Doing Right The Wrong Way!
2 Samuel 6: 2-8
David decided to bring the ark to Jerusalem.
The Philistines had captured it during the last sad days of Eli.
The ark caused the Philistines so much trouble they put it on a cart and returned it,
and for a while it stayed at the house of Abinadab. (1 Samuel 7: 1)
David decided to bring it to Jerusalem.
His motive was good, but his method was wrong.
He was right in his intentions, but wrong in the implementation.
God had ordered that the ark should be carried only on the shoulders of the Levites.
David loaded it on a new cart to be drawn by oxen.
He probably got the idea from the Philistines; so it was an expedient borrowed from
the enemies of Israel.
On the way the oxen stumbled, and when Uzziah put forth his hand to steady the ark,
God struck him dead. (2 Samuel 6: 2-8)
This strange tragedy has some serious lessons for us today.
Just as David borrowed his idea from the Philistines, the church today has borrowed
from the world the methods of her ministry.
We study the techniques of this age, the gadgetry of the business, the social,
and entertainment world, " looking for new carts" on which to carry the ark of our testimony.
We hold a wet finger in the air and to ascertain which way the popular and wind is blowing.
We set our sails to catch the latest breeze.
Instead of asking, "How does God do it?"
We are religious copycats; we mimic the mannequins of this Punch-and-Judy that we call progress.
We have called Hollywood to our aid as though the Gospel were a form of entertainment.
The ears of a generation that cannot endure sound doctrine want their ears tickled.
When Uzziah tried to steady the ark, his intentions were good, but the whole procedure
was wrong to start with.
Today, many are disturbed about the unsteadiness of our doctrine, the wavering churches,
the unstable swaying of modern Christianity.
Sincere efforts are made to stabilize the situation, but they will end as Uzziah's did, in tragedy,
for we have started out wrong.
We must give up our new carts, and get God's work on the shoulders of separated
and dedicated people.
So, what was the sin of Uzziah?
He had no regard for the sanctity of the ark.
He was the son of Abinadab, and all his life he had seen the ark in his home.
It was a familiar piece of furniture and had become to him " just a box".
Some of us grow so familiar with the gospel, with the worship and ordinances of the church,
that we lose our reverence for holy things.
Alexander Maclaren says in his Expositions of Holy Scriptures that Uzziah had lost the sense of awe:
" Nothing is more delicate than a sense of awe; trifle with it ever so little and it speedily disappears.
There is far too little of it in our modern religion."
Just watch any Sunday-morning congregation!
Uzziah had lost his regard for the sacredness of the ark which was the symbol of God's
presence among His people.
In his commentary, that Matthew Henry puts it this way:
" Perhaps he had attempted to show before this great assembly how bold he could be
with the ark, having been so long acquainted with it.
Familiarity, even with that which is most awe inspiring, is apt to breed contempt."
It is a fearful thing to treat the ark as though it were a box!
We can become so accustomed to being Christians and being preachers, that we place
unholy hands on sacred things.
Our intentions may be good, but, as Matthew Henry says again:
" It will not suffice to say of that which is iIl done that it was well meant."
It is only because of the long-suffering of God that more corpses, like Uzziah before the ark,
are not more plentiful today.
Even ministers, of years of experience may become so accustomed to their work for God
that it becomes routine, and the holy awe departs.
Growing up in Christian homes, we may easily misuse the language of Christianity
and become parrots of pious phrases.
There is no greater hindrance to genuine spirituality than a superficial familiarly
with Christianity from childhood.
Vance Havner said: " We get so accustomed to it that we play marbles with diamonds."
We make a lot about relevance, but we had better do something about reverence.
There is another angle to this episode.
It may have been more sophisticated, up-to-date and speedier to haul the ark on a cart,
but it was not God's way.
There was something personal about carrying the ark on the shoulders of the Levites;
shifting to a cart lessened the sense of personal responsibility.
Today, the Lord's work has become impersonal.
Many have become machine like.
Putting our shoulders to the wheel is not the same as putting our shoulders under the ark.
Too much of our giving is like feeding quarters into slots in a vending machine.
