Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Uzzah's (Un)surprising Death (1 Chronicles 13)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Let us remain standing. And here are king's words from first chronicles, chapter thirteen, first chronicles thirteen. Here the word of the Lord. David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader, and David said to all the assembly of Israel, if it seems good to you and from the and from Jehovah, our God, let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel, as well as to the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasture lands, that they may be gathered to us. Then let us bring again the Ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul. All of the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right and all in the eyes of all the people. So David assembled all Israel, from the Nile of Egypt to Libo Hamof to bring the Ark of God from Kiriaf Je Jerim, and David and all Israel went up to Bah Allah, that is to Curryaf Jerreim, that belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the Ark of God, which is called by the name of Jehovah, who sits enthroned above the Cherubim and they carried the Ark of God on a new cart from the house of a Mindab, and Zah and Ahio were driving the cart and David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with all their might, with songs and liars and Harps and tambourines and symbols and trumpets. And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidam Zah put out his hand to take hold of the Ark, for the oxen stumbled and the anger of Jehovah was kindled against USA and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the Ark and he died there before God. And David was angry with Jehovah, or in David was angry because Jehovah had broken out against Uza, and the place is called Perez Azah to this day. And David was afraid of God that day and he said, how can I bring the Ark of God home to me? So David did not take the Ark of Ark home into the city of David, but took it aside to the house of Obed Edom the Gittite, and the Ark of God remained with the household of Obed Edom in his house three months and Jehovah blessed the House of Obed Edom and all that he had. You may be seated on the Bible. We have these...

...great stories of heroes of the faith, men of Valor, men of integrity, of righteousness. David is certainly one of them, and one whom we have seen in a very positive light thus far, a one who has been contrasted with Saul, and even is here as well. But here we are reminded that men are always men, that no one is perfect. No, not one, not even David. David ends this story angry at God and refusing unknowing, confused about what to do with the ARC. David has a lesson that he needs to learn, and he will learn it, as we will see in the coming chapters. But right now we see that David, on the one hand, has this really good intention, but ultimately it fails and one of the men of his kingdom, Aza even, dies for these failures. If you want to understand first chronicles thirteen, you have to understand something about the ARC. You have to have understand the ARC. Understanding the ARC is key to understanding why David was right to want to bring it back to Jerusalem. It took into Jerusalem. Understanding the ARC as the key to understanding why saul was wrongful in neglecting it, why as it was wrong to touch it, why God was right to put us a to death. But understanding the ARC does more than help us explain the characters in this story. Understanding the ARC does more than help us to understand David and as a Saul Israel. Understanding the ARC helps us to understand God. The ARC is one of God's ways that he teaches us about himself all throughout the Old Testament and this is one of its important places. God uses the Ark, for else, to for us, as a way to know him, to fear him, to love him, to trust him. He also uses the ARC as a way to teach us about Jesus, his presence among us, the kinds of things that God does for us in saving us. So we're going to consider the Ark this evening so that we can perhaps be not so surprised as I think most of us are when we first read this story or hear it...

...about us as death. My hope is that by the time we get to the end, US as death is something that you might have even expected, or will expect the next time you read it, to understand that God is not being irrational or emotional or something like that, but that God is acting righteously and well in putting us a to death. So let's consider the Ark. First of all, when we talk about the Ark, you have to understand that this is not the normal arc that I think most people know and are is famous. This is not Noah's Ark. You don't want to be confused between those two things. It's also not the ARC that Moses was put in. Sometimes, the basket that his mother put him in and sent him down the water is called an arc. It's not that arc either. This arc is called the Ark of God or the Ark of the Covenant or the Arc of testimony, of the testimony. I'll give you a description of it. I'm not only so you can picture it, but you'll see that in the description of it, I'm we begin to understand what it is, what God intends to communicate to us through the ARC. The ARC is about what I was about four feet long, about three and three quarters feet I'm so not a huge thing, but you know like so it was about two and a half or two and in a quarter feet wide and also deep. It's essentially a box, a box made out of ACACIA. Would I have a salad bowl made out of ACACIA? Would I see other kinchin utensils made out of this wood? It's very pretty, it's got beautiful patterns and it's somewhat expensive kind of wood, at least it can be. So you have this beautiful box of good size, large box made out of Acacia Wood. But then the box, the ARC, is overlaid with gold. These instructions, by the way, are found in exodus twenty five and I believe, at least one other place as well. You have this box and it's it's covered with gold on on all sides and then each corner of the arc there are these rings that are made through which a pull is to go through. The reason for that is that the ARC is to be carried in a very specific way. It is not to be touched by anyone when it is carried and moved around, which itself was to end when the temple was made, but as long, but for a while, the arc was on the move, and when it was on the move it was to not be touched but to be carried by these poles that would go through those rings on either side.

