Today while reading the Bible, I was struck by the story of Uzzah, a man who touched the ark and died in the Old Testament. I’m not talking about Noah’s ark. This was the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the chest that contained the ten commandments. What struck me about Uzzah’s death was that he touched the ark with good intentions and still was put to death by God. The following scriptures explain this event…
“If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the LORD our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our brothers throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasture lands, to come and join us. Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul” 1Chronicles 13:2-3.
So David and God’s people went to get the ark. The Bible goes on to say, “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, tambourines, 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. 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” 1Chronicles 13:7-10.
I believe the death of Uzzah is important for us to understand because many good-intentioned Christians today make this same mistake. When God’s holiness is underestimated or ignored, bad things happen.
Unfortunately, disregard for God’s holiness is rampant in today’s Christian community. I have attended the same church for nearly as long as I’ve been a real Christian – close to ten years now. In this time, I’ve watched the hand of God strike people and it has frightened and sometimes even angered me. There have been times when I have questioned why God would allow terrible things to happen to his people. Then later, to my shock and utter sadness, I have found out that a great deal of unholiness was involved in a number of these people’s lives.
When God struck Uzzah, scripture says, “And David was angry because the LORD had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzza to this day. And David was afraid of God that day, and he said, ‘How can I bring the ark of God home to me?’ So David did not take the ark home into the city of David, but took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of God remained with the household of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the LORD blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that he had” 1Chronicles 11-14.
Obed-edom hosted the ark of God because a man after God’s own heart, David, flinched away from God’s holiness that day. Later on, David prepared a place for the ark in Jerusalem, and then he ordered that no one but the Levites could carry the ark of God (1Chronicles 15:2) because the Levites had been chosen by God for this very purpose. David didn’t want another well-meaning Israelite to die because, like Uzzah, holiness was ignored. Speaking about this, David said, we did not inquire of God about how to move the ark in the prescribed way (1Chronicles 15:13). The second time around, David took great care when touching the ark of God. Obed-edom, a musician who worshiped God, became a doorkeeper for the ark.
When I was younger in the Lord, I didn’t understand the cost of holiness, but time and again I’ve watched God move in such away that when unholy hands touch the Holy things of God, lives are exposed. Secret sin is always, ultimately revealed and a high price is paid in the church. Nothing has humbled me more as a Christian than watching other Christians crash and burn.
From one Christian to another, I urge you, fellow believers, to conduct your lives carefully. If you have hidden sin, avoid ministry until you are right with God. Do it for your own well-being, and also the well-being of the church. Confess and repent of any unholiness in your life. If you do not want to confess and repent, leave the church. Do not touch the ark of God unless the cleansing blood of Jesus covers your hands.