Series: Scarlet Thread
I would suppose that most of you are too far away to see this picture here, but young Shernfeldt, who has been a member of our church so many years and accompanied us on one of the trips to the Holy Land, drew a sketch of the wilderness into which the scapegoat was sent. And on the other side, you see the hills of Moab and then the Dead Sea, and then this side, the wilderness of Judea that goes down to the salt flat of the Dead Sea, and he has drawn a picture there of a scapegoat.
On the Day of Atonement, you remember, one of the goats is slain, and the sins of the nation confessed, and its blood sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies [Leviticus 16:3-16]. And then the other goat is taken and driven away into the wilderness; a sign of the atonement for our sins in the blood of Christ, and they are taken away by driving, in type, the scapegoat out into the wilderness [Leviticus 16:20-28]. And that is a picture of that scapegoat with a scarlet thread, a scarlet band tied around his head. And here are some words from tradition concerning that scapegoat.
Last Wednesday night, we were speaking of the ashes of a red heifer, which is one of the most poignant and unusual of all of the types of Christ to be found in the entire Word of God. The ashes of a red heifer are described in Numbers 19:1-22 and referred to in Hebrews 9:13. And the purpose of the ashes, the heifer was sacrificed, slain, and completely burned with cedar and hyssop and a scarlet thread [Numbers 19:6], and our subject, as you know, is “The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible.”
“And the ashes were put up and mingled with running water, fresh water,” not stagnant; and if anybody came in contact with the dead, or came into the presence of death, or inadvertently touched a symbol of death such as a grave or a bone, he was unclean, and the ashes of the red heifer cleansed him, purified him [Numbers 19:16-19]. And we were talking about how that symbol of cleansing from the judgment of death is to be found in the sacrifice of our Lord.
That was the lecture last Wednesday night.
Now tonight, there is one other unusual type and symbol of our Lord in the Book of Numbers, and this one is most familiar to all of our people. It is the brazen serpent, which is described in Numbers 21, verses 4 through 9, Numbers 21:4-9:
And they journeyed from Mount Hor by way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this manna, this light bread.
And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against thee: pray unto the Lord, that He take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a man were bitten by a serpent, if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
Even the Lord used this in the third chapter of the Book of John as a type and a symbol of His sacrifice for our sins [John 3:14-15].
So we’re going to look at it just for a moment. The people, because of sin, were bitten by serpents [Numbers 21:5-6]. That in itself is a significant symbol, for the serpent, in Revelation 12:9 is Satan, the devil, the dragon. And this is the way he works. In Genesis 3:1 following, it’s easy to see how he does, and he hasn’t changed his ways since the creation of Adam and Eve.
Actually, Satan is stupid. He has no new tricks. He has no new approaches. He does the same thing today that he did thousands of years ago. He doesn’t change. He’s just the same. He raises the question about the Word of God, “Yea, did God say thus and so?” [Genesis 3:1]. Then he boldly denies the word of God, “Thou shalt not surely die” [Genesis 3:4].
And he falsifies the character and the purposes of God. He says, “God is robbing you of some marvelous experience,” or, “God is cheating you out of some wonderful amusement,” or, “God is denying you some thing that would make you ecstatic.” He’s just the same. He questions God’s word. Then he denies God’s word. Then he presents to you that God is denying you some infinite pleasure.
Now when we listen to the siren voice of Satan, the work that he brings to pass in us is devastating. Genesis 2:17 says, mut tamut, “dying thou shalt surely die.” Moral death, Ephesians 2:1; intellectual death, Job 11:12; physical death, Genesis 5:5. Isn’t it a strange thing? Adam lived to be nine hundred and thirty [Genesis 5:5], Methuselah lived to be nine hundred and sixty-nine [Genesis 5:27]. No one ever lived beyond that day of the Lord. “In the day that thou sinnest, thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:17].
That day they died morally, spiritually [Romans 5:12], and within the day of the Lord, which the Bible says is a thousand years [2 Peter 3:8], they died physically [Genesis 5:5]. And they died in spiritual death, which is separation from God. And the Bible calls it the second death [Revelation 20:14-15].
