We will never fully understand God until we’re in heaven with Him. Let’s stop trying to make sense of His ways—because sometimes they just don’t make sense!
The first shall be last?
The last shall be first?
If you want to be great, head to back of the line and start serving?
Let’s make it our goal to simply OBEY God . . .
whether we understand His commands or not.
If only Saul had known this truth!
Maybe you remember the story. If not, you can find it in 1 Samuel 15.
God sent Samuel the prophet to instruct King Saul to kill the Amalekites. Who were they? The Amalekites were an evil and brutal tribe who attacked God’s people, the Israelites, as they traveled through the wilderness to the Promised Land.
The Amalekites had no reverence of fear of God. They had a reputation for especially attacking the weaker members—women and children and elderly people who couldn’t always keep pace with the rest of the Israelites.
God’s word to Samuel was to instruct King Saul to kill every living being among the Amalekite tribe—every man, woman, child and animal. So Saul gathered 210,000 soldiers and destroyed the Amalekites.
Maybe you’re familiar with what happened next.
Saul and his troops were returning home from battle when Samuel met them on the road. “Glory be to God!” Saul shouted. “He has given us victory in battle because of our obedience.”
“Seriously?” Samuel asked. “Your obedience? Then how come I’m looking at a bunch of fat sheep and oxen? You were supposed to kill every living thing!”
“Well . . . you’re gonna love this, Samuel! I decided to keep the fattest sheep and the strongest oxen so we can offer them as a sacrifice to the Lord when we get back to hometown. That way all the people can come out and celebrate WITH us as we praise God for this victory! Great plan, huh!”
Samuel was disgusted. “No! It’s a horrible plan. You’ve acted in direct disobedience to God. What you have done is as bad as satan worship. God desires your obedience over sacrifice any time and every time! And because you’ve disobeyed, God will remove you from the throne. That’s right—you nor any of your family will continue to rule over Israel! And by the way . . . who’s he?”
“This is King Agag. We didn’t kill him, because when we return home, we’ll have a giant victory parade so everyone can see him as our trophy—and as we give thanks to God, we’ll kill him THEN.”
Samuel was so horrified at Saul’s blatant disobedience, he grabbed Saul’s sword and immediately annihilated Agag.
Seems pretty harsh, you may be thinking.
What’s the big deal with some animals and killing the king now or later?
It kind of makes sense.
It DOES kind of make sense, doesn’t it?
Why wouldn’t God want the sacrifice of all these animals?
Again, we don’t understand God’s ways. If we try hard enough, we can make anything make sense. We can rationalize and rationalize until it seems right.
But it’s not our job to make God make sense. It’s only our job to obey Him.
OK on the animals. God didn’t want them as a sacrifice. But what’s the big deal about killing Agag then or in a giant victory parade? Isn’t the bottom line that he’s killed? Does it really matter when?
Every detail of God’s will always matters.
Let’s push the fast-forward button on this story. It’s 20 years in the future, and Saul is down in battle on Mount Gilboa. His enemy has the sword at Saul’s neck, so Saul is unable to turn around and identify him. So Saul asks: “Who are you?”
The response of his enemy?
“I . . . am . . . an Amalakite.”
How can this be? Saul killed all the Amalikites. He wiped them out.
Yes, but he didn’t do it God’s way.
From the time Saul took King Agag into captivity from the time he met up with Samuel was less than a week. But it was just enough time for Agag to escape, father a son and be taken captive by Saul again before meeting Samuel.
And now . . . 20 years later . . . the son of Agag is out to destroy Saul.
The son of Agag HATES you!
He will do everything in his power to destroy you.
That’s why a God who loves you more than you can comprehend says, “If there’s anything in your life that’s keeping you from obeying Me wholeheartedly, annihilate it.”
Anything you need to annihilate?
http://susieshellenberger.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/susielogo-300x93.png00Susie Shellenbergerhttp://susieshellenberger.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/susielogo-300x93.pngSusie Shellenberger2016-03-31 12:18:382016-03-31 12:18:38Doesn’t Make Sense!
Uzzah died because he reached out to steady the Ark of the Covenant as it was being transported. (If you didn’t catch last week’s blog, please look it up.)
We read in 2 Samuel 6:1-7 and 1 Chronicles 13:9-12 that the Ark was being transported on a cart with poles on it. And it was being pulled by oxen.
When the oxen stumbled, Uzzah reached out and touched the Ark, and God killed him.
Though you may think this is harsh, there are actually a few pieces to this story that we often overlook.
If we read Exodus 25:12-14 and Numbers 7:9, we see that God gave Moses and Aaron extremely specific instructions on how to transport the Ark.
Those instructions were being ignored.
Instead of being carried on top of men’s shoulders, the people had built a cart to transport the ark. This would be so much easier! Let the oxen pull it, so we don’t have to carry this big golden box. (It weighed 615 lbs.)
Do you think God smiled and thought, What a great idea! I’m so glad they came up with that. A cart! Wheels! What novel ideas. If only I’d thought of it.
