Thursday, July 12, 2012

Over-sight and Under-praying

9:14 p.m. Today's project was to teach II Samuel Chapter 6 to our Thursday morning Bible study, and be amazed once again at the awesome power and absolute holiness of God. This is the chapter where King David leads a huge national procession bringing the Ark of the Covenant from a Levite family's home to the tabernacle that will house it in Jerusalem, still and eternally known as the City of David.
A wonderful intention, supported by the leaders of the nation and the citizens with fervent enthusiasm. But then tragedy strikes the procession. Look at II Samuel 6:3,6-7: the ark was now en route to Jerusalem:

So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on a hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart.
And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and He struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.

As a new believer I was horrified when I read this on my first reading through the Bible! But a few years later, by the time I wrote the lessons on this chapter, I had researched the Law of Moses, and found that indeed God did have a method he prescribed for transporting the ark, Exodus 25:13-14:

And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them.

The Levites were to carry the ark suspended  from the poles, on their shoulders, NOT on a shiny new cart! This morning we discussed the fact that David always inquired of the Lord so thoroughly before battles, and that he had priests with him, we see that governmental and leadership over-sight and under-praying cost Uzzah his life. We are assured repeatedly in scripture that God stands ready to give wisdom liberally to anyone who asks for it  ( ex. James1:5), and that all will be taken care of in God's timing (ex. II Timothy 2:24, "the servant of the Lord must not strive").

Two generations before, in I Samuel 6: 1-12, the tumor-stricken Philistines returned the ark from Dagon's temple back to Israel on a new cart. And they were not further punished. But the men of Beth Shemesh across the border in Israel, who received the ark, lost 50,070 men because they looked into the ark (v. 19)! They took God's prerogatives upon themselves and were slaughtered. Only consecrated priests could touch the ark!

They took God's holiness, which they should have known for generations, too lightly.

Why do we see Christians rebuked and disciplined for behavior unbelievers do every day? It's because we know the Lord! Our consciences have not been seared and hardened. Yet we disobey our heavenly Father by choice at times. And the number one reason for the disciplinary action? God loves us! Hebrews 12:5-6:

"My son, do not despise the
  chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when  you are
  rebuked by Him;
For whom the LORD loves He
And scourges every son whom He

I know I've had some spiritual "swats" over the last 32 years! And each one has  tested, taught, and trained me to be a stronger and more obedient believer.

We read in I Chronicles 15:11-13 that three months later, David did consult with the priests and the Levites, and held the next celebration in "the proper order."

It takes time and dedication to perform our ministry as unto the Lord, properly and in good order. By prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, we may do well to quote I Corinthians 14:40, written to believers:

Let all things be done decently and in order.


1 comment:

  1. Edifying post and reflection. I am studying self-discipline and church discipline in my current counseling class and this dovetails with it.

    Hugs and prayers,