“. . .day and night they never cease to say, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:8
I find the account of the end of Uzzah’s life in II Samuel 6:1-7 perplexing (cross reference, I Chronicles 13). And if I am honest, it seems downright unfair on God’s part. As a refresher, the story goes like this: David knows God’s presence and promises in the Ark of the Covenant are sacred; in fact, no one is permitted to look into the Ark or they will die. When he becomes the King of Israel he vows to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. In recent years it was captured in war by the Philistines and illness broke out in every city where they housed it; so, the Philistines wised up and gave it back. Even though the Ark is in the hands of God’s people at Balaah Judah, David and his advisors make plans to transport it to Jerusalem to unite the nation.
David rallies his elite troops which is no small number – 30,000 men – to move the Ark 10 miles down the road. The sacred possession is loaded onto a new oxcart built for the occasion. While in transport one of the oxen stumbles and Uzzah who is beside the cart puts out his hand to steady the Ark. He promptly dies. The Scripture states, “. . .And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah and He struck Him down because he put out his hand to the ark. . .” (I Chronicles 13:10)
What? This seems harsh; after all, Uzzah attempts to steady the Ark so it doesn’t incur damage. Why pick on this guy and end his life? Upon closer study, I gain valuable insight. The Israelites are not carrying the Ark of the Covenant the way God commanded in Deuteronomy 10:8 and Numbers 7:9. It is built with holders for poles and is designed to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites and not by cart. Perhaps David along with the leaders forgot God’s parameters because they didn’t look at His Law; maybe over familiarity with the Ark diminished awe of the One who spoke the world into being.
God’s presence hovering in the Ark mandated reverence because He is holy. Holy is one of those words in our Christian dictionary which can be throw around and yet the understanding may be clear as mud. Theologian RC Sproul explains that holy came from an ancient word meaning to separate. He continues, “to be holy is to be ‘other’, different in a special way.” Sproul also points out the unique way Scripture describes God: “The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love, or mercy, mercy, mercy, or wrath, wrath, wrath, or justice, justice, justice. It does say that He is holy, holy, holy, the whole earth is full of His glory.”
God is far above what my mind can conceive. My reaction of “that’s not fair!” about Uzzah’s death goes to show my fallen mind doesn’t grasp a holy God. At the same time, I am thankful the Holy Spirit can renew my mind about who God is and how to seek the One who is other, separate, holy – Who’s glory fills the whole earth.
This spring myself along with the team of sisters who contribute to the blog at Sacred Story aim to explore the attributes of God’s character and the ways He designed us to know Him. Each month we pray you are filled with new awe of the God we worship and new insight into the practices which facilitate our experience of Him. Praise and Practice. Join us on the journey from January until the end of May.
Who can you reach out to and invite to join our weekly journey through Praise and Practice? Here is a suggested invite which you can use via email or social media:
“How we think about God and how we go about seeking Him makes all the difference in living our stories. I am excited to join a spring of Praise and Practice at Sacred Story. The weekly messages will focus on the attributes of God and the ways Christ followers know Him better. I receive the posts via email and you can do so by entering your email address at “subscribe via email” on the home page, https://sacredstoryministries.org/ or visit the blog weekly to discover new insight.
How can you avoid allowing over familiarity with the things of God to cloud your response to the One who lives and reigns?
Praising and practicing with you sister~