Summary: In our worship, we must not try to control God or others, buit give ourselves fully to God.
Worship: Uzzah Dies, David Dances, Michal Scorns.
When you hear this story, beyond “what is an ephod?” your first question might be, “Why did God kill Uzzah?” - He seemed to be doing a good thing – stopping the Ark of the Covenant from falling and smashing on the ground!
We aren’t told much about Uzzah – He was the son of Abinadab (the Ark was in Abinidab’s house for years) he was incharge of the transport of the Ark with his brother, Ahio. He tried to steady the Ark when he thought it would fall, and he died for his efforts.
If we do a little CSI, we might be able to figure this out.
The Ark of the Covenant (Not Noah’s Ark!) was a rectangular box about four feet long and 2 feet wide and high. (it was not huge) It was made of wood and plated with gold. On the solid gold lid were two angels that framed the mercy seat. In the box were three items – the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments on them, a jar of manna (bread that God had given the people in the wilderness) and Aaron’s rod that had budded.
The Ark became the symbol of God’s presence in Israel. It was not an idol, or a talisman, but every once in a while the people would treat it that way. It was like thinking that your wedding ring keeps a marriage together while you are misbehaving. When they treated it that way, there was always trouble.
Over 20 years before this event, even before David was on the scene, the Israelites took the Ark into battle thinking it would bring them success – it didn’t they lost the battle and the Ark. The Philistines captured it and brought it back as a trophy. It caused them no end of trouble, so they sent it back. But it got only as far as Abinadab’s house, where it stayed for 20 years.
I think that this is an important thing to remember – the Ark had been in Uzzah’s house for 20 years!
One could imagine that Uzzah had started to believe that he was in charge of the Ark, and thus in charge of God. People down though the ages have postulated that Uzzah not only had God’s box, but he had God in a box – a box that he, Uzzah was in charge of.
Eugene Peterson writes, “we can guess that Uzzah’s reflexive act – reaching out to steady the Ark as the oxen stumbled – wasn’t the mistake of a moment; it was a piece of his lifelong obsession with managing the Ark.”
God had told Moses that the Ark should be carried on the shoulders of Levites using long poles when it was moved. For some reason, Uzzah and Ahio go against this stipulation and transport it on an ox cart, which was pretty new technology at the time. It may be that he was concerned about these dirty human hands would get too close to God, or maybe he just wanted to show off his fancy new oxcart!
As a side note – God has declared that human hands will carry his presence – when we get enamored with the latest technology as a method or means to carry the presence of God, we get into trouble. God’s presence is carried by you and I – a bumper sticker, or a new website just won’t do it. Technology can help, but God uses the human touch.
History paints Uzzah as “God handler:” the guy that makes sure that only the “right” people get access to God, that God gets protected from the grit and grime of humanity, that God always gets presented in a good light.
I do it – I try to present God’s better points’ leave his more difficult points in the dark – Anne Lamont – came to belief through Keirkegard’s reflection on Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac!
I know others who have the same attitude about God, like he is the queen or something. They will accidently let a curse fly in church, and then get all embarrassed and say, “I can’t believe I cursed in church!” And I say, “what, you don’t think that God knows that you curse?” God knows us in and out – he doesn’t need us to be religious to protect Him.
Uzzah teaches us that we need to remember that God is God, he doesn’t need us to control access to him, he doesn’t need us to protect him. – it cost Uzzah his life.
David is completely different than Uzzah – David has no need to control or protect God.
What shocks you more – that David gets furious with God, or that he danced wearing a linen ephod?