There is a spiritual realm God has established in which the true worship of the Lord is realized. We know that what is written in the Old Testament carries spiritual connotations. The Old Testament is full of types and shadows. With this in mind we want to read from 1st Chron. 21.
1 ¶ Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.
2 So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me word that I may know their number.”
3 Joab said, “May the LORD add to His people a hundred times as many as they are! But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why does my lord seek this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt to Israel?”
4 Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Therefore, Joab departed and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.
5 Joab gave the number of the census of all the people to David. And all Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword; and Judah was 470,000 men who drew the sword.
6 But he did not number Levi and Benjamin among them, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.
7 ¶ God was displeased with this thing, so He struck Israel.
8 David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”
9 The LORD spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying,
10 “Go and speak to David, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, “I offer you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I will do to you.”’”
11 So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Take for yourself
12 either three years of famine, or three months to be swept away before your foes, while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or else three days of the sword of the LORD, even pestilence in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now, therefore, consider what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.”
13 David said to Gad, “I am in great distress; please let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are very great. But do not let me fall into the hand of man.”
14 So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel; 70,000 men of Israel fell.
The above passages tell us how David was moved to number Israel. Verse seven says that God was displeased with the numbering and struck Israel. In verse eight David cries that he has sinned greatly. First, we want to understand why God was angered. The key is found in Exodus 30.
12 “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them.
13 “This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the LORD.
14 “Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD.
15 “The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves.
16 “You shall take the atonement money from the sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves.”
Any census taken was to involve a ransom, or payment, acknowledging God’s possession of Israel. When a person was “counted,” it meant they belonged to the Lord, and atonement was required. David numbered Israel without the acknowledgement that Israel belonged to the Lord, not himself. Every person who belonged to the Lord was to give a sacrifice to make atonement. This still applies today although it’s elevated to a spiritual level. The “sacrifice” we give today is our very lives. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Rom. 12:1).”
Verses 9-14 from our text in 1st. Chron. 21 reveal that David was given three choices by God. David chose to “fall into the hand of the Lord,” thus 70,000 men of Israel fell by pestilence from God’s hand.
Continuing in 1st. Chron. 21:
15 And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it; but as he was about to destroy it, the LORD saw and was sorry over the calamity, and said to the destroying angel, “It is enough; now relax your hand.” And the angel of the LORD was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
16 Then David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, covered with sackcloth, fell on their faces.
17 David said to God, “Is it not I who commanded to count the people? Indeed, I am the one who has sinned and done very wickedly, but these sheep, what have they done? O LORD my God, please let Your hand be against me and my father’s household, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.”
18 ¶ Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
In verse 15 God relents from destroying Jerusalem. The angel of the Lord ceases and is standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. And then in verse 16 David lifts up his eyes (has his spiritual eyes opened) and sees the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth with a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. David then begins to repent of his sin and pleads for Israel. The angel of the Lord then commands Gad to tell David that he should go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. This is very, very important. It is the heart of this message.
19 So David went up at the word of Gad, which he spoke in the name of the LORD.
20 Now Ornan turned back and saw the angel, and his four sons who were with him hid themselves. And Ornan was threshing wheat.
21 As David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out from the threshing floor and prostrated himself before David with his face to the ground.
22 Then David said to Ornan, “Give me the site of this threshing floor, that I may build on it an altar to the LORD; for the full price you shall give it to me, that the plague may be restrained from the people.”
23 Ornan said to David, “Take it for yourself; and let my lord the king do what is good in his sight. See, I will give the oxen for burnt offerings and the threshing sledges for wood and the wheat for the grain offering; I will give it all.”
24 But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing.”
25 So David gave Ornan 600 shekels of gold by weight for the site.
26 Then David built an altar to the LORD there and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And he called to the LORD and He answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.
27 The LORD commanded the angel, and he put his sword back in its sheath.
In verse 22 David tells Ornan to give him the site of the threshing floor that he might build an altar to the Lord. David also tells Ornan that he will give him the full price for it. “Full price” is significant. Ornan then offers to give the site and everything associated with the sacrifice to David for free. David then tells Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing.” David was not going to offer anything to the Lord that cost him nothing. Keep in mind all this is taking place on the threshing floor. It is on the threshing floor of God that we offer ourselves. John the Baptist had this to say of Jesus in Mat. 3:
11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
12 “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
The threshing floor is where true brokenness is created. The threshing floor is where the separation of soul and spirit takes place in us. The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite spirit (Psalm 51). Jesus said that the true worshippers would worship the Father in spirit and truth. It is at the threshing floor that true worship is established. True worship always costs us. It cannot be created any other way. The threshing floor is to become our greatest delight because the tears we shed on it become the pure lens through which we see God. The very name, Araunah, which is the pronunciation of Ornan in 2nd Samuel, means “I shall shout for joy” or “make ye to shine (Strong’s).” The name Ornan means “light was perpetuated.” The things we suffer at the threshing floor turn to joy as we meet the Lord in them.
28 At that time, when David saw that the LORD had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he offered sacrifice there.
29 For the tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were in the high place at Gibeon at that time.
30 But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was terrified by the sword of the angel of the LORD.
1 ¶ Then David said, “This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”
2 So David gave orders to gather the foreigners who were in the land of Israel, and he set stonecutters to hew out stones to build the house of God.
3 David prepared large quantities of iron to make the nails for the doors of the gates and for the clamps, and more bronze than could be weighed;
4 and timbers of cedar logs beyond number, for the Sidonians and Tyrians brought large quantities of cedar timber to David.
5 David said, “My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the LORD shall be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all lands. Therefore now I will make preparation for it.” So David made ample preparations before his death.
David offered sacrifices on the threshing floor of Ornan because the Tabernacle of the Lord which Moses had established was in the high place at Gibeon. David could not go there because the angel of the Lord stood with a sword before him, and David was terrified (vs. 30). In verse one of the next chapter David says, “This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel.” It was at this point that a new order in God was established. David gave orders to begin preparation for the building of the house of the Lord. He also gave the charge to Solomon to complete it.
The threshing floor of Ornan stood upon Mount Moriah, the very mount in which Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac (2nd Chron. 3:1). Thus, the Temple, the house of the Lord, was build upon the mount of sacrifice. And so it is today spiritually.
From the moment David declared the threshing floor of Ornan as the house of the Lord, the high place in which the old tabernacle stood became obsolete. After God tore the ten tribes from Solomon because of his unfaithfulness, there was perpetual conflict between the worship in the high places and in Jerusalem. All of the idolatry of Israel occurred in the high places. And so it is now. Worship that is not rooted spiritually in “the threshing floor of Ornan” ultimately becomes a false worship. Too much of Christianity offers a sacrifice that cost nothing. Only the threshing floor of Ornan can create in us the true worship.