December 11, 2015

I Chronicles 19-22
Some time after this Nasash, King of the Ammonites died and his son succeeded him to the throne.  David said, “I’d like to show some kindness to Nasash’s son --treat him as well and kindly as his father treated me.”  So David sent condolences about his father’d death.  But the Ammonite leaders warned Nasash’s son, Hanun, “Do you think for a moment that David is honoring your father by sending you comforters?...He’s sent these men to snoop around the city and size it up so that he can capture it.  So Hanun seized David’s men, shaved them clean, cut off their robes halfway up their buttocks and sent them packing....

Fearing David’s anger for the humiliation of his men, the Ammonites hired Arameans to get ready for battle.  When Joab went out to fight them, he divided his troops to battle them on both fronts though the Arameans fled the moment Israel’s troops confronted them, and the Ammonites followed in retreat...When they attempted a second attack, David joined the battle and destroyed the opposition.  When all the kings saw that this attack had been routed by Israel, they made peace with David and served him...

Now Satan entered the scene and seduced David into taking a census of Israel...Joab resisted, asking why David would want to do this and risk getting Israel in trouble with God...But David wouldn’t take no for an answer, so Joab went off and did it.  

There were 1,100,000 fighting men of which Judah accounted for 470,000.  Joab, disgusted by the command- it in fact turned his stomach - protested by leaving Levi and Benjamin out of the count.  And God, offended by the whole thing, punished Israel.  

Then David prayed, “I have sinned badly in what I have done, substituting statistics for trust; forgive my sin - I’ve been really stupid.”  

God answered by speaking to Gad, David’s pastor;  Go and give David this message; “God’s word:  You have your choice of three punishments; chose one and I will do the rest.”  Gad delivered the massage to David:  “ Do you want 3 years of famine, 3 months of running from your enemies while they chase you down, or 3 days of the sword of God-an epidemic unleashed on the country by an angel of God?”  David told Gad, “They are all terrible!  But I’d rather be punished by God whose mercy is great, than fall into human hands.  So God unleashed an epidemic in Israel---70, 000 Israelites died.  

God sent the angel to Jerusalem but when he saw the destruction about to begin, he compassionately changed his mind and ordered the death angel , Enough’s enough!  Pull back!  The angel of God had just reached the threshing floor of Araunah.  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.  David prayed, “Please!  I’m the one at fault.  But these sheep, what did they do wrong?  Punish me, not them, me and my family; don’t take it out on them.”  The angel of God ordered Gad to tell David to go and build an altar to God on the threshing floor of Araunah...

David asked Araunah to give him the site of his threshing floor and charge him the market price for it so he could put an end to this disaster.  “Oh master, my King”, said Araunah, “just take it; do whatever you want with it!---It’s all yours!”  David replied, “ No, I’m buying it from you and at full market price.  I’m not going to offer God sacrifices that are no sacrifice.”  At this time the Tabernacle that Moses had constructed in the desert...were set up at the worship center in Gibeon.  But David, terrified by the angel’s sword, wouldn’t go there to pray to God anymore.  So David declared, “From now on, this (Araunah’s threshing floor) is the site for the worship of God; this is the place for Israel’s Altar of Burnt Offering.” 

Later, David was thinking, “My son Solomon is too young to plan ahead for building the temple.  But the sanctuary that is to be built for God has to be the greatest, the talk of all nations; so I’l get the construction materials together.”  That’s why David prepared this hugh stockpile of building materials before he died.  

Then he called in Solomon and commanded him to build a sanctuary for the God of Israel.  David said to Solomon, “I wanted in the worst way to build a sanctuary in honor of my God.  But God prevented me, saying, ‘You’ve killed too many people, fought too many wars...  But you are going to have a son and he will be a quiet and peaceful man and I will calm his enemies down on all sides.  His very name will speak peace--that is, Solomon, which means Peace....He will be the one to build my sanctuary in my honor....

So now, son, God be with you.  God-speed as you build the sanctuary for you God, the job God has given you.  And may God also give you discernment and understanding when he puts you in charge of Israel so that you will rule in reverent obedience under God’s revelation.  That’s what will make you successful, following the directions and doing the things that God commanded Moses for Israel.  Courage! Take Charge!  Don’t be timid; don’t hold back....David gave orders to all of Israel’s leaders to help his son, Solomon...”My part in this was to put down the enemies, subdue the land to God and his people; your part is to give yourselves, heart and soul, to praying to your God.  So get moving---build the sacred house of worship to God.

Revelations 6
I watched as the Lamb ripped off the first of seven seals on the scroll.  A white horse, carrying a rider with a bow came out of the seal and was given a victory garland.  He rode off victorious, conquering right and left.

When the Lamb ripped off the second seal...another horse appeared, this on red.  Its rider was off to take peace from the earth, setting people at each other’s throats, killing one another.  He was given a huge sword.

When the Lamb ripped off the third seal ....a black horse this time.  Its rider carrying a set of scales in his hand for a quart of wheat for a day’s wages or three quarts of barley but all the oil and wine you want...

When he ripped off the fourth seal.. a colorless horse, sickly pale.  Its rider was Death & Hell was close on its heals.  They were given the power to destroy a fourth of the earth by war, disease, and wild beasts.  

When he ripped off the fifth seal, I saw the souls of those killed because they held firm in their witness to the Word of God....then each martyrs was given a white robe and told to sit back and wait until the full number of martyrs was filled from among their servant companions and friends in faith.

I watched as he ripped off the sixth seal: a bone-jarring earthquake, sun turned black as ink, moon all bloody, stars falling out of the sky like a fig tree in a high wind, sky snapped shut like a book, islands and mountains sliding this way and that.....The great Day of wrath has come---who can stand it?