Thanks for joining me again as we go into Part 2 in this crucial series.
As I sought the Lord for His mind concerning the fear of the Lord, He led me to three accounts in the scriptures to show evidence that God is not to be played with or taken lightly. I shared the first of these three accounts yesterday – Moses and the Striking of the Rock. See The Fear of the Lord (Part 1). Today, I share the second account.
The Death of Uzza
This account can be found in 1 Chronicles 13:3-14. At last, David was made King over all Israel and there was great joy (1 Chronicles 12). One of his first acts was to consult with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader to determine if it seemed good to them that they should send and call the rest of their brethren to come and gather with them and “bring the ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired at it since the days of Saul” (1 Chron. 13:3).
Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. (1 Chron. 13:4, emphasis mine)
I have purposely focused our attention on the decision making process that took place. You will see why as we progress further. Let us jump to verse 7.
So they carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzza; therefore that place is called Perez Uzza to this day. David was afraid of God that day, saying, “How can I bring the ark of God to me?” (1 Chron. 13:7-12, emphasis mine)
Again, as in the case of God’s decision not to allow Moses to enter the Promised Land, I found God’s action in this situation to be drastic. My heart went out to Uzza. Here he was, trying to be helpful in not allowing the ark to fall and ends up dead, at the hand of God no less, for his ‘good deed’. I believe this would be everybody’s preliminary response without an understanding of the context within which God acted. The act of carrying the ark back with them was definitely not a bad act in and of itself. They even made the effort to place it on a “new cart” in recognition of its importance. One thing is certain, although David’s initial response following Uzza’s death was anger it quickly turned to the fear of God. Is this what it will require for us in these days to fear the Lord? So, what made God so angry that He would strike Uzza dead? Let us fast forward to 1 Chronicles 15.
David built houses for himself in the City of David; and he prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched a tent for it. Then David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” And David gathered all Israel together at Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it. (1 Chron. 15:1-3, emphasis mine)
And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper 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 bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord. (1 Chron. 13:11-15, emphases mine)
God is a God of order (1 Cor. 14:40). He gave specific requirements about who was to transport the ark of God and how it was to be transported. King David chose to consult with his leaders rather than with God in coming to the decision to move the ark and then went ahead as it pleased the people. He never consulted God on this matter or sought to be reminded of the command that had been given to Moses in this regard. This led to a man’s death. What can we learn from this? The scriptures tell us that there is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is the way of death (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). We are also told in Proverbs 3:5-8,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. (emphasis mine)
Many times, we pursue our own plans, which, on the face of them, seem quite good and wholesome. However, we never consulted God on whether this was His intention for us at that particular point in time. We treat God with disdain and then when things go wrong we complain and wonder why our lives are in turmoil. When we choose to do our own thing our own way we become our own God and God views this as pride and arrogance. We should all be well aware of the consequences of pride (Prov 16:18).
As we look back at the events following Uzza’s death, David’s modus operandi is noteworthy. Recall that 1 Chronicles 13 ended with David afraid of God. How did this actually play out in 1 Chronicles 14? I encourage you to read the chapter. When you do, you will see David consulting the Lord before every battle to determine God’s mind about whether he was to fight the enemy or not. David learnt his lesson well and because of it he never lost a battle. He recognized his wrong and made the necessary adjustments. This is why he was referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). The scriptures tell us,
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8)
For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. (1 John 3:20, emphases mine)
Who is the Beginning and the End? GOD! Who knows all things? GOD! Not man! How dare we presume that we know more than God our Creator. When we take matters into our own hands that is exactly what we are saying whether we realize it or not.
As I close, let us be reminded of God’s words in Isaiah 55:8-9.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Tomorrow, I will share the third event Holy Spirit showed me that will convince us even more forcefully of the need for us to return to the fear of the Lord.