Saturday, September 10, 2016

doing the right thing the wrong way -- part 1

The Word for today:
1 Chronicles 13, 14
The ark of the covenant is one of the most all-encompassing symbols in scripture. Stand in the Rain previously (August 26, 2015)  addressed the topic of the ark itself. Over the next couple days, we will consider the story of Uzzah, who died as the ark was being transported to Jerusalem.
mark this: 1 Chronicles 13:9-10
And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.
You know a lot of Johns, Williams, Michaels, and Roberts--but do you know any Uzzahs?
It's kind of a trick question, so here's the answer: You know hundreds of Uzzahs. The world is filled with them, billions of them.
At first glance, Uzzah's story is perplexing and even disturbing. The incident leaves David both angered and and frightened.
David wanted the ark brought to Jerusalem, so he gathered the people and created a kind of parade--a procession in honor of the ark. Uzzah, driving the cart which carried the ark, reached out to steady the ark when the oxen stumbled. As he reached out, the anger of the LORD burst forth and Uzzah died on the spot.
What is going on?
What's going on is a cautionary tale concerning our attempts to attain God's Presence. (God did not live in the ark, but that is the place he designated as his meeting place with the people of Israel. His presence was there.)
Uzzah took a well-meaning step towards the orbit of God's presence. He thought he was honoring God, even helping God.
But God was not to be approached in that way. To begin with, the ark should not have been on that cart. The ark was never to be carried on a wagon. It was to be borne on the shoulders of the sons of Kohath (Numbers 4:15). And the ark did not need Uzzah to steady it.
Uzzah is a well-meaning person. Chosen to assist in this important procession, you can bet that he was living an exemplary religious life, and that in his own way he was reaching out for God.
In his own way.
The story of Uzzah is the story of many people who are doing a right thing in a wrong way. Despite their good intentions they will never attain God's presence, because they fail to approach God in the way he prescribed,
through the door he died to open.

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