So, the serpent is a type of Satan, whose devastating works brings the fall and judgment upon us. And God’s way of salvation is the scarlet thread through the Bible; 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For God made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” The way of salvation resembled the instrument of death, a serpent entwined around a pole [John 3:14-15].
Isn’t it an amazing thing that universally, from ancient times until this, the sign of health and healing, whether it’s in a hospital or whether it’s on a doctor’s emblem, is a caduceus, a serpent entwined around a pole. It is a brazen serpent hanging motionless. Its fangs are extracted. It is limp and harmless. It hangs with a drooping head. It is not an actual serpent. That would be just a dead snake that ought to be killed and destroyed, and it would only suggest how many more were still alive.
But it is a brazen serpent, a representative serpent. And the representative serpent hangs there on the pole, dead, harmless and limp [Numbers 21:8-9]. So, Christ, in John 3:14: “A serpent nailed to a pole,” that’s sin. Not just another sinner stained, ought to be judged, not just one of us deserving to die for his own guilt, not just another crucified thief, but He is the representative man made in the likeness of sinful flesh, made sin for us [2 Corinthians 5:21]. He absorbed in His own person all the virulent and venom and poison of our judgment [Isaiah 53:5], and He is dead on the cross [John 19:3-34].
Sin there is limp and lifeless. Its fangs are extracted. It is suspended and dead [Genesis 3:15; John 3:14]. No second blow is needed. No bone is broken, so certainly is He dead [John 19:31-34]. And God’s call to us for the remission of our sins is to look and live; Christ is raised in the midst of the camp, and the healing is effected through a moral act [John 3:14-17]. Less could not have been required and more by some could not have been offered, but this is enough.
The look is enough. The look showed that the man who looked, dying, believed God’s Word and promise [Numbers 21:8-9]. He expected God’s healing. The will of man accepted the will of God, and the reliance upon God was expressed in the man’s willingness to accept God’s way of salvation, the pledge of God’s love and His care and His healing. The moment the man looked, he lived. Some bitten terribly, almost gone, some bitten slightly, but the worst or the least were saved alike [Numbers 21:9]. Thus, to the cross, the feeblest, the humblest and the vilest can turn [John 3:14-17].
“Lord, remember me,” said the dying thief. And in the look, he lived [Luke 23:42-43]. I wonder if I could illustrate that in a way that—I’ll see whether it illustrates it or not after I tell it, that a look is sufficient to show moral turning, repentance, and acceptance.
I came home one evening when our daughter Mabel Ann was a little girl. And my wife announced to me that she had been bad, and she was up there in my bedroom where my wife had sent her. And my wife had told the little girl that when I came home, and the mother had told me what bad things she had done, that I would chasten her authoritatively and properly.
So after the description of what she had done, I acquiesced she needed to be chastened properly and with sovereign authority. So I went up to the bedroom and closed the door, and there she sits. So I went through the bad things she had done, and she acquiesced in all of that she had done it.
So I said, “You are to be punished.” She said, “Yes. I am waiting for you to punish me.” Well, I took off my belt, just unbuckled it and pulled it out. And when I held up that long belt, she looked at me in the most pitiful way you could ever know, and I couldn’t strike the blow. I couldn’t do it.
I said, “Well, honey, let’s get down here, and we’ll tell God all about it.” I remembered that because that’s exactly what God said here; a moral act, repentance, and sorrow, an expected mercy and grace [Luke 23:42-43]. I suppose that I am a sentimental and doting father that’s not capable of punishing his child. I suppose I should have taken that belt and really beat her. I suppose I should have. But I can see that child look at me today. I remember it so well. That’s what God is like, when we turn in tears and in repentance and look, expecting healing and forgiveness in the Lord. The Lord does not disappoint us [Isaiah 55:7].
And that gives rise to some of the finest verses in our hymn today:
There is life for a look at the Crucified One.
There is life at this moment for thee.
Then look, sinner, look unto Him on the cross
Unto Him who died on the tree.
