1 Samuel 6:19 – And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.
2 Samuel 6:3 – And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.
2 Samuel 6:6 – And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
2 Samuel 6:7 – And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.
Hello all, haven’t posted for a while, but it’s good to be doing another blog post and today will be looking at the sin of Uzzah. Sometimes things in the Bible can be confusing. What on earth does this mean? What’s this all about? But when we look a little deeper or just think about what the Bible is saying for a while and ask the Spirit of truth to guide us into truth, such things actually are not that confusing or strange at all. God’s wisdom is far greater than man’s wisdom. His ways are above our ways. God is perfectly righteous, his ways are equal and true, what he does is right, and he does it for a reason. Why did God kill Uzzah, when all Uzzah did was put his hand to the ark of the covenant to steady it so it would not fall? What Uzzah did seemed noble at the time, and it was in the context of something seemingly very good, namely bringing the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem after capture by the Philistines.
To answer these questions, we must first of all see what the ark of the covenant was. The ark of the covenant was the most important part of the tabernacle system that Israel had in the wilderness. It was in the holiest of holies. The ark of the covenant had the mercy seat, and inside the ark was contained the ten commandments written on two tables of stone, the showbread, and also Aaron’s rod that budded. The ark of covenant was incredibly precious to Israel. It was a symbol of hope and the presence and power of God, it gave the Israelites courage. But it became an idol to the Hebrews.They worshipped the ark of the covenant over God, which the ark was pointing to. The ark of the covenant shows a great truth of the Bible that human beings always tend to worship the creature over the Creator. Humans make idols of just about anything. We worship the gift more than the giver. The blessing more than the blesser. The Israelites would always fall into the snare of worshipping things, symbols, signs over God who gave them. The ark of the covenant in and of itself was nothing. The ark of the covenant was part of the tabernacle set up, and the earthly tabernacle was just a shadow of the true heavenly tabernacle. Faith was the substance, we are saved by faith, noone was saved in the Old Testament by the Old Covenant, by best attempts to keep the law, which were all just a shadow of things to come. God was teaching them and us great spiritual truths through the earthly tabernacle. The ark itself had no power, but it was God behind it that gave it power.
The ark of the covenant is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we look at what was inside the ark we learn some great truths about Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the law. The Lord Jesus Christ is the bread of heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ is Aaron’s rod that budded, because he was cut off in death, yet he rose from the dead, yet he is alive and fruitful and blessed forever. The ark of the covenant was extremely revered and thus should Jesus be extremely revered. He is God. He is the Son of God. He is Holy. He bought our freedom with a great price, his innocent, sinless blood was shed for us. The Lord Jesus Christ is the ark, and in fact all the arks in the Bible represent Jesus – Noah’s ark, Moses’ ark, the ark of the covenant. We can learn a great deal about the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ through studying the arks of the Bible. An ark is a place of safety, Noah was safe and protected in the ark, as was Moses. Arks are refuges, they are God’s provision. We are safe in Christ. Safety is found only in him. Safety from God’s holy wrath and judgement against sin. The Old Covenant was based on living by the law. It was inferior, because noone can live by or keep the law. The law was designed to break us and bring us to Christ. We have all broken God’s law, we cannot keep our end of the deal. Jesus kept the law, he fulfilled the law, and through his death and shed blood he became the mediator of a better covenant, the New Covenant between God and man. It is based on faith in his blood. Faith in him, receiving what he has done instead of what we can do. The New Covenant has power to change us inside out, because we receive his Spirit which births a new creature in us, born of God. The Old Covenant could only govern the external, even abiding by God’s laws as best we can does not change our capacity to sin, our desire to sin, our sinful nature, it only governs sinful man. The Lord Jesus Christ is the ark of the covenant.
