Who Then Is Willing?
September 15th, 1985 @ 10:50 AM
1 Chronicles 29:5
WHO THEN IS WILLING?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Chronicles 29:5
9-15-85 10:50 a.m.
It is a gladness for us to welcome the host of you who share this hour on radio and on television. This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas delivering the message entitled Who Then Is Willing? If you will open your Bible to the last chapter of 1 Chronicles, the last chapter of 1 Chronicles, chapter 29; the message this hour is an exposition of that twenty-ninth chapter of 1 Chronicles.
The sermon is prepared with a definite purpose in mind. On the first Sunday in October, October 6, we are to bring a million dollars in offerings to our wonderful Lord. It is something that has never been done in the history of Christendom, just to bring an offering to the Lord on one Lord’s Day. But God is going to be with us and to bless us in that dedication to Him.
We need, each one of us, to think what we usually bring on the first Sunday of the month, and multiply it by seven times when we bring to God’s house the first Sunday in October, seven times what we usually bring. It will bring also a marvelous, victorious, triumph to our Lord, a million dollar Sunday, the first Sunday in October.
Now, it is not only a day for us, but a like day we read of in the twenty-ninth, the last chapter of Chronicles. And as we look at their day and our day, and follow the Holy Scriptures, there are several things that are beautifully presented and revealed to us in the glory of that wonderful day. The first thing is found in verse 9, and verse 21, and verse 22: namely, it was a marvelous day, a wonderful day, a happy and glad day. Read it, verse 9; do you see it? "Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord" [1 Chronicles 29:9]. Now verse 21:
And they sacrificed sacrifices unto the Lord, even a thousand bullocks, and a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel:
And did eat and drink before the Lord on that day with great gladness.
[1 Chronicles 29:21-22]
I need not to expound upon it: it was a day of rejoicing; it was a happy day; it was a wonderful day; it was a glorious day. It was not a day to be dreaded; it was not a dull, dreary, dry day; it was not a day of coercion. It was a day that flowed out of the abounding love and gratitude of their hearts to God. It was a wonderful day!
It says here that they offered sacrifices to the Lord, thousands of sacrifices [1 Chronicles 29:21]. A sacrifice, once in a while, was a burnt offering, but that was the exception. A sacrifice was a shared meal with the priests, with the family, with the friends, with the neighbors. A sacrifice was a glad breaking of bread together.
And that will be our glad day, the first Sunday in October. We shall break bread together. At the evening hour we shall have a praise, service, thanking God for what He has done through His people. It will be a day of rejoicing, and victory, and triumph. And we look forward to it in glad, eager anticipation. It will be a wonderful day.
In the course of the story of God’s grace to Israel, they built their temple on hallowed ground, in a sacred place. The sacrifice and the loving adoration of the people continued through all of the centuries, and this house of God was a consummation of it. In the third chapter of 2 Chronicles we are told that they built their sanctuary on Mount Moriah [2 Chronicles 3:1]. This is the place where Abraham offered up his son of promise, Isaac, to the Lord [Genesis 22:1-8]. There he built an altar [Genesis 22:9], and there he offered Isaac unto God, and received him back [Genesis 22:10-13], believing that if the Lord had allowed the assignment to be consummated, and Isaac had poured out his life’s blood on that altar of stones, Abraham believed that God could raise him from the dead [Hebrews 11:17-19].
A hallowed place, a sacred place: not only that, but as the years and the centuries continued, when an angel stood over Jerusalem in judgment, with an unsheathed, naked sword, he stood over that place, over Mount Moriah [2 Samuel 24:16]. And when David besought God in behalf of the people, the Lord said to him: "You build there an altar of intercession and sacrifice" [2 Samuel 24:18].
And David came to Araunah the Jebusite, in whose possession the mount did belong. And when Araunah saw the king coming with his men, he bowed himself to the ground and offered to David for nothing, a gift: the mount, and the oxen, and the wood of the instruments for fire [2 Samuel 24:19-23]. And David said: "Not so! Not so! But I will buy it of thee, I will pay thee for it. I will not offer unto God a sacrifice, an offering, that doth cost me nothing!" [2 Samuel 24:24] And for us to follow in that beautiful way blesses the name of the Lord and blesses us: "I will not offer that to God, that which doth cost me nothing."
