Who Then Is Willing?
September 15th, 1985 @ 8:15 AM
1 Chronicles 29:5
WHO THEN IS WILLING?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Chronicles 29:9-22
9-15-85 8:15 a.m.
We welcome the uncounted throngs 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? It is an exposition of the last chapter of 1 Chronicles, the twenty-ninth chapter of Chronicles, Chronicles chapter 29, and if you open your Bible, you can easily follow the course of the sermon.
The message is delivered in keeping with the mighty, tremendous day that we have planned on the first Sunday in October, October 6. On that day it is proposed before the Lord that our people bring to the house of God one million dollars, an offering of one million dollars. Such a thing has never been done, just bringing an offering to the Lord on that day. If each one of us plans to give seven times what we usually bring on that first Sunday, God will give us that unusual victory. It is a mighty day. It is an unusual day. It is a day unprecedented. But it is a day that is wondrously described, delineated, in this twenty-ninth chapter of the Book of 1 Chronicles.
Now first, it is a glorious day, a happy day, a marvelous day. Verse 9:
Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord.
[1 Chronicles 29:9]
And they sacrificed sacrifices unto the Lord . . . even a thousand bullocks, 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]
Isn’t that unusual? This is a day of offering, but it is a day of infinite happiness and gladness [1 Chronicles 29:9, 21-22]; it’s not a day dark and dreary. It’s not a day dull and coercive. It is a day of victory and of triumph. And when you read about sacrifices in the Old Testament—they offered thousands of sacrifices—once in a while an offering was burnt [Leviticus 1:3-17, 6:8-13], but the great mass of sacrifices were shared meals. They ate together with the priests and before the Lord, and they ate by families, and by friends, and by neighbors. It was a rejoicing before the Lord God.
And that’s our day, a wonderful day. We’ll have a shared meal on that day. Our evening service will be one of praise and thanksgiving and gratitude. It will be a mighty, wonderful day.
This is in keeping with the moving story of Israel in building their house of God. They built it on hallowed ground. In the third chapter of the next book, 2 Chronicles, they built their house on Mt. Moriah [2 Chronicles 3:1]. Mt. Moriah saw Abraham offer up his son Isaac to the Lord [Genesis 22:1-12], and there God blessed him because of his faith [Genesis 22:15-18]; that even though he laid on the altar his only son of promise [Genesis 17:16-19], believing God could raise him from the dead [Hebrews 11:17-19], a marvelous story continued in the temple mount.
And on that place also, God stayed the plague when the angel stood over with a drawn sword, stood over the threshing floor of Araunah on Mt. Moriah [2 Samuel 24:15-16]. And God said to David, “There you offer a sacrifice unto the Lord God, an altar to the Lord Jehovah [2 Samuel 24:18, 21]. And when he came to Araunah, who is threshing on the top of the mount, Araunah bowed before the king and said, “O king, the mount is yours. I give it to you. And the oxen are yours; I give them to you for sacrifice. And the wooden instruments of threshing are yours for fire” [2 Samuel 24:21-23]. And David, thanking Araunah for the graciousness of his heart and the generosity of his spirit, said, “Nay; but I will buy it of thee: neither will I offer unto the Lord my God offerings, sacrifices, that cost me nothing” [2 Samuel 24:24].
And in that keeping of the spirit of the days of these wonderful approaches to God, they set this day for rejoicing and gladness. And it was a wondrous day in the lives of the people. So much so that it is written here in detail in this last chapter of the Book of 1 Chronicles [1 Chronicles 29:1-22]. We’re going to have a glorious day, a glad day, a happy day, a day that will lift up our spirits and bless us in the presence of the Lord our God.
Number two: first, it is a glad day, a happy day, a triumphant day, a glorious day; not a dull, dreary, coercive day, but a day of marvelous gladness before the Lord. Now second, look at the amazing method by which they came before the Lord with their offerings; verses 3, 4, and 5. David says:
Moreover, 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—over and above—all that I have prepared for the holy house.
Even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the house withal:
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, who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?
[1 Chronicles 29:3-5]
Now I say that’s an amazing thing to me, for the simple reason that an Oriental king was all-powerful. There was no parliament. There was no congress. There was no executive cabinet to limit his reign. He was all-powerful. Now I say this is an amazing thing. Why did not the king levy a tribute? Why did he not raise taxes? Why did he not gather those gifts from the people coercively? Why did he not? I don’t have an answer to that, of course. All I know is that when David did this incomparable work for the Lord, he did it on the basis of a willing response. There was no tribute; there was no tax levied; there was no coercion; there was no force. There was nothing but an appeal to the hearts of the people.