One way you might picture the arc or the caring of the ARC, is like you see, and maybe you've seen in a movie, where you have servants carrying someone through the streets, like a king, for example, people walking with long poles with a kind of platform on which the king sits. This is not an inappropriate analogy for the ARC, because indeed it is called the footstool of God. It is described in scripture as his throne. In a sense, he is said to have his presence there. With the ARC, this is part of his place where he sits and rules and dwells. And so not only was it beautiful, but it was also holy, and that is why it was to not be touched. You approach a king in a particular way. You don't come around from the back and tap him on the shoulders Ay Hey, can we talk? You come from the front, you come low, you come according to Proto Call, you come to respect and honor the king. You don't just touch his throne, you don't just touch him or his robes. You give reverence and awe to the king. If this is true of human kings, how much more so with the King of Heaven and earth, the King of the world, even God himself. Well, not only is the ARC described in this way as God's Footstool, with the Tabernacle and the temple being his his house and his throne room, but we also see it pictured in the Ark. Thus far I've described a box, a gold box or a wood box overlaid with gold, these poles on the sides, but I haven't described to you yet the top. The top of the ARC was a piece of gold that went across the top and on either ends were two angels, Cherubu. These angels stretched out their wings so that the tips of the wings nearly touched one another and they're the gaze of the angels was downwards, so toward the ARC. Why would these angels be there? Well, there are a number of places in scripture that God describe God's relationship to the angels in this way. So second kings one thousand nine hundred and fifteen, for example, says that God is enthroned above the Cherubean there's the sense in which he rests his throne on them, or are they are around him? On very close in revelation, for we have these these kinds of pictures. The Throne Room of God has this is great clouds...

...surrounding it. There as these the sense of gleaming metal and flashes of lightning. Than there are these angels, angels surrounding His throne. These throne is sometimes described as a chariot. I'm it's described in various ways in these visions that God gives to the Prophets. Sometimes it seems to be pictured as a somewhat stationary thing, other times it's on the move, and there is this sort of conglomeration of images of fire and angels and wheels, all moving forward as God rides in His Majesty and judgment. The images are terrifying. The images are unbelievable in a sense, they are difficult to imagine and full of power or and mystery. Psalm sixty eight seventeen says the chariots of God are twice ten thousand thousands. The Lord is among them and goes on to describe his angels as ministers of fire, flaming fire. We also have these pictures in Ezekiel with these wheels upon wheels turning and spinning as God sits on His throne. Well, all of this, these images that come and are. God expresses to us through various visions that he gives his prophets are here pictured in a very physical form in the Ark, with these two angels described in a similar way that we see in these visions, reaching out their wings, casting their gaze downward in humility, as the Lord God sits between them and he rules as in his presence there. The last thing to mention about what the ARC looked like was what was inside the box. What was inside the arc? Not only was it beautiful, not with the only was it holy and symbolizing all of these things, picturing this throne of God, but inside we're placed the ten commandments, very significant because God is known to us in his word. It debt that ten commandments being placed in the arc shows that the shows how connected the word is with God's rule. They are not to be separated, they are not to be, I'm seen as a part. I'll just mention that. It other there seems to be a suggestion in Hebrews Nine, the errands Rod, which blossomed in numbers, a testimony to Arran's...

...priesthood and also a jar of manner, were perhaps in the arc at some point or beside it or near it. So this is the description of the ARC, and I hope that as you hear this, you get a real sense of the Majesty and Power of God, and God rules his people in this particular way. Now, not only do you see this in the design of the ARC, but you also see it in the movement of the Ark. You remember, I told you that, as the visions of God's prophets describe the throne of God, it is sometimes seems to be stationary and sometimes on the move. This was, of the true of the ARC as well. You've can to consider its placement in Israel. God had very specific commands when the ARC was placed in Israel. It is to be put in the center. God was to be in the center of his people. The ARC and the Tabernacle that surrounded it was to be in the center of the camp, with the tribes of Israel spreading out in every cardinal direction. It was a way of showing God again, God's importance and his centrality, but sometimes it was on the move. The ARC was to be the the thing which led God's people into battle, and in this way we see that God is not only to be at their center, but he is also their divine warrior. They it is God who leads the charge, it is God who rides out on his chariot, and this was all pictured as the arc went forward. So when you think about the arc, you should be thinking about God, His throne and what and his designs for that. We are to consider God as holy, as powerful, as majestic, as ruler overall, as center of the people, as one who is to remain, who draws close to us and promises to be with us and yet is always separate, is never to be touched. And so we see why Saul in Israel failed so greatly. When, as David says in first chronicles thirteen three, then let us bring again the Ark of God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul. Can you imagine, given all that God has said and promised to do in connection with the Ark, that you would ever let it out of your sight, that you would ever simply lose it or lose or or or do anything that God had commanded or prohibited against it?...

