Posts Tagged ‘faithfulness to the Lord’

2 Samuel 24:18-25 (Part 3 of 3)
David Builds an Altar (Conclusion of 2 Samuel)

It was weird when I left my previous job in the secular world after 10 years as the controller of Fujikura America, Inc. There was a part of me that was expecting this big sendoff. Yes, there was a lunch between me and some of my closest associates there, but that was it. There was no big official ceremony. My last few hours there were actually just doing my job – those last few little details that I would have normally done at that point in the month. I got those things done with about 30 minutes to spare before the end of the day. I gave a few hugs to my subordinates and then out the door I went. That was it. No parade. No official Fujikura proclamation. It was simply a quiet exit.

I was thinking that in some ways that was a fitting ending to my time at Fujikura. I was all about the work there. I had taken the finance department of this division of the company from a complete shambles when I became controller to one of the best finance groups in the entire Fujikura organization. We had been through a move of the department from the division’s California headquarters to the US group financial center in South Carolina. We had been through the transition from our old ERP system to the ERP system of the rest of the US group. We had been through a lot. By the time I left, though, we were a well-oiled machine. However, when I walked out the door on that final day in mid-February 2018, there was no bright lights, no ceremony. The last day was work as usual except for the lunch with close associates. Even up until about 30 minutes before the end of the day, it was work as usual. Just doing the work. Just being faithful to my assignment.

That’s what I thought of this morning when I read through the ending of 2 Samuel this morning. Having said all that, lets read 2 Samuel 24:18-25 for a third and final time today and look specifically at how this passage is not the amazing crescendo to the reign of David over Israel. It is simply a quiet, almost anti-climactic, ending to the books of Samuel. However, I think that this final glimpse of David’s public life is a fitting one. Let us read it together now:

18 That day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”

19 So David went up to do what the Lord had commanded him. 20 When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 21 “Why have you come, my lord the king?” Araunah asked.

David replied, “I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.”

22 “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing boards and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar. 23 I will give it all to you, Your Majesty, and may the Lord your God accept your sacrifice.”

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver[a] for the threshing floor and the oxen.

25 David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
In this passage, we conclude the book of 2 Samuel. In this book we have seen virtually all of David’s reign. Since the Israelites first entered the Promised Land under Joshua, they had been struggling to unite the nation and drive out the wicked inhabitants. Now, after more than 400 years, Israel was finally at peace. David had accomplished what no leader before him had done. His administration was run on the principle of dedication to God and to the well-being of the people. Yet David also sinned. Despite his sins, the Bible calls David a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22) because when he sinned, he recognized it, confessed his sins to God. David committed his life to God and remained loyal to Him throughout his lifetime. One might expect a flashier ending to 2 Samuel. In 1 Kings, we actually see the conclusion of David’s life but here we see I guess the last great act of his public life before passing the baton to his son, Solomon.

It is a quiet conclusion to an amazing life. His final act as a public figure was to worship the Lord. His final act was in service to the Lord and his people. Quietly. No fanfare. Just doing what He always had done. Is that, in and of itself, a fitting conclusion. Continuing to be faithful to the Lord in whatever stage of life and whether or not the spotlight is on you. There was no nation watching. It was just David and a few of his men and Araunah. No one was around. No battleground with thousands and thousands of men around. No official ceremony of state with all of Jerusalem and the nation watching. It was just a quiet moment with a few people around. It typifies David I think. Here he is, no grand moment but just a small gathering of people, some of which were long-time associates of David. Some of his men, I bet, had been through the days of running from Saul, living off the land, sleeping in caves, having long talks with David and all of that stuff that draws guys together. These guys knew David very well. He did not have to put on pretense for them. But even here, we see David wanting to serve, honor, and pay tribute to God. Even the quiet moments at the end of his reign, he is a servant of God. Even though he is a king of a powerful nation now that is finally at peace, he is just like a kid who loves his dad so much that he wants to do everything his dad’s way. He loves God and wants to honor him at this quiet moment.

How is your relationship with God in the quiet moments, when no one is looking, or only the people that know you really well are looking? Is your relationship with God such that you honor and obey him in the private moments? Do you seek after Him when no one is looking?

