Summary: God is Holy - Wholly other and wholly pure.
God Stories – Attributes of God
The Holiness of God April 27, 2003
The Moving of the Ark
Back, before Saul was king in Israel, Israel is defeated in battle by the Philistines. The Israelites had carried the Ark of the covenant into battle with them, and the Ark of the Covenant is captured.
The Philistine bring it home like capturing an opposing team’s mascot, and place it in their god’s temple. They really have no idea what they have – the Ark which is a sign of the presence and power of God destroys the idol of their god Dagon, and the Philistines become ill with tumors, So they put the Ark on a cart and send it back to the Israelites. The Ark ends up in a town called Kiriath-Jearim where it stays through Saul’s reign and into David’s.
After David has captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites, and made it his capital city, he decides that it is time to bring the Ark to the capital.
He gathers people from the whole nation to Kiriath-jearim, they set the Ark up on a brand new ox cart and start on the road to Jerusalem dancing and singing. Two guys, Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart. Everything was going great until they got to the threshing floor at Kidon. There, the oxen stumbled and it looked like the Ark was going to fall off the cart, so Uzzah reached out to steady it. It says that the Lord’s anger blazed out against Uzzah and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark.
Dasvid was angry because the Lord’s anger had blazed out against Uzzah. He was so angry that he even renamed the place Perez-uzzah (outbreak against Uzzah)
David becomes afraid to move the Ark any further, so they take it to the house of Obed-edom where it stays until they try again.
You might feel the same as David – angry with God: “Why would he do such a thing – the poor guy was just trying to help out!”
And you might be afraid as well: “if God kills Uzzah for touching the Ark with good intentions, what might I do that’ll get the ol’ lightning bolt?”
What happens here at Kidon is actually consistent with who God is and his holiness. The Ark, as a symbol and a sign of God’s presence with the nation was a sacred object – God had told the people that as sinful people if they touched it, they would die, because their corrupted being could not stand contact with even a symbol of God. He gave specific instructions on how the Ark was to be moved and carried – these instructions did not involve an ox cart – there were poles that could be inserted into rings in the side, and priests, and only priests, could transport the Ark in this way. To have the Ark moved using an Ox cart was like playing with a loaded gun – sooner or later someone is going to get hurt.
The story of what happens at the threshing floor of Kidon speaks to us of God’s holiness. The word that we translate “holy” in the Bible could also be translated as separate.
To say that God is holy is to say that he is something completely other than we are, and he is to be treated completely other. Another way to say this is by using the word sacred.
Liturgical churches will often mark certain objects as sacred – they are consecrated, separated out for use in worship and ministry to God.
In the more free-wheeling churches, we often don’t have a sense of the sacred. As in society, we might say nothing is sacred anymore. This is why we might have a hard time getting this attribute of God – he is holy, separated, sacred, wholly other. We talk about God as if he is our older brother, “the big guy in the sky” We are his buddy, and he is ours.
I don’t have a great sense for the sacred in the rest of society – I don’t like things that are separated out for special use – I want every day dishes, not good dishes that are too precious to use, when the queen comes to town, and I hear about all the special ways that you are supposed to treat here, I want to say, “Who does she think she is?”
But God is different. God’s holiness speaks of his being completely different that us – we are made in his image, but he is not like us.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!