And yet that's what Saul and the people did. In fact, Saul's whole kingship, as we seen, has been characterized by this kind of thing, neglect of God. He's failed. Oh he failed over and over again to seek after God. He failed over and over again to let God be the one who would send him into battle, let God be the one who would be a divine warrior first people. Instead, Saul was continually saying, I've got this one, I'll do it, I'll take care of it. Of course he didn't, though. He hid in caves and stayed in his palace and was on the run, refused to go into battle. This is what happens, of course, when we neglect the Lord, when we put God away from our center, when we don't seek after God, when we don't desire to lead or, I'm sorry, follow him in his leadership, we find ourselves, as Saul did, anxious, weak, frustrated scared because we're we are seeking to live and and rule in our own strength and not the Lord's. So David is very much on the right track here when he says we did not seek it in the days of the Lord, let's go get it. Well, you'll have to go and read and read in the histories what happened to the ARC. I'm all the details of it, but to put it shortly it had wound up in the hands of the Philistines and basically been moving around their land terrorizing them. It would it would come into a particular place and all kinds of curses would come upon the people, and so they'd send it somewhere else and send it somewhere else, until finally they sent it off and it went to this place to carry off Jerem and landing there, I'm David decides to go get it, but he makes an important mistake. Maybe it's not even a mistake, because later on, in believe it's chapter sixteen, he's going to confess that he the knowledge that the Levites are the ones that are to be carrying the ARC. Eventually he's going to get this right. But here, for some reason, they decide to put it in a cart. Now they give it they they put it in a cart with these animals, these oxen, and what happens? The Oxen Stumble in. US A puts out his hand and he touches the throne of God. He reaches out to touch the Ark. Now we're, of course,...

...sympathetic with us a. What would you do? What would be better? Touching the ARC, doing that thing you're not supposed to do or letting the Ark of God fall into the dirt. It's a hard call, but the sin of Uza and of David didn't happen just when he touched it. The sin happened when they put it into the cart. And we do this in our lives. We put ourselves into these compromised situations where we end up with two bad options, two options in which we say this is bad and this is bad, this one is evil and that one is evil. We have to be careful and guard our hearts and the ways that we move and live and think and act wisely and follow God's commands from the beginning, not just when things get difficult down the road. Uzza didn't do that, David didn't do that, Israel didn't do that. Here we're also reminded of another important lesson concerning God's law. You have this wonderful picture of the people praising and worshiping God, and the text seems to read in a way that it was very genuine. David goes out with good motives to get the ARC. They're coming back for all the right reasons, and then in verse eight we read that they're rejoicing before God with all their might, with songs and liars and Harps and tambourines and symbols and trumpets. There's this giant marching band moving along with the arc, people praising and rejoicing God. Before all disaster happens and they end up leaving the arc and going home. It's a good reminder that, as good and true as our praise and worship of God might be, it never is enough to cover up or make up for outright disobedience. You can't disobey God and the things that he wants and then come to church and say, well, all praise him with all my heart and somehow these things will balance each other out. God even says in concerning the sacrifices, even in particular, it's obedience that I want, obedience from the heart, more than these things. They had it wrong. They were willing, perhaps honestly and and truly, to rejoice and praise God, and that's good, but it doesn't make up for disobedience. When God says the Levites, the priests,...

...shall carry the Ark, to not carry it and when we remember that this is the throne of God, to put it in a cart, to say I don't feel like caring it. I'd rather not. Truly, there's a better way. If the king wants to be carried, you carry the king. He is the king, and God is our Lord, our God and our king. We are to do as he pleases and not simply decide our own ways and then try, I to think that it'll somehow be right if we praise him hard enough. So these were the sins of David, the sins of Oza. In some ways, they failed to submit to the truth and the reality that they were to be controlled by God and instead decided that they they would control him, and that's why this happened in the way that it did. God wanted to teach Israel a lesson, and indeed he teaches us a lesson as well. When it comes to God and in his presence and His Majesty and His Holiness, in his divine power as a warrior king, you are a fool to neglect it, a fool to neglect God as Saltd but you're also foolish if you think you can somehow control him, if you think that you can somehow come to him on your own terms or treat him in your own way. No, God will be as God will be. He is the Lord and there is no other. This should put a degree of fear in our hearts, of reverence for our God and King. We are right to tremble before him, to feel the weight of His Majesty and as honor and his praise. We do not go before the glory of the Lord Lightly. We are to worship him in obedience and reverence and AH. But it is also true that God's coming to us on his own terms. It is also true that that that fact is our very salvation. This is pictured in the Old Testament by something that happened with the arc, something I haven't yet mentioned. In describing it, I gave you this picture of of this wooden box covered with gold, with these poles in the angels. But by this point it wouldn't be quite so pristine, it wouldn't be so shiny, because there'd be blood all over it. There would be blood...