So with this in mind what was the sin of Uzzah? It is a sin that many people do today, both saved and unsaved. It is the sin of familiarity, and presumption, of adding works to grace, of trying to help and assist Jesus, of denying the sufficiency of his cross, the sufficiency of his sacrifice, the sufficiency of his power. We put our hand to the ark today when we teach that a man is saved by anything but his grace through faith. When we try adding to what Jesus has done. Jesus did the work alone, no humans helped him, even his disciples forsook him. They all fled. It is all about Jesus. We can put our hand to the ark when we are presumptuous. When we “help” the person and the work of Jesus. Jesus said he will build his church, it is his job. It is his kingdom, it is his glory, it is his creation. We put our hand to the ark when we glorify ourselves, when we elevate ourselves instead of lifting up Jesus. All we have to do is be saved and live and walk by faith. And this takes the burden off our shoulders, his yoke is easy and his burden is light. It is his power, his strength, his Spirit, his word, his grace, his mercy, his love. This is what the brazen serpent lifted up in the wilderness showed the people who were bit by the fiery serpents – and we are all bitten by sin. All they could do was look and live. When we look on and live we realize that we do nothing. We are nothing. We bring nothing to to table. Putting the hand to the ark declares our sufficiency. It introduces a little bit of human effort and works. Maybe you have a little bit of religion that makes you feel more saved, more righteous, more just, more noble, more deserving. Yet the true, pure religion of the Bible is in a person, not in sacraments, traditions, works, processes, systems, devices, things, stuff or anything at all other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, the life, the only way to the Father.
Uzzah did not realize how holy God is. How separate, how undefiled, how perfect, how great God is. Dangerous familiarity with holy things had set in in Israel. They were apostate, they were not walking according to the scripture, they had departed from God, and the glory of the Lord had departed from them. The children of Israel were not even bringing the ark back to Jerusalem by the prescribed way. They copied the Philistines way of transporting the ark, not the Biblical way to carry the ark. They put it in a new cart, oxen were pulling the cart. Uzzah was part of an anti-scriptural effort to carry out God’s will. Many people do this, propping up a form of Christianity, which has no reality at all. They had a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Israel was a shell of a nation, they had a name, but no reality, the Spirit had left them.
And there is a great lesson in this for us. We have to do things God’s way, not our way. We have to abandon and surrender our pride, our reason, our ways, our intellect, our will in place of God’s will and ways. As many “Christians” depart from the faith today, they abandon their Bible in place of a “new” Bible. They replace the old songs of faith for “new” music. We see “new cart” Christianity and forms of religion today, professing Jesus, but what they do, how they live, who they believe is all contrary to the scripture. They are trying to do things their ways, what they believe and do does not line up to the plumbline, the safety net of God’s sure word. God’s Spirit and his word work together, they do not disagree, and God’s Spirit does not work around the word, ever. The Spirit bears witness of Christ, not of himself. These people don’t want the old paths, the true paths of the Bible. They don’t want to do things God’s way. They give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. They are enticed by their pride and lust. They are reeds shaken with the wind, they are tossed to and fro. They are empty, without the water, without the river of God in them and running through them. They turn to the right and to the left, they are not on the straight path or entering in at the strait gait. They introduce the world to their Christianity. We read that earlier the Philistines had looked into the ark, and God smote over fifty thousand Philistines. The Philistines are a picture of the world, and the world is totally antichrist. God says, Love not the world. The world did not receive the Lord Jesus Christ, the world hates Jesus, the world does not comprehend Jesus. They will not hear him or his children. We too, can be like the Philistines and look into holy things, try living morally and good but without being repentant and saved and washed and cleansed and forgiven, without humbling and abasing ourselves. We cannot look on God, he is so holy, just, he dwells in light that no man can approach to. Our sin must be dealt with completely before we enter into his presence. God is Holy.
So we learn a great deal from the death of Uzzah that we should be careful and not become familiar with holy things. That we should abandon our own strength, which is useless and deceitful, in place of the strength of Christ. Man has nothing to give, nothing to add, no wherewithal with which to assist the ways and means of Christ. That we should not try “helping” the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ in any way. That we must be saved, and come to, and live by his appointed way. We must bend to the word, not the word bend to us. We are alive, we receive the Spirit, we receive freely by faith. Noone kept the law apart from Jesus. Jesus is the bread of heaven. Jesus died on the cross, rose the third day, and is alive forevermore. He is Holy, he is God. We have to do things God’s way. We come to God by God’s appointed way, through Jesus Christ, through his blood, through his forgiveness and cleansing, through his life. It is him, and him alone that is blessed and blessed forevermore. There is no adding or taking away from the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do so at your own peril. Put your hand to the ark at your own peril. Does Jesus need your help? Does he need your righteousness? Does he need you to do a bit to help in your salvation? Were you there at the beginning? Where were you when he laid the foundation of the earth? Does he need your counsel? Does he ask your counsel and get your permission to do things? Who are you? What are you? How good are you? What do you bring to the table? The answer is that we are all nothing, withdraw your hand, he does not require you to steady his ship, he does not give his glory to any man, do things his way, live his way, be saved his way. He is Holy. He is God.