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Thursday, December 29, 2011

This just in...

[Approx. 1003 BC - Threshing Floor of Kidon] A servant of King David, Uzzah, was struck dead today. Eyewitness accounts are consistent and reveal that in the moments leading up to his death Uzzah did nothing that could have been considered sinful in the eyes of the Lord. After interviews with members of the King's entourage, it appears that just before his death, Uzzah had been walking next to a new cart carrying the Ark of the Covenant. Although details are few, the brother of the deceased - Ahio - and other witnesses say the cart tipped sideways and, fearful that the most holy Ark would fall to the ground, Uzzah reach out a hand to steady the heavy wood and gold object. It is believed that immediately after touching the Ark, Uzzah died.
       Uzzah falls to the ground just before his death (anonymous photo)

King David has declined all interview requests but is reported to be furious that God would strike down one of His servants, especially one who was a member of an elite team bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem. Our sources have also indicated that David will leave the Ark with Obed-Edom, the Gittite, while the King considers the situation and mourns the loss of Uzzah.

Attorneys for the deceased are considering options on behalf of Abinadab and his family.

© Jerusalem Press International
Of course, this press account of the events detailed in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13 is fictional. As I studied 1 Chronicles 13 this morning, I wondered how our modern culture would react to such an event occurring today.
No doubt there would be reporters from major news sources on site; there would be satellite trucks, microphones, make-up artists and other accoutrements of the modern news engine. Eyewitnesses would be telling their stories to anyone who would listen; some with an eye toward turning a profit. 60 Minutes would no doubt be there with special access interviews and disturbing inside information.
But what of the real story?
I've heard several comments over the years about how (and why) God would kill someone who was just trying to help. David, Uzzah and all of the people in this procession were bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. Wouldn't it be sacrilege to let the Ark fall to the ground? After all, this was the holy chest in which the Ten Commandments were kept. The Mercy Seat, where God Himself appeared to the High Priest, was the lid of the Ark, sculpted with two cherubim, outstretched wings touching above the surface.
What seems to be lost in the modern world we inhabit is the nature of obedience. It is untenable for some to be placed in a position where absolute obedience is required. God had told Moses and Aaron that no one could touch the holy things [Numbers 4:15]. But our (human) instinct is to believe that there are exceptions to every rule, no matter what. There will always be circumstances where a rule can be bent, circumvented or completely broken - and for good reason.
On the surface, this seems to be one of those circumstances.
Uzzah was merely trying to keep the Ark from falling. However, what is overlooked by our modern interpretation is that God's rules are absolute. Despite the fact that this rubs against the grain of our sensibilities, there was no room for interpretation.
Has anyone considered the hubris inherent in Uzzah's actions? If the Ark was the object of God's presence on earth, wouldn't it be presumptious of us to assume that God needs help?
Something else that may often be overlooked by those who read the Bible is that while God may seem harsh in His dealings with us, He is not capricious, He does not act on a whim. If He said it, we can bank on it. As harsh as it may seem, this is a silver lining we can take away from Uzzah's death: God keeps His promises.
So what's the point of this event in history? For me, today, the point is we can know that some things in life (and death) are absolute. Truth is not something we can interpret for our own benefit. And there are indeed times when we just need to do what we've been told - even if it doesn't make any sense at the moment.
What do you think?

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