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Our DAILY GOSPEL DEVOTIONAL is the story of Jesus from Incarnation to Ascension. This is a chronology and harmony of the gospel accounts in which the ongoing narrative and doctrinal context are carefully considered. In one year we reflect on every passage of every gospel.
May God bless you as we follow the disciples on the journey through the earthly life of Jesus Christ.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Follow the Leader

And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him…
(1 Chronicles 13:10)

This passage in 1 Chronicles 13 is paralleled in 2 Samuel 6. The presumption here isn’t immediately clear, but after carefully searching the Word the teaching is: If an idea or action is against the clear direction of God’s Word then even if it is done with good intentions, reverence, sincerity, and joy to the Lord it will not please Him. We cannot skip over what seem to be minor details to us. This passage is testament to that fact.

David had consulted with the leaders of the people to see if they thought the idea of bringing up the Ark of the Covenant would be of God (vs.1-2). They unanimously agreed that it was (vs.4), and they performed the deed with great joy (vs.8). These men held the Lord in high esteem (2 Samuel 6:2). So we have great men of God doing with all their might and sincerity something that they wished only to do for the glory of God. But God was not pleased. Why, and why such a seemingly harsh punishment?

We can find that God had given specific instructions regarding the Ark and the priestly things. Appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof: they shall bear (carry) the tabernacle (Numbers 1:50). Uzza was a Levite, and so we see no error here.

However, later we see that the priests were given carts to carry things on, but we also see that the sons of Kohath were not: they were to carry the Ark upon their shoulders (Numbers 7:9). And yet David had the Ark placed on a cart (vs.7). This was in direct violation of God’s holy order.

Because David was king, he was responsible for his people, much like teachers and pastors will be held accountable for teaching error. We cannot do holy things in unholy ways. But why did Uzza have to suffer the consequences of David’s poor decision? Wasn’t God punishing the wrong guy? Indeed, David was offended at God for His judgment (vs.11).

No, God wasn’t wrong. God had given warning concerning the vessel-bearers touching the Ark of the Covenant (Numbers 4:15 / 18:3). His commandment was clear. Perhaps God orchestrated the tipping vessel because of the disobedience of the people in putting the Ark on a cart. In the “real world” of everyday life, we can forget to apply God’s commandments, thinking that there are exceptions to the rule. We may feel that we are only doing what is right, but who are we to judge, especially in light of God’s decree.

Obviously this chiefly applies to concrete statements, the “thou shalt not” type. Uzza was probably convinced, at the moment of his action, that he was doing what God would have wanted. He had reverence for the Ark, and it was about to spill open upon hitting the ground. But here is the critical lesson: If God has given us a command, or instruction, and He is the Sovereign Lord of the universe, He knows what He is doing. We dare not presume that He had not thought of a particular situation that we have encountered.

Do not use your duty, responsibility, or a desire to “help” as justification for going outside the expressed will of God. Perhaps God would have miraculously “floated” the Ark back into place, showing the Holy nature of His covenant, and that no earthly trouble could interfere with it.

Of course, that is pure speculation, but the lesson applies: Do not presume that you know the right thing to do when God has instructed otherwise, regardless of the circumstance. We cannot presume that a good intention will justify a bad action. David realized this in 1 Chronicles 15:13, when he stated that he knew that the punishment was because they sought God in the wrong way. We must learn as David did.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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16 Comments:

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous stevehall said...

With no comments yet, I thought I'd pose a relevant question concerning "leaders" in the church who deny the sacredness of the cross of Christ & the attendant redeeming blood by teaching Jesus paid for our sins by suffering in hell Himself. What would motivate these “leaders” to teach such falsehoods? Do they feel it substantiates the word-faith doctrine?

 
At 3:38 PM, Blogger Even So... said...

Steve,

They, not all Word faith but many, teach that Jesus, when called the firstborn among many bretheren, and the firstfruits, etc., that Jesus was born again in Hell, and was the first born again man. In this way it becomes easier to make us more like Christ in His power and acts, they feel, they devalue the divininty of Jesus over and against His humanity.

