David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 5

Today we wrap up our study of the account of David, Uzzah and the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13 and 15). We are going to zoom in on the concept of worshipping God in spirit and in truth. There is a perfect example of this with David and the Ark of the Covenant.

David learned the value of worshipping in spirit and in truth.

There were two worship services we can observe in our texts for this week. The first is full of spirit-filled worship (1 Chronicles 13), but they were transporting the Ark in a way that disobeyed God. They were not worshipping in truth. Uzzah died. The second worship service came three months later (1 Chronicles 15; 2 Samuel 6:11-15) after David and the Priesthood looked into the Word to see what God instructed. They made the necessary corrections, and then we see a second worship commence. That worship service was just as spirit-filled and full of emotion and passion, with even more reverence than before. This time, however, they were worshipping in spirit AND in truth.

First Worship Service – Spirit WITHOUT Truth

1 Chronicles 13:1-4
1 David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader.
2 And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and from the Lord our God, let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel, as well as to the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasturelands, that they may be gathered to us.
3 Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.”
4 All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.

What they were about to do for God and how they were going to worship God was based on what was right in the eyes of the people. They all consulted with each other on what to do.

1 Chronicles 13:5-10
5 So David assembled all Israel from the Nile of Egypt to Lebo-hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim.
6 And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim that belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord who sits enthroned above the cherubim.
7 And they carried the ark of God on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahiowere driving the cart.
8 And David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.
9 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.
10 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.

David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with “all their might” in the worship service. They had great passion and fire for God, and their motives, I believe, were right on point. But God was angry and Uzzah died. They were worshipping with all the spirit, but without the truth.

Second Worship Service – Spirit WITH Truth

1 Chronicles 15:1-3
David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it.
2 Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever.
3 And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it.

The first worship service began with people making agreements and consulting with each other on how they think things should be (1 Chronicles 13:1-4). The second worship began with people asking God how things should be.

1 Chronicles 15:13-16
13 Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.”
14 So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel.
15 And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
16 David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.

We can take note here of the reverence for God’s word when it comes to worship. They had not sought God according to the rule (verse 13), but the second worship service was “according to the word of the Lord” (verse 15). That did not change their spirit, though. They still played loudly and raised sounds of joy to the Lord (verse 16)!

2 Samuel 6:11-15
11 And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.
12 And it was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing.
13 And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal.
14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.
15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

Do you see the reverence and care in verse 13? Do you see the rejoicing in verse 12, the dancing in verse 14, and the shouting in verse 15? They were absolutely careful to do things God’s way, but they did not lose a bit of passion in doing so!

1 Chronicles 15:25-29
25 So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of thousands went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-edom with rejoicing.
26 And because God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams.
27 David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as also were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the music of the singers. And David wore a linen ephod.
28 So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres.
29 And as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and rejoicing, and she despised him in her heart.

Spirit AND Truth

It seems, by my limited observation, that many times people either have spirit OR truth. We are either worshipping with all the genuine passion and emotion and not obeying God’s instructions for worship, or we are doing things “by the book” but everyone looks like they are at a funeral! God wants our hearts and our obedience! He wants spirit and truth!

John 4:19-24
The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

In His discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus first dealt with the “Where” of worship. There was a debate between Jews and Samaritans of the proper place to worship. Jesus said there was a time coming when the “where” won’t matter. Jesus also addressed the “What” of worship, and clearly said the Samaritans were worshipping in ignorance. Finally, Jesus instructed her on the “How” of worship. As you can see from what Jesus said, God is “seeking such people” who will worship Him in “spirit and in truth.” He added an exclamation point with the word “MUST.” This is not an option, this is how God wants it. Spirit AND truth.

So, how about you? Personalize it and put these words from Scripture in your heart. God wants all of you in worship. We are to love God with all our hearts, souls, spirits and minds. Are you worshipping God with all of your being? Do you seek and search out what God wants for you in worship or are you like those in the 1st worship service? Do you just go along with what everyone around you agrees is the right course? Remember these lessons from David and Uzzah, because it truly does matter to God. We hope it matters to you, too.

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 3

Have you ever purchased a gadget or piece of equipment, but fail to read the owner’s manual? A lot of folks like me do that – we just try to “figure it out.” Then months go by, and you wonder why something doesn’t work right or you say, “What does this button do?” You go dig through your piles of important stuff you have yet to file and you find that handy owner’s manual that came straight from the manufacturer. After a minute, you slap your head and say, “Oh, that’s what that button is for!”

In yesterday’s article we saw from the Law of Moses that God clearly described and indicated how the Israelites were to transport the ark of the covenant.

Exodus 25:10-15 – “… And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.

It makes me think that the people by the time of David are staring at those poles and saying, “I wonder what those are for?” Here’s why I think that. Look at the text of 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13.

2 Samuel 6:5-11 (1 Chronicles 13)
And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

When Uzzah was struck dead, David was at first “angry,” then “afraid of the Lord.” I can understand why at first David was angry. He is, with a pure heart, trying to do a wonderful thing for God and now Uzzah is toast. David was angry, but God’s punishment was just. The next emotion is “fear of the Lord.” Remember that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). David is now afraid, and he asks a great question in utter confusion as Uzzah lies dead on the ground.

