Angry at God sometimes or confused by how He operates? Join the club. If it were easy to comprehend His every move, we’d be closer to being on par with Him. Even though many people find that an attractive goal, it causes me concern. But sometimes we do run across some questionable responses by God and we don’t like them. We question His “fairness.” In times like these, it may be helpful to read the fine print or at least consult a commentary or two or some other teaching aid. Not all of us are biblical scholars, but it will help us when we encounter statements or acts of God that puzzle us to at least attempt some scholarly research before closing the book or our minds. In this day and age, scholarly help is plentiful and at our fingertips.
Here’s a case in point that rocked me for a while. I tried to unpack it this weekend while in a discussion with 2 Muslims who preferred to dwell on the OT references to God as expressed through his wrath and judgment than to the person of Jesus who brought grace and truth. Remember Uzzah, son of Abinidab, the guy who touched the holy ark of the covenant to “steady it” when the cart carrying it hit a bump? Remember what happened next? God killed him on the spot! At first read, or perhaps after several reads, that seems like a horrific penalty for a reflex action, doesn’t it? What we at first glance might applaud as attempted rescue, God saw as irreverence towards Him. He saw the heart of Uzzah and wasn’t pleased. The whole scenario surrounding the return of the ark to Jerusalem was a combination of carelessness and neglect of God’s clear commands and God tolerated enough before He punished the disobedience.
In 1 Samuel 6 we see that even the Philistines who had captured and kept the ark for many years attempted to respect Israel’s God in its return. In ignorance, they did what they could by providing a new cart and gold objects to demonstrate honor to the God of Israel. They had suffered greatly as a result of keeping the ark from Israel. David should have known better himself or at least consult the Levite priests whose job it was to attend to the temple and its furnishings. David sent “men” to go get the ark. He even provided a new cart. Not even close to correct. The ark and temple furnishings were only to be transported by Kohathites, a Levitical clan, and specifically, the ark was only to be borne by wooden poles on the Kohathites shoulders. The ark was so sacred even they were not to touch the ark. (Num. 3:39-31 and 7:9)
As a Levite, Abinidab should have known better. So should his sons, Uzzah and Ahio who assisted in bringing the ark. Perhaps having had the ark in their possession under their own roof at home for so many years, they became casual in its presence. We run the risk of this behavior too, don’t we? To God, it seems, for the ark to be touched by disrespectful, sinful hands was a greater defilement than having it fall in the dirt. We don’t comprehend holiness very well so we may cringe in disbelief at such an act by a loving God. The only mercy we might see is that He didn’t wipe out the whole crew for not undertaking this responsibility according to His clear word. Bathing so much in God’s grace, we recoil at Him being so exacting and hope not to experience His just wrath for our disobedience. For a further example, turn to 1 Sam. 6:19-20. The response of those who witnessed a similar response to disobedience was “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?”
God always has reasons for every act He performs and many times we will not understand and will scratch our heads in disbelief. He desires our trust, to be sure. And as we are made more like Him, our obedience must become a greater concern and practice. Not to ensure we are or remain His, but to demonstrate whose we are. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit?” (1 Cor. 6:19) Think About It.