DON’T TOUCH THE ARK!
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I would imagine most Christians have read in the Bible how the Ark was captured by the Philistines, and finally was brought back to the house of Abinadab. When David became king, he wanted the Ark to be brought up to Zion, his city.
The Ark, which was supposed to be carried by the priests, was placed on a new cart. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were appointed to guide the Ark. Also, whenever the Ark was moved from one place to another, the Veil was supposed to be wrapped around it to prevent people from gazing at it.
When the camp is to move, Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the shielding curtain and cover the ark of the Testimony with it. (Numbers 4:5)
Abinidab placed the Ark on a new cart. But I see no mention of any kind of covering. This is the kind of confusion that always results when people attempt to help God.
They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals.
When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God. (II Samuel 6:3-7)
This is a curious business. When they came to the threshing floor, the oxen stumbled. Perhaps the ground was uneven. In any case, there was a danger that the most prized possession of Israel would fall into the mud. Uzzah reached out his hand to prevent the Ark from falling to the ground. For this reason, God struck him dead. There is a lesson here that we must learn today.
I hope I am incorrect, but I believe we American Christians are altogether too familiar with God. It is like God is some pal that we are trying to help out. “Hey God, how are you doing! We are going to work for you, but on our own terms. Your job is to keep blessing us while we do our religious thing.”
The fear of God to a great extent has left the Christian churches in America. We have made a god in our own image, a kindly grandfather in the sky who would not hurt a fly.
I expect this attitude derives in part from the philosophy of Humanism, which places man above God in importance. I think the philosophy of democratic government may play a part in bringing God down to our level. Actually, a righteous king with unlimited power would be better for us than what is going on today. The highest levels of government are mocked by the cartoonists. It may be true that the leaders of our government deserve such scorn, because it often appears that they do not act from principle but from a desire to stay in office regardless of the good of the country.
The television evangelists often give the impression that their main concern is money. They do not preach that the believers must lay down their lives, take up their cross, and follow Jesus patiently and faithfully. It may be true that the offerings would drop of dramatically if the true Gospel of the Kingdom were preached.
So the political leaders curry favor with the voters. The Christian pastors and evangelists often curry favor with their audiences. The newspaper cartoonists make fun of everyone, it seems. The “entertainers” mock the highest officials. God is presented as someone who is anxious to pour out marvelous blessings on anyone who asks, whether or not the individual is an upright moral person of personal integrity.
This is America today. It is not getting better morally, it is getting worse. The female entertainers stand in line to see who can reveal the most flesh. The comedians mock those with Christian principles and the audiences laugh uproariously.
If an incident had occurred, such as that of God striking someone dead who had profaned something God regarded as holy, there would be a public outcry. The personal injury lawyers would rush to the scene like vultures who spotted a dying calf. If someone sought to justify God’s actions, he or she would be regarded as some sort of monster who did not realize that someone’s “rights” were violated. The idea that God would do that to a person who only was trying to help God out would bring such outrage that there would be mobs in the streets, breaking windows, setting cars on fire, and injuring innocent people. Such is America in the present hour.
However, let’s try to see the incident involving Uzzah from God’s standpoint. The Ark of the Covenant was so holy that even the Levites could not see it. It represented the Throne of Almighty God in Heaven. There were the two covering cherubim beaten from the pure gold of the Mercy Seat. It had been captured by the Philistines because of the wickedness of the two sons of Eli, the High Priest. The Philistines suffered while they possessed it.
The Philistines wanted to get rid of the Ark. They put it on a cart pulled by two cows. The cows went straight to Beth Shemesh, lowing as they went. The cows were wiser than the people in that they were praising God while transporting the Ark. The people of Beth Shemesh placed the Ark on a large rock. Then seventy of the men of Beth Shemesh looked into the Ark, and God struck them down.
The men of Beth Shemesh sent messengers to Kiriath Jearim. Men from Kiriath Jearim came and took the Ark back to the house of Abinidab. It was there twenty years. No doubt Uzzah and Ahio, who were appointed to guide the Ark to Zion, when David called for it, had become familiar with the Ark in their house and no longer feared it.
