Todays’ reading is taken from 1 Chronicles 13 & 1 Corinthians 8.
1 Chronicles 13 is a tricky passage to make sense of. Was God a bit unreasonable in striking down Uzzah for trying to keep the ark of God from falling? Perhaps it was a reflexive response as the oxen stumbled!? (v9) Thinking of it now, it does seem like something I would’ve done if I was in Uzzah’s place. God could have responded with something along the lines of “Thank you trusted servant for keeping my ark from falling, you and your family will be blessed for this selfless act”, but instead He cut him down, right then and there.
So why was God so inconsiderate? This was an occasion of grand celebration. The mighty King David himself at the risk of looking like the fool boldly made merry along with the rest of Israel (v8). It would seem –on the surface- that God’s wrath against Uzzah in verse 10 is uncalled for – a classic kill-joy moment.
These are the questions I asked as I read through this passage the first time round. However as I kept reading something else came into focus – the ark itself. You see the Ark of the Covenant was God’s dwelling place – the temple of God, so to speak. For the Israelites in the wilderness, this was the means through which God ministered to and led them on for forty years (Ex. 25). The glory of God was on display here through a cloud by day and fire in the cloud by night (Ex. 40:38). The ark was placed in the ‘holy of holies’ with a curtain shielding it and separating it from the tent of meeting. The instruction given in Numbers 4 to the Kohathites (the people tasked to do the carrying of the ark) on transporting the ark is a clear one in summary – to observe reverence toward the dwelling place of God (Num. 4:15). So when God struck Uzzah down it was because Uzzah was in clear breach of God’s commandment.
In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul implores the Corinthian with knowledge (the ability to tell the lawful apart from the unlawful – Strong’s) to be mindful of those that are still green in their faith or as verse 10 puts it – weak in conscience. He tells them to not let their knowledge puff up and so become a stumbling block to those that don’t yet possess this knowledge. The point Paul is making here is that each man regardless of the strength and maturity of his faith is precious. He is valuable to God and no one has the right to hinder his walk with Him. The command here is to show reverence and consideration to any man of God regardless of the depth of his faith.
In the Old Testament God dwelt among his people through the ark. This ark was the physical embodiment of God among them. However, when the curtain is torn in Matthew 27 the dwelling place of God shifts from that of the Ark to the very hearts of men. The common denominator in both these passages is a high reverence for the dwelling place of God. As the Ark displayed the glory of God so now we living on this side of the Cross display his glory through our very lives. We are now the temple of God, the holy of holies where he dwells. In the knowledge of this truth let us take a moment on this day to look inside our own hearts to see if we are living up to this high calling.