Monday, September 24, 2012

Open heart, open hand

2Chronicles 21:18-30

Here we have the tale of David messing up again (bless his heart)- he wanted the people counted for selfish reasons - to feel like the important king of zillions of people.

God was not amused.

An avenging angel began striking his people - the very ones David had counted to puff himself up - with a plague.  Finally, the first real sign of repentance bursts from David's lips "what have these sheep done?  It was me, my sin - let your hand be against me and my house, not against the innocent !"(my rendering)

The moment this came from his lips, God stayed the angel's hand.

Right at the threshing floor of Ornan.

In 2 Samuel 24 he is called "Araunah" - the pre-Israelite/Canaanite name for the same thing.  Calling him "Ornan" implies that he has put himself under the care of the Hebrew God - perhaps between the writing of 2 Samuel and 1Chonicles.

I like this guy.

His 4 sons are with him threshing grain - when the avenging angel stops, right at his property!  The 4 sons hide.

Not Ornan. Our hero goes right on with his threshing.  Why wasn't he also afraid?

Perhaps he'd been to the temple that morning and offered sacrifices for himself and his sons, and knew that he was "prayed up".  Perhaps he was feeling the joy of the newly forgiven, content to continue his work until a) the angel took him to Abraham's bosom; b) the angel recognized his forgiven status and passed him by; or c) he wanted to model for his sons courage and trust in his new-found God.

Whatever the reason, David comes upon him and wants to buy his land to sacrifice to God.

Now, a little background.

This couldn't be Ornan's ancestral land, or it would go back to him @Jubilee, and this doesn't.  In fact, this becomes the land upon which the Temple is built.  So it must be part of the city land that Ornan had bought for the express purpose of threshing - the grain was tread upon by oxen, loosening it from its stalks and crushing the outer hard layer.  The grain was then tossed into the air and the wind blew away the chaff.  This land was on the top of Mt. Moriah, the winds would hit the top of the mount with unimpeded strength: perfect for a threshing floor.

This must have been a major purchase for Ornan - he was not a rich man, or he wouldn't be doing the threshing himself with his four sons. Servants/hirelings would be doing it. So this represented a step up for him, a smart purchase of valuable real estate. Which makes what happens next all the more amazing.

When David tells him he wants the land to sacrifice to God, Ornan doesn't miss a beat: he immediately responds "It's yours.  And look! How fortunate! Here's two oxen for the sacrifice - and oh! Wouldn't the yoke make great kindling?  Oh! and here is grain to complete the sacrificial offering.  Here - take it all.  I give it to you, free and clear." (My paraphrase)

In one translation it says, "...and Araunah, like a king, gives all he has to King David..." (2Sam 24:18-24) And God, in His delight over Ornan's open hand (and heart) -  over this ordinary, middle class worker bee, just going about his life ( and shining like gold in the eyes of God ) - God thinks so highly of Ornan that He records it for all posterity.

Because Ornan held back not a single, solitary thing - not an ox, not an expensive, custom made-so-they-don't-rub-the-shoulder-raw wooden yoke, not a single grain of wheat: not one thing.  I hear excitement in his offer, see shining eyes, a heart full of joy that something of his would be worthy to be offered to God in the name of his king!

But David knows that a sacrifice is not a sacrifice if it's free.  He would not offer to his God that which cost him nothing.

Lion heart to lion heart. Deep calling unto deep. Child of God giving to God from his heart, not just his pocket.

Every time I read this section, I am humbled by it.

As a CI, I don't have much.  And what little I have, truthfully, I have not always held with an open hand.  But if I really think about it, all of it belongs to Him in the first place.  What I "hold onto" (tightly) is an illusion - should God choose, like the chaff, He could blow it away with a single puff. He can also choose to provide more.

The challenge this presents to me is to consider this: Here I am, standing in front of my meager little pile of flotsam and jetsam, holding to my heart useless remnants of the world.  Do I continue in this stance?

Or do I have the courage to step aside, flinging my arms wide, fists open, palms facing up, in a glorious abandonment of self, and "like a king" give my all to Him, holding nothing back?

Do you?

Just a little something for both of us to ponder....

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