So it is in America and England, perhaps. This may be the reason why the translators substitute “reverence” for the term “fear.” We are too arrogant to fear God. We know Him well and He never would harm us. So why fear Him? If He does anything we do not like, we will sue Him for violating our “rights.” What a mess!
So Uzzah was overfamiliar with the Ark. He put his hand on it. God struck Uzzah dead for steadying the Ark. What does this tell us about God?
We are too familiar with the Lord Jesus. “Hey Jesus, are you going to help me, old buddy?” Yet when the Apostle John saw Jesus, he fainted (Revelation 1:17). We are deluded, and we are going to see fierce Divine judgment on our country because we need to be taught to fear God and His Divine Son.
God the Father is not a kindly old man in the sky. God is a Spirit. As such He requires blood to appease His sense of injustice. God is love, the Bible says, and so He is. His love offered His Son as a sacrifice on the cross of Calvary so that we might approach God without being destroyed.
God also is capable of enormous wrath, as we see in the flood of Noah; as we witness in the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain. For no sin other than looking back when God told her not to, Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt. The Lord Jesus told us not to look back when He appears, but to remember Lot’s wife.
Please keep in mind that God is a Spirit, not a human being. God killed the two sons of Aaron because they improperly burned incense. We read of these events, but do not think about the personal tragedy for Aaron and his wife; or the millions of people in the days of Noah; nor for the effect on Lot when he saw his wife turn from a beautiful woman into a pillar of salt; or for the shock to the celebrating Israelites when they saw Uzzah die as he attempted to keep the Ark from falling.
Think about Ananias and Sapphira, part of the original Christian community. Their untimely death caused great fear to seize the whole Church and others who heard about it.
It is only Calvary that keeps God from destroying all life on the earth.
If something like that which happened to Ananias and Sapphira took place today in America I believe it would help us regain a proper attitude toward God, instead of a “Jabez” attitude as we seek to get more blessings from God.
“I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord. “I will sweep away both men and animals; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. The wicked will have only heaps of rubble when I cut off man from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord. (Zephaniah 1:2,3)
The above are true words of God. Calvary alone stands between us and the wrath of the Father. Jesus told us that except for the elect, no one would survive the Great Tribulation.
The words I am writing at this time are not fashionable in America. We have backslidden so far away from God that we have forgotten the Bible stories. We have forgotten about Hell, about the Lake of Fire. We are not preaching and teaching a true vision of God and His salvation.
We need to think seriously about these actions of God, if we are to get a balanced picture of God and His salvation. He gave His Son. There can be no greater proof of His love for us. But in America we are repaying God’s kindness and love with casual church attendance instead of the cross-carrying obedience God requires.
I think sometimes how God exhorted the Israelites to immerse their children in God’s laws so that from an early age they were acquainted with their God. Today American Christians take their children to the violent, morally filthy motion pictures that Hollywood provides. Then they are astonished when their children murder someone or embrace sexual perversions, or Christ takes a little darling to Himself.
We are going to lose the nation we have cherished because we have turned our backs on God.
When we think of the wild celebration of the Jews as the Ark was being brought back from Kiriath Jearim, and how God, in spite of the breach of the social atmosphere, slew Uzzah for no worse crime than trying to steady the Ark, we might gain some idea of how far we have drifted from God.
We do not perceive matters as God does. To God, the Ark represented His very Presence. It was the most holy furnishing of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. It was not to be touched or even seen by the common Israelites. It always was covered when the Jews were traveling.
But wouldn’t a “good God” overlook this well intentioned act? He didn’t, did He? Maybe from this incident we can improve our perception of what our Father in Heaven actually is like.
The problem was one of disobedience, wasn’t it? God had warned that no one was to even see the Ark, let alone touch it, except the High Priest—and he only once a year during the Day of Atonement. God never has and never will tolerate disobedience. Being “saved by grace” still does not accept disobedience. This principle is sorely in need of being emphasized in our day of casual Christianity.
Belief and obedience are synonyms. Apart from obedience to the Lord Jesus there is no genuine belief in Jesus.
