• Tim Clark

Uzzah

It has probably been almost 20 years since I first heard R.C. Sproul's rendering of this passage:


1 Chronicles 13:7 They moved the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it. David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets.

When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. 10 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.


The "ark" mentioned here was the gold covered chest kept in the original Tabernacle that contained a copy of the Ten Commandments, Aaron's staff that had budded, and a jar of manna that did not spoil. Above the cover of the ark was the "Mercy Seat" that hosted the earthly glory of the Presence of God.


When reading this text, most are struck by what appears to be the capricious response of God to Uzzah's seemingly innocent (and well-intentioned) act of touching the ark to prevent its fall to the ground. Thus, God is (once again) portrayed as a tyrant whose character is untrustworthy.


Sproul rightly comes to God's defense by makng two powerful points. The first involves the carelessless of man. Previously, God had carefully described the proper handling of the ark- including its transport. These instructions were neither followed, nor sought by the movers. Second, Uzzah presumptuously concluded that the dirt of the ground was more defiling to the ark than was his own sinful hand- an arrogant (and grossly incorrect) conclusion that cost him his life.


Like Uzzah and the movers, our arrogance paints God and His sensibilities to our own liking. We reason His values and standards in such a way as for them to look exactly like our own. We idolatrously end up crafting Him in our own image, only to suffer the consequences for having failed to seek Him out for Who He truely is.

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