[“There is Life for a Look at the Crucified One,” Miss A. M. Hull]
I suppose the most famous of all of the conversions in our Baptist world is the conversion of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. He says that when he was sixteen years old, going along in a heavy snowstorm on the Lord’s day, he turned into a little Methodist chapel. There was a handful of people there. It was in the evening. There was no minister there. A layman was expounding on that verse in Isaiah, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” [Isaiah 45:22] And the layman was speaking on that verse, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved.” And Spurgeon says, “The layman turned to me and said, ‘Young man, you look so miserable. Young man, look to Jesus, look to Jesus.’“ And Spurgeon says, “That night, I looked and I lived.”
I have a message from the Lord, hallelujah!
It is only that you look and live.
Look and live, my brother, live.
Look to Jesus Christ and live
Tis recorded in His Word, hallelujah!
It is only that you look and live.
[“I Have a Message from the Lord,” W.A. Ogden, 1887]
The message of the gospel is always wash and be clean [2 Kings 5:10; Revelation 7:14]. Look and live [Numbers 21:8-9; John 3:14-17]. Believe and be saved [Acts 16:30-31]. It is never anything else. Ho, Ho, come without money and without price” [Isaiah 55:1]. It is just for the asking, for the taking, for the beholding, for the having. This is the gospel of the grace of the Son of God.
Now we have come to the pilgrimage of the Promised Land in the Book of Numbers. At the close of Leviticus Israel is still at Mt. Sinai. There the laws were given them, the priests were ordained, the sacrifices presented and the tabernacle constructed [Leviticus 27:34]. So in the Book of Numbers, they strike camp and they resume their march to Canaan [Numbers 10:11-12, 33]. There are about two or three million or more people in twelve tribes, and they camp in a square. In the center is the tabernacle, and there are three tribes to the side, with the tribe of Levi in their courses all the way around [Numbers 2:1-34].
And after a year at Mt. Sinai, they now march with two symbols of God present—one, a cloud by day and a fire by night in Numbers 9:15-23, and the second symbol, the sound of the two silver trumpets, Numbers 10:2-3, 9-10, calling the people. When the cloud moved, they moved. When the cloud stopped, they stopped. And when the trumpets blew, they were ready for the march.
And finally they came to Kadesh Barnea. Deuteronomy 1;2 says it is only an eleven days journey from Sinai to Kadesh Barnea, yet it took the people two to four months to make it [Numbers 10:11, 13:1-3, 26] due to their incorrigibility [Numbers 11:1-12, 16]. And there at Kadesh Barnea, swiftly, summarily, is told the story of their fatal disbelief, in two chapters, Numbers 13 and 14; the mission of the spies [Numbers 13:1-25], the report of the spies [Numbers 13:26-33], the unbelief and apostasy of the people, and the judgment of God that all of them should die in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb [Numbers 14:1-35].
So at Kadesh Barnea, after one year, they come there and refuse to enter in [Numbers 14:1-11], and God says because of their unbelief, they shall all die except those two, Caleb and Joshua [Numbers 14:26-30]. And they wander in the wilderness for thirty-eight years [Deuteronomy 2:14]. Did they wander individually? I have a kind of a feeling that they did. I have the persuasion that the tabernacle stayed at Kadesh Barnea, and for thirty-eight years, they wandered in the wilderness until they all died. Isn’t that a tragic thing? That is the appeal of Hebrews chapter 3, verses 15 to 19, Hebrews chapter 3, verses 15 to 19:
While it is said, Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation.
For some, when they had heard, did provoke: . . .
But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?
And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believe not?
So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
That is the saddest story that I could imagine. Redeemed out of Egypt, coming within a few weeks to Mt. Sinai, there for a year listening to the voice of God, then marching to Kadesh Barnea, and the spies come back with a marvelous report [Numbers 13:26-30], but because there were giants in the land they were to conquer, they turned back in unbelief [Numbers 13:31-33; 14:2-10, 22-23]. And in the judgment of God for thirty-eight years, they wander aimlessly, purposelessly in the wilderness until that generation that came out of Egypt died [Numbers 14:22-23; Deuteronomy 2:14-16].
