Summary: God is Holy. Leads to our call to be excellent!
Our Holy God
February 28, 2016
We’ve been looking at excellence for about 7 weeks now, and for the past 2-3 weeks we’ve talked about Spiritual Gifts. Please, fill out those Spiritual Gift inventories. I’ve received a few back, and it’s great going through them and seeing what your gifts are, and how you can put them to use for the glory of God. There are more on the table in the lobby.
Today, we’re going to continue to look at excellence, but it’s going to be a different way to look at it. We’re going to look at excellence through the eyes of God, as we consider God’s call to be holy, because He is holy. The approach is going to be a little different than a normal sermon.
If this message was receiving a movie rating, it would probably be PG-13 to R. I'm not kidding. It’s because so many people die in this story . . . literally thousands and thousands, and it tells the story of so much human pain, grief and divine judgment.
So why am I preaching from this text? Why not find a place in the Bible that’s comforting and positive? Because we need this story. We need it because it challenges one of the great delusions of our culture regarding God. We need it because it helps us base our lives on reality, before it’s too late.
We need to read and understand stories like today's - - - because it’s harsh. Some may not like it, saying this is wrong! Some may say it’s stories like this, that they don’t believe in the Bible. We may think we have to apologize for our God.
Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. We never have to apologize for God. He always does what is right and perfect. We may not understand God’s ways, but we don’t need to apologize for God. God also never apologizes for His actions.
Our Scripture is about the holiness of God. And this holiness is expressed in and through judgement. The holiness of God is a positive and powerful feature of God's character. We praise and thank God for that character. But for people who dishonor and disobey God, who choose sin, the holiness of God means trouble. And that's what happens in this story.
Much of this story concerns the ark of God, which was one of the holiest objects in Israel's religion. The ark was a box about the size of a small file cabinet that was kept in the Holy of Holies, in the Temple. In the ark was stored the two tablets of the Ten Commandments.
On top of the box were the statues of two heavenly beings called cherubim, and God said that above these cherubim His holy presence remained in the midst of Israel. God gave careful directions and warnings to Moses about how they were to treat the ark, because to mistreat the ark was to sin against God's holiness. Whether intentional or accidentally, you’d die. And that’s serious. God warned that those who sinned against his holiness would die.
So, our story is about lots of people, including priests, who sinned against God's holiness, who treated God without reverence, and consequently they died. The ark was treated it like a good luck charm.