Let us be like David. He was an imperfect man for sure. However, he was a man who truly loved God and wanted to obey Him. He was so thankful for God’s forgiveness for his mistakes and for the grace he had been shown that he was forever worshiping God. The Psalms are a testament to how much David thought and mused about God. May we be quick to repent of our sins. May we seek to have the forgiveness that God offers us through Jesus Christ. May we be so thankful for this forgiveness that our love and honor for God permeates every aspect of our lives – even in the quiet moments.

Amen and Amen.

Joshua 14:6-15 (Part 1 of 2)
Caleb Requests His Land

Do you get angry at God when it seems that He has not honored a promise to you even if you have been faithful? I wonder if Caleb ever felt that way after the promise made to him. In Numbers 14:24, God says, “24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” In Deuteronomy 1:34-36, the Lord says, “34 When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: 35 “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, 36 except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.”

What does it do to your faith when it God seems to have failed you? When we look back at what God had said and promised to Caleb in Numbers and Deuteronomy and then read this passage in Joshua, it may just be a few pages of the Bible in between. In reality, it was 45 years between the promise and the delivery on that promise. There are other examples in the Bible of long durations between promise and fulfillment. Look at Moses. He was a farmer in Midian for forty years before God called him to deliver his people. Look at Joseph. He was imprisoned for 12 years, wrongly mind you, before he was called to his mightiest duty. These were great men of the Bible: Caleb, Moses, Joseph. What do you and I do when God seems silent for long periods or He takes a long time to deliver on the promises that we perceive that He has made to us?

I know, with me, I deal with this issue with each passing day. God called me to full-time ministry. I fully believe that. My wife and I have been preparing financially for it for the last 7 or 8 years. We have been paying off bills. We have paid off cars. Even when I had to buy another car in November, I paid it off with my bonus back in April. We have downsized our house and our mortgage. We are faithful and cheerful givers to God’s glory through our local church. I went to seminary at North Greenville University’s Brashier Graduate School. I studied hard. I enjoyed it immensely. I grew closer to God in the process. I am passionate teacher about biblical financial principles. I love teaching about the Bible. Somehow though, God still has not set us in that place to serve Him as my professional vocation. We got close one time. Just last year, we made it to the final interview stage for an administrative pastor’s position at a large church in Wooster, OH. It was like being on Mount Nebo and seeing the Promised Land but not being allowed to go on into the land. We were so close that we could taste the job. We had prepared ourselves for it and were ready to move when the call came. But instead, we received an email that said we did not get the position. So, still, we wait. To this day, no other call has come and none has come as close as that visit to Ohio.

I can relate to Caleb. He was faithful. He went and spied out the land and did what was asked of him. He was one of two people of the 12 spies that were sent out that came back with a good report. He fully believed that God would deliver His people in any war against the so-called giants of the lands of the Promised Land. However, the people believed the 10 other spies, and did not want to go to war against the occupants of the Promised Land. Even then, when God condemned the people to their wilderness warning and stated that all who rebelled would die in the desert before God’s people would enter the promise, God made an exception for Caleb. God promised him that He would inherit the hill country. What God did not say was that it would take forty years of wilderness wandering and five years of war, before the promise would be fulfilled. It is not like I am not trying. It is not like I am sitting around whining but doing nothing. I am serving in any way possible but the doors are still shut. No doors are opening. I am seeking but not yet finding. It’s been three years now since I finished my Master of Christian Ministry degree. I am even working on my D.Min, my Doctor of Ministry, degree. I am teaching. I am working behind the scenes at the church with its finances. I am serving the Lord in every way that I can. But the promise has not yet been fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly believe that what I am doing now is of great use to the kingdom – financial leadership, teaching finance, teaching New Testament, and all these other ways that I serve. None of it is wasted. I serve not because I want to earn brownie points so that God will give me the promised inheritance. I serve because it gives me great joy and I feel that God allows me to influence people on His behalf. That’s all good. But there was this promise. This calling. What is going to come from that. Some people say that I am serving in my calling right now. Some people say that maybe I misinterpreted what God called me to do (and sometimes I actually believe that). But God is not a God of confusion or of disorder or of deception. It was made clear in my heart that He called me, called us (my wife and me), to full-time ministry and that was an and still is an unmistakeable feeling that He placed in my Spirit. Why, then, is it taking Him so long to make that delivery on His promise? I don’t have 45 years like Caleb. I am 54 and about six weeks shy of turning 55. What gives God? Why are you taking so long? Why give me this vision that was very clear but not seeming to come through on some church that needs me and I need them. Why give me the vision and not give me a people group about which I cry because they have no church? What gives? How long must I wait for you to fulfill the promise? Did I miss some secret preacher class where I learned all the secret handshakes and hand signals that makes you a member of the club? What am I not doing that is keeping you from fulfilling Your promise? What am I doing that is blocking the promise being fulfilled?