Well, at the end of the thirty-eight years—that would be thirty-nine years since they came out of Egypt—at the end of the thirty-eight years of wandering, they are reassembled at Kadesh Barnea [Numbers 20:1]. That’s why I suppose that the tabernacle just stayed there and the people just scattered wherever they could find grub, wherever they could; whatever it was, God took care of them, giving them manna or preserving their lives. They were just aimlessly wandering until they died. So after the thirty-eight years, they are at Kadesh Barnea again. They are assembled at Kadesh Barnea [Numbers 20:1]. That’s right down there in the southern part of Israel.
And from thence they go to Moab, where Moses died and the wanderings ended [Numbers 20:14-21:20; Deuteronomy 34:1-8]. Now, on the plains of Moab, Moses, before he died, addresses the people [Deuteronomy 1:5]. Deuteronomy, deutero[s], “two,” “second,” nomos, “law,” the second giving of the law, a repetition, a repeating, a summarization of the law. In Deuteronomy, you have five orations of Moses delivered on the plain of Moab, and then you have the closing events of his life.
The five orations are these.He recounts the story of the wandering, chapter 1, verse 6 to chapter 4, verse 43 [Deuteronomy 1:6-4:43].
– The second oration: he elaborates on the Sinaitic laws, 4:44 to 11:32 [Deuteronomy 4:44-11:32].
– In the third oration, he presents an exposition of God’s special laws and purposes for Israel, Deuteronomy 12:1-26:19.
– In the fourth oration, there are the curses for disobedience and the blessings for obedience, Deuteronomy 27:1-28:68.
– And the fifth oration is an appeal to accept the covenant God has made with the people, “Do this and thou shalt live,” Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20.
Then we have the closing events in his life.
– In Deuteronomy 31:1-29 are his words of encouragement, a charge to keep.
– And then third: the command to get up to Mt. Nebo to die, Deuteronomy 32:48-52.
– And then four: the blessing of Moses upon the tribes, Deuteronomy 33:1-29.
Then you have an appendix to the Book of Deuteronomy, [Deuteronomy 34:1-12]. His death is described and his burial.
And in Jude 9, remember Michael the archangel contesting with Satan over the body of Moses. What do you think that Satan wanted to do with the body of Moses? What do you think? Let me surmise. I think he wanted the body of Moses to make him an idolatrous shrine. Look. And from then on, why, even the brazen serpent was kept and lured Israel into idolatry until it was absolutely destroyed [2 Kings 18:4]. And if that, just a brazen serpent, did that to Israel to lead them into idolatry, think what would have happened had Satan been able to take the body of Moses. Now that’s just a speculation. That’s not in the Bible. That’s a Criswellian.
I have a note here concerning the sadness of the one psalm that Moses wrote. It’s Psalm 90. When you think of the sadness of that psalm, do you know why? I don’t think there’s any doubt about this, even though it is another speculation on the part of the pastor. If there were three million of those people who died in thirty-eight years, Moses saw something like two hundred to three hundred funeral processions going by every day, every day. Can you imagine that? When you read that ninetieth Psalm—I wish we had time to read it—when you read that ninetieth Psalm, it has the feeling of infinite sadness, infinite sadness.
Well, had you a pastor in this church, and he had two hundred to three hundred funeral services every day, can you imagine what it would do to the pastor’s heart, to see the people crying and lamenting and burying away their beloved dead?
So we come now to the Nation of Israel in the land, to the Book of Joshua, which covers a period of about twenty-five years. We have there the miracle of the dividing of the water of the Jordan [Joshua 3:1-17], as you did the dividing of the Red Sea [Exodus 14:13-31]. Then you have the entrance into a new era, a new age, a new life. The strange thing to me, God says to Joshua in chapter 1, verse 3, “Everywhere that your foot will touch, that will I give you, as I promised” [Joshua 1:3], but they had to fight for every inch of it.