And in keeping with the history of God’s revelation to His people Israel, this twenty-ninth chapter of 1 Chronicles follows after, in a beautiful day and a wonderful day of sacrifice and offering to God; the people rejoice and are glad [1 Chronicles 29:21-22]. This is our great day of thanksgiving, and gratitude, and rejoicing, the first Sunday in October.
Again, will you look at the way, the amazing method, of their coming before the Lord, and the gathering of their offering? Verses 3, 4 and 5: David says, the king says:
Because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared,
Three thousand talents of gold of Ophir, seven thousand talents of silver,
The gold for things of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and for all manner of work to be made by the hands of artificers. Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?
[1 Chronicles 29:3-5]
I say, that is an amazing method! The reason is obvious. In those days, and for the centuries before and after, an Oriental monarch was unlimited in his ruling power. There was no parliament; there was no Congress; there was no committee; there was no executive to shorten his rulership. He was omnipotent in his kingdom.
Now I would have thought, in order to gather this great gift together for the building of the house of God, that he would have laid a tribute on the people; he would have gathered taxes for the purpose. There is no tribute mentioned, nor is there any tax power exercised. What he does is, he brings it to his people; and out of a willing heart and out of a willing spirit, they are to give to God [1 Chronicles 29:5-9].
I think that has a marvelous message for us. Never, ever is the work of the Lord to be supported by coercion, or by taxes, or by tribute, or by government. Our response to God is to be out of the deep of the love of our souls and the gratitude of our hearts for Him. That is the appeal of David, and he speaks of it in two ways: first, of himself, he says: "Over and above of what I have prepared, what I have already given, over and above, I, out of God’s goodness to me, I am bringing to the Lord three thousand talents of gold, seven thousand talents of refined silver, gold for the things of gold, and silver for the things of silver – all manner of things to be laid into the hands of the artificers" [1 Chronicles 29:3-5].
Isn’t that a magnificent spirit? "Over and above what I have already done, this I also will do." This always has to be the pattern in the house of the Lord: the pastor is to lead in the gift, in the offering; and the deacons are to lead; and the officers and the teachers, and the directors of our congregation are to lead. We are to lead!
Now I don’t say this out of any spirit of egotism or spiritual pride. When that day comes, on the first Sunday in October, I shall bring to God’s house fifty times as much as I usually give, as I gave this morning, to the house of the Lord. And God blesses our people when our leaders are faithful in their love and service to the blessed Jesus. We are to lead, and to be the first and the foremost, and in the front of all of the praise and the glory by which we magnify the name of our wonderful Lord.
Then he says – after David says, "Over and above do I bring these things to God" [1 Chronicles 29:3], then he says: "And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" [1 Chronicles 29:5]. Having given of himself, he turns to his people, and asks: "Who then is willing?"
Dear people, I don’t think it is an exaggeration for me to think that when David said that to that vast people of God, they responded, "Here I am, willingly! I am willing! I am willing! I am willing! I will! I will! I will!" I can just see that. I can feel that. What a glorious moment before heaven, "I will. I will."
"Who then is willing?" [1 Chronicles 29:5]
"I am willing!"
Now, I looked this up in Hebrew. I always look up the text in Hebrew, if it’s in the Old Testament, and Greek if it’s in the New Testament. And I was amazed at the word here. You have it translated: "Who then is willing to consecrate his service unto the Lord?" [1 Chronicles 29:5]. The Hebrew of that is ləmalowt, translated here "consecrate." His service is yadow, his hand. "Who then is willing to fill his hand for the Lord?" [1 Chronicles 29:5].
And when I look at verses 14 and 16, I easily understand what David is saying. He says in verse 14: ",Of Thine own have we given Thee" [2 Chronicles 29:14]. And again: "What we bring cometh of Thine hand, and is all Thine own" [1 Chronicles 29:16]. He says here: "Who then is willing to fill his hand from the things of God, what God hath given us, and to the devote it to the Lord?" [1 Chronicles 29:5].
God has first given us, and "out of Thine own hand" do we fill our hands, to bring these gifts and these offerings to the Lord [1 Chronicles 29:14, 16]. Well, I began thinking about that. Paul says, for example, in 1 Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 7: "What dost thou have that you did not receive? and if thou has received it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?" [1 Chronicles 4:7]
All the things that we have, all of them, are given us of God. Everything! I have two hands; God gave them to me. I have two feet; God gave them to me. I have two eyes; God gave them to me. I have a mind that can think; God gave my mind to me. And what I have, God placed it in my hands.
