Aloha Friday Message – February 7, 2014 – Light, Angels, Death

1406AFC020714 – Light, Angels, Death

Read it online here, please.

Matthew 5:1, 2, 16And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

2 Samuel 24:16-17And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, “It is enough: stay now thine hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite. And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.”

Acts 12:23Immediately an angel of the Lord struck Herod down because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten by worms (σκωληκόβρωτος) and died.

The first reference verse in Matthew comes from this Sunday’s Gospel in the section of the Gospel known as the “Simile of Light.” We hear Jesus’ teaching in this collection of short lessons about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He has continued the theme of John to repent, as we saw last week, and is preaching that God wants us to live righteous, sinless lives so that everyone can see what it is like to be part of the Kingdom of God.

The second reference is from the readings for February 5. I chose that reading because it mentions an angel, specifically and angel of the LORD, who is assisting God by punishing David for his presumptuous sin of conducting a census of the people of Israel and Judah.

The third reading is an account from the New Testament about the grisly death of a blasphemous and unrighteous ruler, Herod Agrippa I – the King Herod from the Nativity Account. He is one of three Kings in Jewish History to die such a horrible death. The deaths Of Antiochus IV, Herod The Great, and Herod Agrippa I are chronicled in scripture and in contemporaneous accounts of their reigns.

Now, why are these three texts combined into this message? Because of the angels involved, and because of what the angels did or represented in the passages from Samuel and Acts. What struck me immediately was the phrase “…when he saw the angel that smote the people…” The angel was spreading death by pestilence throughout Israel “from Dan to Beersheba” (north to south).

You ask, “Why was an angel of the LORD spreading pestilence?”

It was one choice among three punishments the LORD willed to be carried out because of David’s sin.

So again, you ask, “What was this sin? What was so great that an Angel of the LORD was sent to spread pestilence?”

David commissioned a census of all the men of Israel and Judah who were capable and competent at bearing arms.

“So what? What’s wrong with a census?”

David wanted the census for his own pride in his own military might. He did not want the census for the Glory of God; he wanted it for the glory of David.

“What?!?!

Israel belongs to God. If God wants a census, he will order it, not David. Further, when God did ask for a census – back in the days of Moses, he also told Moses that “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them.” (See Exodus 30:12) David didn’t collect the ransom fee; he just ordered that the census should be done. The result was the “plaguing of Israel” as God had promised. It was David who chose that option (the list was seven years of famine, three months of war, or three days of pestilence. Which would you pick? (As we remember from hearing our parents, “‘I don’t know'” is not an answer. Choose.”)

“But that’s so unfair! How many innocent people died? People who had nothing to do with David’s choice?”

70,000. And there would have been more had not the LORD stretched out his hand and saved Jerusalem.

“All because David wanted to count the people? Is that all he did wrong? And 70,000 died?!?

Well, no, it’s not “all” and it wasn’t “all David.” You should also look at the parallel account of this episode in 1 Chronicles 21. In both accounts, the LORD was already in an angry rage over the sins of Israel (2 Samuel 24:1), and Satan used that opportunity to entice David to take the census; it was against Israel that Satan rose up, not against David. David told Joab, Commanding General of his army, to do the census. Joab knew better and asked David, “But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this? Are they not all your servants? Why must you cause Israel to sin?” Joab took a large number of fighting men and toured the country taking the count, but he was so distressed that he omitted the tribes of Levi and Benjamin. David was very pleased with himself because he had a good idea of his military might. But, the people died for their sin in forgetting to pay the census tax. Satan incited (tempted) David to take the census without following God’s rules. God allowed the temptation to take place, and David failed the test. He was relying on himself and his soldiers, not God. God, therefore, allowed the promised consequences of disobedience – pestilence – to occur, but not without first offering David an option for the natural consequences of their (Israel and David) disobedience.

“That sounds a little bit like what happened to Herod and those other two kings.”

Exactly! Those three very evil men were struck down in a terrible, painful, obscenely-ugly death because they ” … did not give the glory to God … ” With Herod, there is a very remarkable word used to describe what happened to him – devoured by worms. This is the only time it appear in Scripture, so it it quite specific – “he was eaten by worms (σκωληκόβρωτος)* and died.” Antiochus IV, Herod The Great, and Herod Agrippa I all died in a similar way according to Scripture and/or contemporaneous historians. In each case, there is an account that the king saw an ominous figure – an omen of death, and that death followed after an extended period of suffering (five days in Herod Agrippa’s case). * skolekobrotos {sko-lay-kob’-ro-tos} = eaten by worms. All three men reportedly saw an angel of death before dying.

“So why didn’t David die some horrible death?”

He repented. In 2 Samuel 24:10 we read, “Later, David’s conscience bothered him after he had numbered the army, so David told the LORD, “I have sinned greatly by what I did. But now I am asking you, please remove the guilt of your servant, since I have acted very foolishly.” Because David and God had such an intimate relationship, God allowed David to choose the punishment for the sins of Israel and  David. Losing 70,000 people in peace-time was a hard blow to David’s pride.

The connection here is that all of these mighty (in the World’s view) men were struck down because they publicly committed Big-Time Sin before their citizenry and even caused the subjects to be part of that sin. Israel is The People of God. In the Pentateuch, a man was only allowed to count what he owned. David counted what God owned, and the people allowed it. God had told Israel, “If you count what does not belong to you, and you do not pay a ransom for what you count (thereby creating an indirect census), you will be struck with pestilence (plague) for your disobedience.” These kings set themselves up – and their subjects, too – as being sovereign over themselves rather than submitting to God’s Sovereignty.

God did not create us to be sinful, to be sinners, or to know death. He created us to be like him – perfect, loving, everlasting, sinless, and capable of choosing to stay that way. He placed his Likeness (Light) and Breath (Spirit) in us. When the World sees us, they should see the Light and Spirit of God. Instead the World sees … itself, not the Glory of God! That is what Jesus commands: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

“Easy to say. Tough to do.”

It is difficult, yes; especially if you were to believe that every earthling is totally depraved and irredeemable; but we know we are redeemable!

“How?”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Jesus paid the ransom required for being counted among the Children of God. He also paid the ransom for the sin committed when we fail to give God total Sovereignty in our lives. He paid once for all – all people, all sin, all time.

“Wow. What’s the catch?”

Jesus made it really simple: Repent and believe. Matthew 3:8Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” By that he means “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” It is that Love, itself a free gift from God, that will make the Light and Spirit predominate in our lives.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved

 

chick

Check out this article about the Threshing Floor of Araunah (whose name means “I shall shout for joy”), and learn more about how this particular location became important to Israel for a very glorious reason.

 

Angel Over the Threshing-floor of Araunah

Angel Over the Threshing-floor of Araunah

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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