Jan 20, 2017
“The Old Rugged Cross” filmed by Fountainview Academy as part of our God so Loved the World DVD in BC, Canada.
Jan 20, 2017
“The Old Rugged Cross” filmed by Fountainview Academy as part of our God so Loved the World DVD in BC, Canada.
It’s one of those shocking stories that can leave you feeling particularly puzzled if you don’t read onto the following chapters or have forgotten the bible stories about the transportation of the ark of the covenant (or testimony) from earlier books of the Bible. I happened to read it recently and want to tell you what I have discovered.
This story crops up in two places in the Bible; it can be found in both 2 Samuel 6and also in 1 Chronicles 13. The story is basically that now Saul is dead, and David has been made the king, David wants to honour God by bringing the ark of the Testimony out of obscurity (where it has been for the past twenty years under Saul’s rule) into a public place, the place where he now was living, in Jerusalem. This seemed like a good idea. So he consulted with both the leaders and the people, and they were all happy to go ahead with this plan.
Ooops, the only trouble was that they appeared to have forgotten God’s instructions, or commands, of how He wanted this holy important item to be handled or moved!
“So they carried the ark of God on a new cart
from the house of Abinadab,
and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart.”
1 Chronicles 13:7
OK, so what’s wrong with putting it on a cart, you may wonder? It was once before moved on a cart by the Philistines when they had captured it but wanted to send it back to its rightful owners, and no Israelites died then, right?
Wrong! That was a whole different scenario, of God providentially guiding some cows to pull the ark on a cart back from the Philistines (who had been dying of tumours during the seven months they had kept the ark) to the Israelites where it belonged. Even then, it was Levites who lifted it off the cart. And in fact, a shocking amount of people died in that story too regarding wrong handling of the ark and disobeying God’s commands regarding not looking at or into this ark.
“Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 16:19
Ordinarily the rules for handling or moving the ark were strictly laid out in the Law as given by God Himself to Moses and written down in the old testament for all to read and heed.
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: “Take a census of the sons of Kohath from among the children of Levi…
And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then
the sons of Kohathshall come to carry them;
but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die.”
Numbers 4:1 & 15 (also in Deut 10:8)
That seems fairly clear that the Levite tribe of Kohath were to carry but not touch the ark. It clearly states if the ark is touched they would die. That is why the ark was made with four fixed rings, one on each corner and two poles permanently through them. The poles were to be used for people to carry the ark.
“The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.” Exodus 25:15-16
However, it seems that the folks of those times were not quite so awash with Bibles, or copies of the Law, as we are today in the Western world, at least. It seems that they had forgotten the specific rules of how the Lord God wanted His Holy ark to be handled, which sure put a sudden stop to their “Praise party that day”!
“Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets.” 1 Chron 13:8
“And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor,
Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark,
for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark;
and he died there before God.” 1 Chron 13:9-10
Gosh! Sudden death during a religious praise march! What a shock! What a show stopper! How can we get our heads around God being the same today, yesterday and forever, when we dip into our Bibles and read such a story?
And then the next sentence tells us that the venerable King David’s response wasn’t one of immediate contrite humility and repentance but one of anger.
“And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzza;
therefore that place is called Perez Uzza to this day.
David was afraid of God that day, saying, “How can I bring the ark of God to me?” 1 Chron 13:11-12
I decided to dig deeper into my Bible to investigate this strange cause of death. I read on a little, then went back into the beginning design of this ark that the Lord gave to Moses and even read a bit from the end of the story in Revelation. All in all, it has been a great Bible study and one I highly recommend to you. I have just read the letter of Hebrews today with so much more depth of thankfulness and understanding about the ark, the Holy of Holies, and the Lord Jesus Christ opening the way for us into the presence of God. Let me tell you more…
I found out that Aaron and his sons were consecrated to minister as priests and it was they who were to pack up the ark of the covenant each time the Israelites were required to continue on their travels. They had to cover the ark with a layer of fine, woven linen cloth (the colourful covering veil) and badger skins and another layer of blue material, so that the rest of the people wouldn’t look at God’s holiness and die. Then I discovered, as I have already mentioned, that it was the Kohathites, of the tribe of Levi, who were to do the carrying or the ark. Each tribe had different job roles and if they did as required it all worked out well.
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: “Do not cut off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites; but do this in regard to them,
that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy things:
Aaron and his sons shall go in and appoint each of them to his service and his task. But they shall not go in to watch while the holy things are being covered, lest they die.”
You may also remember that two of Aaron’s own sons died for their own disobedience in their initial role as priests.
“Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying:
This appears to be the crux of the matter. God is Holy, and He requires us to likewise be Holy and reverent in all our dealings with Him. We need to know that though we are not like the Israelites trembling with fear at the foot of the mountain that is on fire and shaking with the power of God we are still to be reverent and obedient servants. But I jump ahead of myself here, as I would like to tell you a little more about this ark of the covenant now.
