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Let’s be honest...explaining to others who we are as a church is not always an easy task.  With a name like “Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)”, you’ve said a mouthful, but you might find people looking at you like you haven’t clarified anything; or worse they may get the wrong impression.  I remember speaking with a woman about my church – upon hearing that we were part of the Christian Church (D.O.C.) she exclaimed, “that sounds like one of those ‘bible-thumping’ churches!  Are you one of those ‘bible-thumping’ churches?”  I explained that yes, we do believe in the Bible, but no, we probably are not the stereotypical ‘bible-thumping’ church that she is thinking of...read more

 

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Entries in Ark of the Covenant (1)

Wednesday
Jul082015

POOR UZZAH

This week I offer a short study of a Scripture that has been the subject of endless discussion.  It’s a text that has mystified me and many others—it’s a text that I have to preach about on Sunday.  From 2 Samuel comes a story that has angered many and made many others wonder about God’s sense of justice.  It’s so shocking that some skip it entirely.  In 2 Samuel 6, King David is in the process of moving the Ark of the Covenant from its former residence to Jerusalem.  On the way there the ark, which is riding on an ox cart, begins to slip, and a man named Uzzah tries to steady the ark from falling.  When Uzzah does what any person with common sense would do, Scriptures says that God’s anger burned against Uzzah and he struck him dead right there.

How could God have done that?  How could God have let his anger get away from him that way and strike down a man who was just trying to help?  In answer to those particular questions…I have no good answer.  Some have said that God’s anger was kindled because Uzzah was not a priest, and only the priests were to touch the ark.  Others have pointed out that the ark was being improperly transported—it was supposed to be suspended on two long roads carried by a team of priests on their shoulders, not toted about like a farm implement on an ox cart.  But according to those readings it makes God sound like he’s just a stickler for the formalities.  I think there must be something else going on.

I know this sounds harsh, but I don’t think the story is about Uzzah at all—I think the story is really about the relationship between Yahweh and David.  David had been king for seven years, and in a political move to solidify his reign, he makes a geographical move of the capital from Hebron to Jerusalem.  Further reinforcing his power, he also moves the worship of Yahweh, the God of Israel, to Jerusalem as well.  Prior to this Jerusalem had been a little village of little importance—now Jerusalem will become both the political and religious center of power.  While I will grant that David was a smart politician for centering all that power in one place, it is also clear that David is using the ark of the Covenant as a political tool for his own ambitions.  David is undisputed King, and he does God a favor by letting him nest his tent next to him.  Needless to say, God was not pleased to have his name and reputation used in that way.  Uzzah took the brunt of God’s anger, but I think that God is really trying to get David’s attention.

This dangerous abuse of God’s power which David fell into is one that happened time and again; God is put on parade as a mascot for our own reputation, then tucked away once we’ve achieved our ambition.  History is full of examples of this, and we still deal with this in our own lives as well.  However, as disturbing as it is, this passage can serve as an important reminder that God is truly free, and will not be confined by our purposes.  It’s a reminder to me that when I claim to speak for God, I must do so humbly, remembering that I do not control or direct God’s will.  Like David, I am the one who dances for God’s pleasure—God does not dance for my pleasure.

Blessings,

Rev. Dr. David Chisham