“How can the ark of the Lord come to me?”

He did not know! David’s (and everyone else’s disobedience) was not based on a rebellious spirit like King Saul where they said, “Who cares? We’re going to do it this way!” They were genuinely trying to do good for the Lord. But they were doing so in ignorance of God’s plain instructions. Someone at our congregation, Josh, suggested after my sermon that the priests used the poles to get the ark on the cart. Great point. But again, we will see that they did not use the poles as God intended.

So the next thing we see is that David parks the ark of the covenant for 3 months at Obed-Edom’s house. That goes well for Obed-Edom, but keep in mind that this great work of God is now halted for 3 months while everyone figures out what to do.

Here is where 1 Chronicles 15 comes in. By the way, if you only read the account of David and Uzzah from 2 Samuel 6, you will miss some very important details that are mentioned in 1 Chronicles.

1 Chronicles 15:1-2
David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever.
1 Chronicles 15:11-13
Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab, and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.”

Notice a few things in that passage:
  • No one may do this but the Levites.
  • No carts…you have to carry the ark.
  • We got in trouble with God because the ark was not carried, it was put on a cart.
  • Because we did not seek Him according to the rule.

What happened in these 3 months? David and the rest of the leadership eventually got the Book of the Law out and searched to see what God had to say about it. They did not seek Him according to the rule…that means even the priests and Levites were unaware of this 400-year-old instruction from God. Even religious leaders can be ignorant of what God says in His Word! But again, ignorance joined with zeal for God is not a pass for disobeying Him.

Romans 10:1-3
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

One final note for today: “We,” not “You” or “I”

David, as a leader, took ownership of his own failings. He said, “We” did not seek God’s instructions. He did not say, “You” failed. As a king and as a humble servant of God, David knew that he had his own personal responsibility to search God’s word. I’ll leave you with this final passage from Moses about Israel’s kings. It needs to be true for any leader of God’s people whether in politics, in the home, at work, or in the church.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20
“When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose…And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.”

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 2

We continue our study into the account of David, Uzzah and the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13 and 15).

Today we look at what God actually said in His word about how to transport the ark of the covenant. What we will see is that the instructions were plain, and that they were right there in the Law of Moses for King David or the priesthood to read and learn. It was clear that these 400 year old instructions had been forgotten, because no one knew how God wanted to transport the ark. Remember that God was teaching His people through this the value of His holy presence symbolized by the ark of the covenant, and also the critical importance of obeying exactly what God said.

God cared how they transported the ark of the covenant.

When God gave Moses instructions on how to build the ark of the covenant, He gave very specific commands on how to move the ark.

Exodus 25:10-15 – “They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.

Notice that the priests and Levites were given carts (wagons) by God, but NONE were given to the Kohathites who were to transport the “holy things” (including the ark of the covenant). Why? Because God wanted it carried.

Numbers 7:1-9
On the day when Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle and had anointed and consecrated it with all its furnishings and had anointed and consecrated the altar with all its utensils, the chiefs of Israel, heads of their fathers’ houses, who were the chiefs of the tribes, who were over those who were listed, approached and brought their offerings before the LORD, six wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon for every two of the chiefs, and for each one an ox. They brought them before the tabernacle. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Accept these from them, that they may be used in the service of the tent of meeting, and give them to the Levites, to each man according to his service.” So Moses took the wagons and the oxen and gave them to the Levites. Two wagons and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service. And four wagons and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because they were charged with the service of the holy things that had to be carried on the shoulder.

God cared whether or not they touched the ark of the covenant.

In Numbers 4 God through Moses gave instructions on how to prepare the ark for transporting. He was specific on how it was to be done and who was to do which task. The high priest and his family (Aaron and his sons) were to prepare the ark, and the Kohathites were to carry it. But they could not touch it…lest they die.

Numbers 4:1-15 – And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, as the camp sets out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die. These are the things of the tent of meeting that the sons of Kohath are to carry.

Take note here. This is important. Let’s ask ourselves some questions.

Did God say how He wanted the ark of the covenant to be moved? Yes! We see at least 3 occasions here in the Law of Moses where God said, “Use the poles! Carry the ark.”

Did God say He wanted the ark carried because there were no wagons (carts) available? No. There were plainly other ways of transporting the ark, but God did not want them to be used.

These instructions were 400 years old by the time of David – Did that change anything with God? The instructions were written around 1400 BC and David lived around 1000 BC. Think of the arguments we could make, such as, “Well, times have changed. God wrote that 400 years ago, and it’s outdated, we have to get with the new times.” Or, “Well, maybe God cared about that 400 years ago, but does He care about it today?”

Is ignorance of God’s plan instructions a pass or excuse for disobeying what God said? Nope. What we see in the account of David and Uzzah is that God still cared about what He said, even if David or the priesthood had forgotten it.

More to come tomorrow, Lord willing.

