17 December, 2014

David & His Men's Error

"And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out 
of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the 
sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. And they brought it out of the 
house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: 

and Ahio went before the ark. . . . And when they came to Nachon's 
threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took 
hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled 
against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he 
died by the ark of God" (2 Sam. 6:3-7).

David and the men involved in moving the ark were, without question, 
sincere in their desire to please God by moving the ark to Jerusalem. 
Yet, the result of this sincere effort was the judgment of God. Uzzah 
put out his hand to protect the ark from falling, because he loved 
God and cared about God's ark. Yet, despite all the sincerity and 
good intentions, God's anger was aroused, and He killed Uzzah. Why? 
Because the whole affair was highly offensive to God. Uzzah's touching 
of the ark was the capstone of the day's offenses.

Those who object to the regulative principle make much of the fact 
that Uzzah was killed for something clearly forbidden in God's law 
(i.e., touching the ark). Yes, it is true that Uzzah died violating 
an explicit prohibition of the law (Num. 4:15). But, king David's 
analysis of what went wrong that day includes everyone involved, not 
just Uzzah. "For because ye [the Levites] did it not at the first, 
the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him 
not after the due order. So the priests and the Levites sanctified 
themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. And the 
children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with 
the staves [i.e., poles] thereon, as Moses commanded according 
to the word of the Lord" (1 Chron. 15:13-15).

When God gives a command that the Levites are to carry the ark with 
poles (Num. 4:6,15), it is not necessary for God to forbid men of 
Judah from using an ox cart. King David and his men should have consulted 
the law of Moses and obeyed it. Instead, they acted pragmatically. 
They imitated the Philistines, who used a new cart when they sent 
the ark back to Bethshemesh. When it comes to the worship of God, 
we are not permitted to improvise, even if our intentions are good. 
Sincerity is important, but sincerity must be in accord with divine 
revelation. Even in religious matters that may seem small or trivial 
to us, God commands that we act in accordance with His revealed will 
and not innovate according to our will. "The great lesson for 
all time is to beware of following our own devices in the worship 
of God when we have clear instructions in His word how we are to 
worship Him."9 

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