Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 6-9
Today’s Reflection: 2 Samuel 6:6-7
6) 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. 7) 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.
In the midst of bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, tragedy struck. The Ark was in a cart being pulled by oxen. When one of the oxen stumbled and the Ark threatened to tip over, Uzzah held his hand out to steady it. God struck Uzzah dead instantly. This celebration of symbolically bringing the presence of God into the city of God was now ruined by this sudden and shocking death.
This story begs the question: Why would God strike down a man who just wanted to help?
Often Jesus was asked questions, and answered them with other questions. He wasn’t being evasive. He was merely saying that the original question had completely missed the point.
We see a man being punished just for trying to help in what appeared to be a catastrophic situation. But is that really the situation? What caused the Ark to be in danger of tipping over in the first place? Lets take a look at the instructions for how the Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred and important symbol in Israel’s worship of God, was to be transported.
Exodus 25:12-15 – 12) 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. 13) You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14) And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15) The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.
Deuteronomy 10:8 – At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD to stand before the LORD to minister to him and to bless in his name, to this day.
God had instructed that the Ark be built so it could be carried using poles and ordained the tribe of Levi to carry it. So why was it being pulled in an ox cart? Regardless of how it got there, since God’s instructions were not being followed, disaster was inevitable.
As I consider this story, I can’t help but reflect on the Evangelical Christian movement in America, which uses extraordinary means to influence politics and legislation. These are things which Evangelicals feel ‘help’ God’s cause, even though He never asked the church to do them. But statistics show Evangelical families have similar rates of divorce, adultery, teen promiscuity and unwanted pregnancy as non-Christian households. Despite God’s guidance to take care of the needy America has never had a greater disparity between the rich and the poor as exists today. What kind of witness would American Evangelicals be if they merely were obedient to God’s instructions rather than contributing to a hostile and divisive socio-political environment in the name of God? If they were obedient perhaps many of the issues they feel they need to help God with wouldn’t exist in the first place.
We as believers sometimes find ourselves in situations where we want to ‘help’ God, but perhaps we should examine those circumstances and be sure we’re already being obedient to God. If not we may be stumbling into a disaster of our own making–one with potentially fatal consequences.
1 Samuel 15:22 – And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.