It is a vain oblation when the Macedonians do not first give themselves.
God wants self before service and substance.
We cannot transfer our personal responsibility.
The problem was not that the oxen stumbled, the cart shook, and the ark lurched;
there should have been no oxen or cart to begin with.
No matter how many Uzziahs try to steady the ark, we are working on the wrong problem,
and we are not going to help the situation by making better carts and hiring trained Uzziahs.
New ways to raise church money, to increase attendance, to interest people,
we have never had so many new carts running all over the place, but never has
the ark wobbled as it does today.
There was plenty of fanfare and music on this occasion, but it did not hide the fact
that the whole arrangement was David's idea and not God's.
In 1 Chronicles 13: 4 we read that the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
But the voice of the people is not the voice of God.
It is possible to put on an elaborate religious parade and have only a performance
instead of an experience.
This is a form of godliness without the power thereof.
David finally came to his senses.
He was late getting around it, but better late than never.
He began by recognizing that the ark should be carried only by Levites.
He had broken that rule, and that was at the root of all the trouble.
The first thing we need to do in church is to discover that God's work must be done
by God's people in God's way.
All our abilities can be used only when dedicated and sanctified because they that are
in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8: 8)
Only in the Levites were qualified to carry the ark, and only separated and dedicated people
can do the work of the church.
Personality, education, ability, enthusiasm -- all these glorify God only when empowered
by the Holy Spirit.
So David had a convocation and gathered all Israel to bring back the ark
the right way the second time.
We need to call such a meeting today to summon God's people back to
God's way of doing God's work.
That is revival!
David assembled the priests and Levites and charged them to sanctify themselves
that they might bring up the ark of the Lord. (See 1 Chronicles 15: 12)
It is possible that we elect Sunday school teachers, ordain deacons, and other officers
of the church on the basis of ability, education, popularity and position in the community.
But do we ever ask, " Have they ever set themselves apart for the service of God?"
We should be amazed that the ark wobbles!
Today, we need preachers who are sanctified, singers who are sanctified, teachers who are sanctified, deacons who are sanctified, etc.
In the last analysis when it comes to glorifying God, what makes the difference is not
whether someone is trained for untrained, but whether that person is a separated,
dedicated, Spirit-filled Christian.
When David finally brought the ark back to Jerusalem, it was a time of great rejoicing.
It is always a time of great rejoicing when God's work is done by God's people in God's way.
But Michal, David's wife, did not rejoice.
She was Saul's daughter and had his blood flowing in her veins.
She despised the king and met him with scorn and satire. (2 Samuel 6: 16)
As a result, she suffered the shame of barrenness for the rest of her life.
When revival comes, there will always be Michals who find fault.
When our Lord cleansed the temple, there was great rejoicing, but the Pharisees voiced bitter protest.
(Mark 11: 15-18)
Such people are all ready smitten with spiritual barrenness and bear no fruit to the glory of God.
The biggest business before the church today is to get the work of God off of the new carts,
the Philistine-like expedience of our own devising, and back on the shoulders of separated men
Too many Philistines run the churches today.
The world has gotten into Sunday school classes, church choirs, and even the pulpits.
The ark is shaking and many Uzziahs are trying to steady it.
The entire procedure is wrong and we need to call a convocation and start over.
We'd do not need something new; we need something so old that it will seem new.
God's work must be done by God's people in God's way.
Church members need to ask themselves three searching questions.
Are you one of God's people?
It is possible that much of our church work is being done by people who have never been born again.
Christians are a purchased people.
We are not our own.
We have been bought with a price.
We are a different people, and we belong to a new race.
Are you doing God's work?
I do not mean only church work.
I am asking if you living for Christ every day, every where.
Much of our church work may not be God's work.
It could be that God never started it, and will have nothing to do with it.
Pastors are often kept busy doing things that God never called them to do.
Are you doing God's work God's way?
Why do we do what we do?
Is God working in us or is it unsanctified flesh, glorying in His presence trying to please Him?
When god's people do god's word god's way, there will be revival.
Sermon adapted by Dr. Harold L White