Key Text

2 Samuel 24:18-25

That day Gad came to David and said to him, "Go up and erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." Following Gad's instructions, David went up, as the LORD had commanded.

When Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming toward him; and Araunah went out and prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?"
David said, "To buy the threshing floor from you in order to build an altar to the LORD, so that the plague may be averted from the people."
Then Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him; here are the oxen for the burnt offering, and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king."
And Araunah said to the king, "May the LORD your God respond favorably to you."
But the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will buy them from you for a price; I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing."
So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being.
So the LORD answered his supplication for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.

cited from NRSV


Image of the week

February 21, 2005

Caravaggio: The Sacrifice of Isaac

The Sacrifice of Isaac


(b. 1571, Caravaggio, d. 1610, Porto Ercole)

Oil on canvas, 104 x 135 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

original link


For last week's image (14 February, 2005), click here.


Present Context

For Reflection

As we continue the journey through Lent, with its focus on sacrifice and self-denial, we are challenging a basic assumption of Western culture: the need for self-sufficiency. Who willingly gives up today? Who willingly surrenders and sacrifices?

Our hands are full: what more can we receive? We have so much which diminishes our need to rely on God, how then can we understand what God is capable of doing in our lives?

The Lenten season invites us to empty ourselves of something in order that we might discover God afresh. Not something trivial (one of my children suggested giving up school for Lent!). A sacrifice which costs us nothing is no sacrifice at all.

While we might baulk at the idea of sacrificing a child, Abraham learned to trust God's provision in a dramatic way. It is no coincidence that Abraham, with David, stands tall in the stories of men and women of faith.

An old preacher once said, "You will never know that God is all you need until God is all you have."

At Lent, we are invited to dip our toes in this aspect of the life of faith.

We pray: Jehovah Jireh, help us to know your ability to provide for us as we surrender our own ability to do so.

Have we locked ourselves out of better things because we hang on so tight to what we have? Lord, give us the faith of Jesus, who gave up everything, yet received honour and glory.

Teach us the art of sacrifice: the gift of surrender.

Through Jesus Christ.