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?