Now there are two mighty meaningful chapters in the Book of Joshua to me. One is chapter 5. In chapter 5, verses 1 through 9, there is the reinstitution of the rite of circumcision [Joshua 5:1-9]. In the apostasy, they had forsaken the covenant relationship with God. In chapter 5, verse 10, there’s the keeping of the Passover [Joshua 5:10], I would suppose, for the first time since they observed it at Mt. Sinai forty years before [Exodus 12:1-28]. In chapter 5, verses 11 and 12, there is the cessation of the manna when they ate of the fruit of the land [Joshua 5:11-12].
Now I want to make a comment right there. While they were in the wilderness, to keep them from starving to death, God sent them manna [Exodus 16:12-15]. But when they came into the Promised Land, there the country was fruitful, and they ate of the corn of the land, they ate of the wheat and barley of the land. And when they did, the manna ceased [Joshua 5:11-12].
I have down here, and I don’t have time to read it, 2 Thessalonians 3, verses 7 to 12, “When we are helpless, God will care for us, but when we can care for ourselves and when we are able to do it, God expects us to care for ourselves.” That passage in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 says, “If a man would not work, neither should he eat” [2 Thessalonians 3:10].
Don’t you wish you could go to Washington and inscribe that on all those marble columns around there? Don’t you wish you could? All of these increasing numbers of people with their hands out? Why don’t they work? God says they ought not to eat if they won’t work, but dear me, and it’s a growing way of life for increasing hundreds of thousands of Americans. And in chapter 5, verses 13 to 15, there is a Christophany, an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ [Joshua 5:13-15].
Then the other wonderful chapter, to me, is chapter 24. That’s the noble appeal of the old soldier who is now about one hundred and ten years old, and he says, “If you do not want to serve God, choose this day whom you will serve; but as for me and my house, we are going to serve the Lord” [Joshua 24:15]. And the effect of his life for good and for God was tremendous. Israel served God all the days, this is chapter 24, verse 31, Israel served God all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the people who knew Joshua [Joshua 24:31].
Now we come to the period of the judges. This is a period of about three hundred and thirty years. The noblest judge is Gideon, by far, and the saddest of all of them is Samson. It is a time of disorganization, repeated apostasy and tragedy, but in those dark days, there is one of the most beautiful stories that happened that you will find in human literature.
In the days of the judges, you have the romantic, beautiful story of Ruth [Ruth 1:1-4:22]. In Judges there’s war; in Ruth, there’s peace. In Judges, there’s cruelty; in Ruth, there’s kindness. In Judges, there’s idolatry; in Ruth, there’s the worship of the true God. In Judges, there’s violence; in Ruth, there’s virtue. In Judges, there’s villainy; in Ruth, there is vitality. In Judges, there’s lust; in Ruth, there’s love. In Judges, there’s disloyalty; in Ruth, there is devotion. Ruth, in the period of the judges, is like a pure, beautiful lily coming up out of a miasmal pond.
It’s the same, exact thing as you find in the days of the Palestinian state of Israel, of Judah. The Pharisees, the Sadducees, all the Herodian stories that are sodden and sordid, yet in that day, you have the beautiful story of the Virgin Mary and righteous, godly Joseph [Matthew 1:18-25]. Now the great reason for Ruth is to present the ancestry of David; Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David [Ruth 4:21-22].
Now we come to first and second Samuel. In the person of Samuel, you have the last of the judges, the greatest of all the judges by far. And he is the first of the prophets, and in him is the beginning of the kingdom. He was a lad asked for of God [1 Samuel 1:11], given by God [1 Samuel 1:20], dedicated to God [1 Samuel 1:11, 28], and he lived for God. And you have in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Hannah’s wonderful story, wonderful song like the Magnificat of Mary in Luke 1:46-55.
Samuel founded the order of the prophets [1 Samuel 19:18-20]. He established schools of the prophets like our seminaries and like our Bible Institute, Dr. Eddleman. Long before Plato had his academy and long before Aristotle had his Lyceum and long before Xeno had his porch, the stoa, the stoic, did Samuel found the School of the Prophets hundreds and hundreds of years before.