Now did you notice—and I sort of emphasized it when I read it—do you notice what David says? “Out of all the things that I am giving, over and above, I also bring to God three thousand talents of gold” [1 Chronicles 29:3-4]. I just cannot imagine such things. A talent is a weight that an ordinary man could carry. That was a talent. It’s just in modern times that we have money by denomination. In old times, all through those years and years and years, all through all of them, money was accepted and paid by weight. Even though it might have been coined, it still was by weight, the silver and the gold.
Now David says, over and above all that he has already given, he is going to present from him three thousand talents of gold, seven thousand talents of silver, and gold for the things of gold, and silver for the things of silver, and all matter of things to be placed in the hands of artificers [1 Chronicles 29:3-5]. That’s what he’s going to do. That’s what he’s going to do.
Now there is no such thing, in my humble persuasion, there’s no such thing as leading our people into a great work that the pastor does not first share in, and the deacons do not share in, and the staff does not lead in. All of us who have an assignment in our church—we’re teachers and leaders and directors and a pastor—all of us, we are to be first in this.
Now I don’t like to say particularly what I’m doing, because it doesn’t behoove me to do it, but I’d just like to make this one comment. On that Sunday, that first Sunday, I’m giving fifty times as much as I regularly give when I come here, such as this morning, fifty times as much, and it might be even more if I’ve got a little more faith in the Lord God. We are going to lead in it. That’s what pleases the Lord God. We’re going to lead in it.
Then when David had said that, he said this remarkable word: “Who then is willing?” After he has done over and above, he says, “Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?” [1 Chronicles 29:5], and I can just see those people. This is just God’s Spirit moving in grace and power.
“Who then is willing?” [1 Chronicles 29:5], and before he finishes the sentence, I can just hear those people. This one: “I will.”
“Who then is willing?”
“Who then is willing?”
“Who then is willing?” Just from one side of that whole gathered congregation to the other.
“Who then is willing?”
“I am. I’m willing. I’m willing. I’m willing.”
And now I want to point out something here. To consecrate his service to the Lord, “Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?” [1 Chronicles 29:5]. When I looked that up in Hebrew I couldn’t believe my eyes. It is nothing like this, “Who then is willing?” Now it is translated, “to consecrate his service.” The word is ləmallōwṯ, to fill, yadow, his hand. “Who then is willing to fill His hand this day unto the Lord?” [1 Chronicles 29:5]. And it kind of explains over here; in verse 14 he says, “Of Thine own have we given Thee. And all that we have cometh of Thine own hand and is all Thine own” [1 Chronicles 29:14, 16]. What David says is an unusual thing, “Who then is willing to fill his hand, to fill his hand from the fullness of God and offer it to the Lord?” [1 Chronicles 29:5, 14, 16].
There’s a great truth there that all of us experience and realize. Everything we have comes from God. There’s no exception to that. In 1 Corinthians 4:7, Paul says, “What dost thou have, you did not receive? And if you receive it, why do you boast, as though you did not receive it?”
All that we have comes from God. If I have two hands, I did not make them. God gave them to me. If I have two eyes, God gave them to me. If I have two feet, God gave them to me. If I have strength, God gave [it] to me. If I have a mind to think, God gave [it] to me. If I have the ableness to acquire any wealth, God gave it to me. If I have anything, God gave it to me. “And of Thine own,” he says, “do we offer unto Thee” [1 Chronicles 29:14]. And that beautiful word that David says: “I am taking of the things of God in my hand, things from God, I am taking them in my hand, and I am offering them back in gratitude and love and praise to the Lord” [1 Chronicles 29:14, 16]—a wonderful thing for David to do and a precious, beautiful thing for us to do; we’re offering to God out of our hands what God first has given to us.
I read, in my studying this week, I read the most unusual thing. There was a man who happened to be in a store. And a little urchin came in and was looking at the candy counter, and the little fellow didn’t have anything to buy any candy with, but he just looked longingly at it. So the man thought he’d be nice to the little boy, and he went over to the clerk, and he said, “The little boy here—here’s a quarter. Fill a bag of candy and give it to the little boy.” So the clerk took the quarter from the man and filled a candy bag for the little boy.
Then the little fellow, just holding the candy bag, why, the man, just talking to him, being nice to him, he said, “Son, give me a piece of your candy. Let me see what it tastes like.”
And the little boy said, “No. It’s mine.”
And the man sort of insisted, “Son, come, let me have a piece of the candy.”
“No,” he said, “It is mine,” and the little boy ran away from the man and ran outside the store, clasping, grabbing his bag of candy.
