So the Lord sent a plague throughout Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he prepared to destroy it, the Lord looked and relented from the calamity. And He said to the angel bringing the destruction, “It is enough. Remove your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.1 Chronicles 21:14–15 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
For David to have made a census of fighting men for Israel, a plague came upon them. It was sent by God.
It wasn’t the only thing sent by God to Israel. There was an angel with a specific task. It was to destroy Jerusalem, the seat of power in Israel. God stayed the hand of that Angel, relenting on destroying Jerusalem.
I think there is a myriad of reasons why God would stay His hand. That would be a task for you to dig out. There is something else of importance for our attention. It is the identity of the Angel.
This was a Theophany. That is the scholarly name given for an Old Testament appearance of God.
David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven with his sword drawn in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, covered in sackcloth, fell on their faces.1 Chronicles 21:16 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
I think we can clearly see the Identity of this Angel. It is the same person we call Jesus Christ. This verse provides some clear hints. First, the Angel stands as a Mediator between heaven and earth. Second, then Angel has a sword. David and those with them worshipped before this Angel.
We can know that Jesus will indeed judge those who have sinned. It’s pictured right here. Jesus will carry out judgment on God’s people.
Then we see something else unfold.
David said to God, “Was it not I who gave the command to number the people? I am the one who has sinned and surely done evil. But these sheep, what have they done? O Lord my God, I pray, let Your hand be against me and my father’s house, but do not let Your people be plagued.”1 Chronicles 21:17 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
David steps up. He wants the penalty of his own sin to fall on himself.
There is a principle we ought to remember from this encounter. Our sins don’t only affect us, they have a real and detrimental effect on others. Even to the point of others losing their lives as part of the judgment as part of the corruption sin is.
David repented of his own sin. He sought remission of it as God stated His own hand of imminent judgment.
This is something for us to remember. That sin brings swift death. Yet there is mercy. It’s that patient longsuffering that comes from the mercies of God that stays His hand. I would be wrong to not tell you why.
That stay is for you. It’s for you to seek remission of your sins just as David did for his own. David saw the condemnation looming. He knew the penalty was near-at-hand. It’s this same Jesus Who will judge sin that offers a Way out.
Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life.John 5:24 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
There is that exchange, it can only happen in the presence of Jesus. You believe His Word and the Father that sent Him, and you’re moved from condemnation (judgment) and the death it brings into life.
God is right now staying His hand of judgment. Will you be like David and believe you can have remission of sins?
The alternative is death.