By Pastor Timothy Johnson
In 1 Chronicles 21, God punishes David for taking a census. On the surface, taking a census seems innocent enough, but David’s actions involved more than simply numbering the people. Let us look at the underlying things in the story.
1. God did not tell David to conduct a census. David did not even ask if he should count the people. Without prayer, without a direct order from God’s Word, it is safe to say David was acting outside of God’s will.
2. David was acting in pride. When David tells Joab to number the people, the reason David gives is, “That I may know the number.” David wanted to puff out his chest and let everyone see how great his realm had become.
3. God had blessed David and the nation of Israel. By counting the people, it is an indicator that David was taking God’s blessings for granted.
4. David had other motives than just wanting to know how many people were in the country. Joab gathered other information besides the count. Joab also counted sex, age, and health. We can see this because Joab’s report includes the number of men capable of military duty. Joab believed the census was an “abomination” and refused to count two of the 12 tribes. He would not have gathered this information voluntarily. (1 Chronicles 21:5-6).
5. Conducting the census the way David did destroyed God’s picture of atonement. In Exodus 30:11-16, God tells Moses to count the people. Everyone counted in Moses’ census was to pay a half-shekel. Rich or poor, the “ransom” was the same — a half-shekel. This payment was “that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.” The payment was a picture of Jesus paying the price for our sins. The exact price paid for all — the blood of Jesus. Every person counted showed that the atonement Christ made on the cross is available to everyone.
Now that we see why God punished David, what happened?
God allows David to choose which punishment he will receive. God gives David three choices:
1. Famine for three years.
2. Military defeat for three months.
3. Pestilence from “the sword of the LORD” for three days.
David decides that placing his judgment in the hands of God is better than in the hands of his enemies. David believes being left to the hand of God more gracious than the alternatives — going hat in hand to Israel’s friends and allies asking for food or being at the mercy of an invading army.
Pestilence from God is David’s choice.
America is not God’s nation. That title belongs to Israel. However, the Bible tells us, “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48).
God has given so much to these United States. The foundation of America’s founding stands on the Bible. The Birthday of our nation is July 4, 1776. The country originates with the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration mentions God four times and announces that our rights come from our Creator. One needs to deny the words of the Declaration of Independence to claim America was not founded on Christian principles.
Our armies have fought for and obtained freedom, not only for ourselves, but for others as well.
Without our farms, the world would starve. Yes, hunger is still a problem worldwide. Still, God has blessed America so much that our crops and livestock feed millions beyond our borders.
Americans are the only people to walk on the moon. Some claim that was a waste of time, effort, and resources. However, our space program brought advances in medicine, science, and technology the world had never dreamed of seeing.
In 1776, the colonists came out, trusted in God, and created a new nation conceived in the God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As a result, God has given us much. As a result, God requires much (Luke 12:48).
Throughout the nineteenth century, it was America that evangelized the world, bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to all corners of the globe. We did God’s work throughout the world.
In the 20th century, however, America’s love affair with God ended.
We took the Bible and prayer out of schools. We made it legal to kill people in the womb. The sexual revolution ramped up. Churches moved from the gospel to entertainment and a “what’s in it for me” system.
Now in the 21st century, Christmas is no longer the babe in the manger; it is gifts under the tree. We call the holiday meant to give thanks to God “Turkey Day” instead of Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, shopping has replaced family time and thankfulness to God. Churches continue to increase the movement away from being houses of prayer, worship, and preaching God’s Word. Christians spend their lives coping with the latest crisis instead of accomplishing God’s specific will for their lives. We will not even give God credit for the weather; after all, Mother Nature sure has sent a lot of rain.
Is God Judging America? It is a difficult question to ask and to answer because God is not in our thinking anymore.
Back to David. Look at David’s choices and events in America.
Pestilence — anyone here about this Covid thing that is going around?
Military defeat — Does Afghanistan ring a bell? We left terrorists in more control of the country than when we arrived two decades ago.
Two of David’s choices have hit America. Once could be an accident. Twice might be a coincidence. Three times is a pattern.
David’s third choice was famine. Famine has not yet hit our shores. But what do we hear in the news and from our representatives in Washington? The experts are telling us double-digit inflation is coming around the corner. We all have noticed empty shelves in the stores because of the “supply chain crisis.”
If the experts are correct, the equation is simple: empty shelves + double-digit inflation = famine.
Christians, it is our duty as Christians and Americans to fulfill 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in northern Parke County, Indiana. Webpage: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com; email: [email protected]; address: 410 S. Jefferson St. Rockville IN 47872; all Bible references KJV. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.