivalent records in Samuel and Kings. Many of the discrepencies can be reconciled. A few may be due to copying errors since the inspired orginals were written. But we should also remember the authors didn’t have the same concern with absolute numerical accuracy that we often do in the twenty first century. So large miltary units were classed “thousands” without this necessarily meaning they contained literally a thousand men. Given all this, and having noted the care with which the author has researched and ordered his account, we can be confident that where we may not be able to reconcile differences, there is an explanation that may well have been apparent to the original readers.
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