Martha and I were reading in II Samuel the other day. We came to the part in chapter 6 where David is joyfully moving the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. That is, joyful until Uzzah puts his hand on the Ark and God kills him. This is the Old Testament, so it’s really not God’s act of striking someone dead that made us stop and think. No, it’s God striking someone dead who seemed to be doing a good thing, a needful thing, an honorable thing.
The knee-jerk reaction for us, like David, was, “That’s not fair!”. After discussing it, we came to the conclusion that the main issue here was that the Ark of God, or the Throne of God, was not to be moved by a manmade cart and pulled by an animal. It was a job designated for four priests, and even those priests were not allowed to touch the Ark itself under penalty of death. (Read about it in Numbers 3,4, and 7 if you’re curious like we were.)
Not only Uzzah was at fault here. Every good Jew present should have known better than to handle the Ark of God in such a roughshod manner. But that’s Old Testament (Old Covenant). Sure, it’s interesting to talk about, but because of the grace and mercy we live under, bought by Jesus Christ, we don’t much have to live in fear of God striking us dead when we are irreverent to the reality of His Presence. Right?
Well… take a look at the New Testament, and you see God striking Ananias and Sapphira dead when they lied to the Spirit of God in Peter (Acts 5). Whether Old Testament or New Testament, Old Covenant or New Covenant, it is dangerous when sacred things become commonplace.
Somewhere along the line we’ve lost sight of the fear of God. Fear of God in the Bible is not talking about an evil fear or a spirit of fear (“God has not given us a spirit of fear…”). It’s not like a fear of monsters or of evil or of all that is impure or immoral. It is like the fear we have of, for instance, electricity. Within our mortal bodies, electricity is immeasurably powerful and has the potential to do us harm. The secret to the fear is reverencing the power while using it in the appropriate way, or in a manner in which its power is exercised in our lives for good.
We can fear God to the point of avoidance (“having the appearance of Godliness but denying its power” 2 Tim 3:5), or we can fear Him with a reverence and an awe that produces Godliness. Part of the awe that we experience as Christians is in the fact that God loves us. It’s a thought that most Christians who were raised in church have heard all their lives. Sadly, many seem to become calloused and indifferent to it.
Sometimes, it’s not an issue of the kind of fear we have for God, but rather, whether we fear Him at all. How many times do we label ourselves as Christian, imitators of God as Ephesians 5 says, and yet we do not seek His guidance in the decisions of our lives? He is the Lord of all we see; has given us everything we have, has made a way of forgiveness and complete salvation for us, and desires to be in our presence, amazing though it is. And yet we often go to church with wrong intentions.
By going to church once a week we feel that we can get by the rest of the week without praying or studying the Word or thinking about the presence of God in our everyday activities. And when we do see His presence in some other Christian’s life, we act calloused to it. It doesn’t move us and we’re not excited for them. Church becomes our weekly duty and not an opportunity to worship and fellowship with believers.
“Seek ye first”, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel”, “Upon this rock I will build MY kingdom” … all the kingdom-building verses don’t say “Use your intellect”, “Get a committee of the smart people together” and they don’t even say “Get some family-friendly, Bible-based programs to start in your church”. No, they say “Seek God.” “Preach the Gospel.” “Follow God’s building plan for His church, not a human one.”
The difference between reverencing God’s power or fearing God in your church or not is the difference between using the power of a hand saw or using a chainsaw; using a screwdriver or using a drill; using a hammer or using a jackhammer; the difference is depending on the strength of man or in the power of an intelligent designer. This is a very simple analogy but it is not man’s power which can breach the gates of Hell with one word, restore an aching body, set a crazed mind at ease, mend a wrecked family, and reign on the throne of peace in a life that’s surrounded by turmoil.
Look at where you are in your life and in your church. Are you living in the Stone Age, using crude, man-made tools while attempting to accomplish spiritual ends? Or are you working hand-in-hand with the Spirit of God, in His power constructing a formidable Kingdom that the gates of hell cannot prevail against?
If your answer is feeble, unsure, and founded on the limitations of your fragile powers, then your contribution to the Kingdom will be minimal at best. I challenge you, as Martha and I were challenged by this Scripture, to fear the Lord, for it is the beginning of Wisdom and gives a truthful sense of our inadequacy before the presence of God.
Take into consideration Who He Is in contrast to who you are and you will find abundant reason to prostrate yourself and take into account every action of your life. There is no area of life that is not impacted by our fear of God. When we do not fear God, finances are wasted thoughtlessly, marriages are expendable, sermons are malnourishing, relationships are fragile, and ministry is self-reliant.
When we do view God in His rightful place, finances are sowed bountifully, marriages are durable, sermons are meaty, relationships are built on the Rock, and ministry is undertaken with the assurance that the Lord gives the increase.
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We hope you enjoyed this Pike’s Point and were challenged!
Miles and Martha Pike