The Christology of the Word faith movement is all over the place, and to be honest, lets look at what they mean by 'Word faith". They are exactly like those whom I said use the Bible like a magic book. Faith is a force, or a stuff, and words are the containers of that force, by which our words can create reality, as Christ, or the Father can. I may be rambling a bit here, but this movement troubles me greatly, talk about false fruit!

 
At 4:18 PM, Blogger BugBlaster said...

Good thoughts, thanks very much.

 
At 4:31 PM, Blogger Even So... said...

Hey, Buggy, thanks for coming over...even though you, your wife, and Libbie get all Frank's goodies, well, I guess I just have to link you anyway!

*voice of Apu from the Simpson's*

Thank you, come again...

 
At 5:41 PM, Anonymous stevehall said...

Even So,

Thanks for the response, it was insightful.

 
At 7:52 PM, Blogger BugBlaster said...

Hey I looked around a little bit, and this is a good place.

Thanks for the link. People never generally link me for overtly good reasons, but I'm not fussy!

 
At 7:37 AM, Blogger donsands said...

Nice thoughts on this passage.

What a lesson we need to learn in our day.

One other thought I had was that because of God's sovereign hand moving upon Uzzah with judgement, the ark ended up in Obed's house, and he was blessed by the Lord.

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger Ray said...

This is so prevalent in today's western church -- Church leaders believer that any 'means' are acceptable if you get to the right 'end'.

However, God has always been concerned about the means AND the end!

Pragmatic 'church-building' that denies or skirts Christ's substitutionary death is acceptable to 'get people in', and much like Uzzah, these folks have good reasoning for their actions, but God is not interested in our 'reasoning'.

We are to preach 'Christ and Him crucified', not messages that lift up the self-esteem of man, and denigrate the sacrifice of Christ, regardless of whether or not this 'brings them in'!

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger Ray said...

Sorry, maybe I got a bit on my soap-box in my comment....

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger Even So... said...

You go right ahead and preach it Ray, I am right there with you...

 
At 12:00 PM, Blogger Craver Vii said...

The lesson from Uzzah's death is an important one, and it needs to be taken seriously. Thanks for the reminder.

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

Wisdom my friend, as well as Sunday. I think perhaps there might be a little light shining at the home front. Praising Him always!

 
At 1:20 PM, Blogger Even So... said...

No doubt, Craver, we need constant attention to this...

Glad to hear it Paul...

 
At 2:40 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Typically, when the north American imagines an "ox cart", it is the twin axle, four wheeled variety with walls on three sides. Like something you would see on "Little House on the Prairie".

Yet I suspect the cart was more of a single axle platform upon which the Ark was balanced, such that when the ox stumbled, the platform heaved, and the ark stood in danger of falling.

Uzzah was apparently anticipating this for he was back there for that very reason - to make sure the ark didn't fall.

The Levites were instructed in how to carry the cart (between poles on the shoulders of a certain family of Levites, and only in that way), but they found a way that seemed less work for them. So rather than handle the ark of God's promise according to God's instruction , they revised the plan and did it the easy way - expecting that if anything goes wrong, their own hand can right it...

The arrogance of man, how does God put up with us, with me? Would I have done any better? Not unless God's Spirit gave me grace - surely whatever crown we have will be cast from our brow on that great day - for cliche though it is, there, but for the grace of God, go I.

Great post JD.

 
At 2:48 PM, Blogger Ray said...

Daniel -- Man, do I agree: "Would I have done any different?"

Sadly, the answer is most probably a resounding NO! There is none who seek God, no not ONE!

Ray

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger Even So... said...

I agree guys...

"Would I have done any different?"

I think I could truthfully answer that "Perhaps"...

Now, would I have done any better?

I would definitely have to say NO

Amazing grace...

 

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