Daniel – Stand Firm and Take Action

He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.
(Daniel 11:32)

Daniel chapter 11 can get pretty confusing for me, but when I come to this verse I get the main point. Whatever is going on here in chapter 11, there are people who are seduced and break God’s covenant. That is sad, and that is the way of the world. However we also see that there are those who know God, stand firm and take action.

I’m seeing so many connections between Daniel’s theme and the book of Revelation. In both books, God’s people are being oppressed by a beast, and in both books the Son of Man, Jesus overcomes that beast. Also in both books, those who are with the Son of Man, Jesus, can and will overcome and conquer the beast.

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 
(Revelation 12:11)
This is our encouragement for today. We are in a war against Satan and any “beast” he sends our way to torture us. The Devil is, with all his might, seeking to destroy God’s work. But Jesus is on the throne, He has already conquered and He reigns supreme. Death, sin and the Devil have no power over Him. In Christ, the Devil has been disarmed and made powerless.
So stand firm today, men. Stand firm today in Christ. Fight the beast. Do not love your lives even unto death. You have a covenant with Christ to keep. You have His blood covering you. His word is always there to guide you. But standing firm means more than standing still. It means taking action.
Take action to say kind words and to forgive others. Take action to reach out to encourage someone else. Take action to say no to the Devil’s temptations. Take action to be honest when the pressure is extreme to be dishonest. Take action to speak up for God to your boss, your neighbor, your friends, etc.
Stand firm and take action.

 

Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 6

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
(Matthew 5:31-32)

We continue our consideration of whether Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was a “new” teaching. Were concepts like turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love your neighbor uniquely Christian concepts that were foreign to the Law of Moses? No.

Let’s look into this further.

In the Old Testament, can we look into the heart of God and learn what He expects in a marriage? 

In this case in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is speaking of a provision in the Law of Moses that permitted a man to divorce his wife. Take time to look at Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Notice the “if’s” in this passage. If a man divorced a woman and she went out and married again, then that woman could not return to her original husband. God was putting limits on people continually marrying and divorcing in order to keep from defiling the land in which they lived.

Thankfully, we have Jesus’ additional commentary on Deuteronomy 24. In Matthew 19 and Mark 10 we see Jesus in a controversy with the Jewish leadership about marriage. They confronted and tested Him on the topic of marriage, and they used Deuteronomy 24 as the grounds for the argument. They were clearly having a controversy among themselves, and they wanted to bring Jesus into the middle of the fight.

Can a man divorce his wife for any reason?

Did Moses “command” a man to divorce his wife?

What Jesus does is expertly and surgically cut through to the heart of the issue, revealing the hardness of heart and hypocrisy of the people. He takes them to the beginning of the “Law” in Genesis 2 to show God’s heart and original design for marriage. We don’t start in the New Testament to learn what pleases God in marriage,we start in the Garden of Eden with the first marriage.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
(Matthew 19:3-9)

The heart of God is plain in the Old Testament, “Don’t divorce.” Marriage is a covenant with God, and by divorcing and committing adultery we defile that holy covenant.

But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
(Malachi 2:14-16)

So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.
(Proverbs 2:16-19)

This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.”
(Proverbs 30:20)

You can see from these Scriptures, God (Jesus) expected the Jew to honor marriage. The Law did in this case give provision for divorce, but God’s heart and expectation for marriage has always been the same. Marriage is a lifelong covenant, don’t divorce. If the Jewish man would have searched the Scriptures for God’s heart on marriage, he would have found it. If he was looking for a loophole to exit marriage, then his heart is revealed and he got exactly what he was looking for. Jesus was not introducing a new standard of conduct that He did not always expect from His people.

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 1

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 2

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 3

Is This a Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 4

Is This A Uniquely Christian Concept? Part 5

Your wife by covenant

“She is your companion and your wife by covenant…” (Malachi 2:14).

When a husband marries his wife, he makes a covenant not only with her, but with God.

What parts of me and my life are bound to that agreement? I know for many this is a simple answer, but we need to remind ourselves that all of our being made that agreement.

Your wife by covenant

Sometimes we can be pretty good at compartmentalizing our lives, and putting various parts of our lives in their neat little boxes. However, when I made that vow before God and Anna, every part of my being signed up for the deal.

God wants us to give our minds to them and to live with them in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7). We have committed our value system to our wives, because we are to honor and cherish them (1 Peter 3:7). That also involves “my money,” which is not my money is it? My time is no longer my time, because now I am blessed to think of how I may take care of her and please her (1 Corinthians 7:34).

Jesus calls the husband to be loyal and committed to his wife in his heart as well (Matthew 5:28). Job made a covenant with his eyes, and that affected how he saw other women (Job 31:1). Your body is fully committed to her, and is for no other (1 Corinthians 7:2-5; Proverbs 5:15-20). Even my emotions are committed to this lifelong partnership, because I am to live joyfully with her (Proverbs 5:18; Ecclesiastes 9:9). Even my spirit is joined in to this covenant (Malachi 2:15).

The John Legend song says, “All of me loves all of you…” and I think that sums it up pretty well. I’m sure all of us as men have fought against that concept in one way or another in our marriages. Maybe instead of singing John Legend we were singing Meatloaf, “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that!” When we truly commit to giving our whole being to this marriage, God will bless us for it.