“The Proper Order”

by Roby Ellis          SPANISH/ESPAÑOL

And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order” (1 Chronicles 15:11-13).

Nearly every Bible student knows the story of Uzzah, the man whom God killed for touching the ark. What is most unfortunate, however, is the fact that almost nobody knows the significance of this story. Why did it happen? Why was it recorded? Why has it been preserved for 3,000 years for us to read? Paul says that such things were “written for our learning” (Romans 15:4) and “for our admonition” (1 Corinthians 10:11). What is the lesson that God intended for us to learn from the day that a man died in His presence?

First of all, it is apparent that the Israelites who participated in this event had learned nothing from the ark’s history. The ark had been removed from Shiloh by the wicked sons of Eli, who lost it in a devastating battle with the Philistines. A few months later the ark was seen driving itself back into Israelite territory on a new cart built by the Philistines. While initially it had seemed that God had been unable to defend his people, the opposite was proved when God afflicted the Philistines without the people’s aid. When the ark arrived in Bethshemesh, several men lost their lives for handling it improperly (1 Samuel 6:19). Although the uncircumcised Philistines learned from Israel’s history (1 Samuel 4:8; 6:6), Israel herself failed to do so.

David and his men were treating the ark—the symbol of God’s presence among them—like a common piece of furniture. This is the definition of profanity. At first David failed to understand why God was so upset, and he wondered, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:9)? The answer to David’s inquiry could only come from one source—the Scriptures. God had given detailed instructions regarding how the ark was to be moved (Numbers 4), and those requirements had not changed. David finally realized the reason for God’s displeasure: “we did not consult Him about the proper order” (1 Chronicles 15:13). Today millions seek to serve God their own way. God’s proper order has been abandoned, and worshipers are copying the common practices of the entertainment industry just as Israel tried to copy the Philistines’ method of moving the ark. When we approach God, we need to realize how serious that is, and we must seek Him after the proper order.

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