Do you think Caleb had these same questions?

That is what I thought of this morning when I read through this passage – about how Caleb had to wait 45 years to receive his inheritance from God for his faithfulness and how I am here at year 3. Caleb had to wait 45 years to receive fulfillment of God’s promise to Him…am I going to have to wait that long? Let’s read Joshua 14:6-15 together this morning with that thought in mind:

6 Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’

10 “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)

Then the land had rest from war.

Caleb was faithful from the start. As one of the original scouts sent into the Promised Land, he saw great walled cities and giants, yet he had faith that God will help His people conquer the land. Because of Caleb’s faith, God promised him a personal inheritance of land. Here, 45 years later, the land was given to him. Caleb’s faith was still unwavering. Although he still had to conquer the land that he was given, Caleb knew that the Lord would help him do it. Like Caleb, we must be faithful when it is easy – at the beginning of our walk with Christ. We must be faithful when it is hard – when we have been faithful but nothing seems to be happening, when we have been faithful but someone we love dies suddenly (such as a child or a spouse), when we have done everything that we feel like God has asked us to do but we have not received an answer to our prayers, when we have prayed and prayed and prayed, but God seems not to be answering. We must be faithful in times when it is easy to see God’s purpose and His glory and also when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel of what we are going through. We must be faithful when it seems God is not answering our prayers or delivering on a promise that He made us.

It is often easy to be faithful to the Lord when we first become Christians. It is often easy to be faithful at the beginning of a God-directed journey. We are all fired up and ready to go. We have a great passion because of what God is showing us. We are ready to run through brick walls for God at that point. But then the journey gets long. Then the journey gets hard. Then the journey seems like that part of the beach trip from Upstate SC down to Myrtle Beach after you get past Columbia on your way to Florence…nothing but the monotony of pine trees and interstate, nothing but no name towns with simple intersections with Interstate 20. It is during that part of the trip that you think you are never going to get to the beach. The trip is dull at that point. But you keep on driving. You know the destination, Myrtle Beach, and it has to offer is out there. You keep driving. That’s what’s it like following God’s call on your life sometimes. It can be hard to be faithful at times when it seems nothing is coming from it. The journey gets mundane. Same ol’, same ol’. That’s the true test of faith my friends. When nothing seems to be happening. Where you feel like you are just driving down the interstate and there’s nothing but pine trees and asphalt.

That’s when we have to have the most faith I think. Caleb did. I am sure that during the wilderness wanderings. He may have had some days of doubt as to when God was going to fulfill His promise to him. But Caleb kept plugging and kept on keeping on. But Caleb kept plowing the field in front of him. But Caleb kept the faith even when there was nothing obvious happening. That is the definition of faith in God. Believing, choosing to believe, even when circumstances and evidence would make others turn away and give up. We must keep the faith even in your dry seasons where there is no direct evidence that God will fulfill His promise. We must remember that He works everything, and I mean everything, together for those who believe in Him. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey to the fulfillment of the promise. We minister every day to the world by living out our faith. We minister to the world by the field that we are plowing right now. God wastes nothing in our journey to the fulfillment of His promises. The journey is the preparation for the promise. God ain’t broke a promise yet. We must trust that everything has a purpose for the promise. We must trust that every step and every stop in the journey to the promise has its purpose in God’s divine plan for our lives. Keep plowin’ my friend. Keep plowing.

Amen and Amen.