Why do we often think we need to improve what God tells us?
Another piece to this puzzle is that Scripture tells us the oxen slipped. The Ark didn’t fall. Neither did the cart. The OXEN slipped. The Ark was still in tact. Still balanced.
Instead of grabbing the Ark of God’s presence, Uzzah should have grabbed the poles attached to it. (Actually he should have been carrying it on his shoulders with several other men instead of walking beside it while the oxen did the work.)
The really frightening piece to this story is that Uzzah, for a moment, felt it was his responsibility to save the integrity of God. He was acting as though majestic, perfect, all-wise and almighty God somehow needed his assistance.
Uzzah mistakenly presumed that if he didn’t intervene and help God out, Jehovah would be in trouble.
I wish Uzzah had read Job 11:17: “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” (NIV)
I wish he had memorized Psalm 145:3: “He is too great for anyone to understand” (NLT).
Moses made a similar mistake when he thought God needed his intervention to STRIKE the rock instead of simply SPEAKING to it as God had commanded him. Because of this offense, Moses wasn’t allowed to enter the Promised Land (see Numbers 20:7-12).
Sheer obedience is ESSENTIAL in a growing, thriving relationship with God.
Sure, He’s full of love.
And yes, He’s definitely merciful.
But He is also holy and just, and He demands our obedience.
The way we prove our love to God isn’t by singing praise songs
or memorizing Bible verses
or having a perfect church attendance
or praying six times a day.
The way we prove our love to God is simply by
“If you love me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15 NLT).
Ask God to remind you of any spiritual details you may have let slide.
Maybe you’re familiar with the Ark of the Covenant. It was a large and beautiful golden “box” created with specific instructions from God. It weighed approximately 615 lbs.
The original stone tablets on which God inscribed the Ten Commandments for Moses to give the Israelites were inside the Ark.
It also held Aaron’s rod that budded when he helped Moses lead the Israelites through the wilderness.
What else was inside the Ark? The golden pot that contained manna (the food God delivered from heaven to the Israelites as they headed toward the Promised Land for more than 40 years).
In 2 Samuel 6:1-7 and 1 Chronicles 13:9-12 we see that the Ark was being transported on a cart with poles on it. And it was being pulled by oxen.
The oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark. He died immediately.
That’s right. God killed him for touching the Ark of the Covenant.
Doesn’t that seem a bit harsh?
Looks to me like Uzzah was trying to help the Ark.
Let’s look a little deeper.
Does God EVER need help?
If we read Exodus 25:12-14 and Numbers 7:9, we see that God gave Moses and Aaron extremely specific instructions on how to transport the Ark. It was way more than a big golden box. It served as the place of the presence of God. “And there I will meet with you . . . on the ark of the Testimony, I will speak with you” (Exodus 25:22).
God made it plain that touching the Ark was in direct violation of God’s law and would result in death.
We know that God isn’t bound by time or space. He’s above and beyond all. Yet for His people, He bound Himself to this box. He was (and is) everywhere; but He was there.
Uzzah’s touching the Ark wasn’t the only thing that went sour that day. Actually, several mistakes were made!
(We’ll chat about that next week, but today let’s just look at one.)
The Ark had been at Abinidab’s house (King David’s son) for a few years, and Abinidab’s sons Uzzah and Ahio may have become too comfortable with its presence. Maybe the Ark became too familiar. Could Uzzah have forgotten the holiness it represented?
And what about us?
Are there times when we also fail to recognize God’s holiness and His presence? Has church become a social gathering place for us?
We grab a donut, some coffee, chat with friends, sing cool songs and hear a message about God. But are we revering Him? Are we moving inside His very presence with awe and respect? Do we really stand on holy ground?
Maybe we, too, have lost some of the respect we should have for God’s presence. The Israelites had witnessed several miracles of God (the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, defeating their enemies en route to the Promised Land, water from a rock—just to name a few).
God’s ways are always higher than ours (see Isaiah 55:8-9). And the Israelites were well aware of this fact. They marveled at His greatness.
The truth is: The more we try to bring God down to our worldly way of thinking and reasoning, the further away He will seem.
Should we stop trying to bring Him to us? Should we ask instead that He bring us to Him?
Let’s determine to come to Him in reverence.
Let’s come to Him on His terms—not our own.
Uzzah forgot that essential ingredient. He no longer revered God’s presence in the Ark.
And the result was death.
I don’t think we’ll be struck physically dead if we forget . . .
But if we keep forgetting—
If we continue to treat God casually in our lives AND in our churches—
we could very easily experience spiritual death.
What are some ways you revere God?
Or has He become so familiar to you, that He is now simply your buddy?
http://susieshellenberger.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/susielogo-300x93.png00Susie Shellenbergerhttp://susieshellenberger.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/susielogo-300x93.pngSusie Shellenberger2016-03-17 14:32:542016-03-17 14:32:54He Forgot. And He Died!