It was a wooden box covered in gold on the inside and outside. Within it Moses was told to put the two tablets of stone on which God had written the 10 commandments. Also, he was told to put inside Aaron’s rod that budded and a golden pot of manna. (Hebrews 9:4) The ark was to be kept behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle (and later in the Temple) which was called the Holiest of All. It was this place, that only the High Priest could enter once a year and that was with blood shed and applied for the forgiveness of his own and all the people’s sins.
So inside the ark was the Law, Commandments, Testimony or Covenant.
Then on top of the ark was a cover called the Mercy Seat.
Over this mercy seat were two cherubs with wings that covered the whole box.
And God said to Moses that He would meet with him there.
“And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.” Exodus 25:22
Moses was told to keep a copy of the whole book of the laws given to him by God next to the ark also. (Later Samuel instructs that all Israel’s kings ought to write a copy of the full law, that they would know it to guide them and their people.)
“And you shall hang the veil from the clasps. Then you shall bring the ark of the Testimony in there, behind the veil. The veil shall be a divider for you between the holy place and the Most Holy. You shall put the mercy seat upon the ark of the Testimony in the Most Holy.” Exodus 26:33-34
So, here we have the picture of the Law covered by God’s mercy that was obtained through the shedding of blood. Mercy was always available to the penitent sinner, both in those days and now. The ark was God’s design to teach people how sinful people could approach a Holy God.
“…since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “Seethat you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:4-5
Well obviously, he shouldn’t have touched the ark of the covenant! But I also think that we can learn more from the later chapter in 1 Chronicles 15:12-13. This tells us that David called the priests and Levites together and instructs them as follows:
“He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.”
So, they were perhaps all culpable to a certain extent, in that the leaders ought to have known the correct way to handle the things of God. Because they did not obey God, a man died that day. Yes, later they do it correctly and even all the proper musicians are in place and there is joy in bringing the ark of the covenant to its new place in Jerusalem.
Matthew Henry says:
” Let the sin of Uzza warn us all to take heed of presumption, rashness and irreverence, in dealing with holy things; and not to think that a good intention will justify a bad action.
In our communion with God, we must carefully watch over our own hearts, lest familiarity breed contempt, and we think God is in any way beholden to us…
God is still a Jealous God. … Some people are made examples, that others may be made exemplary and very cautious.”
Ultimately, the deaths of Aaron’s two sons and the death of Uzza, acted as a tremendous motivation towards caution and obedience to following God’s ways and rules. I feel that this caution is most needful in today’s world where ignorance, laxity, presumption and disobedience to the Bible’s teachings appear to be running rampant within the world of Christianity or Churchianity.
I have really enjoyed reading the letter to the Hebrews, as it explains how Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant by His shed blood, which has opened up the way for repentant sinners to draw close to the Lord God Almighty in His holy of holies. If you remember, at the point of His death on the cross the curtain of the temple tore from the top to the bottom, signifying God opening the way for you and me to come into His very presence through the blood of the Lamb.
Now mercy is freely available via a humble and contrite heart simply asking for forgiveness of sin directly to Jesus Christ, the living God.
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20
I just love that phrase, “an anchor of the soul” – I praise the Lord indeed for this truth.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken,
let us have grace, by which we may
serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
For our God is a consuming fire.“
I have learnt from this study the following points:-
We need to really know what the Bible says – that is read and study it for ourselves.
We need to obey the relevant commands that apply to us with prayerful, humble hearts (using correct, in context exegesis, of course). Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me”. John 14:21
We need to be aware that we cannot always trust leaders to lead correctly, hence the need to know the Bible more thoroughly for ourselves (remembering wolves in sheep’s clothing as well as possible Biblical illiteracy amongst leaders, as in this story).
We need to be aware that warning and correcting other believers of disobedience to the Bible’s teaching, is in fact, an act of true love and kindness. It could have saved Uzza’s death. “Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:20
We need to seek the Lord in prayer to ask how He wants us to worship Him, rather than being presumptuous about this matter. Ask Him if you are really worshiping in Spirit and Truth or if there is anything He wants you to do differently. Remember Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
Be thankful for the way that Jesus has made for us to draw near to God under the New and better covenant. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Amen and Hallelujah! What do you say?
I would really welcome your input so if you would like to share any comments please feel free to do so in the section below. You can find my full Comments Policy here.
He called his parents from San Francisco.
“Mom and Dad, I’m coming home, but I’ve got a favor to ask. I have a friend I’d like to bring with me.”
“Sure,” they replied, “we’d love to meet him.”
“There’s something you should know the son continued, “he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mined and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live.”
“No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us.”
“Son,” said the father, “you don’t know what you’re asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can’t let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He’ll find a way to live on his own.”
At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him.
A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide. The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn’t know, their son had only one arm and one leg.
The parents in this story are like many of us. We find it easy to love those who are good-looking or fun to have around, but we don’t like people who inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable. We would rather stay away from people who aren’t as healthy, beautiful, or smart as we are.
Thankfully, there’s someone who won’t treat us that way. Someone who loves us with an unconditional love that welcomes us into the forever family, regardless of how messed up we are.
Tonight, before you tuck yourself in for the night, say a little prayer that God will give you the strength you need to accept people as they are, and to help us all be more understanding of those who are different from us!!!