Now I read that story, and as I read it, I thought, “How like humanity is that urchin?” “This is mine.” Even though God gave it to us, and everything we have ultimately comes from Him, “This is mine.” And then I thought, how much more wonderful would it be had the little boy, when the man said, “Son, let me have a piece of the candy, let me taste it to see what it’s like”; how much more wonderful had it been that the little boy had offered the whole sack of candy to the generous and unknown, unnamed friend, to the stranger, and said to him, “Sir, all of it is yours. You gave it to me. Here, you take all or as much as you want, and thank you for being so good, and kind, and gracious, and nice to me.”
Should not we be that way? “Lord, everything comes from Thee, and this is an offering out of Your hands that I am filling my hands with and giving it to Thee.” It’s a beautiful thing for us to do.
Now do you notice, and I have to hasten, do you notice the response of the people there in verses 6 and 7 and 8? They gave unbelievably. The chief of the fathers, the princes, the captains of thousands and hundreds and those who worked for the king offered willingly. And they gave five thousand talents of gold and ten thousand drams, and ten thousands talents of silver, and brass, and precious stones [1 Chronicles 29:6-8]. I’m overwhelmed again by the amount that the people brought to the Lord.
Now may I make one comment about that? It will surprise you, it will surprise you what common, plain, ordinary people are able to do. You just can’t believe what people, people, just plain people like us, plain people are able to do.
Let me tell you. Do you know who built those great cathedrals in Europe? Have you ever been to Europe? Have you ever seen sometimes in those little towns, I mean a small town, the most majestic cathedral you could think for, towering up into the sky, beautiful beyond compare? Who built those cathedrals? Nobody knows. Nobody knows. Nobody knows. They were built by common people; plain, ordinary people. It’s amazing what people, plain people, are able to do. And look at that, an astonishing thing!
I must close. Their gift was a “forever.’ Look at verse 18: “O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob, our fathers, keep this for ever in the thoughts of the heart of Thy people, and prepare their heart unto Thee. Keep this before Thee for ever” [1 Chronicles 29:18]. Temple’s gone, all those people are gone, but what they did is a forever remembrance in the heart and sight of God.
I grew up as a boy, as many of you know, in the Dust Bowl. When I was a boy, I walked over our fences. Those barbed-wire fences caught the tumbleweeds, and the tumbleweeds caught the sand, the blowing sand, and it built up and built up until the day that I walked over the fences around our field. They were beneath my feet. There’s no part of the agony and poverty of those days that I didn’t live through. That’s why something that happened, told by the pastor out there years ago in Santa Fe, New Mexico, moved my heart.
There was an Oklahoma family that took their jalopy, their broken-down car, and piled on it everything that they had, what few things they had, took their two little girls, and turned their faces to California, to the West Coast. The mother was tubercular, and when finally they made their way to Santa Fe, in a cheap tourist court, the pastor came to see the dying mother. And as the pastor said, when he walked in, after their greeting, the mother said to one of the little girls, she said, “Mary, bring me Jesus’ money.” The little girl went to an old dilapidated suitcase and took out a little packet, a little envelope with $3.57 in it, brought it to her mother, and the mother turned to the pastor and said, “Pastor, this is Jesus’ money. This is Jesus’ money. This is the tithe of all that my husband has been able to make since we left Oklahoma, and you put it in the treasury for the Lord.”
And the pastor said that when he buried the woman in a pauper’s grave, and the weeping father and two little girls turned away, he stood there, and he said—I’m just quoting him—he said, “I thought I heard a voice.” As you know, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains surround Santa Fe; the Blood of Christ Mountains, the Sufferings of Christ Mountains. The pastor said, “I thought I heard a voice saying, out of those Sufferings of Christ Mountains, I thought I heard Him say, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.’”
A remembrance forever in the heart of God, that’s what David said. “O God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, keep it before Thee for ever as a remembrance of what this people have offered unto Thee” [1 Chronicles 29:18].
Carve your name high o’er the shifting sand
Where the steadfast rocks defy decay.
All you can hold in your cold, dead hand
Is what you have given away.
Those strange anomalies and the paradoxes of life: I have to bow, I have to bow, I have to kneel if I am to be raised. I must die if I am to live. I must give if I am to have and to possess. Strange how God forms our lives.
Now our invitation. In the eighth chapter of the 2 Corinthian letter is a like, like day. Paul writes about these Macedonians, and he says in 2 Corinthians 8, verse 3,
I bear them record that beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
Praying us to receive this gift.
[2 Corinthians 8:3-4]
Now the next verse, verse 5:
And this they did, not as we thought for, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, then unto us by the grace of God.
[2 Corinthians 8:5]
That’s our appeal to you. First we give ourselves to the Lord. That’s first. Then the rest of our lives flows in unending, uninterrupted praise to His glorious name.
And thus to give your heart to Jesus, or to come into the fellowship of this precious church, to give yourself to the will of God: “Pastor, here I stand and here I am.” On the first note of this first stanza come, and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.