I read a devotional thought earlier this week that made me stop to consider it for a little while longer (Selah). It is a thought I have struggled with for a time now and a thought I share with you in the hopes that it will cause each of us to consider more deeply the awesome God we serve. A God who is truly filled with mercy and lovingkindness, yet still a God to be feared. We all remember the story of Uzzah (2 Sam. 6:1-11), struck dead for touching the Ark of the Covenant while it was being transported to Jerusalem. All Uzzah was trying to do was stabilize the ark to keep it from falling off the cart when the oxen stumbled. No doubt, the crowd that day was shocked at God’s punishment of such a “minor” discrepancy. Continue the narrative and we read that “David became angry because of the Lord’s outburst against Uzzah…So David was afraid of the Lord that day” (2 Sam. 6:8-9).
I am pretty sure it was the same fear experienced at the dedication of the tabernacle during the days of Moses. Nadab and Abihu were responsible for the incense before the Lord, but “offered strange fire” (Lev. 10:1). The people must have been shocked at the response of God for such a seemingly “insignificant” mistake. And the Lord spoke, “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored” (Lev. 10:3).
But why such a harsh punishment? Why did Nadab and Abihu have to die? Why was Uzzah punished with death, he was just trying to “save” the ark? Perhaps the better question to consider is “Why does God allow us to live?” How often do we ignore God for opinion’s sake or for convenience. Nadab and Abihu may well have been just a little “over enthusiastic” as they offered incense to God. Uzzah treated the ark as a common piece of furniture and did not revere it, as it was intended. How often do we treat laws and commands of God as a “common thing”? How often do we select convenience over commandment?
You see, the lesson really is quite simple: God means business! Let’s make sure we make Him our priority and never treat Him as something common!
“By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored” (Lev. 10:3).
- Paul Mowrer Monticello church of Christ, Monticello, AR