Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.” But Joab replied, “May the Lord multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord’s subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?” The king’s word, however, overruled Joab; so Joab left and went throughout Israel and then came back to Jerusalem. — 1 Chronicles 21:1-4, NIV.
Many times in ministry, there are the talks about “numbers”. In fact, sometimes, it appears to be a daily affair. Topics about whether or not have we reached our target participants, target audience, the target for the year, etc, filled the conversations of our team. Many times, it gets so repulsive to the point where people become burn out for not being able to meet their allocated Key Performance Index (KPI). We’d pray about it, fast about it, talk about it, and stress each other out about it. We’d verbally say, “Thy will be done” in our prayer meetings but inwardly, we’d curse each other when we do not meet the requirements we have set for each other.
Is this really necessary? Is this even Biblical?
On the surface, sure it looks fine. It looks like a normal roll call where we do the daily “stock check”. Sure, it must be fine to know just how we are doing, right? After all, “numbers” meant power, “numbers” meant strength, “numbers” meant abilities. On the surface, it sure looks good to know our corporate health because it determines everything else — finance, sustainability, credibility, etc. Right?
But deep down at the heart of God, is this what He wanted?
Joab knew the heart of God. Joab knew who is sovereign over Israel. “May the Lord multiply his troops a hundred times over,” Joab exclaimed exasperatedly when David voiced his will to count the troops. Joab knew that the Lord will work miracles in the realm of the unknown. Joab knew that the Lord will multiply the troops in ways that are beyond human understanding. He knew that God’s horses and chariots of fire (ref: 2 Kings 6:17) fight along with their troops ensuring victories. “Why should he bring guilt on Israel?” Joab exclaimed.
Joab knew David’s calling. He knew that the battles that David fight were God’s battles. And no matter what they do, as long as they sought the Lord, the Lord would give them victory. Joab experienced this first hand as he led Israel’s army into the many battles he’d fought. But David seems to have forgotten this.
This is a mistake that many — even myself — is prone to make. We tend to fall into the trap of self-dependence. In our weaknesses, with a little bit of incitement from Satan, we fall into the trap of self-dependence, forgetting God and His calling for us along the way. We sought our own will and we did what we like.
David’s call was to be a warrior; to fight the Lord’s battles and to win His wars. God knew everything about His enemies. With God’s wisdom and foresight, God knew exactly what was needed to win each and every war that He’d lead Israel into. Why are we concerned with earthly stresses; about power, strength, and might? Why are we doubtful about God’s providence? Why are we doubting when the battle isn’t ours, to begin with. It’s God’s battles that we are supporting. It is He who fights. It is also He who prepares what we require to fight the battles that He had placed in store for us.
Are our ministries God’s ministries? Do we trust that God will provide the warriors we require to fight the battles that lie ahead? Do we trust God with His wisdom and foresight to tell us what we need to do every step of the way? Or do we fall back on earthly concerns and self-dependence?
We need to know the heart of God. We need to return to our original calling. We need to bring God’s promises into realization; God’s way.
God help us.