Robert E. Henson
In 2 Samuel 24:15-16; 25, we read:
“So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.
And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.”
“And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.”
In our biblical story, the Lord God was extremely agitated with the spiritual fickleness of the Israelites. At the very same time, their leader, King David, also made a grave mistake in kingly judgment.
The end result of this combination of failures was that God directed a plague against Israel to punish them for their sins and to bring them to repentance.
During the three days that this pestilence was upon the land, some 70,000 people died. Imagine the impact on that tiny nation.
On September 11, 2001, more than 3,000 individuals died in a series of terrorist attacks upon the United States of America. America was in shock! To understand the impact of the calamity recorded in 2 Samuel 24 on the much tinier nation of Israel, multiply the death toll that resulted from the infamous September 11th attack by 23, and you will begin to understand the magnitude of this plague upon the Israelites.
In the biblical event, the death angel had gone throughout the land. He then approached Jerusalem for a final assault. At this point, the Lord gave the order to halt the grievous plague.
David became aware that the death angel was paused near the city. King David literally saw the angel of death. It was standing near the threshing place, or barn, of the Jebusite king, a farmer named Araunah.
King David was instructed by a prophet named Gad to build an altar unto the Lord in the very location where the death angel had stood as a sentinel. Upon that altar, David offered sacrifices unto God. The Word of God declares that the Lord accepted the sacrifices of David. The pestilence was terminated and wreaked no more havoc on Israel. That small area of ground where the sacrifices were made and the death angel ceased to mete out judgment became memorialized in the land of Palestine. That plot of ground became known as the place where death stopped.
Another Miracle at that Same Location
Genesis 22:1-3; 6-14 states:
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clove the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”
“And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou halt not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.”
This incident took place at the same location that later would be the site of the appearance of the death angel and the construction of an altar by King David near the barn of Araunah the Jebusite. The episode involving Abraham and Isaac occurred some 855 years prior to that later event.
Abraham thought that he was going to have to sacrifice his son, Isaac. God miraculously provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac. Abraham named the location Jehovah -jireh, which means the Lord that provides.
Isaac was spared from death on the very plot of ground that would later be owned by Araunah the Jebusite. Whenever Abraham and Isaac viewed that hillside, they always had a special reverence for that place. It certainly was for them the place where death stopped.
Yet Another Miracle at that Same Location
John 19:16-20; 30; 40-42 tells us:
“Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus , and led him away.
And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF
NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
This tide then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.” [Emphasis added]
“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”
“Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
Now in the place where he was crucified there was a gar-den; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”
Luke 24:1-6a tells us more of the story:
“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
He is not here, but is risen.”
It is simply amazing. One thousand and fifty-one years after the episode of King David and the death angel, Jesus Christ was crucified at that same location near the city of Jerusalem. Not only did Jesus die there, He was also buried there.
Then, on that first Easter morning nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus resurrected. He literally walked out of that tomb, securely grasping in His hands the keys of death, hell, and the grave. That plot of ground again became the place where death stopped!
Jesus declared a wonderful promise and glorious truth in John 14:19:
“Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.” [Emphasis added]
To put our faith in Christ and to obey the gospel means that for us also that plot of ground on which Jesus was crucified and where He arose from the dead is the place where death stopped. Jesus did not die in vain.
Perhaps the following illustration from history will help us better understand what Christ’s death and resurrection have truly provided for each of us.
The Roman Coliseum had become a center for government-sponsored entertainment, which had become exceedingly barbaric. The live entertainment provided included gladiator fights. These were bloody, brutal, and gory.
As this travesty of human sacrifice for sport continued in Rome, far to the south in Italy there was a young man who was studying and preparing for the ministry. He was completely unaware of the cruelty and killing for entertainment that was taking place in Rome. There came a time when this young, aspiring minister made a trip to the big city. In Rome, he noticed thousands of people pouring into the Coliseum. It was an amazing structure, so he decided to follow them and to check out what was happening there.
The young preacher was aghast at the violence on display. He watched the intense gladiator competition until the apparent loser lay helplessly upon the ground. The winner stood over the
loser with his foot firmly planted on his opponent’s neck. The young man in the stands suddenly realized that the defeated man was about to have his life taken. All this while the crowd looked on approvingly.
The horrified young man stood and in panicky desperation began to run down the sloping aisle toward the center of the arena. As he ran, he screamed as loud as he could, “Stop! Stop! In the name of God, stop!”
The Coliseum hushed into silence and all eyes focused on the young man. He rushed across the open arena and flung himself across the body of the collapsed gladiator. It was a stunning display of compassion in an arena and a society filled with violence and insensitivity.
The conquering gladiator hesitated only a moment and then coldly killed them both. The crowd watched in stunning disbelief. Silence and stillness hung heavy over the amphitheater. Someone had sacrificed himself attempting to save a helpless and doomed individual. The crowd just couldn’t fathom that kind of selfless love.
Almost immediately, as the crowd sat in hushed silence, the victor began to feel uncomfortable. Somewhere up in the arena one man got up and headed for the exit. Another person quickly followed him. Soon it was hundreds and then thousands quietly moving toward the exit until the entire Coliseum was vacated. Only the two dead bodies remained on the turf below. Thy young preacher’s body was still draped across the losing gladiator’s body.
However, as the story is told, the young ministry student not die in vain. His heartfelt and impulsive act that day is noted in history as the place and the time where gladiatorial contests stopped in Rome. It was the place where death stopped.
On a hill outside of Jerusalem, Jesus did the same thing for all humanity. He gave His life to stop death. Those who put their trust in Him, in an eternal sense, shall never die.
0, marvelous mercy!
The above article, “The Place Where Death Stopped,” is written by Robert E. Henson. The article is the fifteenth chapter of Henson’s book, Marvelous Mercy. The book was published in 2004.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study and research purposes.