Everything comes from God. And that’s what David says in this unusual turn of that verse: "I fill my hand full of what God hath given me, and out of the fullness of God, and the fullness of my hand, I offer to God these things" [1 Chronicles 29:3-5]. That’s the way I ought to be in my life, we ought to be in our lives. Out of the things that God hath given us, we devote the fullness of our hands to Him.
This week I read one of the most unusual things. There was a little boy, an urchin from the street, who walked into a store. And he was looking at a candy counter; didn’t have anything to buy candy with. And he just looked at it, as a little boy would. And the man, watching the little boy, walked over to the clerk and gave him a quarter and said to the clerk, "Fill a sack full of candy and give it to the little hungry boy."
So, the clerk did it, and filled the sack, and gave it to the little fellow. And the man, just being nice and friendly, said, "Son, let me have a piece of candy that I can taste what it is like."
And the little boy said, "No! It is mine."
And the man kind of, you know, shocked and surprised, said, "No, son. Let me have a piece of candy, and I’ll just share one piece with you."
"No!" said the boy, "It is mine."
And he not only ran away from the man, but clutching the bag of candy he ran out of the store.
Well, as I read that story, I thought two things; one, how like humanity that is. God gives us all that we have, but how very few ever offer to share what God gives with the Lord who gave it. And the second thing I thought was this; how noble it would have been had, when the man asked the little boy for a piece of candy, how noble it would have been had the boy replied, "Here sir, it all comes from you, it all belongs to you, and you take all, or any part, you like. It belongs to you." Why can’t we be like that? "Lord, everything I have comes from Thee, and to offer Thee somewhat is a privilege and a joy."
The method was amazing: not by coercion, but out of the overflowing love of the people. Will you look once again at their amazing response? Verse 6:
Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king, offered willingly,
Gave for the service of the house of God, five thousand talents of gold, ten thousand darics –
a weight of gold –
ten thousand talents of silver; brass, eighteen thousand talents, one hundred thousand talents of iron,
[1 Chronicles 29:6-8]
In the old days, all money was weighed out; weighed out, all of it. It’s only in modern days that we have these definite coins, and currencies; all of it was weighed out. And a talent of gold, a talent is what one man could carry, what one man could carry. And those people gave to the hand of God 5,000 talents of gold, 10,000 talents of silver. You know what the commentators, many of them, say? "That just couldn’t be! That never happened. There’s no possibility that the people responded in such vast proportion. That just couldn’t be!"
Well, as you know, I am a biblical literalist. You haven’t been hearing me preach forty-one years and not realize that. I just believe in this Word: syllable by syllable, sentence by sentence. And when God’s Book says those people gave that marvelous amount, I believe every word of it. Now, it isn’t because I’m far out there, in believing the Word of God; that is experiential, that is empirical.
Have you ever been to Europe? If you have, some of the most marvelous buildings in this world are dedicated to God; those beautiful, incomparable cathedrals. You’ll be driving along in one of those countries, like England, or Germany, or France, or Italy, and there will be a relatively small town, and in that town will be the most beautiful building you ever saw, a glorious cathedral.
Now, let me ask you a question. Where did they come from? Who built them? Nobody knows. Nobody knows. Those great mighty edifices dedicated to Jesus our Lord were built by plain, common, unnamed people. Nobody knows.
May I bring the corollary? The power and the ableness of what plain, common, ordinary people like you and me can do is almost immeasurable. And that’s it. They did it. Plain, ordinary people did it. And it was so marvelous that, when they built that house of God, it was like the quiet working of the Holy Spirit. There was not the sound of a hammer; there was not the sound of a tool [1 Kings 6:7]. It grew, the Scriptures say, like a thing alive. And when they had built it to the glory of God, the queen of Sheba came. And when she saw the wisdom, and the power, and the honor, and the glory of Solomon, it points out: "And when she saw the house of God; there was no spirit left in her. And she said, "I had heard, but the half hath not been told" [1 Kings 10:4-7]. What plain ordinary people are able to do!
Now, one other: and this is the most glorious of all, the everlasting remembrance of what those people did in the heart, and mind, and Book of God. Verse 18: David prays: "O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob, our fathers, keep this forever in the thoughts of the heart of Thy people, and prepare their heart unto Thee" [1 Chronicles 29:18].
"O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, may this gift and offering we make unto Thee be forever their remembrance in Thy sight, and in Thy presence, and to Thy glory." Sweet people, that temple has been gone thousands of years. Those people have been gone an equal number of millennia. But what they did is in the sight of God a forever remembrance.
