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One of the final acts of King David was to take a census of the tribes of Israel. The story is recorded in 2 Samuel 24 and again in 1 Chronicles 21. 2 Samuel 24:1 says,
1 Now again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”
1 Chronicles 21:1 says,
1 Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.
Some have used this to mistakenly teach that Satan is God, because satan simply means “an adversary,” and that in this case God was Israel’s adversary. The Biblical text does not explain what it means, but it is more likely that we are to understand this in the light of God’s sovereignty. In other words, God takes credit for hiring Satan to bring judgment upon Israel, even as He later took credit for hiring the Assyrians to destroy Israel.
The Cause of God’s Anger
By studying the timing of this event, we learn WHY “the anger of the Lord burned against Israel.” Israel had never kept a rest year or a Jubilee since the Jordan crossing, and by the 38th year of David, Israel owed God 62 rest years and 8 Jubilees. By not keeping their Sabbath years, they sinned, and all sin is reckoned as a debt.
God’s intent, then, was to collect on Israel’s debt before it got so high that the nation might be crushed by it. By foreclosing on a 70-Sabbath debt, only 70,000 men of Israel died in the plague (2 Samuel 24:15), a thousand for each rest-year that was owed.
There are many lessons in this story, but our focus now is on the census itself. It was not unlawful for David to take a census. Moses did it twice with no ill effects, because the people gave a half shekel of “atonement money” (i.e., silver) to the treasury “so that there will be no plague among them when you number them” (Exodus 30:12).
In either account there is no mention of any half shekel that anyone gave to God’s treasury during the census. Hence, it is clear that David’s sin was in the fact that he did not require a half shekel from the people who were numbered. This was why 70,000 men died in the plague. God gave David three choices of judgment in 1 Chronicles 21:11, 12,
11 So Gad [the prophet] 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.”
David had just seen three years of famine (2 Samuel 21:1) and dreaded a repeat of that. Neither did he want to fall into the hands of foreign armies for three months. He decided to put the nation into God’s hands for three days of pestilence. God then sent “pestilence” (dehber).
The Scripture here does not use the word negeph, “plague or stumbling,” which was used in Exodus 30:12. Instead, “pestilence” comes from dehber, whose root is dabar, “to speak.” The word is used in Deuteronomy 1:1, “These are the words (dabarim, “speeches”) which Moses spoke to all Israel.”
The point is that “the sword of the Lord, even pestilence” that killed 70,000 Israelites in the time of David’s census was the word of God, which is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). We may thus render dehber not merely as a “pestilence,” but as the word, decree, or sentence upon Israel.
David himself confessed his sin, saying, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing” (1 Chronicles 21:8), but unless we study the law, we cannot know what “this thing” actually is. David did not sin in conducting a census, for it was God Himself who had moved David to number the people. The sin was in failing to cover them with the half shekel, and this exposed them to the judgment of “the sword of the Lord.”
Because Israel had never kept a Sabbath year or a Jubilee, God brought His sword upon them. But because the people were still protected by the half shekels collected during Moses’ second census in Numbers 26, God had to uncover them before He could judge them.
For this reason, He led David to do his own census, knowing that he would do so without requiring any atonement money. If he had required atonement money, there would have been no pestilence, and God could not have judged Israel for their failure to keep their Sabbaths and Jubilees.
Our Census in 1993
The call to spiritual warfare in 1993 was a mustering of troops. We were required to collect a half shekel of silver from each of the prayer warriors of the rising house of David. Having learned the principles of divine law from the story of David’s census, I knew that God intended for us to avoid the problem that David faced. While it seems likely that David had forgotten the half shekel requirement, God had revealed this truth to me in 1991 through the ministry of Lalo Cadona—the same man who taught me the basics of Bible chronology.
God rewarded my desire to study His law by revealing the law of the census. God had put in my heart the desire for His word—the sword of the Lord—which was to be used to bring life, rather than death. The “pestilence” (dehber) in our case was the sharp sword of the word which divides joints (thoughts) from marrow (intents), as Hebrews 4:12 says.
The half shekel was a small token of obedience stating, in effect, “I respect God’s law and submit to it, recognizing that it is the word of God.” By requiring this token obedience to the law, those who could not give respect to the law were not led to participate in the Jubilee Prayer Campaign. Hence, the work of overthrowing Mystery Babylon was limited to overcomers, those who had learned basic obedience principles.
These 490 men and women, in turn, represented the overcomers as a whole by the principle of unity, where the action of an individual member is attributed to the whole body. In other words, if the hand grasps something, the whole body is said to have grasped it.
Paul teaches this principle in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 in the context of spiritual gifts,
12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.
The 490 who participated in the Jubilee Prayer Campaign represented the whole body of overcomers—even those living in past ages, along with those who live today who are scattered around the world. The vast majority of them did not know about the prayer campaign, nor was this necessary. They were included through their representatives in the same way that the census in Moses’ day had included not only the men of war but their families, even to succeeding generations.
Building the True Temple
In my understanding, we were fortunate to avoid the problem of David’s census. The rising house of David was called to a great work at the end of the Pentecost Age to rebuild the tabernacle of David that had fallen into ruin (Amos 9:11).
More than that, we had been called to complete the work of building the new temple, whose Cornerstone was Christ and whose foundation was the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20). Paul says that this temple “is being fitted together” and “is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21, 22).
This is the true temple that God has been building in order to provide for Himself a dwelling place. He no longer will dwell in buildings made with hands out of physical building blocks, not even if such buildings are beautified with gold and decorated with precious stones. He already did that in times past, and even Solomon recognized that such buildings could not contain God.
In 1 Kings 8:27 Solomon said,
27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!”
In this he prophesied of a greater building yet to come, one made with living stones. Hence also, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:16,
16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Each individual believer is a temple, having three parts: spirit, soul, and body. But there is also a collective temple, where each believer is a living stone built upon Christ Himself. Each individual temple is built during the lifetime of that individual, but the collective temple has been built over thousands of years.
The rising house of David was called in 1993 and given the authority to complete that collective temple. This work stands in direct opposition to the physical temple that the Jews want to build in Jerusalem with the help of many Christians. The carnal work of building a physical temple, complete with Levitical priests, animal sacrifices, etc. failed to materialize in the allotted time.
Just as it took 46 years to build Herod’s temple (John 2:20), so also were the Jews and their allies among Christians given 46 years from 1947-1993 to complete their temple. The United Nations had debated the Palestinian Resolution from November 21-29, 1947, ultimately passing the Resolution on November 29. On November 29, 1993 their allotted time expired.
We recognized this and understood that the rising house of David was being given the authority to finish the work of the true temple. Hence, the Jubilee Prayer Campaign was when we officially appealed to the divine court to be given this authority. I believe we won our case.