The season of festivals has begun , isn’t it? It is the month of Aadi for the Tamilians, soon to be followed by the Onam month for the Mallus, Dasara for Kannadigas, Divali for mostly everyone, Pujas for the Bengalis, culminating in the commercial Christmas and new year for everyone. What is the one common characteristic that unites all these festivals? You got it, it is sales culture, or what I would like to call the Freebie culture.
What is a Freebie culture? It is where some one gives away something free, so that they can attract , or retain a customer. It is something given in addition to the merchandise that you buy, so that the merchandise becomes more attractive. There are all kinds of free stuff going around in the economy today. But two shirts and get a third one free, buy a fridge and you get a TV free, etc etc. Actually in the world of digital marketing, there is a whole eco system of Freebies including, tips, and tools to create freebies etc.
So let us face it. We all like free stuff isn’t it? It feels good to get stuff free. When we go for negotiation, it generally is about how much more, can we get free? How much more discount we can get? What more van they throw into the deal etc? Isn’t it?
However the danger is when we extend this to our relationship with God.
So this morning, we are going to look at two characters. Two characters who exhibited behaviour very contrary to the ones that we see normally. One person who was willing to give everything he had for free, and another person who was completely unwilling to accept such a free offer, and insisted on paying for what he needed to offer to his God.
This is the encounter between Arouna the Jebusite and King David. This is described in two places in the Bible in 1 Chronicles 21 and 2 Samuel 24. In the book of Chronicles Arouna is referred to by the name Ornan, but otherwise the stories are exactly the same. The background is in the wake of the Satan inspired census that David decided to take of his fighting men and the subsequent punishment. David had to offer a sacrifice to stop the punishment and death of more of his subjects.
Let us open our bibles to 2 Samuel 24:18-25 (NKJV). We will unpack it in sections.
V 18 “And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” Now we need to remember that David is the King. When the King needs something, generally, He sends for the person who has it, isn’t it? But here we find a difference in David’s action. He does not send for Araunah, he does not send a messenger, but as given in
V 19 So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded. He goes himself, in obedience, to the command of God.
V 20 -21 Now Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.”
Let us take a break here and go back to the time when the Israelites demanded a King for themselves. When they rejected the divine king the Lord himself and insisted on a human king, just like the other nations had around them, just because they wanted to be similar to the other nations around them. I spoke about this in my last sermon here. Samuel warns the people 1 Samuel 8:11-17 (NKJV) And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. Araunah most probably knew about this and was prepared for the worst when a King himself came to visit him asking for a plot of land. He was not willing to take any chances with the King. He did not want to play with fire and invite the wrath of the King. So we need to understand Araunah’s response to a Kings request in this background.
V 22-23 Now Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever seems good to him. Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood. All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.”
Now, we have to remember that Araunah was not a Jew. He is from the ethnic group of Jebusites who were the original inhabitants and rulers of Jerusalem, much before King David conquered the place and made it part of the Kingdom. (There are even stories of some of the contemporary Palestinian leaders like Yasser Arafat claiming that they are descendants of Jebusites and hence the legal inheritors to the city of Jerusalem) So King David was actually an invader in the original land of Araunah. Araunah had a right to be unhappy about the request from the King. But he shows a high level of generosity and offers up all he had to meet the request of the king. He is offering not only the land, the only request from the King, but he is also offering the oxen, for the burnt offering, (burnt offering required bulls), and wood. Now just imagine Araunah’s plight. He is a farmer. His occupation is farming, and farming requires oxen and the yoke and the threshing implements. Look at his offer in this context. He is offering the land, he is offering the oxen, and the threshing implements. In other words Araunah is willing to go bankrupt to meet the higher need of the King. No land, no oxen, no yoke, no threshing implements. Araunah even offers a prayer to top it all. “May the LORD your God accept you.” This is very different from the real estate negotiations that we witness today isn’t it? Here is a seller giving away much more than what the buyer is looking for. And a seller who is willing to give it all away for free.
It is even more fantastic to look at the response of David to this free offer.
V. 24 Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. David could very well have had the land for nothing, but he refuses to take the land for nothing, because it was meant to be an offering to his God, and he was particular that he cannot sacrifice to his God something that cost him nothing. And we know the final result
V 25 And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.
In the old testament the burnt offering is a key part of the atonement of sins. Peace is made between God and sinners through such sacrifices. There are detailed instructions on this in the book of Leviticus. David did not want the offering to be made without paying a price.
How about us, who live in the New Testament times and know that our sins have already been paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. Are we willing to pay a price for our atonement, or do we offer a thanksgiving to our Lord for the final atonement of our sins through the person of Jesus Christ? How do we react when we have to do some additional work for the church? For the Lord? What is our attitude when we have to give a little extra time to help another believer? Are we willing to pay a price for honoring our God?
Let us look at Jude 1:1-2 (NKJV) Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Do we believe that Jude’s message is addressed to us, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ ? It is a powerful combination isn’t it? Called, sanctified and preserved in Jesus Christ. That is the true definition of a Christian isn’t it? If we continue to read the remaining portion of the book of Jude, we will realise what could have happened to us, if we were not called and not sanctified and not preserved in Christ. “marked out for condemnation.., reserved in everlasting chains under darkness.., suffering the vengeance of eternal fire…, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.., are just some of the phrases that we read in Jude 4-19. That is what we are saved from because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So does that give us a responsibility?
Jude 1:3 (NKJV) answers that. Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. We are exhorted “to contend earnestly for the faith”. How do we contend for the faith? The dictionary meaning of contend is to strive or struggle against difficulties. The apostles contended for the faith by suffering for the Gospel. Suffering patiently and courageously for the faith. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 (KJV) But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. In today’s world, where prosperity is promised without any effort, where the “free” nature of grace is advertised much more than the fact that to follow Jesus, one needs to take up the cross daily and follow him. Has suffering become a bad word for Christians? Do we take Grace and sanctification for granted?
This morning, let us examine ourselves and ask ourselves, Are we called? Do we accept that we are sanctified, are we thankful to the Lord that we are preserved in Christ? If the answer is in the affirmative, then can we ask, are we willing a pay a price for giving thanks offering to our Lord for that privilege? Can we like David assert, nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.
Let us pray
Let me end with the benediction that comes from the book of Jude today
Jude 1:24-25 (NKJV) Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.