Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Costly sacrifice

Back to 1 Kings again, and Elijah! Elijah had been told by God to go and call Elisha to be his servant. Elijah found Elisha ploughing fields with his oxen - 12 pairs with Elisha driving the twelfth pair. This means that Elisha was right and well off - having twelve pair ploughing.

So Elijah went up to him, and put his cloak on his shoulders - this was the symbolic way of issuing the call. Elisha immediately sacrificed the twelve pair of oxen, said goodbye to his folks, and went off with Elijah.

There was 'no turning back' in this act of sacrifice and thanksgiving. Elisha was turning his back on his occupation and his livelihood by offering the animals and the tools of ploughing to God. This was commitment, but it was also a costly sacrifice.

There's an incident at the end of 2 Samuel, where David is incited to take a census of the fighting men of Israel. Counting the men wasn't a sin itself (we still have a census today in our nations, for planning and statistics). But counting them to see how strong his army was, was a sin - he would then be tempted to put his trust in the strength of his army, rather than in God. So God sent a plague on the people to punish David - but David repented, and the plague stopped at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. In thankfulness, and in repentance, David asked him to sell him the land so he could build an altar there to God. But Araunah wanted to give it to him for nothing.

David refused, however, and insisted on paying the full price for it: 'I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing' (2 Samuel 24:24). This threshing-floor became the site of the Temple that Solomon built.

In both incidents, costly sacrifice was involved. And for us, too, costly sacrifice is needed for our salvation. Yet salvation is free to us! How is this possible? Because Jesus has paid the price, in giving himself for our sins, and therefore we can benefit freely! Someone once said that this is the heart of God's grace:


Have you come to know Jesus as your Saviour? He offers the riches of heaven, and eternal life with him at no charge to you. Do you know the joy of having your sins forgiven, paid for by the blood of Christ?

No comments:

Post a Comment