Throughout the history of the Christian Church man has had his hand on the Ark, as nearly as I can tell. We do not often hear of denominations, or churches, or church workers, say that they are following the express commands of the Lord Jesus.
Did the Lord say, or did He not, that He would build His Church?
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18)
We must ask ourselves, “Is Christ able to build His Church? Does He have enough wisdom to build His Church? Does He have enough resources to build His own Church?” Perhaps most of us would say yes, considering the fact that He created the spirit and physical worlds and all their inhabitants. But, and here is where we draw the line: He uses people. He can’t do it by Himself. “Our work is God’s work,” and so forth.
Let us say a little boy decided to help Daddy paint the front room. While Daddy went into the kitchen to make coffee, the little boy ran over to the open can of white paint. In his haste he stepped in the gallon paint can, spilling the paint on the floor, stumbled, and fell in the middle of the paint.
Did the boy have good intentions? Without doubt. In fact, Daddy had some small chores that the little boy could do to help Daddy. But helping Daddy paint the front room was not within little Bobby’s ability to do, not at eight years of age.
This is a picture of Christian efforts throughout the Christian Era and up to the present hour. Our intentions are admirable. But in our efforts to build the Kingdom of God we have created a thousand competing denominations. We are not hearing from the Lord. We are trying to steady the Ark.
Every now and then the Christians denominations will inaugurate a new plan to “save a lost and dying world.” Maybe some of them are hearing from the Lord Jesus. Perhaps not. But if they are not hearing from Christ, are they making more of a mess than currently exists?
In the seven feasts of the Lord, God provided for us a means of understanding His plan of redemption. The last century witnessed the spiritual fulfillment of the fourth feast, the feast of Pentecost. Now is the time for the spiritual fulfillment of the final three feasts:
- Feast number five–the Blowing of Trumpets.
- Feast number six–the Day of Atonement.
- Feast number seven–the feast of Tabernacles.
Every year thousands of Christians from many nations flock to Jerusalem to observe the feast of Tabernacles. They have no idea what the feast signifies, other than they all have a good time. The Jews do not know what it means, except that they are to go into the local parks and tear branches off the trees and build little booths in which they read the Torah. The Christians know the feast of Tabernacles must mean something, and so they go to enjoy the music and the pageantry. Do you suppose any Jew or any Christian goes to the Lord Jesus and asks Him what the Blowing of Trumpets means? What the Day of Atonement means? What the feast of Tabernacles means? For these three observances were celebrated in one month.
In actuality, the Blowing of Trumpets announces the Day of Atonement. The spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement prepares the individual to be the tabernacle of God.
I personally was invited on four occasions to address the assembled thousands in the civic auditorium in Jerusalem. Perhaps someone understood what I was talking about. I would guess, from the current messages concerning the feasts, that I did not accomplish a great deal. Maybe some day…
As long as we have the Ark in a “new cart” the oxen are going to stumble at the threshing floor, the place of judgment.
The sixth feast, the Day of Atonement, was the one day of the year when the High Priest was permitted by the Lord to go past the Veil of the Tabernacle and sprinkle blood upon and before the Mercy Seat. The Day of Atonement is the Day of Reconciliation to God. It has commenced in our day. It follows the feast of Pentecost.
The Spirit of God is passing through the Christian churches inviting the believers to confess and renounce their behaviors that are sinful. One by one, as the Spirit leads, each sinful action must be confessed to the Lord and utterly denounced and renounced. Then we are to pray to the Lord to help us never to practice such behavior again.
It actually is the beginning of the Judgment Seat of Christ. Once we are dealt with in this manner, our sins never will be mentioned to us again. It is an eternal judgment.
This Divine operation, which is heralded by the King coming to each of us and declaring war against His enemies, has commenced, as I said. It is beginning with the most fervent of the disciples, with those who are crying out, “Not my will but Yours be done.” The less mature Christians are not hearing this call of the Spirit as yet, but they shall.
The spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement will continue from now until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, according to my understanding. This work of deliverance from sin derives its authority from the cross of Calvary, just as in the original Day of Atonement of the Jews, the scapegoat that carried off the sins into the wilderness derived his authority from the blood that had just been offered in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle.
