King David's Temple Scam: Meeting for Money

The last tragedy of king David's life was caused by his obsessive need for money to build the most magnificent Temple in the world. And David came up with a money scam that brought down the wrath of God on Israel.  A terrible lesson for the church today where money for ministry has become a similar obsession.

One of the things about the Old Testament I like is that you get this first person view of what is happening behind the scenes in the spirit world of national and personal events. You get these wonderful "Thus saith the Lord...." commentaries through prophets of what the Lord really thinks about a lot of things.

Which is why I want to draw your attention to the last tragic act of David before his death. David wanted to build a magnificent Temple for the Lord. Up to then all he had done was pitch a large tent that could house the Ark of the Covenant and this was called the Tabernacle of David.  But it served its purpose because the presence of the Lord was there.

So here was David's plan....
"And David said Solomon my son is young and tender and the house to be built for the Lord must be exceeding magnificent of fame and glory throughout all countries. I will therefore now make preparations for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death."  (1 Chron.22:5)

Actually when David told the prophet Nathan that he wanted to build a great Temple for the Lord to dwell in, Nathan came back with a word from the Lord which basically said "Did I ask you to build me a house to dwell in? Ever since I came out of Egypt with Israel I have always dwelt in tent and a tabernacle. And have I in all this time asked Israel Why do you not build me a house of Cedar?" (2 Sam.7:5-7)

And then he told David, Ok but you are not going to build it your son Solomon is going to build it. So David said fine but I will make sure there is plenty of money and materials for him to build the grandest Temple in the world.

And now came David's tragic mistake. Seeing as I am old and I need a lot of money how am I going to get a lot of it quickly? Oh yeah have I got a brilliant plan. To understand his brilliant but tragic plan I need to give you some background to what he did next otherwise you will not understand why God was so angry with David that He sent an angel to slay 70,000 Israelites for David's great sin.

The Gathering of the Armies of God

When the army of Israel was called up for battle service it was called "numbering Israel".  In Numbers 1:2-3 "Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel,...every male by their polls from twenty years upwards all that are able to go to war in Israel, you and Aaron shall number them by their armies."

In Numbers 26:1-2 "Take the sum of the children of Israel from twenty years of age and upwards all that are able to go to war in Israel"

So the phrase in scripture "to number the children of Israel" is to make a call up for all the men of war to ready for battle.   But there was something that this great assembly of men who are called up for war must do. It is found in God's commandment to Moses in Exodus 30:11-16 and it is critical you understand this...

"And the Lord said unto Moses saying, When you take the sum of the children of Israel after their number then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord when you number them, that there be no plague among them that are numbered. This they shall give every one that is numbered half a shekel...half a shekel shall be the offering of the Lord...everyone that is numbered among them twenty years and above shall give an offering unto the Lord....to make an atonement for their souls...and you shall take the atonement money and appoint it for the service of the Tabernacle."

Why were the soldiers called up for battle supposed to offer an atonement sacrifice before battle?  Well several good reasons. Firstly because the Lord promised that He walks in the camp of the army to deliver their enemies to them (Deut. 23;14) and secondly to absolve them of blood guilt for killing. They were thus sanctified by the presence of God and acting on His behalf as His soldiers through this atonement sacrifice of half a shekel.

Ok, so now with that background let's get back to David's money scheme as outlined in 2 Sam. 24:2-25....

In 2 Samuel 24 we find David an old man at the end of his great career. He had one more big task to do. Gather big sums of money for Solomon to build the Temple.

In verse 2 David tells Joab the commander of the armies of Israel "go now through all the tribes of Israel and number the people".

In verse 3 Joab begs David not to do this. Why? Surely the general of the armies would love to know the number of fighting men available to him?  But Joab knew there was no war threat, all the enemies of Israel had been defeated...this was for another purpose altogether.

So he goes out and it takes him 9 months to do the job and comes back and says in verse 9 in Israel there were 800,000 men and in Judah 500,000.  Now please note why it took so long.  It was not just a matter of counting heads but also counting money.  When you do a military call up called "numbering the men of Israel" each one had to bring half a shekel with him.

So David could take up an offering of half a shekel times 1,300,000 all of which he could put towards the Temple construction. An enormous sum of money. No wonder the scripture said that David prepared abundantly before his death.

But then David's conscience struck him.  He said in verse 10, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done ...I have done very foolishly."

What was this great sin?  He used the excuse of gathering the people for war when he really wanted to gather them for an offering of money for his great Temple project.

And God's reaction?  God sent His prophet Gad to tell David....destruction and judgment coming from the Lord.  The Lord sent an angel to slay across Israel...70,000 people died for this great sin of David.

Meetings for Money in the Church

I think you can see where I am going with this.

That grand Temple project of David's had a brief mighty presence of God in it at the beginning of its dedication but very soon thereafter it just became a corrupt place where false idols were installed, enormous amounts of money were made there by corrupt priests and kings. Practically every king of Israel and Judah would simply plunder the place of its gold ornaments whenever there was a cash shortfall. Its elaborate ornamentation was a money magnet for the unscrupulous and it was hardly ever used for any service of the Lord.

Solomon who started this "Temple for the Lord" soon become the most corrupt of Israel's kings who could not get enough of endless amounts of gold, glory and women.

David's obsession for money by any means only multiplied enormously in his son Solomon who became absolutely obsessed with the gathering of wealth and riches to such an extent that the people could hardly wait for him to die to demand a stop from his son Rehoboam of the excessive taxation and waste of his father.

How many ministries around the world are using all the excuses about "if you only send in so many dollars we can do so much for God". How many preachers long for the latest model Gulfstream jet "to reach the lost for Jesus".  How many gargantuan buildings and luxuries are being constructed for "the gospel" and the promise of souls for the kingdom?  How many are preaching for a paycheck? How many are building franchise networks of their name brand as personal fiefdoms of control and glory?

Rebuilding the Tabernacle of David

What is really inexplicable today is the longing of the Judaizers in the evangelical movement who are convinced the Lord wants to bring back this monstrosity of corruption as a Millennial Temple and cannot wait for Israel to rebuild this Temple.

In the Kingdom movement we have no belief in a return of this ornate Temple of idolatry neither do we believe the Lord wants it back as a dwelling place for His presence. 

Nor do we believe that all we need to advance God's agenda is more money, bigger buildings and faster jets. 

What I believe is that the church has been infected with a spirit of materialism where God's people ostensibly are called to gather for warfare against Satan but are really called for opportunities for leaders to talk about money and collect money.

But what is the Lord longing for? Acts 15:15-16 says,
"And to this agree the words of the prophets as it is written I will return and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down..."

This is the Jerusalem church which has been meeting in the courtyard of the enormous and magnificent Temple the Herod build to recreate the glory of Solomon's Temple. But they spoke prophetically. God is not interested in the grandeur of Solomon's Temple. He wants us to restore that old tent tabernacle of David. Just a simple structure of acacia wood and fabric. But God was there. He could be found there. His presence was there.

If we are to move the Kingdom agenda forward we will need to get back to simplicity.

When we gather together of even 2-3 we invoke His presence. We are covered by His atonement as He walks in the camp of the saints. We gather not for any ulterior motives.  We do not hold meetings for money or for leaders to draw attention to their speaking prowess or to be seen.  We gather to seek the Lord! We gather as His army to march at His command.

I predict the same anger of the Lord at the mixed motives of David is going to fall on churches and leaders who misuse the gathering of God's people. It calls forth judgment.  On both preachers, organizations and people. It may not happen immediately but there is a cleansing of the church coming!

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