There’s a miracle called -Friendship- that dwells in the heart. You don’t know how it happens or when it gets started. But you know the special lift It always brings and you realize that Friendship Is God’s most precious gift!
Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us.
God Bless you all.
How would you answer it? Can you answer it correctly? On the surface, it seems a simple question of identification. But God cares immensely how you answer it because your eternity is at stake.
Who is Jesus? It is a continually recurring question and there are numerous answers to that question. Even during his life on earth, Jesus Christ’s very presence was a point of remarkable debate. Some refereed to Jesus as Emmanuel, from the Hebrew name עִמָּנוּאֵל (‘Immanu’el) meaning “God is with us”, others said he was demon possessed. Some said Jesus was a good teacher, and others called him a liar. Some said he was amazing, and others labeled him insane and a false Christ. Jesus was also applauded as a prophet, and others dismissed him as a babbling blasphemer.
Today, not much has changed. Cults, politicians and even ministers and professors in religious schools still deny the deity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, the reconciliation of God and man through Christ’s death on the cross for our sins and his physical resurrection from the grave.
But Who Do You Say I Am – Jesus Christ
Jesus asked this question 2,000 years ago. However, today it is the most critical question you will ever answer. Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity have concluded that Jesus existed historically and the Bible is filled with many titles used to refer to Jesus, over 700 names to be precise. Here’s just some of those names, titles, and verses:
Who is Jesus to you? How would you answer it? Can you answer it correctly? On the surface, it seems a simple question of identification. But God cares immensely how you answer it because your eternity is at stake. God loved you enough to get Jesus involved. Think about this: All of us would be lost except for the fact that the God of justice is also a God of love. Who is Jesus to you?
May our hearts be earnestly attentive while we read our Lord’s own account of the Day of Judgment.
Here we are mixed together, but the keen eye of the Great Shepherd will detect our real characters and place us in one or other of the two flocks into which all mankind will be divided. There will be no middle company, we shall be placed either with saints or sinners in that day. To which do we now belong?
All these are deeds of love; not one of them consists of words, or ceremonial acts. The truest worship of God is charily to the needy: does not the apostle James say, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
They were modest, and had never set so high a value upon their own virtues as to have seen that excellence in them which the Judge had long ago discovered, and which he now declares publicly before men and angels. They had only been kind to poor and afflicted men and women, and were surprised to hear that the Lord regarded their actions as rendered to himself.
How this ennobles charity! “He that giveth to the poor lendeth unto the Lord.” Who would not show kindness to his Redeemer?
They were not condemned for what they had done amiss, but for what they had not done. Sins of omission are glaring evidences of want of grace, especially the omission of those duties which common humanity requires of us.
They were self-righteous and had no eye to see their faults. Fain would they have justified themselves. Those who deny their sins may be sure that they are of the goats.
Matthew 25:45, 46
There is no temporary punishment any more than temporary reward. As sure as heaven is everlasting, so also is hell. Flee, O flee from the wrath to come.
Thou Judge of quick and dead,
Before whose bar severe,
With holy joy or guilty dread,
We all shall soon appear!
Our caution’d souls prepare
For that tremendous day;
And fill us now with watchful care,
And stir us up to pray.
Speak every man truth with his neighbor; for we are members one of another. (Ephesians 4:25)
The clever proponents of evil political ideologies are spending millions to make us Americans ashamed to love our country. They use every means possible to persuade our own people that there is little left worth defending and certainly nothing worth dying for.
They are building in the public mind a picture of an American as a generous, tolerant, smiling chap who loves baseball and babies, and who subscribes wholly to the doctrine of the brotherhood of man—so everything is going to be all right!
From our point of view, these concepts are having their effects on the nation’s religious life, especially among Protestants.
Let a man rise to declare the unique Lordship of Jesus Christ and the absolute necessity of obedience to Him, and he is at once branded as a hate-monger and a divider of men.
The devil has brainwashed large numbers of religious leaders so successfully that they are now too timid to resist him! And he, being the kind of devil he is, takes swift advantage of their cowardice, erecting altars to Baal everywhere!
“Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me Ps. 101:6
If David spoke thus, we may be sure that the Son of David will be of the same mind. Jesus looks out for faithful men, and He fixes His eyes upon them, to observe them, to bring them forward, to encourage them, and to reward them. Let no true-hearted man think that he is overlooked; the King Himself has His eye upon him.
There are two results of this royal notice. First we read, “that they may dwell with me.” Jesus brings the faithful into His house, He sets them in His palace, He makes them His companions, He delights in their society. We must be true to our Lord, and He will then manifest Himself to us. When our faithfulness costs us most it will be best rewarded; the more furiously men reject, the more joyfully will our Lord receive us.
Next, he says of the sincere man, “he shall serve me.” Jesus will use for His own glory those who scorn the tricks of policy, and are faithful to Himself, His Word, and His Cross. These shall be in His royal retinue, the honored servants of His Majesty. Communion and usefulness are the wages of faithfulness. Lord make me faithful, that I may dwell with thee, and serve thee.