Samuel was a man of prayer. At every critical time in the life of the nation, you’ll find Samuel down on his knees. First Samuel 7, verses 5 and 8 and 9, he is praying for the people at Mizpeh [1 Samuel 7:5, 8-9]. In 1 Samuel 12, verses 19 and 23, he’s agonizing before God concerning their asking for a king [1 Samuel 12:19, 23]. In 1 Samuel, chapter 15, verse 11, he’s hurt over the apostasy of Saul, and he cries before the Lord [1 Samuel 15:11]. In the after books of the Bible, he’s known as a man of prayer. He’s referred to in Psalm 99:6 as a man of prayer and in Jeremiah 15:1 as a man of prayer.
So we come in the days of Samuel to the king and the kingdom. The united kingdom lasted one hundred and twenty years, from Saul to Solomon. The divided kingdom lasted two hundred and fifty-three years, from Rehoboam to Hosea, the last of the kings of the northern tribes.
Then the single kingdom continued, Judah continued for one hundred and thirty-six years from Hezekiah to Zedekiah, altogether about five hundred years. A king for Israel was in the divine purpose. It is so expressed in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. But the reason it so hurt the heart of God is expressed in 1 Samuel 8:5.
They came to Samuel and wanted a king. Why? Because God had intended it? No! Because it was the will of heaven? No! They wanted a king because they wanted to be like everybody else. Isn’t that a sad thing for the people of God? We want to be like the world [1 Samuel 8:4-5].
And the church is so much like that. We want to be like the world. And some of the people think that, you know, if we’d just be like the world, we surely would get a hold of their interest. We surely would entice them into the faith. If we’ll just copy the example of the world, why, we’ll just have them flock in here to us and to our Lord. Let me tell you a truth. The more the church is like the world, the more it loses its witness and its power. The people of God ought to be the great unlike, the great dissimilar. We ought to be separate from worldliness.
And that’s why God was hurt. He expected them to have a king, gave long verses in Deuteronomy concerning the day of the anointing of the king, but oh, to have a king for that reason hurt God [1 Samuel 8:4-5].
Then after Saul, there is King David, and I’m going to close with the life of David. David was not only an individual, he was an institution. He was not only a sovereign, he was a symbol; the embodiment of all Israel’s ideals were in King David. He was a shepherd and a soldier. He was a king and an administrator. He was a poet and a prophet. He was a musician and a diplomat. He was a hero and a saint. Now, wait, preacher, a saint? David? He sadly sinned [2 Samuel 11:2-17], but he greatly repented. You will not find in the Psalms two more gloriously worded hymns than Psalm 51 and Psalm 32. In Psalm 51 he is repenting [Psalm 51:1-17], and in Psalm 32 he is forgiven [Psalm 32:1-11]. Oh, those two psalms, Psalm 51, Psalm 32, that is David. He is a type of the Messiah, if ever there was one.
When he was fifteen years old, he was anointed by Samuel in 1 Samuel 16 [1 Samuel 16:11-13]. When he was thirty years old, he was anointed by the men of Judah, 2 Samuel 2:4. When he was thirty-seven years of age, he was anointed by all the elders of Israel, [2 Samuel 5:3]. He reigned forty years as a king [2 Samuel 5:4], and he died at the age of seventy.
Now I have here a listing of the moving events in the life of David, and with this our time is spent. Listen to them now. Number one: significant events in the life of David. Number one: Jerusalem was chosen as his capital. In 2 Samuel, chapter 5, verses 6 to 10, the city of the Jebusite, Jebus, is conquered [2 Samuel 5:6-10], something Joshua was never able to do. The city was called Salem, in Genesis 14:18, and Melchizedek was its king at that time. David took it, and it is called Jerusalem, sometimes called Mount Zion, sometimes called the city of David, many times called the Holy City, but Jerusalem is the city chosen by David to be the capital of the people of God [2 Samuel 5:4-7].
And I think it will be our capital forever. I think when the New Jerusalem comes down from God out of heaven [Revelation 21:2], I think that is our capital city, where the throne of God shall be and out of which God is going to rule the universe, and we are going to be His servants, and we will have our assignments [Revelation 22:3-5].
You know, the scientist is still looking at how big this universe is. I’m going to have a meeting tomorrow night with a group in the church, their two Sunday school classes. And they’re going to ask me questions. And a little bird came and said, “One of the questions they’re going to ask you is what are we going to do in heaven.” That’s going to be one of the questions. I know exactly where that question came from.
