As a follow up to a recent blog, I got this question:
I noticed in Ch 24:1 it says, ”Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”
So, why was David being punished for what he was told to do?
Such a good question deserves a longer answer.
First of all, we want to affirm that God is not the author of evil, nor does he promote sin.
At the same time, there are instances in the Bible where we clearly see that one of the punishments for sin is more sin; that is, when people are willfully going away from God, God can at times say, “Fine! Have it your way!” God can and does give people over to their sin, which leads to more judgment; and it’s a terrible punishment from God.
That God of wrath–who would do something like give David over to more sin as a punishment for the willful sins of Israel–is the same God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Punishment for sin, however, is a part of what we technically call “The Alien Work of God;” that is, actions on behalf of God that are still God, but not the heart of who God truly is.
That God of wrath is the same God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
We sometimes run up agains this alien work of God in our own lives when we suffer but don’t know why, or when we turn on the news to learn that thousands of seemingly innocent people have been killed by chemical warfare. We can’t say bad things happen apart from God or His will, but we are not invited to find God or His heart in these kinds of things.
Instead, even when we experience a God who seems bent on destruction and wrath, we run back to the true heart of God, His love for us in Jesus Christ. The truth is, God is ruling over all history and creation for us, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
Even when we experience a God who seems bent on destruction and wrath, we run back to the true heart of God, His love for us in Jesus Christ.
So why does God punish David for something that David was incited to do in the first place? Because God is God and can do whatever He wants, and because David and Israel deserved both wrath and punishment.
But that’s God dealing with us in our sin. We also need God dealing with us by our Savior. When God seems arbitrary or wrathful, run to Jesus. Trust the promise that you are forgiven and loved, even when outside evidence seems to point to punishment. Your victory is already accomplished but still hidden, until the Day when Jesus comes and His will is done finally and ultimately on earth as it is in heaven.
Come, Lord Jesus!