Sometimes God’s Word contains painful lessons.
Because sin has painful consequences.
Today’s "Bible Pick ‘Ems" tells about one of those lessons:
"But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. Then the LORD’S anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. So Uzzah died there in the presence of God." (1 Chronicles 13:9-10)
Let’s start our lesson with some background.
The Ark had been in Kiriath-jearim for many years. The Israelites took the Ark from the tabernacle at Shiloh to the battlefield when they were fighting with the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). The Ark was captured by the Philistines, and subsequently taken to Ashdod, then to Gath, and finally to Ekron before they decided to get rid of it. It was finally returned to Beth-shemesh (1 Samuel 4-6).
At some point, the men of Beth-shemesh sent messengers to the residents of Kiriath-jearim and asked them to take the Ark to their town. And there it remained until King David decided to return it to Jerusalem.
I’ve always kinda struggled with this passage. How it seems unfair and cruel.
Why did Uzzah have to die?
But, I am not God.
And God had directly given very specific instructions about how the Ark was to be carried and moved (Numbers 4:5-15).
It was to be carried by the Levites – and only them. It was to be carried on their shoulders. Transporting the Ark on a cart imitated the Philistines. And it was never to be touched.
These instructions had been ignored.
In his zeal, David had forgotten to consult God, and he had taken it upon himself to determine what God would want done.
He had the best intentions, and probably very good motives. But, he left out one very important particular – what did God want?
David’s enthusiasm was quickly dampened, and the Bible tells us that he had two rather dramatic reactions.
One, (verse 11) – "David was now angry…"
And, (verse 12) – "Now David was afraid of God…"
Has anything like this ever happened in your life?
Has there been something that you were so sure was God’s will? Some way of honoring Him or serving Him? Some job change, or location move, or relationship – a financial decision. It could be anything…
And you just KNEW that it was "from the Lord."
And then, it all blew up in your face…
Have you ever found yourself angry at Him, and afraid?
"I was trying to do the right thing, and this is what I get??"
I think it’s important to realize some very important facts – which David himself later learned.
Sometimes, we can do the right thing in the wrong way or at the wrong time.
Sometimes, we forget to consult God in the matter.
Sometimes, we subtly imitate the ways of the world when trying to accomplish something. We are smudged with sin, but we don’t see it.
Sometimes, we need to be reminded that our obedience is more important than our enthusiasm.
God is not cruel or unfair. But He is God. And He is to be feared and worshiped.
So, how can we know what He wants? How can we determine His will?
First and foremost, consult His Word – God gives very clear instructions on certain matters. Often, our decisions are easier than we realize. If it goes against the Word of God, it’s never His will.
Second, pray about the matter. Ask for wisdom. The Bible promises that God will give us His wisdom if we seek it with single-minded purpose. Often that translates – He will tell you what to do, if you single-mindedly obey what He says.
Third, consult other believers – they are often a very good benchmark to weigh our decisions against. Sometimes God offers His counsel through the words the Holy Spirit speaks through others. And ask them to pray for you, too.
And last but not least, don’t give up.
God might not be saying "No" – He might just be saying, "Not now" or "Not in this way."
David tried again.
He had learned a mighty lesson – when God gives His instructions, it is wise to follow them precisely (even if we don’t understand them!)
So, my friends – step out in faith, following after God in obedience…
…trusting that at the right time, in the right way, He will reveal His will.
(Linked with Super Sunday, hosted by Peggy - Spiritual Sundays, hosted by Charlotte and Ginger - and Bible Pick 'Ems)
"When in doubt, search God out!"