But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. – 2Sam. 24:24 NIV
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King David under the incitement of the Almighty God had taken a census of the people of Israel despite all the attempts by Joab and the other army commanders to dissuade him from doing so. As a consequence, the Almighty God had taken a decision to punish him, after he acknowledged his errors and pleaded for mercy from Him, by asking him to make a choice between three years of famine in the land, three months of him being chased by his enemies and three days of plague on the land. His response indicated that he had opted for either of the first or the third but definitely not the second, because according to him, he would prefer himself and his people to fall into the hands of the Almighty God, the Lord being great in Mercy, rather than he falling into the hands of human beings – 2Sam. 24:1-14. The Almighty God in His infinite wisdom decided on the third option.
On that same morning, the Lord sent a plague on Israel and within the designated time, Seventy thousand people from Dan to Beersheba had died – 2Sam. 24:15. But even in that period of anger, the Lord justified the comment of King David about His character, by revealing His Mercy when the angel of the Lord set to lay his hands on the city of Jerusalem known as the City of David. The Bible says the Lord was grieved because of the calamity already brought upon his people by the angel of death and ordered him to stop. In the words of the Bible, the Lord told him, “Enough! Withdraw your hand” – 2Sam. 24:16.
The angel of death was at the threshing place of Araunah the Jebusite when the instruction from the Lord came and that was also when King David saw and felt the possible effect of the activities of the angel of death. It was only then that he admitted that he it was that sinned and he and his family alone should bear the consequences of his wrong action and not his people whom he concluded were innocent and so not deserving of such great disaster – 2Sam. 24:17. He finally stood up as a leader.
The Prophet Gad, probably acting under the directives of the Almighty God in response to the plea of King David, told King David to set up an Altar to the Lord at the threshing floor of Araunah in order to stop the angel of death from continuing with his mission in Jerusalem, an advise which he promptly set out to implement – 2Sam. 24:19-20.
King David and his entourage approached the threshing floor of Araunah who on sighting them from afar ran to meet them asking the King, the reason for his mission to his threshing floor. In his response to the disclosure of the King of his intention to set up an Altar to the Almighty God in that location, so that the plague on the people might stop and his desire to buy the threshing floor off him for that purpose, Araunah instead, offered the land to him free of charge but the king rejected the offer responding with the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional – 2Sam. 24:21-24. According to the King, he was not going to offer a burnt offering that cost him nothing to the Lord.
The significance of this statement should not be lost to the Christian who intends to present an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. This is because it reveals a basic requirement for identifying the personality that is offering a sacrifice or on whose behalf, a sacrifice is been made. Sacrifice involves surrendering something to another. In relation to the Christian and the Almighty God, it involves the surrendering of something to the Almighty God with the hope that He will acknowledge and accept such gestures and reward the person accordingly with his/her desire. It is the one that surrendered something during a sacrifice that is actually offering the sacrifice. It was King David that was instructed to build an Altar on which a sacrifice was to be offered to the Lord and not Araunah, and King David taking the foundation of the sacrifice, which is the land, free of charge without surrendering any thing of himself could definitely not regard himself as the one offering the sacrifice, as Araunah will be the one doing so. In that situation, there was no way the sacrifice could have been acceptable as the wrong person was the one offering the sacrifice.
Same scenario occurs when sacrifices are been offered in anticipation of a reward or a breakthrough which is what happens when most people worship the Lord. They are actually making their worship a sacrifice in anticipation of receiving favourable response to various requests that have been made. It will remain a pure gathering and a mere exercise until the one that desires something is able to offer a sacrifice in the course of the worship. That probably explains why vows and pledges tend to activate responses faster than normal fellowship offerings as they usually involve the surrendering of something that is very significant.
Many Christians today join others in several Church activities as a group. Such activities include Thanksgiving services and sometimes, devotion of structures and materials to the glory of God, but have surrendered nothing personally or contributed nothing of significance to the whole process and still expect to share in the reward for such successful and accepted sacrifice. That can only be a journey in self deceit as such will receive nothing. It is simply impossible to invest nothing and expect returns. What you surrendered during that sacrifice is your investment and that entitles you to a share of the profit when the sacrifice is accepted. God is not mocked as whatever is invested determines what is harvested – Gal. 6:7-9. You may delight so much in that new beautiful building that some people just came together to fund and build, or that successful program where children of God sacrificed different resources to ensure its success, but you should not expect any returns from the Lord when those who sacrificed are being rewarded. All you did was to acknowledge, enjoy free of charge and broadcast the sacrificial effort of others as you did not sacrifice anything.
There is always something you can give and should never claim to be part of a group when you have sacrificed nothing – Lk. 21:1-4. It is when you surrender something that you can expect a reward if the sacrifice is accepted. May God bestow on us all the willingness to surrender something in sacrifice so as to be well positioned to receive the appropriate reward in Jesus name. Amen.