As I read about the instructions for the taking of the census, I was reminded of the passage in 2 Samuel 24 when David takes a census.
In Exodus 30, the Lord told the Israelites to number the people for two reasons:
- For collection of offerings for the sanctuary
- For protection from a plague
David’s numbering of the people, however, was just because he wanted to know how large his army was at that point in time. Why? 🤷♀️ Perhaps, pride. “Look how powerful I am.” Maybe a lack of trust that the Lord would bring about victory regardless of the army’s size. Either way, his motives were wrong.
And, not only did his census not prevent a plague like was originally intended, David’s sinful numbering of the people caused a plague (2 Samuel 24:21.)
Our motives matter. God is not impressed or pleased when we do right things with wrong motives. Jesus is clear about this in Matthew 6:1-4. He warns the people not to pray or do good deeds with the sole purpose of being seen doing those things.
The goal is not to practice religion, but righteousness. Our motives matter.