From the beginning of the Church Era, man has been seeking to build the Kingdom of God. No doubt there have been notable exceptions in which people have heard from Christ and have been obedient. But such were persecuted viciously by the established denomination; just as the leaders of the Jews persecuted viciously Jesus, the Son of God, who was obeying His Father.
The elders always kill the prophets!
It would not surprise me too much if in our own day believers who are following the Lord Jesus closely are persecuted by the government and the major Christian denominations. I have read where some are saying that the persecution of Christians in America is close at hand.
As long as we are building the Kingdom according to our own notions, there will be no significant persecution. But if we begin to hear from Christ, and depart from the man-directed ways of the churches, Satan may rouse himself and seek to prevent any manifestation of Christ.
If we do finally get our directions from Christ, and begin to obey what He is requesting, we will need to be extremely careful to follow His directions exactly. Some may arise among us who will want to improvise in order to gain more followers, or encourage more donations, or make our actions understandable to people or to government officials. There may be those who will try to co-opt us into their organization, or whatever. Do you remember how God told the prophet to return straight home, and how the older prophet invited the prophet to his own house? God killed the younger man for that act of disobedience.
We are never to turn from the explicit directions of Christ, no matter how people try to reason us out of strict obedience.
I read an account by R. Edward Miller who told of an incident in which the Lord spoke to a person who had gathered together with others, and told him to get up and pound on the table. As you can imagine, the person wrestled with this. Finally he got up and went over to the table and pounded on it. That was the beginning of revival in Argentina.
Some years ago in a pastors’ meeting the Lord gave me a prophecy to give to the group. I felt uncomfortable with making an exhibition of myself. The burden was so strong I went up to an official in charge of the meeting and told him I had a prophecy for the group. Then I returned to my chair. I was not invited to give that prophecy. But it has remained with me, and I have used it on several occasions. The word was for those in the room who had just been ordained as pastors in the denomination:
“Do not look to the old ways of doing things. I am going to do new and surprising things. Be strictly obedient to all I show you.”
It wasn’t a long prophecy, but it has been memorable. I was not at all upset about not being able to give it to those young ministers. I figured God knows His business. But the second night after we got home from the pastors’ conference, the Lord let me know in the middle of the night that He was disappointed I had not been able to give His instructions.
I want to say a word about hearing directions from the Lord. It happens sometimes that a person, not necessarily a Christian, will come under the impression that God wants him or her to do something he has misgivings about. It may be an outlandish action, like jumping in the ocean with all his clothes on. Or it may be to yield to a strong temptation that is contrary to the Scriptures. Such deception is not uncommon.
Those who are prompted to do weird things, such as set fire to his house, or kill a child he believes is possessed by a demon, are obviously not church-going Christians. I would not know what to suggest about that sort of delusion, except to advise such people to ask Christ if the impression really is from God.
But as for Christians, if they will accept the fact that this world is not Heaven and not try to make it so by doing something sinful, they may avoid deception. Satan works in the area of deception and he is extraordinarily skillful in deceiving Christians. The only antidote is the personal cross of the believer. If the believer bears his cross patiently after Christ, being strictly obedient to what Jesus tells him, he has a good chance of avoiding being deceived.
Learning to follow the voice of the Lord is an art. The student must not become too upset if he makes a mistake. Confess that you have been tricked. Make restitution if Jesus leads you to do so. Then put it behind you and press forward in Christ. You have learned a valuable lesson.
We are not perfect, and that is why we need a Redeemer. God takes into account that we are nothing more than intelligent dust. God has no problem with our making mistakes, unless we harden our heart and refuse correction. Then we are in spiritual trouble.
In our day the Spirit of God is urging us forward toward our Canaan, our land of promise. The New Testament does not speak so much of our being saved in the past, but of our enduring to the end so we may inherit the salvation that is to come in the future.
Part of the future salvation is Jesus’ personal coming to His fervent disciples to prepare them for His worldwide appearing. Here are some of the verses that refer to the salvation that has begun in our day and is leading toward the worldwide appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)
So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:11,12)
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)
I have listed all these passages to show that our goal as Christians is not to go to Heaven to live forever but to hold fast in Christ until He is ready to redeem us fully and completely. This is true whether we are on the earth or in the spirit world, waiting for the completion of our salvation.
