“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.” (1 Chronicles 21:18, NASB95)
After David fell into sin by counting the strength of Israel, thus placing his dependence on man rather than God, great plague came upon Israel as punishment. God began to move through Israel by his angel, and 70,000 men of Israel fell. As the angel approached Jerusalem, the mercy of God stopped the angel at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. There David saw the mercy of God and repented. He gathered the elders of Israel who also repented in sackcloth. David pleaded with God that the punishment would come upon his life and not that of the men of Israel.
With this, David was instructed to build an altar to the Lord. This altar would become a permanent place of sacrifice, continually reminding Israel that they were at God’s mercy and must humbly place their hope in Him and not in themselves. The altar would also be a continual visual reminder of the place where God’s wrath stopped and God’s mercy began.
The altar was built, paid for by David, who insisted on purchasing the land though the owner was willing to give it to David without cost. David said he would not give to the Lord that which cost him nothing.
That threshing floor became the site of the future Temple in Jerusalem! It would be built by Solomon and stand for 1,000 years (destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar but later rebuilt). In 70 A.D. it was completely destroyed and today only the site remains, with an Islamic Mosque where the Temple once stood. The temple will be rebuilt on that site, and again stand as a place of worship and a reminder of the mercies of God. In the Millennium we will have a new temple where Christ Himself shall reign over the earth.
When you consider the temple, remember the story behind it—it was the place where the wrath of God stopped and the grace of God began. Praise God for that spot!
In the New Testament, we celebrate the cross as the place “where my burdens rolled away”. Praise God for that spot!
In His Grace,
Dr. Randy White