The Sin of the Census

posted in: Adoption, Faith | 0

1 Chronicles 21:1-4

Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Take a census of all the people of Israel—from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north—and bring me a report so I may know how many there are.”

But Joab replied, “May the Lord increase the number of his people a hundred times over! But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this? Are they not all your servants? Why must you cause Israel to sin?”

But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab traveled throughout all Israel to count the people. Then he returned to Jerusalem and reported the number of people to David. There were 1,100,000 warriors in all Israel who could handle a sword, and 470,000 in Judah. But Joab did not include the tribes of Levi and Benjamin in the census because he was so distressed at what the king had made him do.

God was very displeased with the census, and he punished Israel for it. Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt for doing this foolish thing.”

If you’ve never read this story before in 1st Chronicles, you might be responding the way I did the first time I read it.

“What was the sin of taking the census? Why was God so displeased with David for doing this?”

In Jewish law, if a census was taken, each person who was counted in the census was required to pay a certain “ransom” for purification. This was a certain sacrifice, per-say, to be made each time. There is a lot of debate as to why this was the case and there is even further debate as to why God was greatly displeased with David for taking the census. But I believe there are a good many clues as to the problem with David taking a census by looking at the intentions behind the census. The census was taken to see how many good fighting men, how many warriors, Israel had available.

Last week I had one of those God encounters that knock a girl to her knees. It was an overwhelming moment early in the morning hours when the Spirit of God simply overtook me and refreshed me and reminded me of so many things all in about an hour span. Truly transformative. During those minutes as I prayed, I asked God to direct me in his word and speak to my heart in a way that I knew I needed.

He brought me straight to this passage.

The truth is, I have had some big faith struggles recently. We have had some pretty big things happen in the last six months that have altered our lives. Lots of loss, and lots of work. Lots of demands at every turn and lots and lots of expensive things, things necessary for daily life, breaking. Lots of kids being sick and a couple of trips to the ER. I’ll be honest, some of these things are pretty typical, as we’ve come to learn, at the end of an adoption process. It’s true. In both of our previous adoption processes as we were getting to the end and there were great financial and physical needs right around the corner, the enemy always has cranked up the heat a notch as to make an attempt to cause us to be left with the choice to stand firm on the Word God had given us to move forward and certainly not on one single circumstance. And so has this process followed the same pattern.

In many ways this process has actually been super smooth in comparison to our other two and it’s a good thing since there have been other trials on the home-front. It’s also been so fast. I mean, Danny and I received a photo of a tiny little baby girl last November they were calling Daisy.

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That sweet little girl had some special needs that were completely foreign territory to us. But we felt the Holy Spirit whisper to us again…“Trust me.”

We knew the Lord was directing us to step out in faith again and bring this little girl home from Ch*na to be our daughter. There were so, so many impossibilities. Danny and I looked at each other and only could laugh when we stepped out in faith to begin this process without any savings at all to pay for even the first adoption requirement. It felt so nuts and also so much like our other two processes, which have always required our complete and total dependence on God Himself to come through. The Lord did some really, really sweet things to confirm our steps in my heart. I know He knew I needed that.

One thing in particular will forever be etched in my heart. I was sweeping in one of the rooms in our other home before we moved and Yamilet was sitting in there visiting with me. I was filled with thoughts of “Daisy” and our other kids knew nothing about it. I thought to myself, “I would love to know what Yamilet thinks about this. I would love to know how each of our kids feels about it. I wish I could think of a way to discuss it without giving away what is in the workings.”

At just that moment Yamilet asked me in Spanish, “Mama, what is your favorite dream?” After a little clarification as to what she was talking about I realized that she meant what is my favorite goal or life dream. I told her all about how it was my heart to live out God’s plans for me, and that all of our kids would follow and know and walk in the love of Jesus. Then she said, “You want to know my favorite dream?” “Of course!” I said. She continued…”My favorite dream is that my mama and daddy will adopt me another sister.” 

I near about fell out at the way God works. He confirmed to me all in that very instant that Yamilet would love having a new sister, and when we told all of our kids- they were all completely thrilled! We miraculously received a financial waiver from Ch*na, and we miraculously stepped out and watched God do the impossible over and over and over for each step of this process. I pretty much stand in awe. Since January we have worked our booties off and family and friends have rallied around us again and we have watched God provide around $23,000- $25,000 to bring another treasure home through adoption. Y’all, only Jesus could do that.

We are a mere 5-ish weeks away from having Chapel (what we are naming our new daughter) in our arms.Over the last month my faith struggles have come from a fear surrounding finances and how we were going to come up with the final $11,000-$13,000 remaining in this process in such a short time. And during that time there have been other things God has directed us to do that are completely outside of our normal capabilities. Other areas that require us to trust Him fully…and we are already seeing Him move mightily there. But as far as our adoption process is concerned,  I had thought we would be able to wrap up selling our other home and that did not happen. This was my personal census. This was my plan to make this process easy. This was the way this battle was going to be won. Our adoption process would be completely taken care of if that ever-loving house would sell. I remember one week in particular that I was so worried about this that my chest actually hurt and I couldn’t seem to come to a place of peace at all. “What on earth were we going to do?! How was this going to work out?! Lord, we’ve never been so close to the wire before…”

But that morning last week, the presence of the Almighty came and rested on me as I sat there in my bed. Jesus stopped by, y’all. I cannot describe the peace. And then He brought me straight to this passage in 1 Chronicles and I realized all at once that I had been David. David who had lived his life and had watched God deliver him from every. single. battle. David who’d defeated giants by God’s own power and who’d witnessed mighty miracles of protection and provision. David, here, towards the end of his life, decided it was time to see what the strength of his army could do, if it was so necessary. God had come through every time David had a need, yet David decided to take a census to see what his strength could do. Can you imagine the slap in God’s face from a man who was plucked as a shepherd and positioned as a king; a man who God had done the impossible for over and over again?

And as I look over the last six years- I cannot do a single thing except lift my hands and worship. Only Jesus could wake up a content little family in Louisiana and send them on the adventure of a lifetime to South America and now to Ch*na and give us the great privilege of being parents to those the world has forgotten. They are mighty treasures indeed and nothing at all less than our very daughters and sons. We have been transformed entirely by this journey and knowing God in a way we never thought possible before we were put in the position to walk by complete faith alone. And what a slap in the face of my God to become so wrapped up in the fears of the financial unknowns that I forget that the Living God still sits on His throne and owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Forgive me, Lord. You are more than able and I trust you fully. 

There’s no census needed in a heart of complete trust. God will do all He has promised to do.

Faithful is He who calls, who also will do it.

I cannot wait to tell this story to my grandkids someday. The story of how Jesus did the impossible again to make an orphan a forever daughter. <3 These are the stories my Lord loves to write, and these will be the stories I tell until my dying breath.

What a Savior.