We will be completely redeemed when Christ has come to maturity in us; when the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are dwelling in us in perfect rest; when our body has been conformed to the image of Christ; when we are on the Throne of Glory with Christ; when we have been assigned our role as a member of the Royal Priesthood.
We can see from the above that the current “Say you accept Christ and you never can be lost; you will go to Heaven to live forever in a mansion” does not even resemble the teaching of the New Testament. It is preposterous when compared with the actual Gospel of the Kingdom.
Counting from the time of Adam and Eve to the end of the operation of the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, I would venture that we are about halfway through the struggle of good against evil. I believe the final battle has begun.
This means that titanic spiritual battles are in the offing. Antichrist shall face Jesus Christ; the Spirit of God shall face the False Prophet; God shall confront Satan. These wars will continue in the spirit world until evil has been driven completely from the heavens.
Only when the great war has been won will there be righteousness, love, peace, and joy on the earth; for God’s will must be done in the heavens before it can be done on the earth.
As I have written so many times, if we are to survive these colossal events and stand in triumph before the Son of Man, we must learn to live by the Life of Jesus. Our thinking, speaking, and acting must be in conformity with the will of the Lord Jesus for us.
Every work that has not been wrought in Christ shall be shaken and removed from God’s Presence.
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:9,10)
Since we have insisted on trying to be Daddy’s helper, the Christian work is in confusion today. One of the more destructive aspects of the confusion is the notion that once a person “accepts Christ” there is no further step in the program of redemption. The statement is made that Christ has “done it all” on the cross; that our judgment was completed on the cross. Yet Peter tells us that judgment begins with the household of God.
It appears as though there is a wilful ignorance of the Bible. But I know this is not the case. Devout scholars spend their lives interpreting and teaching the Bible. Honorable people, men and women alike, repeat the unscriptural traditions in good faith.
The only sense I can get out of the prevailing confusion is that God has intervened in our day and is pointing out to us that what is being taught in the name of Christ is not according to the Apostles of the New Testament.
God has intervened in time past, hasn’t He, as the various apostolic doctrines have been restored: righteousness by faith in Christ rather than by punishing ourselves; water baptism by immersion; the priesthood of the believer; the reality of the born-again experience; personal holiness; the baptism with the Holy Spirit including the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
Well, God obviously is intervening once again, because we can see clearly that the lawless-grace message is completely contrary to God’s desire that we practice righteousness; love mercy; and walk humbly with God.
A tradition that is hoary with age has persisted from the earliest times. It is that God is saving us to go to Heaven to live forever. In spite of the fact that John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles, preached the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, we continue to point men and women, boys and girls, toward Heaven rather than toward the Kingdom of God.
The New Testament is opening up to us today. What a century ago was a great mystery is now as plain and simple as can be. God is preparing a wonderful Kingdom that soon is to come to the earth. His will shall be done here as soon as the heavens get straightened out.
The coming of the Kingdom, for which Christians have been praying from time immemorial, is a far, far better vision than that of going to Heaven to live forever. Man was made in the earth. When people picture Heaven, they picture a glorified earth—something like the garden in Eden.
Hallelujah! As always, Christ has kept the good wine until now.
But make no mistake—we are in days of greatest opportunity and also of greatest danger. Satan is coming to the earth with his angels, and it is going to require walking very close to the Lord Jesus if we are not to be deceived.
As Christ reveals Himself increasingly, to prepare us for His worldwide appearing, we may be tempted to try to steady the Ark. It is coming down the road, you know. When it gets to the threshing floor, the place of judgment, it may appear that God needs help. Don’t try to help! Let God build His Church the way He wants it. No human creativity is permitted. It will only bring spiritual death, as it has in the past.
Don’t touch the Ark. Pray and obey. Pray and obey. Pray and obey. Then you will be fruitful and happy in Jesus. There is no other way.
(“Don’t Touch the Ark!”, 3141-1, proofed 20190301)