Over there in Santa Fe, surrounding that city – it’s built it in it – are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. For two hundred fifty miles the Rockies go down into the southern extremity, and they call that range the "Blood of Christ," the "Sufferings of Christ" range of mountains. Back yonder, in the days of the Dust Bowl – and when you even say that, it brings memories of need, and poverty, and want to my heart and mind. I grew up in the Dust Bowl. On our farm, I walked over our fences; they were beneath my feet. The barbed wire of the fence would catch the tumbleweeds, and the sand would be caught by the tumbleweeds; and it built up, built up, as the erosion of the wind wasted the farmland. And finally, I say, I walked over our fences with my feet – they were beneath me.
I have seen the earth turn to iron and the sky turn to brass. Year after year, in those days of the Dust Bowl, there was a family from Oklahoma forced, out of the drought and poverty, to leave their farm. They put in a jalopy everything that they possessed. And the father and the mother, with their two little girls, turned their faces toward the west, toward California, toward the West Coast. The mother was tubercular and very ill.
And finally, coming to Santa Fe in a cheap motel, she asked for the pastor of the Baptist Church in Santa Fe to come to see her. And when he came, he looked into the face of a dying mother. She said to her elder little girl, "Mary, sweetheart, would you bring me Jesus’ money?"
And the little girl, out of a dilapidated, worn-out suitcase brought a little envelope, and the mother opened it. There was $3.57 in it, the pastor said. And she placed it in the hands of the pastor and said, "This is Jesus’ money. This is the tithe of all my husband has made since we left Oklahoma. And you put it in the treasury of the Lord, to be used for Him."
The pastor said that they buried her in a pauper’s grave. And he said, as they turned away, the weeping husband and the two little girls, he said that it seemed to him, that he heard the voice of God, speaking out of that "Sufferings of Jesus" mountains. And the voice said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" [Matthew 25:21, 23]; a noble woman, a glorious Christian wife and mother.
Carve your name high o’er the sifting sand
Where the steadfast rocks defy decay.
All you can hold in your cold, dead hand
Is what you have given away.
[from "What You Have Given Away," Edwin M. Poteat, c.1909]
The anomalies and the paradoxes of life are amazing to me. We bow, we kneel, in order that we might rise. We die in order that we might live. We give away in order that we might possess: the strange ways of our living Lord.
May I make my appeal likewise from the Word of God? In 2 Corinthians chapter 8, Paul is speaking in this same way, doing an identical thing.
he says in 2 Corinthians, chapter 8 –
we make known to you –
the old English, "we do you to wit of" –
the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia.
For in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy –
Isn’t that what I’m preaching about? It’s a great day. It’s a great thing we do –
the abundance of their joy and even out of their deep poverty, abounded to the riches of their liberality.
For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves –
"I will. I will. I will" –
Praying us with much entreaty to receive the gift,
And this they did, not as we had –
thought for, or planned for, or –
hoped for, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and then unto us by the will and grace of God.
[2 Corinthians 8:1-5]
Things are easy when first we give ourselves to God. Just, "Lord, these are my hands; bless them, they are Yours. These are my feet, my eyes, my strength, my life; they’re Yours."
"First they gave their own selves to the Lord" [2 Corinthians 8:5], then all of the issues of life dutifully follow after. And that is our appeal to your heart: first give yourself to the Lord; give your home to the Lord; give your children to the Lord; give your business to God. Give every issue of every day to the precious Savior. Do that first, and all of the other things will dutifully follow after. Do that first! And that is our appeal this precious, holy, meaningful, significant, soul-saving hour; to give your heart to the Lord Jesus, to bring your family into the fellowship of this dear church, to answer God’s call in your heart. On the first note of the first stanza: "Pastor, I will, I will!"
Who then is willing? [1 Chronicles 29:5]
"I am, pastor, and here I stand, here I come!" Make it now. Do it now. Come now, while we stand and while we sing.
WHO THEN IS WILLING?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Chronicles 29:5
I. Day of rejoicing
1. Gladness, gratitude
2. Continuing the story of sacrifice in Israel
II. The amazing method
1. Power to levy, to tax instead use voluntary free will, no coercion
2. Response out of gratitude
3. God has first given to us
III. Worthy response
1. So great some doubt it really happened
2. Reality is that the people were motivated from their hearts
3. Quiet working of the Holy Spirit in ordinary people