The caricature of heaven is some sorry, no-account, good-for-nothing, no-good out here, dies and he’s seated up there on a cloud, and he’s got wings and a halo over his head, and there he sits for all eternity. Now that is the world’s idea of heaven. Can you imagine that? The Lord said to this man, “You have been faithful. I am going to make you ruler over, over five cities. You have been faithful. I will make you ruler over ten cities” [Luke 19:16-19].
How big is God’s universe? Even the astronomer can’t probe the limit of God’s creation. The capital city is going to be here in this earth. The New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven [Revelation 21:2], and out of that capital city, God’s going to administer His recreated earth with us, His saints. I think we can colonize any beautiful, perfect, Edenic planet that we want to.
Right now, those stars are so blasted, and right now, even our earth is so hurt, but when God rejuvenates, renovates this universe, the heavens and the earth, everything is going to be perfect just as God made it in the beginning [Genesis 1:1-23], and all of it is going to be ours. Some of us may have the administration of 500 million planets. Some of us may have the administration of 500 billion stars. Some of us may have the administration of vast areas. It’s going to be a wonderful and busy time.
And as you’ve heard me say so many times, I want God to give me one of those planets. Out of the billions and the billions, just give me one of them and let me get my little box and let me stand up there and finish all of these sermons I’ve been preaching for thirty years. And just anybody that wants to come over to the Criswellian planet, well, you just come and spend a few million years with me as we talk about all the things of the Lord. Jerusalem was chosen as the capital by David [2 Samuel 5:4-7].
Number two, these marvelous events in the life of David: the ark of the covenant was brought into Jerusalem by David [1 Chronicles 16:1]. It was lost to the Philistines under Eli [1 Samuel 4:10-11]. Twenty years it abode in the home of Abinadab of Kirjath-jearim [1 Samuel 7:1-2] when the Philistines were cursed, and they sent it away [1 Samuel 5:8-12]. Three months it abode in the home of Obed-Edom [2 Samuel 6:11], when Uzzah touched it, you remember, and died, and David was so disappointed [2 Samuel 6:6-8].
Then David brought it to Jerusalem and placed it in a tent, 2 Samuel 6:17, amid great rejoicing. And the psalm that David wrote when they brought the ark into Jerusalem is recorded in 1 Chronicles, chapter 16, verse 1 and verses 7 to 36 [1 Chronicles 16:7, 7-36]. And it finally rested in the Holy of Holies in the temple of Solomon, I Kings 8:1-9. In 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar took it away into the Babylonian captivity [Jeremiah 39:1-10, 52:4-30;2 chronicles 17-21], and it disappears from sight until we see it in Revelation 11:19 in heaven. I wonder if that ark of the covenant is still there and if we’ll see it when we get to heaven. It is in heaven, in Revelation 11:19, and there it seemingly abides forever.
All right, the third great event in the life of David. In 2 Samuel chapter 7, there is promised to him a Son who shall reign on his throne forever [2 Samuel 7:12-13]. Now in that chapter 7, some of the things pertain to Solomon. Some of them pertain to the eternal Messiah, but that is the Word of God, that David shall have a Son to sit upon his throne forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end [2 Samuel 7:12-13]. The dominion shall be from everlasting to everlasting [Isaiah 9:7].
The fourth wonderful thing about David: he is called the sweet psalmist of Israel in 2 Samuel 23:1. And the Book says that David invented musical instruments, and he divided the Levites into choruses [1 Chronicles 15:16, 23:5], and they sang the psalms, the songs that David wrote and others later wrote. I just think that when we do this in our church, we are just doing a beautiful thing that pleases God when we have the instruments in the church and when we have the singers by choruses. At 8:15, we have a chapel choir, at the other services a sanctuary choir.
Sunday morning they had a junior choir. Some other day there will be yet another one. Even at this hour there are some of our choirs with children who are practicing. That began so beautifully and largely in David [1 Chronicles 6:31, 25:6].
