“And satan (no capitalization for him) stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” ” …Joab answered [David’s charge to number], The LORD make [H]is people an hundred times so many more as they be? ….why will he [David] be a cause of trespass to Israel?” “And God was displeased with this thing; therefore [H]e smote Israel” (1 Chronicles 21)
The sequel to these events are as follows God sends His prophet to David. This prophet is named Gad. God sent Gad with (3) three choices of punishment. The (3) three choices were these (3) three years famine, (3) three months to be destroyed by thy foes, or “else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel.”
David made the wise choice. He fell upon the mercy of God and God sent pestilence upon Israel…(70,000) seventy thousand fell.
An obstinate person may question whether or not this was mercy. We would counsel them to consider the other choices. A famine would kill more than God’s pestilence did and certainly the enemies of Israel would have slain many more than God’s pestilence.
A tried and tested solution to the trouble we make for ourselves is to fall upon the mercy of God.
However, this post is not about the mercy of God. It is about the flesh’s need to count or to quantify. (Rabbit trail…I would be remiss not to point out an object lesson. We stated this post is not about God’s mercy yet we find God’s mercy written about. The object lesson is this: the child of God can always find God’s mercy. Back to this post’s purpose.) We use to be a member of a church that counted those in attendance. This church would count a pregnant woman as two (as do I but not for their purposes). If the pastor did not like the count or felt it was too low he would have another count taken.
Crowd counting for the purpose of feeding ones flesh’s can lead one to do bad things. We saw a pastor, during an invitation, ask those who want to be saved to “slip up your hand with every head bowed” and “no one looking around.” No one was responding so the pastor (wolf) said, “I see that hand.” Reader, there was no hand but after others heard the lie or the false witness many hands began to pop up and counters began to count.
We are aware that there are time when counting is necessary. If one is preparing a large family meal one needs to know the number of people to buy for and to cook for. If your child is on a filed trip you want the teacher to count the children before departing. If one is O.C.D counting is a way of life. If one is training their observation skills one will count steps and how many times this or how many times that, etc.
We will even concede that counting attendance at church is not sinful in itself. But to count attendance to feed one’s flesh and pride is akin to the love of money. Why do I say that ? In some religious camps large numbers of members and visitors is a currency. For example… and be careful here because you may find out something about yourself. This writer has had the honour and privilege to preach, solely by His allowances, in different states as well as in the “Black” church (What life there is in these churches.) We taught in a church for a decade. We’ve attended the big camp meetings and saw men glorified by other men. And now we teach out of the home to a handful of believers. When others here of our ministry they think only size. So, Reader, Which service would you rather attend the larger church or one that is in a home where only a handful attend?
Granted, that was not a fair question. There are, of course, large churches that are faithful to God and there are home churches that are not. One must “try the spirits” and “prove all things.”
In the last paragraph we conceded that counting is not sin in itself but our text of 1 Chronicles 21 does show that their is a counting that is evil. In David’s case his counting demonstrated one of the few times he failed to trust God. likewise, when a preacher is all about the count he is serving himself and others and not God. When a preacher bases his decisions on the count he serves himself and others and not God. When a preacher is willing to abase his office to shenanigans he is serving himself and others and not God. Please take note as to who it was that influenced David to begin with.
A preacher that serves God knows that there is Only One to please and Only One that counts.
Some might not see how dangerous these practices are. We would encourage you to look up Nadab or Abihu in your concordance to see the danger of doing God’s work the world way.
Another danger is a lost person has been deceived into believing they are saved. They believe in their salvation but they have not believed in Him. Consequently when a faithful servant of God approaches the deceived they are ignored.
The dangers continue. There is a mixed multitude in the visible church and this, to be sure, weakens her and causes shame to the Name of Christ. The world sees this mixed multitude-church and they see zero difference between the church and themselves. So why listen to the church? Look at the divorce rate in the visible church.
Another danger… a future danger. During what is known as the seven year tribulation period this deceived mixed multitude will betray the true children of God just like Judas.
This mixed multitude is the weed in the church’s garden and it was planted by the church, herself.