How would you like to be called Uzzah? Uzzah was not only stuck with a weird name (at least if he was alive now….), but he also died a most unfortunate death. Unfortunate because he was just trying to do something good.
Here’s what happened: A revered holy object, the Ark of the Covenant, fell into the hands of the enemy. King David, of the Israelites, determined that it was time to get the Ark back to its rightful place in the kingdom. So he consulted with his military and political officials about the matter, and then announced it to the entire assembly of Israel. Everyone agreed. This was a good plan. It was the right thing to do.
So they put the Ark on a new cart (see… not just any old cart), pulled by oxen, and Uzzah and Ahio guided the cart on the journey. The people were celebrating with gusto: singing, playing lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals and trumpets. The Ark was coming home!!!!
Then… the unthinkable….. the oxen stumbled. The Ark began to shift. Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark…. just being protective. And suddenly…. God struck Uzzah dead!!!! DEAD! Why? Because he reached out and touched the Ark? Or is there more to the story? (You can read this part of the story in 1 Chronicles 13)
So the parade stopped. The Ark was placed in a local home for three months. And David returned to the City of David minus the Ark. But David had not forgotten the Ark. In Chapter 15, he prepared a special place for the Ark, with a special tent to shelter it. Then he issued a new procedure for the transport.
“No one except the Levites may carry it. The Lord has chosen them to carry the Ark of the Lord and to minister before Him forever.” Then he summoned over 800 priests and Levites and ordered them to purify themselves. He told them, “Because you Levites did not carry the Ark the first time, the anger of the Lord our God burst out against us. We failed to ask God how to move it in the proper way.”
What was the proper way? Waaaaaay back when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, God gave them very specific instructions on building the Tabernacle and all the items within it, including the Ark. The Tabernacle was designed to be portable, and specific directions were given on how to transport each item. Check out this:
“You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it.… “(Exodus 25: 13-15)
So the Levites and priests followed David’s orders. They purified themselves. They put together a choir of Levites who were singers and musicians to sing joyful songs. A skilled musician was appointed to lead the music. Certain men were assigned to play certain instruments. Others were chosen to be guards for the Ark and some to sound the trumpets and clear the way. They sacrificed seven bulls and seven lambs. They wore priestly clothing, and David wore a priestly tunic. And the parade commenced without incident; the Ark arrived safely in the City of David, and there was great joy and celebrating.
But poor Uzzah. Struck dead for just touching the Ark during the first go-round. Dead because they didn’t wait for the green light. Dead for not following instructions. Dead for not searching the Word of God for the correct procedure.
I’m so glad that God has not struck me dead when I fail to consult Him first in my decisions and actions. And believe me….. I’ve done so many times. I look at my planner…. my calendar…. my clock…. and make a decision and go with it. It seemed right at the time. In fact….. I’ve impulsively done/said things that I thought were God-honoring. But they weren’t….. because I didn’t go about it correctly.
I don’t stop to see if God has given me the green light. I don’t consult His Holy Word. I don’t pray about the decision. I plunge in with my instincts, and my intellect, and my emotions. But I fail to wait on God.
I don’t want to be an Uzzah. I don’t want to fail in asking God where and when and how to move. I don’t want to assume that His commands are just some suggestions. I don’t want to have to explain to a Holy God that I was just doing what my heart thought was right…. knowing all along that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked…. (Jeremiah 17:9). I don’t want my pitiful defense to be that I relied more on me….. and less on Him. I don’t want to walk on red.
Oh Father! Forgive me for my impetuous nature…. for speaking and acting first without thinking and praying. Forgive me for making You last and not first in all that I do. Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary….. worthy….. in Your perfect timing and in Your perfect ways. Help me rest during Your red lights, and go only You give me the green light.
To God be the Glory,