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The Bible Story You Likely Haven't Heard


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by Doug Bing, Washington Conference president

The Bible tells the story of a man named Ornan. Most have never heard of him. Yet land that he used to own is one of the most famous pieces of land in the world. People have fought over his land. They have gone to pray at his land. Multiple buildings have been built and destroyed on what used to be his land.

Rarely, however, do we talk about Ornan.


Ornan lived in the time of David in Old Testament times. David wanted to build a temple for the Lord instead of using the portable sanctuary that had been built during the time of Moses. God told David that he couldn’t build the new temple, but that he would lead him to the location of the new temple and that he could also prepare building materials for the temple.

This is when Ornan comes into the picture.

Ornan owned a threshing floor and it was to his threshing floor that David was directed to go by God. This is where it gets interesting. I Chronicles 21:20 states: “Now Ornan turned and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, but Ornan continued threshing wheat.”

Wow. Just two verses before the Bible says that this angel was the Angel of the Lord. Not just a regular run of the mill angel which would be pretty impressive to most of us. Instead, it was the Angel of the Lord which denotes that he carried some rank. Some even believe it was Jesus himself. What does Ornan do? Looks up and just keeps on about his threshing wheat. His sons were impressed and scared. Ornan, not so much.

But the story gets even more interesting in verse 21: “So David came to Ornan, and Ornan looked and saw David. And he went out from the threshing floor, and bowed before David with his face to the ground.”

Really Ornan?? He sees an angel and keeps on with his everyday life. He sees David, who is a king but certainly not an angel, and he stops everything and prostrates himself on the ground. You have to wonder about Ornan.

Most people when they see angels in the Bible stop everything and bow down. It is clearly an impressive sight. Yet Ornan will only stop for a human king. David goes on and purchases the threshing floor from Ornan and the site becomes the location for Solomon’s temple. It is now the location of the Dome on the Rock Mosque that is a part of the skyline of modern Jerusalem.

It is easy to look at Ornan and wonder how he could get it so wrong. Why didn’t he stop for the angel? Why did he stop for King David? It certainly seems like he had his priorities mixed up.

Yet centuries later it wasn’t much different in Jerusalem. Wise men came from the east looking for a new king that was from heaven. Jerusalem didn’t know anything about it. They had been going about business as usual and it wasn’t until the wise men came around that they started to explore where it was supposed to have happened.

Even when they reported that the king was to come from Bethlehem none of them when to check it out themselves. Instead it was King Herod who sent the wise men on their way to check it out. The priest didn’t go. The scribes didn’t go, and they were supposed to be the religious leaders. Instead an evil king with evil intentions sent supposedly non-religious people to go find the king. No one could be bothered to stop what they were doing and go find him themselves.

Fast forward to our day. I have wondered how many times we have missed seeing the heavenly king.


Going about our lives we are continually impressed with the titans of business, the sports heroes, the famous political figures, the latest celebrities of the big and small screen, and yes, even the celebrity pastors in our world. Yet we find ourselves missing the very working of God in our lives and miss the times that He wants to come to us in the still small voice to talk with us. We miss the times when He comes to us in the words of scripture. We miss the times when He is right there and wanting to be active in our lives.

This holiday season ask yourself: which king will you stop the everyday hustle of life for and bow down and worship?

I pray it is the King Jesus who came and was born as a baby and died on the cross for you. That is the One to stop for and worship.