You know, if you want to take time to preach just a little bit, what a wonderful place right here to describe David, the shepherd boy, playing on his harp [1 Samuel 16:23], singing the twenty-third Psalm to his sheep [Psalm 23:1-6], and the angels bow down their ears from heaven and listen to that little boy play and sing. That’s preaching!
I tell you. There is nothing too sweet or too kind or too exalted to say about David. It is a tragedy, of course, and that’s what Nathan said to him. “David, because of what you have done, you have given occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme” [2 Samuel 12:13-14]. And that’s true today. Whenever you think of David, you think of the time that he fell. But I say though he sadly sinned [2 Samuel 11:2-17], he greatly repented. Psalm 51 [Psalm 51:1-17], Psalm 32 [Psalm 32:1-11], and the life of this Old Testament saint, there’s just everything wonderful to be said about David.
Now number five and last, the significant things in his life. Of course, these are just things that I pick out. Number five: it is in the story of David, 2 Samuel, chapter 24. It is in the story of David that you have the setting for the site of the temple [2 Samuel 24:18-25].
David sinned against the Lord in not trusting Him and numbering the people. Rather than trust God for it, he is going to trust the arm of man [2 Samuel 24:2-10]. And the Lord gave him a choice of three—to flee before his enemies, to have—to flee before his enemies for three months, to have a pestilence for three days, and something in the middle—what is the third one? I have forgotten it.
What? A famine, yeah; a famine for—maybe a famine for three months—six months or—to flee before his enemies for three months and a tragic pestilence for three days [2 Samuel 24:13]. And David cast himself—what? Seven years of famine. How long before his enemies? Three months to flee before his enemies and then three days of terrible pestilence.
So David said, “The Lord is merciful. We will cast ourselves upon the mercy of God” [2 Samuel 24:12-14], so he chose the pestilence. And when the pestilence had destroyed, my remembrance, of 70,000 of them, when the pestilence destroyed something like 70,000 of the men of Israel, why, the angel of destruction came to stand over Jerusalem with his sworn drawn [2 Samuel 24:15-16].
And when David saw the destroying angel stand with his sword drawn over the city of Jerusalem, he cried out before God, saying, “Lord, it is my fault, not these poor sheep,” and he calls them poor sheep, “not these poor sheep” [2 Samuel 24:16-17]. And the Lord said to him, “David, go to this threshing floor and there offer up a sacrifice to make propitiation, atonement [2 Samuel 24:18-19], the scarlet thread through the Bible.”
So, when he came to Araunah, Araunah said, “Oh, my king,” as he bowed in obeisance before him. “Take these animals, these oxen, and let them be for sacrifice, and take this—these instruments, threshing instruments, and let them be for wood, and I give the place to you” [2 Samuel 24:20-23], a noble thing on the part of Araunah, but a nobler thing on the part of David. Didn’t I say he’s one of the great, marvelous men of all time and a perfect type of Jesus? David said, “Nay, I will buy it of thee, for I will not offer unto the Lord that which doth cost me nothing” [2 Samuel 24:24]. So there David built an altar, offered sacrifice, asked the forgiveness of God [2 Samuel 24:25]. And on that place—did you ever hear of that place before, Mt. Moriah? On that place where David offered that sacrifice, in that very place, Abraham offered up Isaac [Genesis 22:2-12]. And the Book of Chronicles tells us that that is the place where Solomon built the temple, a place of propitiation, and atonement and sacrifice [2 Chronicles 3:1, 7:4-5]. And sweet people, I think the temple is going to be built in that exact place.
While we bow our heads in this moment, is there somebody here tonight to give himself to Jesus, or to put his life with us in the circle of this dear church? If there is somebody you, would you hold up your hand, anywhere? Anywhere? Anywhere? God bless you with your hand held high. Is there another? Is there another?
Our Lord, for the Holy Spirit who lives in the Word; who bring to us its message, on wings of healing and salvation, Lord bless this one who holds up hand tonight, coming to Thee and to us. In Thy dear name, amen.
Would you play, Bill, and we’re going to stand up. While we stand . . .
For more sermons by W.A Criswell, please visit www.wacriswell.com