...because on the day of Atonement, it was the priest's job, it was Aaron's job, to go and sacrifice a bowl on the altar and then to take the blood of that bowl and come in until the holy of holies were only Aaron could go and that only once a year and he would go into the Throne Room of God and he would light some incense, couple handfuls of incense on some five are so that a great cloud of sweet smelling incense would fill the room. The same kind of cloud that is pictured in the visions that the prophets have is also pictured physically. There in the holy of holies, a cloud fills the room as God comes in his presence and there Aaron is to take this sacrifice of a bull, a sin offering it is called, and he is to dip his finger in the blood and he is to sprinkle it on the front and on the east side, seven times on the front. Then he's to do the same with the with a goat, second sin offering, and again he is to take the blood of the goat and he's to go into the holy of holies and he's to sprinkle that blood on the throne of God, on the presence of God. He sprinkles that blood and then he takes that blood and he goes out and then he actually, I'm sprinkles that blood on the altar itself as a way to purify the altar, which would then from that point on, for the rest of the year serve as the but's a pool and which sacrifices were brought. This amazingly pictures that God, when he comes to his people, he doesn't only come to them in his holy and His Majesty and His power, but he also comes to them in His mercy. He takes on himself the blood of Sin. He takes on himself the consequences that we deserve, the sins that we commit, the ways in which we fail to treat it, to a treat God properly. He takes this on himself so that the people could be forgiven. Now we don't have the ARC anymore. It was likely destroyed or lost something when the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed. But it doesn't really matter, because we have Jesus. The New Testament tells us that Jesus tabernacled among us,...

...he tended among US and his body. He came to be present. God came to be present among his people, to be with us and to lead the way as our divine warrior, and he does this particularly on the cross, when he goes to the Cross and he acts in this powerful way. In the Pasta chapters and chronicles we've been considering David in this particular light, the great king who rides forth with his mighty men to go and destroy God's enemies, to clear the land, to make a place for his people and rule over them in righteousness. That's what Jesus does on the Cross as our king and as our God. This is good news for us to know that God comes as he will come, and he has decided to come in the power of His grace, in this saving way. God comes to us in a way that we can never lose his presence. And the Old Testament there was this sense in which God could be separated and would be separated from his people if they didn't obey, if they didn't seek after him, if they didn't do as they ought to do, he would leave, they would be kicked out of from the land. Indeed, Ezekiel even has a vision of the cloud, the glory cloud of God in all of his presence, lifting up from the Ark and the temple and leaving Jerusalem because of the sins of the people. But when God comes in Jesus, he comes in a permanent way. He comes in a way to make us his forever and ever and ever. He even says that he takes us and makes us a part of that Tabernacle itself, that Jesus even lives within us, that he is spirit dwells within us and US in him. Amazing truths. Colossians talks as about us being seated in the heavenly places where Christ is. The Bible talks about US ruling and reigning with our Lord and Savior. These pictures tell us that not only do we come and is his servants, but as servants who will never be broken away from him, as servants who live and will always live according to his rule and his pleasure. This comes to us because God perfectly...

...forgives our sins. Well, this should bring us a great news. It is great news, it should bring us great joy and it should also make us worship God in reverence and in awe. Because God has come in this way, we don't have less of an obligation to worship God as he sees fit, but all the more don't we to come before him as he has called us, to know that we are those who have been saved from our sins, to know that he promises to always ride out before us, even when we fail to trust him as we ought to. Know that when we are saved in him, we are saved forever. These things should make us trust him all the more, to love him all the more, to worship him all the more to seek to draw near to him and be in his presence forever. When you consider first chronicles thirteen and you think about us, are reaching out his hand to touch the Ark of God in this way, consider the sins in it, but also consider the great way in which God has come to reach and touch us and that when he does that, he doesn't become unholy, but he makes us holy. Let us pray.

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