I have been working on reading through the old testament and have been reading about David recently. King David was a man after God's own heart. He really was a great guy. I do hope that I can sit down with him in heaven during eternity and ask him some questions. I think I would really enjoy hearing his story. However, I read this morning in I Chronicles chapter 21 about a time that he sinned and there were some serious consequences.
David was basically gave in to temptation to number Israel. God was not pleased and considered it evil. Joab tried to talk him out of numbering or counting, but the King's word won out. Joab went and counted Israel and Judah and reported the numbers to David. God then sent a seer or prophet named Gad to tell David that God was displeased and would strike Israel. David had three choices and chose the angel of death coming for three days. Seventy thousand men died of pestilence and the angel was destroying Jerusalem. God even repented of this. He stopped the angel near the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. David saw that angel and through direction of Gad, went to Ornan, purchased the land and the oxen to sacrifice. God answered by fire and burnt the sacrifice.
This story has always bothered me, and again today I read it and felt that same bothered feeling. I have so many questions about this story. So I started talking to God.
First, why was it a sin to count Israel? Well, Joab was right in verse 3, And Joab answered, The LORD make his people a hundred times as many more as they are; but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s slaves? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why will he be a cause of guiltiness unto Israel?
This boils down to not trusting God to do what he said he would do. David started looking with his natural eyes and wanted to know how many men he had incase of war. He was counting out his own ability and power, not God's. This was offensive to God. He was not really trusting God. He was feeling prideful and bringing glory to himself. He was counting his own army and not really putting faith in God here. It was also stirred up by the devil as seen in verse 1.
Second, why did so many people have to die because of David's sin? This is the thing that really bothers me the most. 70,000 men died of pestilence or plague because of David's choice.
I realized today as I prayed and asked God about this, that the answer lies in the fact that sin does not only effect the person who sins, it has repercussions that ripple through the lives of others.
One person's sin can greatly affect many other lives. It doesn't make it fair or right, but that is a consequence of sin.
Think about it. When a person chooses to sin, such as steal something, there are the victims of the crime. Not only are the victims affected, but those who hear about the theft are affected, police officers are affected, there are ripple affects.
When a person decides to drive drunk, the effects can be devastating to many lives. Even sins that some consider private sins can effect relationships, marriages, and families. One sin can alter the course of a life and change it forever. If a young person commits a sin that may lead them down a wrong path. They may end up in jail, or lose out on many things that God intended for them. Their families current and future are effected. In this case, David was a leader and his sin effected those under him. Leaders are accountable to those they lead. God holds us accountable.
One sin by one person can ripple out and effect many people, not just those immediately near, but those further away. It is like throwing a rock into a still pond or a lake. There are many ripples that spread across the pond over and over and over.
I just recently had a child come to me and express deep concern and confusion when they saw someone they loved partaking in drinking alcohol. This decision has ripple effects and this child was so upset. They other person did not even realize this child was watching, but this choice was having a ripple effect.
There are also many things that happen that cause us to ask 'Why?' There are mean, hurtful people, crimes and situations that are so destructive. I really do not understand other than knowing that these people are acting upon a sinful nature and allowing sin to dominate and control them. This sinful nature brings about destruction, not just for the individual, but for many other lives as well.
I think this is the very definition of sin. Sin is not just about us, it is about destroying and separating as many lives as it can. The very first sin did not just effect Adam and Eve, it is still effecting us, each and every one of us. I do not live in a sinless world. In fact all of us were born in sin. (Romans 3:23, Ecclesiastes 7:20) We are not immune and not one of us can claim innocence. We all fall short of the glory of God.
This produces a need for the Savior.
This is where David's sacrifice comes into play. He went quickly to sacrifice. Ornan was ready and willing to give David all he needed. He could see that death angel as well. He and his sons were in hiding. They were fearful and wanted to live. In verse 24, And King David said to Ornan, No, but I will truly buy it for the full price, for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.
David paid the full price. He realized that sin has a cost. The sacrifice has a cost. The offerings had a cost.
When we come to God, our sins have cost us, they have cost others and they have cost God. Jesus paid for our sins with his very life. His blood was used to pay for our sins.
Wow, think about this. This story of David, was not only meant to show us about David, it also reflects the saving grace of Jesus. It reflects the redeeming of the sinner. It reflects that reason God had to send Jesus to earth.
Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, (for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree),
Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood, out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation
I know have a greater understanding of what God meant when he made sure to add this event into the Word. Even before Christ came to earth to die and rise again, there were lessons to be learned. Our sin does not only effect us, it affects many lives. We are all in need of a Savior, Jesus Christ. We are all able to come to him, count the cost and offer up ourselves as a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1
So after much prayer and study, I realized that this event does not have to bother me, it can inspire me and deepen my faith. It can strengthen my understanding of why I need Jesus in the first place.
It also makes me realize why I need Him to help me turn away from sin. My sin has effects on many others. God is the only one who can bring us out of sin and turn things around. Consequences may still be there, but forgiveness reigns when Jesus stands up for us, when we call on the name of Jesus. As a leader, a parent, a Sunday school teacher, etc. we are responsible to those under us. We need to consider our actions carefully. We need to count the cost of sin and sacrifice, not only for ourselves, but for those watching and following. May we lead them to Jesus and redemption by our example of seeking after God, even when we mess up. May they see God's redemption operating in us so they too, will turn from sin and turn to Jesus.